Show Review: Tin Star (2017)

I’d never heard of Tin Star until yesterday when it popped up on my streaming service, but I really like Tim Roth as an actor (Pulp Fiction is the movie my partner and I watched on our first date, haha) and figured I’d give it a go. I also found out the amazing Christina Hendricks is in the show, so OF COURSE.

FYI: it’s brilliant.

As usual, this has some spoilers.

The series is set in Canada (yay!) and follows an English-Irish family who have just arrived in the small, picturesque town of Little Big Bear. The opening scene is one that really sets the grim, brutal tone of the series: the family are driving fast, afraid, on the way to Calgary. They stop at a petrol station and the young son tells them he has to go to the toilet. When they pause, just for a second, a man in a mask appears and fires into the front window. We only see blood spray on the daughter, so it’s unclear who’s been hurt inside the car.

The show then flashes back a year to the family’s arrival in the town. Jim is the new sheriff, his wife Angela is settling in with the kids, Anna and Peter. The family want a fresh start and things are looking up in the town. Jim’s arrival at work is so quiet that the other officers are playing video games and tell him to go fishing; Angela goes to sell some fudge at a local fair and meets Elizabeth Bradshaw, another new arrival. Elizabeth, we soon find out, is the spokeswoman for North Stream Oil, who want to move in and start working around the town. Jim and many of the other townsfolk oppose this, but the push for more income into the town is strong. Susan, Jim’s friend, says people have been following her since she started speaking out. (I got really strong Zone Blanche vibes, actually.)

The harassment of those opposing the company begins to pick up, but the proof is hard to find. Until Susan is found dead in an apparent suicide on the side of the road. Not everyone believes this, however, and Jim and his officers start looking into other reasons she might have been targeted. Unbeknownst to Jim, Louis Gagnon, the head of security for the company, has bugged his office and is hearing every word that goes on.

Then, one night, Jim and his family are attacked in their home. They gather their things to leave and we arrive back at the intro scene. We find out that Jim ducked upon seeing the shooter and that the victim in the car is young Peter. (It’s really, really heart-wrenching.) Angela, too, is injured and taken to surgery. As Jim and Anna reel from the painful series of events, Jim spirals back into alcoholism and we learn that he has an alter-ego: Jack. Jack is nothing like Jim. One is a cop, one is a criminal. And so Jack begins trying to track down who killed his son by truly brutal means.

And the answer is far from clearcut … (trust me, the twists, guys!)

I was so stunned by how intricate and engrossing this series is. The actors are absolutely amazing, the scenery stunning and the soundtrack is lush. If you like crime drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat, this one is for you.

Show Review: Zone Blanche (2017)

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Zone Blanche, or Black Spot, is a dark and twisty show. (I’m still not clear as to how a show with the name ‘White Zone’ gets an English title of Black Spot, but I digress …) It follows the residents of a small French town, Villefranche, which is surrounded by miles and miles of forest. It has a murder rate six times the national average and very little technology. (Even microwaves are known to fritz out.)

Prior to the events of the show, the mayor’s daughter went missing. No one knows anything, but everyone’s holding out hope that she’s just run away. When Prosecutor Franck Siriani arrives in the town, he begins poking around in everyone’s business. He immediately butts heads with Laurène Weiss, the head of the local police with a dark past. And when I say dark, I mean dark. There’s a tradition in the town that every teenager spends a night in the forest alone and let’s just say we see it end poorly in more than one episode.

While Laurène and her partner Martial Ferrandis (Nounours, or ‘Teddybear’) try and solve the numerous murders and mysteries of the town, her daughter Cora delves deeper and deeper into a radical group determined to mess with the town’s mayor. The mayor and Laurène have a complicated history that resurfaces as she tries to find his daughter; meanwhile, Nounours is one of the few out of the closet gay men in the village and in addition to dealing with backlash from some of the less-than-open-minded locals, struggles with his burgeoning relationship with a closeted man.

There’s some seriously twisted sides of the town that are slowly revealed as the episodes unfold. Often the characters talk about the forest like it’s speaking to them, and you’re left wondering if it’s a metaphor or if the forest is, in fact, sending them messages. I feel like the forest becomes its own character in the show.

One of the first things I loved about the show is the imagery. It’s so, so atmospheric and beautiful. If you like foggy small town mysteries, this one is for you. It fits right in with Øyevitne and La Forêt, which I just started. Kind of reminds me of, like, a less creepy genre of The Ring. It’s not nearly as horrific, but the atmosphere and creeping quietness are similar. It’s a genre I really, really like.

I definitely recommend this to fans of crime dramas and small town mysteries!

 

**gifs found online, not mine

Øyevitne (2014)

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The series follows Philip and Henning, a young couple in a small Norwegian town, after they go out dirt biking one night and witness a murder. They manage to hide until the killer stumbles upon them and tries to attack Philip. Henning saves him and they flee, getting rid of the murderer’s weapon on the way. They vow never to speak of it again as Henning isn’t out yet and is terrified that his father will find out the truth about him and Philip.

The vow is quickly put to the test when Philip sees the murderer on a train and fears he’s been recognised. Elsewhere, a young girl named Zana is running from someone, although it’s unclear who. All the while the police, lead by Philip’s foster mother, the local sheriff, try to unravel the mystery of the killings, which has frustratingly few leads. As it turns out, one of the dead was an undercover informant in a biker gang and there’s a great deal of fallout from that once it’s discovered that he was snitching to his sister-in-law, a cop. All of the characters have something to hide, all are interconnected.

The show is super intense. My heart broke for Philip at every turn. Bless his heart, he tries so hard and gets so much hatred and frustration from those around him. Definitely my favourite of the characters, though I really adored the foster dad. He really tried to be Philip’s dad and I loved him.

The show is short, only six episodes, so it’s a quick one to marathon. Definitely recommended for fans of crime dramas!

 

**gifs found online, not mine