A Murder at the End of the World – Episode 1 Recap & Review

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Episode 1 of A Murder at the End of the World begins with a chilling narration. The narrator is Darby Hunt, a Gen Z amateur sleuth who also happens to be a genius coder and writer. At a book launch, she reads from her book, The Silver Doe. It is a true crime story based on a road trip she took with a friend she once called “Bill.” Against convention, she starts reading the book from the final chapter. Her story is largely focused on chasing a serial killer who targeted young women.

The title refers to this one victim who had silver earrings. Darby’s father was the country coroner. She grew up in this world of crime and became fascinated with the idea of solving murders. Her idol is Lee Anderson, who is arguably the single most important female coder of all time. Darby hacked the federal database of unidentified bodies when she was 15. To her horror, female victims of unaccounted disappearances ran in thousands.

She and Bill chased a lead to the address of the supposed killer. The plot had been lying vacant for many years. Although Bill was sceptical, he still went along with her. It is implied they were in love with each other…but something changed during that night. Darby forced open the garage door of the house, which gave them an entry. They headed toward the basement where it was clear that the concrete floor had recently been redone. They started digging and went at it for hours.

However, Darby and Bill fell short of finding a body. They fell asleep right there on the floor in each other’s warmth. Darby’s sleep broke upon hearing some noises upstairs. She noticed something different about the staircase and then it hit her: the body was buried underneath it. She woke up Bill and they tore it apart…to find the body of the killer’s wife, Patricia. She was his first, evident by the matching wedding ring on her finger. 

We see the pair being confronted by the killer, who stands at the entrance to the basement and points a gun at them. However, Darby stops narrating there, leaving us wondering if Bill is indeed alive as he jumps in front of her. She takes a few questions and goes back home. However, she is surprised when she finds a message from someone called Ray, who claims to be representing Andy Ronson. This name is familiar to Darby as a billionaire tech mogul, who married her idol, Lee Anderson.

Lee was cancelled by the tech community because of her prodigal talent and her gender. Darby thinks it is a Russian hack. hHowever, Ray shows up at her house. From the app she installs on her phone, Darby is able to see Ray, although he isn’t visible to the naked eye. Ray invites her to Ronson’s 2023 Retreat at an undisclosed location. It is a meeting of a small group of esteemed people, some of whom are Andy’s friends. Darby finds herself speechless yet intrigued and accepts the invitation. 

She talks to her father about it and off she goes! Darby is greeted at the facade of the plane by Todd, Ronson’s head of security. Todd was also present at the reading, although we didn’t know it at the time. She is checked onto the plane and finds a group of people. Martin Mitchell, an up-and-coming filmmaker; Lu Mei, a Chinese billionaire building smart cities in China; and Sian Cruise, an astronaut who walked on the moon. 

It turns out that Bill Farrah has now become a successful guerilla artist who creates under the pseudonym FANGS. Darby hasn’t been in contact for six years. She remains coy about the nature of their previous relationship. It turns out that the location for the retreat is Iceland, the last known great remains of barren land on Earth, according to Ronson. Darby and the other guests check into the scenic hotel. Darby is surprised to find Ray in her room. Ray is actually an AI invention of Ronson’s, whom he is soon planning to bring to the mass market.

Darby goes to dinner that night, finally fulfilling her purpose of coming to the retreat – meeting Lee. Although they don’t exchange words – only glances – Darby blushes like a child. But other than that, Darby finds herself unfit at the table. While the others talk about their achievements and how they’re changing the world, she has nothing to offer. Ronson addresses his guests and lauds their efforts to make a difference. Lee is with him as well. Their son, Zoomer, is young but still invited to the table.

The night changes quite fast for Darby when she sees Bill sitting opposite to her. She almost chokes on her food as she is taken aback, only to be saved by Sian’s timely intervention. They talk later, after dinner and a dip in the hot springs, like old friends. They go on a walk in the cold where Bill reveals that he deserted Darby at the motel because he wasn’t as brave as she wanted him to be…and what Darby sees as bravery, he sees as something else – much scarier.

Although she rejects Bill’s invitation to his room, Darby has a change of heart after listening to their favourite song in her room, “No More I Love Yous.” When she first hears the noises from inside, Darby thinks Bill is having sex with someone else. Earlier, she had a wandering thought that Bill and Lee were involved with each other, somehow. However, Darby quickly realizes that Bill needs help. She ventures outside to look inside his room. Darby looks in horror as a bloodied Bill asks her to stay and collapses as Darby rushes to get help.

The Episode Review

The knives out-like invitation has materialized into a murder after all. Was Darby’s invitation pre-meditated? Episode 1 gives us many clues that point to that conclusion. Ronson’s uneasiness when Zoomer was playing with Bill at the table coupled with the pictures we saw of Lee and him might be red herrings after all.

Emma Corrain is impressive as the lead. Despite having characteristics that can be so easily classified as cringe, she stands on her own as a relatable character. Anchoring the story in her stead is a clever creative decision.

I don’t expect the story to continue as a murder within a murder narrative frame. It will bog down the present-day investigation. However, Darby’s past and feelings of longing for Bill should emerge from now on given the conclusion to episode 1. This is a fantastic start to the show.


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