First Impressions: Mary Kills People

Mary Kills People tells the story of a woman named “Mary” who, you guessed it, “kills people” [Sometimes, titles are just obscure like that]. But no, this is not female Dexter or anything of the sort. Mary is a doctor on a mission to alleviate the suffering of terminally ill patients.  I can’t remember this being done since Al Pacino’s You Don’t Know Jack.

I found the first episode of this show quite interesting. The story is intriguing and well presented, the leads are well cast and I appreciate that even the secondary characters had purpose in the story.

Having said that, I had a few issues with tone. This is a very serious subject matter. In cases like this, the tone needs to either be darkly comedic (Fargo e.g.) or straightforward dark. From the writing, I could tell Mary Kills People was aiming for dark. Unfortunately, they didn’t give the director the memo. The shooting style was one of a much lighter show. Throughout, I felt like I was watching a broadcast show trying to be a cable drama.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, a lighter show will certainly appeal to a wider audience and not everything has to be dark, but I would have preferred it that way. [This show would have been perfect with a heavy vibe similar to The Red Road or UnReal]

Spoiler alert

I also had couple of issues with the character of Mary herself. It would be OK for her to risk her career and freedom for something in which she believes, but she has two daughters to consider… I am expecting this to be addressed at some point in the series. Her true motivation was not fully explained and I am assuming she has a very personal reason for doing what she does [and it better be a very good reason to justify putting her family at risk].

The other thing that didn’t click was Mary sleeping with her patient. Up until that point Mary struck me as a clever, cautious and calculating woman. But that was very careless and it made me question the character. Is Mary a determined, “all in the name of the end goal” kind of person? (Say, Tommy Shelby from Peaky Blinders) Or is she troubled and messed up? (Like Linden from The Killing or Rachel from UnREAL) Both good character choices, but the first episode didn’t make it clear.

End of spoiler

All in all, I enjoyed the pilot. I liked seeing a female antihero and I can’t ignore Jay Ryan’s general dreaminess [and yes, I did love everything he did]. I am also interested in the character of the daughter and charming side-kick doctor played by Richard Short [I thought he was a highlight], as well as the police element of the show. Perhaps the fact that watching this is not going to depress me is also a plus. [I have plenty of dark tragedies on British tele]

At the very least, this is a concept that hasn’t been done to death [no pun intended] and I’m looking forward to the next few eps. I just hope they dare to push the envelop enough.
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Alejandra spends her days watching TV, writing for TV, writing about TV. Hopefully, one day, she will get substantially paid for all three. Follow her on twitter @azannier

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  1. yes, great review and agree- still early days but I'd love a full review from you at the end of episode 6 :)

    1. I might write recaps, but I am considering waiting for the US airings

    2. that makes sense - i ll be reading whenever u write them xx

  2. Great review. I really loved this 1st ep, but I had the same concerns as you on my first viewing & had been discussing them with Anna in a private conversation. I also had the same issue with Ben jeapordising his case so quickly & easily too. However, after rewatching it, these things felt less & less of an issue for me. I believe they just needed to set the scene for their complicated relationship from here on out & I also hope their yummy "momentary lapse of judgement" will create great sexual tension for them in the coming eps!
    I would also like to see a little more drama with the euthanasia side of things too, but at the same time, I don't need this show to be so dark that it depresses me, so I'm good either way. All in all, I loved it & can't wait for more!

  3. I really like this show although you might get tired of what's going on on the next episode in the next it keeps you right there and interested in what's next and yes I was surprised that Ben was a cop but he was one of the characters that I love the most I just don't understand why he had to die I also think this will put you at peace on some things about death although it's still a criminal act there are people out there that do this I'm sure and I wouldn't want to lay there and suffer and do the things that people do in the family see what they see if you're just putting off the inevitable I think they'll be a lot of controversy over this movie but I have never seen anything like this and I have to give it a 10


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