Apple TV’s new mystery drama has not been well received by the earliest of critic reviewers, currently sitting at just 24% on Rotten Tomatoes , right next to an audience score of 95% why does this happen so frequently? What are us mere mortals seeing that’s so different.
The biggest complaint I’ve seen is that it drags on and on and while that is true on a level, why let that diminish what is a well made, well acted, beautifully shot and engaging mystery.
Yes it’s very slow but I’m really enjoying the suspense, in the opening credits it states that it’s inspired by the book The Minds of Billy Milligan. That fact alone has your mind wandering during the first three episodes as to what is really going on with the story and who is Tom Hollands character Danny, Hollands boyish looks add to the characters demeanor, he’s quiet and unassuming, almost innocent looking, you want to believe him.
The series opens with Danny Sullivan (Tom Holland) riding the subway next a woman, who we come to know as Ariana (Sasha Lane). Danny clutching a paper bag, is visibly agitated. They come up to the city where Danny confronts a man with a gun only to freeze. Ariana screams at him to shoot, as she grabs the gun the man takes the opportunity to run, as he is chased by Ariana the gun goes off multiple times.
Danny is arrested at his home, the police take him into custody where one cop proclaims that he was “just a little good luck shy of a murder charge.”
The series quickly ushers in Amanda Seyfried’s character Rya, she is addressed as “professor”. Here is where we learn about Danny, through Rya’s interrogation and flash backs of his life, as he tells her his story.
Danny is from a broken home with an abusive stepfather and rather oddly his mother is played by Emmy Rossum, she is just 9 years older than Holland. Danny moves out of his mothers home after he meets a man named Yitzhak (Lior Raz). Yitzhak stops a group beating him up, he offers him sanctuary from the bullies and his stepfathers abuse, this is where he also meets Ariana.
Rya repeatedly asks Danny about the people around him, all who seem to have disappeared, in particular Ariana’s whereabouts is a concern to Rya. Danny repeatedly states he doesn’t know where she is.
The first 3 episodes are a drip feed of Danny’s potential as a dangerous person of interest to the police, there is a missing brother, hints at sexual abuse, a scrap book of Danny’s art is found with his paintings of the people close to him, to which one cop reacts to as possible victims.
The suspense is exacerbated by Tom Hollands great performance, he makes Danny sympathetic, is he a victim of Ariana’s manipulation? Is he a product of abuse, what is his real mental state and is there really a monster behind those eyes.
The plot is thick, it regularly skips time frames, you really need to pay attention, but that will only help to drag you into the story. The pacing is very slow, it’s a tease and depending on your patience, will determine if you stick with it, It’s left me incredibly inquisitive with what’s to come.
The first 3 episodes of The Crowded Room are available to stream on Apple TV+.