Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by Adrienne Mitchell
Written by Jane Maggs
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “He’s Back” – click here
In the town of Bellevue, Annie Ryder (Anna Paquin) stumbles to her car out of a bar. She breaks a man’s car window, before the two of them head back to a motel to have sex. This guy’s Dwayne (Victor Andres Turgeon-Trelles), he’s a bit crazy, plus he’s got good drugs. They have some fun, they snort a little coke. Then the cops bust in – Brady Holt (Billy MacLellan), Virginia Panamick (Sharon Taylor), and Peter Welland (Shawn Doyle). Seems that Annie’s a cop, working undercover. Except she’s a bit… deep undercover.
She’s also a mom to a young girl named Daisy (Madison Ferguson). They live in Bellevue, Annie’s hometown, where she’s stayed to raise her own family. It’s a town like any other, it has all the bitchy neighbours, the drug issues, all of what you’d expect from a tiny community. We also find out about an old murder victim, whose death was being investigated by Annie’s father; it’s also the anniversary of his death.
Out at a scrapyard, Annie meets Welland and the others in relation to a missing kid from town. They have a bit of evidence, they’ve recovered a cellphone and a few other items belonging to Jesse Sweetland (Sadie O’Neil), the local star hockey player. He’s also contemplating his “gender identity” – in a small place, nothing is secret.
And there’s a spooky feeling in the air, as we simultaneously hear Daisy’s class presentation about the death of Sandy Driver. This show already has great atmosphere. Might not hold up every episode, but definitely intriguing from the get-go.
I like that they’re tackling a sensitive issue, including ideas of transgender identity, gender fluidity, so on. Don’t like that the trans community is often relegated to victimhood. However, we’ll see where Bellevue takes us in that regard. It’s nice to see some inclusion, and particularly from CBC here in my country.
The cops get a tip on a sex offender; a paedophile recently moved in near the reservation. Out at the bar, Annie confronts the man, made a bit more complicated when the bartender outs her as police. Then the guy hands over a note addressed to her. What the fuck? This is a creepy twist. He up and disappears before she can ask him anything further.
We get a glimpse of her past, after her father died. Young Annie (Habree Larratt) spent quite a bit of time in the woods by herself, a private getaway. Where she starts to find notes written by her father, little riddles left for her to solve. As if he was still alive. This caused problems between her and her mother, a lot of emotional issues for her, too. This story’s just become infinitely weird and just as unsettling.
Annie mentions the riddles to Welland, wondering if he knows anything more than he’s told her. He says he doesn’t, worrying more about her focus on the latest case. But she IS having a hard time. Mainly due to the anniversary of her dad’s death. Moreover, we see she and her estranged boyfriend-not quite husband Eddie (Allen Leech) clearly both have dependency issues, on drugs and alcohol. It’s a thing they share together. Deep history between them, obviously.
During a conversation with her daughter Annie figures out one of her father’s riddles. She goes to an old, rundown church. There she finds a statue painted half man, half woman. A cellphone goes off nearby: Nature is calling, apparently. The sound echoes around her everywhere. Terrifying.
Who gave that paedophile the note? She goes to confront him, he says it was anonymously passed in the bathroom. Annie calls in an anonymous tip about what she’s found, then Welland and the others check out the church; it’s a hangout for teens. They find the statue. Clearly a message. Is Jesse “caught in the middle” of someone’s religious obsession clashing with the idea of trans identity? Or his own?
We start seeing the various opinions in town about Jesse, the trans aspect of his life. Father Jameson (Joe Cobden) believes he was a confused boy, as do the Bible thumpers. Maggie Sweetland (Victoria Sanchez) talks about her husband’s death, then about what she noticed in the days before her son disappearing. He recently, supposedly, stopped dressing feminine as of late. Only we know different, having seen him in the opening moments of the episode. Likewise, we saw a cross-like symbol on his hand. Like a burn.
Annie and Welland comb over the evidence they’ve uncovered so far. Nothing obvious, yet. She remembers seeing the statue as a child. Part of the nativity scene. Meanwhile, the town acts like they’re all hoping for the safe return of Jesse, everybody acting as if their hearts are bleeding when under the surface it doesn’t seem to be the case.
Later, Annie gets a call about Neil Driver (Andreas Apergis) out at the old church. Off his meds again. When she arrives she finds streaks of blood. From a wall hangs bags of it – red paint, not blood – leaking over a painting covered in barbed wire and a rosary. Spooky religious imagery. And that cross on Jesse’s hand? It’s a mark from an electric fence. Perhaps someone is trying to shock the femininity out of the young man wanting to transition? Either way, something connected to Annie is happening. She finds one of her childhood toys in the building. While her daughter sees someone crawling around on the car outside. He’s left a note, too: UR MY LIGHT on the back windshield.
This opening episode did it for me! I’m in, Bellevue. Take me for a ride. It’s obvious there are many things swirling around Annie, now including the fact her daughter is nearly traumatised and I know it’ll get worse. I love the idea of imperfect parents, and she is definitely one. She’s an interesting character, as is the story compelling.
“He’s Back” is the next episode. Will be exciting to watch these characters and this gritty plot expand in the coming chapters.