Well, I was going to do this one on Tuesdays, but that would have led to scheduling conflicts for other shows I wanted to cover believe it or not. Regardless, a murder mystery from Chris Miller, half of the Lord & Miller duo? And with a solid cast of comedy vets? I mean, I should try and get some of my money’s worth from Apple TV+ and all…
So, sometime after a high school reunion, pop star and actor Xavier fell from a balcony to the rocks on the beach below and died. It looks like he was pushed. Many of his former classmates are in the house, and there are a number of them who could be top suspects. Enter one Detective Danner, a woman played by the generally delightful Tiffany Haddish, to look into the case…against her superior’s instructions. See, the feds are coming in to take this one on, and she was told to only take statements, but to Danner, that just means she can start her own investigation into the crime before the FBI gets there.
And, to show what kind of series this is, we get something like genre parody crossed with Rashomon. That starts with an obvious one: weird artistic woman Indigo recasts the night as some sort of perfume ad kinda thing, but everyone sees it as, well, pretentious and wrong. Danner opts to interview the next witness/suspect privately.
That would be Aniq (Sam Richardson). He designs escape rooms for a living, so he’s not bad at puzzles himself. His story is cast as a romcom as he went to the reunion, hoping to hook up with Zoe, his old high school lab partner, lifelong crush, and the recently divorced single mom who happens to be the principal of the school. Aniq has his wingman Yasper there, offering moral support, while also trying his best to avoid Zoe’s psycho ex-husband Brett, a man threatening violence against anyone who even looks at Zoe the wrong way. Aniq certainly seems to qualify, but at the same time, so does Xavier, the rich, handsome, rather vapid guy that of course is played by Dave Franco. He’s the guy who will show up at the reunion in his personal helicopter and then tell Aniq there’s no room for him in it it because he’s giving off bad vibes as he flies Zoe to the afterparty at one of his houses.
As set-ups go, this is a good start. Romcoms aren’t my thing, but the parody portions of the episode did hit the right notes, even as Danner questions how much it was really raining that night. Arguably, this one might be a fairly tame opener since romcoms are, more or less, grounded more in reality than other genres. Yeah, it’s a reality about romance that may or may not work, but it’s not a musical or something.
If anything, two things do come out of this that caught my attention: Danner says she isn’t good at puzzles and putting clues together, but she figures things out by listening to stories, and she really likes stories. The other thing is Aniq learns he’s probably the top suspect, because despite the fact Danner was hanging off his every word, she still pointed out the little details in his tale of lovelorn woe that make him a very likely suspect. Since Aniq designs escape room puzzles, he figures he can maybe figure out the killer on his own because, well, otherwise he might be going away for a crime he says he didn’t commit. The episode does seem designed to make him look innocent, so there is that, and he also apparently was the nerd everyone picked on before while maintaining what seems to be a sweet disposition.
Then again, carrying a torch for a classmate the way he does could be more stalker behavior than anything else. That’s not the sort of idea that gets injected into romcoms that often…