CBS’s Tell Me a Story
Chapter 1: “Hope”
Directed by Liz Friedlander
Written by Kevin Williamson
* For a recap & review of Chapter 2, “Loss” – click here
In a rundown trailer, Eddie (Paul Wesley) receives a visit from Mitch (Michael Raymond-James) to prepare for a job. They’re working for a guy named Sam (Dorian Crossmond Missick). They’re obviously going to be pulling off a heist of some kind, as Eddie’s given a bag with a pig mask and a gun.
On the news is “deep state” nonsense about the current American administration, along with their horrific immigration policies. Jordan (James Wolk) gets home from a run to find Beth (Spencer Grammer) taking a pregnancy test. She doesn’t want to have a child right now, whereas he does. The world itself is not a “child–friendly environment.”
Tim (Sam Jaeger) is doing his best with daughter Kayla (Danielle Campbell), while grandma Colleen (Kim Cattrall) makes breakfast. This family situation’s not so great. The father-daughter pair have moved in with grandma and it’s obviously not because they wanted to, so the tension’s thick. Looks like Tim probably lost his wife.
Across the city, Gabe (Davi Santos) gets home from an after-after party, working hard at a club. At a gym, Hannah (Dania Ramirez), a military veteran, helps an army buddy train. They talk about how things have been since coming back from war, and each of them have their troubles, both mentally and physically.
Jordan runs a hotel restaurant, where he’s hired Tim, an old buddy. He’s a pretty bourgeois guy, though he and his friends are aware of the sociopolitical situation in their country, some of whom are people of colour directly affected by Trump. Aside from that, Jordan and Beth are troubled as a couple, wanting different things out of their relationship. She doesn’t want to bring a child into current day America, where they have to run a “terror drill” at work every so often in case of a mass shooting.
At her new school, Kayla’s managed to make one friend, Laney (Paulina Singer), who’s pretty laidback and also rebellious. That night, Laney asks Kayla to sneak out with a fake ID for late night fun. They go out to a club called Rapture to drop some molly and dance, where Eddie works as a bartender. A man, Nick (Billy Magnussen), has his eye on Kayla and pursues her across the dance floor. After they dance he seems to disappear, leaving her confused. She searches for him through the crowd and finds him at the bar. She ought to be careful taking a drink she didn’t watch get poured. Either way, they’re soon back at his place getting naked.
Gabe and his buddy Billy go to a hotel room where they meet Dan for a private party, just the three of them. Billy and Dan are already undressing, while Gabe has a drink and some party favours. Soon, Dan wants some of Gabe, too. Billy gets caught stealing from their host, which starts a violent confrontation, ending with Dan hitting his head off the coffee table. Gabe calls for help, but his friend runs off. He checks on Dan to find him dead.
After their hookup, Nick and Kayla talk in bed. She tells him about how her mother was a believer in “spirit animals.” It isn’t long before she’s fed up and wants to go, not looking to get too close to a booty call. Nick wants more, asking for her number, but she’s intent on getting out of there and likely never seeing him again. He stops her for a kiss. Maybe she feels a connection, maybe she doesn’t. What’s clear is she keeps people at arm’s length, from casual hookups to her own family. She and grandma do some honest bonding the next morning when Colleen lays out the truth about herself, as well as their whole family struggle. In class, Kayla finds her substitute teachers is actually Nick. Both of them are surprised. Probably him more so, considering he’s slept with a high school girl without knowing.
Hannah’s preparing to shower. We see a wound covering most of her back. She has deep scars, literally and figuratively. She then receives a call from Gabe, who, as it turns out, is her brother. She rushes to him and sees the scene at Dan’s loft. The brother and sister are semi-estranged. She isn’t happy to get dragged into a mess involving a corpse, cocaine, and stolen money. Hannah has her brother wipe for prints, not knowing what else to do. But is it so easy? Father Gore’s sure it won’t be, at all.
Jordan accompanies Beth to a rally. People are wearing pig masks and protesting police brutality after cops recently killed two young civilians. The crowd are cheering and screaming. A few people start getting into a fight and police begin swarming. Beth decides she doesn’t want to stick around, pulling Jordan off to apologise for their recent fight. She asks him to marry her, wanting to start a life together.
When they go looking at rings, they find themselves in the middle of a robbery— the men in their pig masks. Eddie and the thieves have subverted the protest to use it as their disguise. Beth’s phone goes off and it makes one of the men uneasy. A security guard interrupts the robbery, only to be shot to death. One of the robbers takes a bullet, but the men easily disappear outside in the crowd of other pig faces. Jordan notices Beth took a bullet below the chest, and she bleeds out there in his arms.
“He doesn’t understand that most of us, we live between right and wrong.”
This episode started off slow, then by the end it had a lot of tension going. Father Gore will definitely stick with this series to see where it heads from here! Always have a little faith in Kevin Williamson just on the good will from Scream alone.
There are already fairy tale connections: The Three Little Pigs as robbers (maybe Jordan will become the Big Bad Wolf in a revenge tale?); Kayla as Red Riding Hood and Nick as the Wolf (notice Grandma had a red raincoat for her); plus Hannah and Gabe could work as Hansel and Gretel. Interesting, subtle uses of the fairy tale characters in this initial episode. Looking forward to how those expand.
Chapter 2: “Loss” is next time.