Friday, March 4, 2022

REVIEW: 'Pieces of Her' - Andy Is Shocked by Violence in Her Hometown and Her Mother's Reaction to It in 'Episode 1'

Netflix's Pieces of Her - Episode 1.01 "Episode 1"

Andy's 30th birthday lunch is interrupted by a shocking act of violence. After her mom's stunning response goes viral, a threat emerges in their home.

"Episode 1" was written by Charlotte Stoudt and directed by Minkie Spiro

Andy has no real ambition in life. She works at the local police station. However, she doesn't have any true responsibilities. It doesn't even matter if she drops the calls entirely. The crime in this small town doesn't amount to anything of true consequence. It's a job. She clocks in and out. The rest of the time she's drawing. That's all she has. At 30, her mother is starting to see this as a problem. Laura suggests her daughter see someone. She needs to get to the root of why she has a low set of expectations. Of course, Andy can't hear her mother say this in a loving but concerned way. She views her mother as perfect. She found her career path right away. She has been helping people for decades. People are so appreciative of the work she does. Andy had to come home to take care of her mother in her time of need. Laura has recovered fully from her surgery. The status quo that was established then continues. Andy feels no urgency to move back to New York. It's not the life for her. She should only return if she has a plan and direction. She doesn't. She even has no ambition to change out of her uniform when her mother wants to treat her to a birthday lunch. That one decision sets off the action in the overall narrative. Andy doesn't want to be around people who have their perfect lives figured out. Nor can she fulfill the expectations those around her have. A disgruntled man believes she is a cop and will kill him as soon as he starts shooting. He planned on killing his ex-girlfriend who recently broke up with him. He will be stopped by the cop in the room. That will be the end. He still dies during this event. It's not how he was expecting. It's not what Andy can easily understand either. It presents as a case of a mother fiercely protecting her child. She pushes through the pain to get the job done. It's a swift, clean kill. One that ends the situation quickly. And then, the focus shifts to providing Laura with the medical care she needs. That's a role Andy knows how to fulfill. However, Laura's behavior at the hospital is strange and alienating. She pushes her loved ones away. She says it's to protect them. That simply leaves her abandoned at home to recover from surgery. That's the fate she wants. It's what her family is willing to do for her. They don't understand why. They'll listen because she knows what she wants in this situation.

Of course, it's then revealed Laura is operating out of concern for her family. She knows she will be targeted by bad people who have been looking for her. Her face is now on television. She is the hero of the day. She saved several lives. The town wants to celebrate her. And yet, she operates in fear. She is afraid people are coming to hurt Andy if she just so happens to be in the house with her. The hospital isn't safe. The local police can't be trusted. Laura knows what's best. Andy is in the complete dark. This is strange and unfamiliar behavior. She is terrified because the violence keeps on coming. She fell to the ground when the shooting started. She couldn't move or think quickly. She views that as the reason why her mother had to step into action in the first place. Laura knows how to handle herself in these situations it seems. Andy shows more courage when an intruder breaks into the house. She sees her mother tied to a chair and tortured. She does the rational thing of alerting the police. She takes action herself. In the heat of the moment, she kills as well. That's a distinction mother and daughter now share. It's one Andy feels immediately. She panics once more. Laura knows they only have a short time to cover all of this up. That includes pushing Andy away further. Her going to Gordon's house for the night is no longer good enough. Instead, she has to go all the way to Maine and await further instructions. That's even more alienating to Andy. She doesn't understand why her mother is acting this way. She doesn't know what to make of it. It's clear to the audience Laura is running from something in her past. She possesses skills she has long kept hidden from her family. And now, the truth is coming out. Laura is protecting her loved ones. Keepings secrets has put them in more jeopardy. She sends Andy off on her own journey. One that she doesn't quite comprehend. It's propulsive enough for the audience to follow. It ensures Andy doesn't have to spend too much time figuring her life out. Instead, the action is about her running for her life. That's the fate Laura gives her simply because Andy fell asleep. She maintained the same routine. She didn't abide by her mother's wishes. Instead, a storm rolls in and her life is altered forever. Violence shapes her. It's more drastic and unnerving in this case though. That's a striking stylistic choice.