We Hunt Together is a British series, developed by the BBC and airing in the U.S. on Showtime, that tries to turn the cat-and-mouse game between murderers and homicide cops on its ear. We basically see the murders happen at the same time the detectives investigate them via a staggered timeline. But does this quirky storytelling technique make for a better thriller?
Opening Shot: We see the exterior of a strip club. Inside, we see a closeup of the man who works as an attendant in the men’s room.
The Gist: The man, who we later find out is named Baba Lenga (Dipo Ola), sees a couple walk into the men’s room; he’s immediately taken with the woman (Hermione Corfield), whom he later finds out is named Freddy Lane. The man she’s with, Simon Goodbridge (Nigel Harman) goes into a stall with her, and Baba tells him that they can’t do drugs in the bathroom. Simon gets in his face and Baba resists doing anything, even when Simon assholishly flips him a pound coin that lands on the gross bathroom floor.
Later, Simon and Frankie start making out in the alley, right as Baba is taking out some garbage. When Simon tries to force himself on Freddy, Baba intervenes, pounding the living snot out of Simon. He’s about to finish Simon off with a brick when Freddy stops him. After she ships Simon off to the hospital in a cab, claiming she didn’t see anything, she introduces herself to Baba and shows her attraction to him.
Then we switch to daytime. DI Jackson Mendy (Babou Ceesay) shows up at a murder scene on his first day on the job in homicide after a career in the anti-corruption division (known on this side of the Atlantic as Internal Affairs). His partner is a veteran homicide detective, DS Lola Franks (Eve Myles), who is immediately put off by her new boss’ overly-sunny manner. The murder victim is face down, naked, tied to the bedposts with a ball gag in his mouth. He has a knife plunged into the base of his skull, and he has older bruises on his face.
We go back to Freddy, who works for a phone sex website and has a shitty attitude about it. She finds out Baba’s address from the club and goes to visit him. He’s surprised but pleased. She finds out that he’s waiting for asylum from the Republic of the Congo, and they have a great time on their date at the fair. One complication: Simon has been confronting Freddy about what she knows about that night and what she doesn’t. He even grabs her in the lobby of her building, when he shouldn’t even know where she lives. At the church where Baba volunteers, he tells her that in his home country, he fell in with the wrong crowd (likely became a child soldier), and desperately needs to stay in the UK. They hatch a plan to eliminate their problem.
As Mendy and Franks investigate, there’s tension because Franks doesn’t trust anyone that comes from Anti-Corruption. And Mendy’s sunny disposition bugs her. But his instincts are actually pretty sound, as he thinks the person who killed the man wanted it to be personal, hence the nudity, ball-gag, etc. When he invites her to his house to dig in deep into the investigation, he does show her his garage; he recently trashed it in a fit of anger. He also does it to show that he doesn’t think murders are bad people, more that everything that came in their lives to that point leads them to make such a fateful choice.
We soon learn that the murder that they’re investigating is that of Simon Goodbridge, which we see play out as Freddy tempts him with sex and tie him face-down on the bed. She buzzes Baba up, he grabs a knife and… you know the rest.
Our Take: Written by Gaby Hull, We Hunt Together is supposed to take the traditional cat-and-mouse game between murderers and the homicide cops that are chasing them and turn it on its ear. The idea is that we’re going to see something dark ignited in Freddy and Baba, two people with baggage who on the surface seem like they wouldn’t be capable of murder, go on a killing spree, and slowly but surely see Franks and Mendy catch up to them. We’ll see the murders and the cops investigating the murders simultaneously, even though the murders themselves obviously take place before the investigations start.
The format has potential for great drama, but in this case both sides are underdeveloped. All four main characters have backstories that are dying to be explored more, and we’ll likely see some of Baba’s story as we go along, but for now we see two fairly unremarkable stories linked together by a staggered timeline, which makes for an unremarkable viewing experience.
In the first episode, the linkage between Freddy and Baba is attraction. We don’t know why this first murder, one that seems to be out of desperation on both their parts, sparks the decision to keep killing, except for a twisted sense that they need to cover their tracks. And the investigation that Franks and Mendy undertake isn’t all that spectacular from a mystery-solving perspective.
We do enjoy how Mendy pretty much resembles Richard Speltt in Veep: unnaturally sunny and positive in a business that calls for cynicism and a checkered past, at least as far as detectives on TV are concerned. Sure, we’ll see a dark side to Mendy as the partnership between him and Franks improves. But at least for once there’s a homicide detective on TV that doesn’t drink while he drives or some other destructive behavior.
Sex and Skin: Simon’s naked face-down body is pretty much the only thing in the sex or skin category in the first episode. Even Freddy’s conduct on the sex talk line isn’t that sexy.
Parting Shot: As we pan down the pictures of dating site matches that Simon was making right before he died, we see a picture of Frankie. Not sure if that’s supposed to be a twist or not, as the idea of the show clicked in for us about 10 minutes before that happened.
Sleeper Star: None, at least not in the first episode.
Most Pilot-y Line: Are Freddy’s antics at her job supposed to show that she’s some sort of rebellious sort? Her boss tells her she thinks she can get away with things because she’s attractive, but it’s definitely not that simple.
Our Call: SKIP IT. The first episode of We Hunt Together is less intriguing than its staggered timeline suggests it will be. We’re not expecting things to get any better from there.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, VanityFair.com, Playboy.com, Fast Company.com, RollingStone.com, Billboard and elsewhere.
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Source: New York Post
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