Male - 21 Years Old
This ended up being much longer than I expected, and it's probably poorly-written because I threw it together in like 10 minutes, but it's still technically some sort of review, so hopefully some of you can take at least something from it. I'll tag it all just in case.
Just finished the first episode, and I gotta say, there was quite a bit to like. I'm not familiar with Campion much at all, so I won't be able to comment on where this would land in her oeuvre or anything, but it was shot beautifully (most of the exterior framing, especially in the opening scenes, was flawless), and written quite well. As of right now, the character backgrounds are what's most interesting, because everything with Tui and the actual pregnancy/main story/etc. is playing out just like a typical police procedural episode, so while it was crucial to moving the plot along, it was hardly a stand-out segment of the episode; her mother and half-brother immediately stood out as much more interesting/mysterious.
I don't know whether or not it was accurate, having next to no knowledge of New Zealand, but what was depicted of the area conveyed it as one big seedy underbelly, and it all came off as quite intimidating. The Mitchum family clearly has a lot of stake in the goings-on around the area, so I'm assuming large drug business, and they were all particularly terrifying due to the charm and charisma they possessed; you can still though that the two grown sons are still very scared of their father, and I see that playing a large part in the second half of this series. The writers did kind of slap us in the face with the whole 'salmon fishing' thing, but there are definitely worse ways that scene could have started out.
Elisabeth Moss, while sporting one of the spottiest accents of the year (between her and Spacey, man, I don't know what the deal is lately), succeeded in nearly every other aspect of the character. She underplays the part of 'cop returning to hometown and having to juggle new case and old wounds' and it's a good thing she did, because that's the type of thing that could easily make a series like this fall apart. They don't shoehorn in any typical female cop tropes; the seeds of her history with the town and case are planted slowly, and while a few things still fell flat (the scene at her father's in particular), most of it manages to raise intrigue rather than elicit groans.
The one big issue I have is with the whole Holly Hunter area of the show. I don't understand whether she's running a women's shelter, or a cult or whatever, but nearly everything involving it just feels implausible. Renting shipping containers and moving out to the middle of a field and still convincing a handful of women (none of which seemed to be all that tortured, mentally or otherwise) to accompany you? I don't know, maybe there's some cultural undertone attached to all that which I'm completely glossing over. Luckily, this was the least focused area of the episode, so it's really hard to lash out at it after only an hour. I still have faith that all involved with this know what they're doing and how to make it play out.
So yeah, I dug it, along with having a few minor gripes. The ending was a bit unexpected, but I liked it a lot; the rack focus was utilized just right. I got the feeling that this was clearly a set-up episode, and the body in the water right before the cut to black kind of confirmed that. I expect this to get much darker, and I hope I'm correct, because I know I'll enjoy it a lot more if that's the case.