Photo illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Christopher Saunders/FX
We get it: There’s an overwhelming number of TV shows out there right now. The streaming landscape is an inconvenient labyrinth, and good content can easily get lost in the shuffle. But most of us can still find a show that stands out from the crowd. We call this “appointment viewing” – or the time you take out of your busy schedule to watch the show you want to unpack with your friends the next day while you’re still thinking about it. Tune in here every month to read what author Michel Ghanem, aka @tvscholarHe thinks it’s worthy of a deep dive into the group chat.
Over the last nine episodes of Appointment Viewing, we’ve covered a handful of thrilling prestige dramas like HBO’s The last of us and Prime Video’s Dead Ringers. This month, fans of Netflix The O.ARejoice – Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij are back in top form A murder at the end of the worlda gripping crime miniseries set in an Icelandic compound with a stunning performance from Emma Corrin.
Not quite. This Netflix cult favourite was concluded in 2019 after just two seasons, although creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij had wanted a five-season arc. We have been waiting with excitement and FX for the return of the filmmaking duo A murder at the end of the world doesn’t disappoint. Although there are echoes of her Netflix series here, A murder is completely in its own lane as a crime thriller with a standout performance from Emma Corrin as Darby Hart, an amateur detective with a penchant for hacking. This is her first leading role on television since playing the young Princess Diana The crown, for which they were nominated for an Emmy.
After the successful publication of a non-fiction true crime book about a murder she solves with her now estranged partner Bill (Harris Dickinson). Triangle of sadness Darby is hand-selected by tech billionaire Andy (Clive Owen) and his wife Lee (Brit Marling) to attend a retreat in snowy Iceland with a handful of other uniquely talented people. Among the guests: an astronaut played by Alice Braga, a smart city developer played by Joan Chen (yes, from Twin Peaks) and of course Bill himself. Once you arrive at the site – which is circular, like the basement prison The O.A — A guest is murdered. But Darby is the daughter of a coroner who spent her childhood looking at bodies at crime scenes, and as she later tells another guest, this will be her 57th murder to solve.
A murder at the end of the world Premiering on Hulu with the first two episodes on November 14th. Subsequent episodes will air every Tuesday through December 19th. All episodes of the limited series are carefully directed by Marling or Batmanglij and co-written by both, but they brought some to the table with other writers – like Melanie Marnich, who previously worked on it The O.A and is co-showrunner of the upcoming series directed by Nicole Kidman Foreignersand speculative fiction writer Rebecca Roanhorse. The show was originally scheduled to premiere in August, but was delayed due to the Hollywood (SAG-AFTRA) strikes. hit is still in progress, which means the actors will not promote this project). As it turns out, the series works better as a “comfortable” crime thriller to watch as fall turns to winter.
You may want to at least temper your expectations in this area. Marling and Batmanglij’s work has historically walked the line between science fiction, mysticism and the supernatural. (Remember the choreographed “moves” on The O.A who heals the sick or brings back the dead?) One of the first Marling films I saw was Another eartha 2011 film in which her character faces an identical self from a parallel Earth. A murder at the end of the world is decidedly a simpler crime thriller.
I went into the series thinking that a portal to another dimension would open sometime in the second half of the season, but the writers here are much more interested in technology: deep fakes, AI, facial recognition, DNA, and the lengths of the elite one percent will be spent to survive the eventual climate apocalypse. Owen’s Andy is an Elon Musk-esque character that we’ve seen repeatedly on television this year since Alexander Skarsgård Succession to Jon Hamm The Morning Show, but it feels fresh because the narrative is set in Andy’s homeland. The contrast of the Icelandic terrain against the endless horizon of untouched snow feels both claustrophobic and apocalyptic, providing a blank slate for a meditation on our acceleration toward an increasingly technology-dependent future.
A murder also tells a more character-driven story about Darby herself, which we follow through a current timeline and carefully placed flashbacks that remind us of her and Bill as they work together to solve their latest cold case. It’s a little Girl with the dragon tattoo meets The glass onion and a good old game Notice, and if you pay close enough attention, you might be able to solve the mystery before the final reveal. I didn’t, by the way – I gasped through the final exposition monologue, but I’m grateful any time a series is able to outsmart my many, many hours of previous crime viewing.