Friday, February 11, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Afterparty' - Walt Details What Happened During a High School Party for Aniq, Chelsea and Xavier in 'High School'

AppleTV+'s The Afterparty - Episode 1.05 "High School"

Everyone's stories trace back to a high school party from 15 years ago, which Walt recounts to Detective Danner - revealing huge secrets.

"High School" was written by Nicole Delaney and directed by Christopher Miller

What happened in high school meant a lot for the people who attended Xavier's afterparty. 15 years have gone by. And yet, everyone assumes that the embarrassments that happened when they were teenagers manifested themselves into killing Xavier. Danner can pinpoint so much of the tension to one specific night. She could see how influential it was for Aniq and Chelsea in the years since. She needs to fully comprehend that night to understand who these people are. She has already heard stories about the last few hours from a couple of them. She continues to profess that she is on Aniq's side. Everything continues to paint him with complete suspicion though. Everything lines up to confirm him as the killer. It's brutal to see what happened at the infamous St. Patrick's Day party. It definitely carries the weight of being transformational for Aniq and Chelsea. Xavier is the cause of that as well. He has always operated with a sense of entitlement and privilege. Fame didn't change him that much. He always felt deserving of success without working hard for it. When things didn't go his way, he always had someone else to blame. It allows for so much revenge to fester. That isn't necessarily healthy for those who have fixated on what happened in the past. Chelsea found clarity simply by getting Xavier to admit his faults. That's what she needed in order to achieve a major breakthrough in her emotional development. Meanwhile, Aniq is continually getting drunk and acting recklessly. That could propel him to killing Xavier after blaming him for a lifetime of humiliation. That is still very much on the table. Aniq doesn't believe he did it. He thinks he had enough clarity to assume he is innocent. He isn't a great detective though. He may learn that Danner isn't actually in charge. She is not suppose to be running this investigation. However, his big discovery of a threatening note in the garbage was nothing more than disposable song lyrics. That always felt like the inevitable reveal. As such, the show doesn't quite seem as creative with how it is stretching out this investigation. But again, it's more about the characters and their development along the way instead of the specific obstacles creating a burden for the season. Plenty of blame can go around with this group of friends too. None of them are perfect even though Danner is initially skeptical about Zoe having any possible grudge against Xavier.

The St. Patrick's Day party offers new insight for both the audience and the characters. That's creative and rewarding. It allows everyone to look back on that moment with the hindsight of seeing the whole story. They are given that freedom because Walt is seemingly everywhere in the background. No one has ever appreciated him. He knows what's going on with everyone though. That's a vital tool. Danner doesn't have to interview all of them to receive this clarity. Everyone can simply trust the story Walt is telling. It's actually remarkable that they let him tell it for as long as he does. They still largely overlook him. That is still amusing. It's a common interaction implemented several times throughout this episode. It's effective in some instances more than others. People forgot that Xavier proclaimed he had a threesome with Chelsea and Walt. It was simply humiliating that lies were being spread about Chelsea. Her reputation was ruined because Xavier wanted to take advantage of her. She wanted to get drunk and let go during this party. That wasn't an invitation to get raped. She wasn't assaulted physically. The world turned against her. That set her on the path that she has been incapable of breaking free from. People still treat her cruelly because they don't seek to act with empathy. Meanwhile, it's serious when the show takes that drastic turn in having Aniq get arrested for destroying Xavier's new car. It further highlights how not everyone is believed. Some people are forced to pay more severely than others for the same mistakes. Xavier blamed Aniq for not getting accepted into Stanford. Where he went to college didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. But Aniq was arrested and had to settle into life as an escape room designer. Moreover, Zoe didn't even know until now that Aniq was the one who made the mixtape for her. He has always known what is special to the people around him. He celebrates that. That cheerful nature contrasts with the damning evidence that he is a killer. Danner isn't closer to solving the case. She knows more about the people she is dealing with. That's meaningful. Surprises still loom out there because everyone has the potential to be unpredictable and erratic. That's on full display in high school where so many actions reverberate throughout the rest of life. Some of which these characters are still paying for despite the happiness they have been content with having for awhile.