Sunday, July 16, 2023

REVIEW: 'The Afterparty' - A Wedding Weekend Erupts Into a New Murder Mystery for Aniq and Zoe in 'Aniq 2: The Sequel' & 'Grace'

AppleTV+'s The Afterparty - Episodes 2.01 "Aniq 2: The Sequel" and 2.02 "Grace"

When Zoe's sister's wedding weekend is destroyed by a murder, Aniq calls his old friend Danner to investigate the crime. Aniq and Danner interview the bride, who tells the story of her relationship with Edgar in the style of a Jane Austen romance.

"Aniq 2: The Sequel" was written by Christopher Miller & Anthony King and directed by Eric Appel
"Grace" was written by Rachel Smith and directed by Anu Valia

Love is in the air during Grace's wedding weekend. That's to be expected. What isn't expected is murder. A year has passed since Xavier's death. Aniq and Zoe's relationship is going very well. He is ready to propose. He hopes to make a good impression on her parents in order to receive their blessing. He's so anxious throughout this event that he keeps making things more awkward. Plenty of drama is going on that has nothing to do with him. That leads Zoe's mother Vivian to deduce that Aniq is just like Brett. They are too self-involved to ever put Zoe's needs above their own. That's a personally devastating blow to Aniq. He positions himself as the perfect guy for Zoe. She had a disastrous marriage. She is in a better relationship now. But they are now trapped in a sequel where events are seemingly repeating themselves. Danner makes a joke about them being involved in another murder mystery when Aniq calls. It seems too outrageous to be true. And yet, the groom is found dead the morning after the wedding. Grace is immediately seen as the prime suspect. Aniq and Zoe want to believe in her sister's innocence. Aniq has a damning piece of evidence though. He saw Zoe drug Edgar's drink. She professes it was all to break his super rigid schedule. She desperately wants him to change so that he lives up to the romantic fantasy she has in her head. They overcome their struggles and are made better for it. Others certainly project their own shortcomings and misery onto this relationship. That doesn't immediately suggest they were doomed to fail. The marriage ends shortly after it began. Several may have motivation for killing Edgar. Grace brought something new out of him. Edgar also respected what Aniq was trying to accomplish during this weekend. He's a tech titan who has a very specific way of doing things. And yet, he saw the inherent good in both Aniq and Grace. As such, he was willing to defend them even when others were outright cruel. He didn't deserve the fate that befell him. People had their concerns about the marriage. But love was palpable throughout the story being told so far. It's the key focus for the first two episodes of the season. Aniq and Grace view the world differently. However, they are in love with love. Danner is giddy over hearing Aniq's mind movie all over again. It's a sequel that it is entertaining to her. Moreover, the audience already knows him. That means the story can focus more intently on the details of this weekend. The narrative has already trained the viewer to be looking out for any potential clues. Some are more obvious than others. They serve as red herrings. Right now, dysfunction and anxiety dominate the story. People fear how they come across. That's elevated because of the murder that has happened in their midst.

Aniq's fumbling around wasn't even of much merit during Grace's story of her relationship with Edgar. It consumed his whole world. He feared he was embarrassing himself and failing at what he set out to do. He made an impression but it was for all the wrong reasons. He so desperately wanted to prove himself. He just kept making mistakes. He was never accepted into this family. He was always on the outside looking in. Of course, Grace and Edgar come from two different worlds as well. That defined everything. But that too is nothing more than an outsiders' perspective. They have an immediate connection. And yes, she possibly builds it up into having more meaning than may have genuinely cultivated at this point. She falls in love hard and fast. Edgar appreciates her interests. He doesn't set out to change her. However, Zoe is concerned that her sister has devoted herself to Edgar's world without him making the same sacrifices. Grace has had to settle for so much time alone. She is left with the prospect of Edgar's appearance without him actually spending time with her. Sure, he makes a grand gesture in bringing her long absent fun uncle to the celebration. That's nice. But Grace would much rather have a more personal and intimate ceremony. It's all about finding the little moments to celebrate. The highs of being with Edgar fulfill her even during the long stretches when he is away. She doesn't understand his business. She doesn't want to either. It doesn't interest her. Zoe uses that as a reason for why the couple isn't compatible. She is just trying to protect her sister. It's overbearing at times. That's stress and projection too. She doesn't want Grace to make the same mistakes she did. She fears the pattern is repeating. Even Danner and Aniq kick her out of the room when they feel her presence is disruptive. Zoe's interjection is the first time the narrative breaks from Grace's mind movie. When Aniq was sharing his side of the events, Danner was interrupting all the time. That comes from their friendship. They get to be relaxed with one another. But now, a new investigation has started. Grace is reeling from this sudden tragedy. And yes, it's damning that she refused to sign the prenup. That wasn't a romantic gesture from Edgar. However, he didn't push for her to sign it immediately. It was jarring that he presented it at the last possible moment. Grace didn't really have time to process what it meant. That may just be giving her the benefit of the doubt. She has an idealized version of the world that unfortunately is disrupted from the technology that is now prevalent throughout every aspect of society. That is unavoidable. She may yearn for simpler times. That just isn't in the cards for her. That's tragic. It may also be a pattern as she has a history of dating complicated men. One of whom just so happened to attend the wedding, stayed the night and is next in line for Danner and Aniq's questions. Travis may share investigative impulses with Danner, Aniq and Zoe. However, Zoe is much more willing to roll a dead body over and pry its eyes open just to unlock a phone screen.