Friday, February 3, 2023

REVIEW: 'Dear Edward' - A Variety of Stories Define the Passengers Aboard a Flight Destined to Have a Tragic Ending in 'Pilot'

AppleTV+'s Dear Edward - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Edward is nervous for his family's move to LA. Lacey's marriage is strained. Dee Dee and Zoe celebrate. Edward's flight departs for Los Angeles.

"Pilot" was written by Jason Katims and directed by Fisher Stevens

Eddie is the sole survivor of a plane crash. Of course, that reveal doesn't happen until the end of the premiere. The episode leading up to that details the stories of the various families as they prepare to board the flight. It's an intricate story of who gets on and who is left behind. Those traveling across the country are all destined to die. Meanwhile, their family members are going about their days not expecting anything tragic to happen. It's a lot of backstory. That's especially true for characters who won't have much ongoing importance beyond the memories their loved ones left behind have. Lacey and John's story is the most tangentially connected to the plane. Sure, Lacey's sister and her family are passengers. However, the drama for them is about their ongoing struggle to get pregnant. Lacey believes she is destined to have a baby. She refuses to entertain the possibility of exploring other options. John wants to accept that reality. Meanwhile, she is painting a child's room hoping for the best. Of course, it seems inevitable that a child will enter their lives soon. They are most likely the next of kin for Eddie. He's not the child they were expecting. He is the child they will receive. As the sole survivor, it's important for the show to provide more depth for Eddie and his relationships. He survives a trauma unlike everyone else. For the other characters, it's this tragedy that happened to their loved ones. For Eddie, it's something he endured personally. He was holding onto his brother's hand when the crash occurred. They did absolutely everything together. And now, that family connection is gone. He was so anxious about the big move to Los Angeles. It was the necessary move to facilitate his mother's work. Meanwhile, it's annoying that Jordan and Eddie have to do homework on the plane. It's an activity mostly to keep them busy and not thinking about the uncertainty of starting over across the country. It's mostly a coping mechanism for Eddie though. It's simply something Jordan has had to deal with. Even though he's the older brother, he sees his parents always directing their attention towards Eddie. He is the gifted child who is smart in school and excellent at the piano. He doesn't make any mistakes. He's still a kid though. He freaks out simply because his brother wants to enroll in public school. That shouldn't be a big deal. Everyone makes it out as such. These characters are planning for the future even though the audience has the insight of knowing it won't actually happen. That makes it somewhat difficult to judge the show based on one episode. It's all setup for this tragic event. It introduces characters. However, it doesn't exactly set the template for what the rest of the episodes will look like. It's simply getting this story started without wanting to reveal every facet of its storytelling quite yet.

The narrative moves back and forth in time at a brisk pace. It sets up mysteries that are answered a few scenes later. It provides more depth to relationships than what they initially present as. At first, Adriana is the hapless assistant ready to quit her job because her boss is micromanaging every detail. It's later revealed that her boss is her grandmother and the local congresswoman. Adriana is stressed because she no longer believes she can make a difference in this job. And yet, her grandmother expects her to eventually succeed her in Congress. This job is all about prepping her for that inevitable future. And so, she can't even mourn the loss of the man she was trying to help get appropriate treatment. Instead, she endures her own tragedy with this beacon in her family being taken away tragically. Elsewhere, Dee Dee and Zoe are celebrating their birthdays. Zoe believes she should be worried about her parents' marriage. Dee Dee suggests that everything is happening as it has long been planned. They don't question the text message they receive where Dee Dee's husband and Zoe's father is declaring his love. In fact, no one knows the true meaning behind those messages until the news breaks that the plane has crashed. It's absolutely devastating news. The show produces a somewhat cloying montage where everyone receives their own specific and individual moment of realizing what this personally means for them. It's effective. It shifts the focus to the characters who will matter on an ongoing basis. But again, some of their relationships to the passengers are more defined than others. Kojo was trying to persuade his sister to return home to Ghana. Instead, she was chasing her Hollywood dreams. She was preparing for an audition that could change her life. And now, her daughter becomes an orphan. That too will feature unexpected relatives having to take on the new responsibility of parenthood. This tragedy disrupts the very notion of what life should be for those personally touched by it. It's jarring and abrasive. The narrative showcases all the ways in which life connects people to their fellow humans. The only thing these stories have in common is the plane. People will come together who never would have met under ordinary circumstances. That's special and unique. But again, the focus is very much on Eddie. He's the titular character after all. His parents tried their best to protect him from the dangers of the world. They couldn't stop this massive tragedy from happening. He survives. That disruption will be more keenly felt within him. That won't disregard the pain felt elsewhere. It's simply operating at different levels of importance which will be tricky to balance moving forward.