RECAP: Mary Kills People S1E1

Bloody Mary

Meet Mary, she kills people.

OK, that was a bit reductive, let’s try again. Meet Mary Harris, divorced, mother of two, doctor and angel of death [or grim reaper, depending on how you choose to look at it.]

As soon as the episode begins, we are thrown into the whirlwind that is Mary’s life and her less-than-legal business of euthanizing people in need. The ‘killing’ process goes something like this: First, Mary and her partner DES - a recovering addict, former doctor and current master of wit - videotape the patients declaring their intentions to commit [assisted] suicide. After the gloomy home-movies are completed, Mary gives them a nice cocktail of champagne and pentobarbital. The patients drift away to a peaceful sleep.

Unless… the pento is defective, in which case they are forced to resort to old fashion pillow-smothering and balcony jumping.

Welcome to the darkness. Or as much darkness as a Lifetime soap can have.

Turns out, being a doctor who moonlights as a mercy executioner is not easy, and it takes its toll on Mary’s family life; something we learn from Mary’s stay-at-home ex, KEVIN, who accuses her of being an ‘absent mother’. I’d personally add some nutritional concerns to that - authentic Mexican junk food [from a place called ‘Diego’s’] can’t be the best thing to feed your children… just saying.

In any case, it’s time for the DEATH OF THE WEEK. Basically, Mary has a contact at the hospital - NURSE ANNIE - who puts her in touch with terminally ill patients. This week, Annie provides two subjects: a middle age woman and JOEL, a young man dying of cancer who’d like to check out on his own terms before “shit gets real.”

On paper, Joel’s story sounds pretty sad; in person, however… Let’s just say ‘sad’ is not the first word that comes to mind. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Des and Mary go to Joel’s apartment for a ‘exploratory’ meeting and we get to see a bit more of their process. They are extremely careful with their words, making veiled comments about alternatives to Switzerland, but never saying anything up-front about what they are offering to do.

Joel seems determined to proceed and states all the reasons why they should help him. Or at least that’s what I think happened. To be perfectly honest I got distracted by that VOICE [you know what I mean]. Mary wasn’t completely immune to the effects of the voice either. The chemistry between Mary and Joel isn’t lost on Des who advises her to show the dying man a good time before he takes his good-bye-world nightcap. I don’t think Des was entirely serious, but if he was, that was terrible advice. Have you heard of ‘Don’t kiss and tell’? Well I think ‘DON’T KISS AND KILL’ should also be a thing.

But before Mary and Des can kill any ruggedly handsome guys with ridiculously sexy voices, they need to sort out the problem with their ‘diluted’ pento. Des pays a visit to GRADY THE DRUG DEALER - a colourful character who dispenses Greek mythology wisdom along with his drugs. From the looks of it, Des has been telling Grady that he uses the drugs himself, but Grady is no fool. He knows there is something else going on and you can tell he is going to be trouble.

And speaking of illegal [and lethal] drugs, you know what else should be a concern? Finding a suitable HIDING PLACE. But Mary, responsible mother that she is, puts her drugs under the floorboard of a shed to which all her family has access [and doesn’t even silence her secret phone!]. Naturally, JESS – Mary’s teenage daughter – and her friend NAOMI find the drugs [probably because hiding stuff under floorboards is TEENAGER 101]. Naomi, who is clearly the rebellious type, decides to have a taste of pento and collapses in the middle of her dance recital. At the hospital, she tells Mary where she got the drugs and forces her to lie to her mom about it. This situation is complicated even further by two details I haven’t yet mentioned: 1) Jess is in love with Naomi 2) Jess’s dad (Mary’s ex) is dating Naomi’s mom.

But enough with the soapy plots, let’s go back to what the show is really about: Killing people. Mary decides to pay Joel another visit - ALONE. Joel asks some questions about dying, Mary avoids saying anything incriminating, one thing leads to another and they end up having sex. You know a guy has game when assisted suicide talk ends up being foreplay [OK, to be fair, Mary looked like she was ready to jump him from the minute she walked through the door].

ANYWAY, when they are in the middle of doing it, Mary points out that Joel doesn’t “seem sick” - which should have been a red flag, but Mary was too… DISTRACTED to notice. The comment, however, rubs Joel the wrong way and he gets a little crazy, demanding the killing juice ASAP. Mary freaks out and leaves his apartment in a hurry.

After Mary leaves, Joel meets with a mysterious man in a surveillance van. Turns out Joel is in fact BEN and he is an undercover cop trying to arrest Mary, the shock! [OK I totally knew he was a cop since I started watching, so I was not one bit surprised… but maybe others were? Let me know if you were.]

I really wanted to love this show, and it seemed to have all the elements necessary: Female antihero, daring subject, Jay Ryan [He is kind of alright looking, I guess and his voice is not terrible]. Did I love it? I quite enjoyed it. My big issue was that it never  fully committed to the darkness of the subject matter. From the direction to some of the writing it just stopped on the verge. In other words it needed to go to the lengths of UnREAL but kind of stopped at Scandal S1.

Enjoyed the recap? Want more? Let me know in the comments and Twitter @TVRepublik

You can read my First Impressions of the show HERE [from when it premiered in Canada]

Random thoughts
  • Che Guevara is not Mexican, nor Cuban, he was ARGENTINIAN - As a Southamerican person I felt the need to establish that.
  • Ben is not a very good undercover cop. He did everything undercovers/con men should not do! He didn’t take his time and he kept pushing the subject instead of making Mary believe the whole thing was her idea. It really annoyed me that he was so incompetent. Oh, and let’s not forget that he slept with his mark!  I can almost forgive Mary, I mean… but he should have known better.
  • I really like the theme song, it has all the promise of darkness the show didn’t quite deliver.
  • I like the actor who plays Grady, he has subtle creepiness nailed [I feel like I’ve seen him everywhere lately – Frontier comes to mind.]

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TVEmpress

The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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5 comments:

  1. I love dark shows, you know that. I do think they really did not want to go there with Mary for a number of reasons - good choice? bad choice? who knows! but yes, I get u :)

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  2. Great review & great comment from Anna. I really loved this show, but I do understand what you're saying too. Fortunately the series did get a little darker & more intense as it progressed, although I wouldn't complain if season 2 (assuming we're lucky enough to get it) was a little more intense again. I think this first episode was the weakest in that dramatic sense, but definitely still a great ep & was a really good introduction to the story & the characters!

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  3. I was done when she didn't have a safe to put her stuff in. I mean seriously she could have bought on for 100$ US. Yet they want think she is sly??? The fact she hasn't been caught yet is beyond me. But good acting though.

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  4. "You know a guy has game when assisted suicide talk ends up being foreplay...." :)

    Weird show. I think I'm laughing when writers don't want me to and not laughing when they expect it.

    Dave.

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