Ordeal By Innocence: Season 1/ Episode 1 [Series Premiere] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Title Card for Amazon Prime's Ordeal by Innocence.

With only 3 episodes, the foundation is quickly set, alibis given, and a few suspects. Presenting a story which seemingly is following a three act structure with one act per episode.

Amazon Prime
CreatorAgatha Christie
Director(s)Sandra Goldbacher
Writer(s)Sarah Phelps
Air Date8/10/2018
Genre(s)Mystery, Thriller
Good If You LikeMurder Mysteries Set In Early 20th Century England

Agatha Christie Novels

Productions Where Everyone is Shown To Be A Suspect

Noted Actors
RachelAnna Chancellor
JackAnthony Boyle
LeoBill Nighy
GwendaAlice Eve
TinaCrystal Clarke
HesterElla Purnell
MickeyChristian Cooke
MaryEleanor Tomlinson
PhilipMatthew Goode
ArthurLuke Treadaway
KirstenMorven Christie

The Introduction

It is sometime during the period of the world wars, the holiday season, and an heiress named Rachel has found herself murdered. Thanks to fingerprints and the DNA technology of the time, it is assumed it is one of her many adopted children, Jack. However, 18 months later, a man who says he is Jack’s alibi waltz in and disturbs what was to be Rachel’s widow, Leo, next marriage. One to his secretary Gwenda. Someone who is met with indifference by the majority of Rachel’s orphaned children. Tina doesn’t strongly care, Hester finds her annoying at best, Mickey couldn’t give a rats ass but Mary? Oh, she is ready to do what it takes to get rid of that woman.

But, while her eyes focus on Gwenda, she doesn’t see her rat of a husband, Philip, a fallen war hero, try to make a deal with Arthur to extort money from Leo. After all, a wrongful death, and the whole family under a watchful eye as they go through the rumor mill? What more could a crippled man, reliant on a woman who won’t allow him splendor, want?

Though, it should be noted, it isn’t just her children but even her maid which was adopted. A woman named Kirsten. Someone who also has no love for Gwenda if just because there are fears she could be sacked when she officially becomes the lady of the house. However, with Arthur’s testimony comes everyone being on notice. Which, for Mickey and Tina, who seemingly had a rendezvous outside, they’re covered. But with Hester having blood on her, Gwenda as well, Mary being hated by Rachel, and so many more who had motive, Arthur kicking the hive’s nest brings a bit of fear all around.

On The Fence

While It Presents a Good Mystery, It Feels A Tad Rushed

Rachel, her children, and Kirsten.

Those who know of Agatha Christie’s signature style, it is hard to not be entranced in the way her stories craft the question of “Who dun it?” For even while there is this sense that some may be innocent, because they weren’t in the house, there is always the question of how quickly did they run after they did what they did? After all, no one truly stops being a suspect until they are dead. And while, yes, we see Hester with blood on her nightgown, Gwenda covered in it as well, who is to say they are the murderer but not one of many?

Consider that, despite her adopting so many children, it didn’t seem she cared a whole lot for raising them. She comes off like someone who would have been better off with animals like dogs than humans. Especially as we witness her bring Mary down on her wedding day, some form of trauma she caused Tina, her contentious relationship with Jack, and who knows how the relationship with her other children will be developed in the two remaining episodes.

But, while the foundation is laid, it does feel a bit like a rushed job. Making it where, as much as we get the facts and suspect, there isn’t much of an air of mystery. If anything, there is this vibe we are watching something modernized for taking its time and fleshing things out won’t do for an instant gratification seeking audience.

First Impression: Mixed (Stick Around)

Ordeal by Innocence isn’t a quick sale but with the actors and characters it presents to us, maybe it’ll get better in the episodes which follow. Especially if the three episodes follow a three-act structure. Hence the mixed label for even with spending a whole hour with these characters, there is a need to question can a classic be modernized and maintain its prestige. Or, will it find itself, like many a classic, seeming more like a classic for the time which maintains its prestige solely because of age more than quality.

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