City On Fire: Season 1/ Episode 1 “We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us” – Recap and Review (with Spoilers) | Premiere

Set in 2003, this mystery has nothing but intriguing characters who draw you in quickly and leave you wanting to know more.

Sam (Chase Sui Wonders)

Set in 2003, this mystery has nothing but intriguing characters who draw you in quickly and leave you wanting to know more.

Release Date (Apple TV+) May 12, 2023
Director(s) Jesse Peretz
Writer(s) Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage
Newly Noted Characters and Cast
Sam                Chase Sui Wonders
Charlie Wyatt Oleff
Dr. Aitschul Stephen Spinella
Solomon Alexander Pineiro
Regan Jemima Kirke
Keith                Ashley Zukerman
William Nico Tortorella
Sewer Girl Alexandra Doke
Mercer Xavier Clyde
Nicky Chaos Max Milner
Amory Gould John Cameron Mitchell
Will Chaise Torio

Plot Recap

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The Girl Of His Dreams – Sam, Charlie, Dr. Altschul

Charlie, the son of a man who died on 9/11, has weekly therapy sessions with Dr. Altschul in New York City. From what it appears, he isn’t fond of the sessions, but he attends with his mother pressuring him to go and open up to someone. But, while he doesn’t enjoy therapy, he does enjoy getting to wander the city after his sessions, especially after meeting Sam.

Sam and Charlie went to the same high school, Flower Hill High, in Long Island, though Sam was a grade ahead of Charlie. But, by chance, he goes into the same record store she is in, lowkey stalking her, and luckily, she remembers him, and, as many extroverts do, she adopts the shy and introverted Charlie as her protégé. Thus leading to Sam having someone who seems to care about her in ways others don’t and Sam getting to spend time with a cute and interesting girl he has a growing crush on.

The Rebel With An Unknown Cause – Sam, Solomon, Regan, Keith, William, Sewer Girl, Mercer, Nicky

Regan (Jemima Kirke) and Keith (Ashley Zukerman)
“Regan (Jemima Kirke) and Keith (Ashley Zukerman),” City On Fire, “We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us,” directed by Jesse Peretz, 2023, (Apple TV+)

But, sadly for Charlie, life isn’t simple for Sam. She may have her zine and photography, but she also courts trouble. From being the mistress of Keith, a man married to a wealthy woman named Regan, to being friends with Nicky, Solomon, and Sewer Girl, who set a church on fire? Sam lives a life of danger and excitement that even she may not enjoy. Especially as Solomon and his crew seem to plan something big via the fireworks Sam’s dad left behind in his former shop.

Let it be known, though, Sam isn’t the only one closely associated with people who have overbearing drama. Mercer, a southern boy from Georgia, came up north to be a teacher and found himself dating William. At one time, William, also known as Billy Three Sticks, was part of a popular, local indie band known as Ex Post Factor. However, when he left, the band eventually reformed and went from Ex Post Factor to Ex Nihilo, with Nicky as lead singer.

This matters little to William, as he has heroin and Mercer to keep him company. Still, curiosity does draw him to Ex Nihio’s Fourth of July show to see how bad the band is without him.

How Life Can Change Without Your Permission – Sam, Solomon, Regan, Keith, William, Sewer Girl, Mercer, Nicky, Amory, Charlie, Will

Sadly for William, they are quite good and seem to maintain the following they had after their first album dropped. But, while William is focused on his former band makers, Mercer wanders into the hornet’s nest, which is William’s family. Regan, due to being COO of her family’s company, is obligated to show to her father’s party, and unfortunately, her uncle Amory is there and knows about Keith having an affair, the separation, and more than Regan would ever voluntarily tell him. No matter, though, what he wants to talk about is her father being arrested for his name being all over financial documents manipulated for lower taxes and better loans. He wants her to be the face and hold the company up as the s*** storm hits, just as she is dealing with the end of her marriage – hooray.

Speaking of the end of her marriage, Sam tries to push for her and Keith to have a conversation, but with him thinking she sent a letter informing Regan of their affair, he wants no part of her. However, pressuring him with further embarrassment and exposure, he may have decided it was best to meet her. Unfortunately, it seems Will, Regan, and Keith’s son may have overheard this conversation since he ends up near the meeting place Sam set, a park. It is there where Mercer met Sam before going to meet William’s family, and it is at that park he discovers Sam has been shot.

As for Charlie? Well, originally, he and Sam were supposed to hang out at Nicky’s show, but Sam abandoned him to see Keith, which led to him meeting Sewer Girl, Nicky, William, and Solomon. All of which are lovely to him, but with worrying about Sam, he heads for Central Park and ends up being the second person to see Sam with a bullet hole in her head.

But don’t worry, she does seem to live. However, whether she remembers who shot her is a whole different matter.

Other Noteworthy Information

  1. Mercer used William’s attire for Regan’s party, and after finding Sam, he puts his jacket over her. Said jacket had drugs in it, so when the cops remove it and Mercer admits the jacket is his, he gets arrested. Not due to thinking he killed Sam, since he called it in, but just for possession.

Things To Note

Collected Quote(s)

[Living] once is enough if you do it right.
— Sam

Review


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Highlights

It’s Easy To Be Hooked By All Those Involved

Sewer Girl (Alexandra Doke)
“Sewer Girl (Alexandra Doke),” City On Fire, “We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us,” directed by Jesse Peretz, 2023, (Apple TV+)

There is so much going on, and with each character, whether they have minimal lines like the oddly named “Sewer Girl” to those like Sam and Charlie, you want to know more. Rarely, if ever, in a cheap way, but because what is given to you is enough to get you going.

Sam, for example, while she does trigger the need to check if she qualifies as a manic pixie dream girl, appears to be so much more than that catch-all term. From the question of what happened to her camera to what led to her involvement with Nicky and the rest, she has a whole life outside of Charlie – One that seems to include arson.

With that said, why Solomon felt the need to have such a large load of fireworks from the shop of Sam’s father is also worth asking. Add in questions about how Sam met Keith, what is Charlie’s home life like, what led to Regan and William becoming estranged, and so much more, and you’re given this huge maze where every route has promise, even if it doesn’t lead to you getting out of all the twists and turns with any sort of speed.

On The Fence

Wonder If This Would Have Been Better As A Movie

Sewer Girl (Alexandra Doke) and Nicky Chaos (Max Milner)
“Sewer Girl (Alexandra Doke) and Nicky Chaos (Max Milner),” City On Fire, “We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us,” directed by Jesse Peretz, 2023, (Apple TV+)

To note, this is, but the pilot, and we’ve seen too many times shows that are mysteries peak early on and then collapse under the weight of expectations and inability to balance their characters. Which almost makes me wonder if this would have been better as a movie?

Yes, we love many of the characters, but as time goes on, will Nicky and his crew seem like fat that could be shaved off? What about Mercer? Can Charlie avoid becoming like so many dull and dry male leads who are only made interesting due to them stumbling into people far more interesting than them? Consider this the type of caution which comes with watching too much television and movies, and the majority of the programs having wonderful foundations, made of brick and steel, with each level made of a flimsy material that eventually crumbles like a house of cards.

[ninja_tables id=”75622″]

Sam (Chase Sui Wonders)
City On Fire: Season 1/ Episode 1 “We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us” – Recap and Review (with Spoilers) | Premiere
Overall
“City on Fire” starts off strong, but it does leave you to wonder if the hook of these big personalities and recognizable faces can hold you once that initial luster wears off.
Highlights
It’s Easy To Be Hooked By All Those Involved
Disputable
Wonder If This Would Have Been Better As A Movie
79

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