Black Cake – Season 1 Episode1 “Covey” Recap & Review

Covey

Episode 1 of Black Cake begins with a scene that shows our protagonist, Eleanor Bennet, jumping into the ocean in her wedding dress. But, there is a catch. At the time, she was not Eleanor!

We jump into the present day, where an older Eleanor sits alone on the beach. She takes her surfboard and prepares herself to wrestle with the waves. This interludes with her son, Byron Bennet, talking to a group of college students, encouraging them to choose a career as an ocean scientist.

Unfortunately, Eleanor’s surfing stint is cut short as she slips and meets with an accident. At the hospital Byron discovers a more pressing issue about her health: a brain tumor. He is stunned into silence and keeps trying to reach his estranged sister Benny. She doesn’t pick up the phone and he finally leaves a voicemail, informing her that Eleanor is alright. A few months later, we see Byron sitting in Mr. Mitch’s office, waiting for Benny’s arrival. Eleanor has succumbed to her illness and left a will for Mitch to read in the presence of the siblings.

Against all odds, Benny shows up. But Byron isn’t welcoming. It is revealed that she has been estranged from the family for almost eight years. Mitch reveals that before everything else, Eleanor’s last wish was for the siblings to assemble in the house and listen to “her story.” In the audio recording, Eleanor narrates her life story, including her true identity and her roots in the Caribbean Islands. She grew up in the 50s and 60s as a happy child called Covey, the only daughter of Chinese immigrant Lin Lyncook and Matilda Lyncook (nee Brown). However, aged 11, Covey’s mother deserted the family.

The main reason was Lin’s failing business and gambling habits. Lin brought up Covey as a single parent and could barely make ends meet. He also slipped deeper into debt and got himself and Covey in significant trouble by borrowing money from Clarence “Little Man” Henry, a devious loan shark. Covey’s best friend, Bunny, was her swimming mate. The two were exceptional swimmers and wanted to compete around the world in exotic waters. When Covey turned 16, she met a boy, Gilbert “Gibbs” Grant, who was infatuated with her. They only had a few months together since the older Gibbs was leaving for London to study law.

However, this did not stop their friendship from blossoming. Their liking for each other was at a mature level and not just some teen love. Due to his immense debt, the Henry brothers burnt down Lin’s shop which was handed to him by his father. When Covey learned of Lin’s debt to Henry, she burst into a harangue like her mother often did. Lin became defensive and their housekeeper, Pearl, had to play the peacemaker. She was more than just a housekeeper and like a second mother to Covey; a stout pillar in her life. To Covey’s absolute horror, she discovered one day that Lin had decided to essentially “sell” her to Henry in exchange for forgiving the debt.

Henry had his eye on Covey and wanted to marry her. Covey could not believe the extent of Lin’s betrayal and was petrified and disgusted by Henry. However, despite Gibbs’ offer to bring her to London with him, Covey stayed behind. She cited her father’s selflessness and constant presence in her life through difficult moments as the reason. Although Covey pretended to be interested in Henry through his courtship, the day finally came when they were set to get married. When the realization dawned upon Covey, Lin, and Pearl, it was too late.

Covey had intense remorse and anger toward Lin, vowing never to see his face again after the marriage. Bunny and Peral tried to encourage her and boost Covey’s morale but it was all in vain. Something unexpected happened at the wedding afterparty when Henry started choking on his drink. He collapsed to the ground and succumbed to what looked like deliberate poisoning. Covey had no clue about it but saw it as an opportunity to run away.

We transition back to the first scene in the episode of Covey jumping into the ocean and hiding out in the caves, where the police didn’t bother to look. She was presumed missing/dead by the police, who then started an investigation into Henry’s murder. Covey and Lin both were suspects but he was only concerned about finding her.

Only Bunny had an inkling of her swimming talents and hung around the beach until late at night when Covey finally surfaced. The two best friends embraced and Bunny gave her some essentials to make the journey to London. Covey now had a fake passport and travelled under the name Covey Brown to avoid suspicion. In London, she was placed at a boarding house where such immigrants from the Islands came directly from the dockyards. That is where Covey met her roommate, Eleanor Dolores.


The Episode Review

Episode 1 of Black Cake is a solid introduction all things considered. The hour-long runtime allows creators to pack the opener with interesting subplots and character points. The adaptation does have a lot of bite to the storytelling, although the creatives must be wary to avoid genre pitfalls. It is likely that Black Cake might temporarily fall into that trap as it is treading a slippery slope.

The production seems top-notch with impressive visual capturing of the scenic Caribbean region. The setting itself proved to be atmospheric in a way that was not expected. What impressed me the most was the seriousness of the writing and the sensible treatment of the source material.

There are moments in the opener where the narrative drifts with no direction. In feature dramas like these where exposition is intense, such patterns are bound to emerge. However, the creators were quick to bring back the focus to the show’s strengths.

 

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You can read our full Season 1 review of Black Cake here!

  • Episode Rating
    (3.5)
3.5

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