City On Fire – Episode 1 “We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us” Recap & Review

We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us

Episode 1 of City on Fire begins on the 4th July 2003. A man called Mercer rushes through Central Park, calling for aid from the police. “She’s in there!” He says, leading police over to where a girl (whom we later learn is called Samantha) is lying on the ground with blood over her face. A boy called Charlie rushes away in the distance.

A few weeks earlier we cut to Charlie, who happens to be at therapy. He discusses meeting someone he used to go to school with, a hard-to-forget girl called Samantha whom he’s liked for a while.

Flashbacks burst through here as we see the pair head into a record store together, both browsing separately, before she snaps his photo and looks through the vinyl. Sam takes an interest in him, where Charlie divulges that his father died last year and he’s been attending therapy since.

Sam brightens up Charlie by handing over her “zine” and tells him that he’s going to be her new project. The pair continue to hang out; Sam has Charlie try cigarettes for the first time. Sam also constantly snaps photos of him and the pair even buy new threads too.

There’s a lovely little nod to LimeWire thrown in (shout out to my fellow Millennials who infected their computer), but really, Dr Altschul believes that he’s using Sam as a shield against the hard reality of facing his father’s death.

Meanwhile, a woman called Regan receives a message from a girl with the words “He is 1lying to you.” the 1 is intentional, you feel. Anyway, Regan can’t sleep after seeing this and confronts her partner Keith. Keith claims that its “her fault” that this happened and as a result, she decides to move out.

In the hallway, Regan bumps into Mercer, the guy we saw at the start of the episode rushing for police help. Mercer heads home, where his partner, William, has got him a brand new gift. It’s a huge box, filling most of the screen infact and advertising the new iMac. William is Regan’s estranged brother, and he’s a “narcicisstic artist”, spending half his time galivanting off on wild artistic endeavours. Oh, and shooting smack too.

William bumps into a guy called Sol later that afternoon, who’s in lieu with Sam and a group of other rebels. After burning a church earlier in the episode, they happen to have “booked a gig” at Don Hill’s that night and he tells William he’s getting the band back together. On the Fourth of July, no less.

Regan has her hands full with her husband though, who’s delusional and believes just going to therapy can fix this and that they’ll solve everything. The thing is, there is no fixing this and it turns out that Keith’s lover is none other than Samantha.

Apparently she didn’t send the note and she’s worried that something bad is going to happen. Keith warns Sam to stay away and that she’s “blown up his marriage” but to be honest, she’s more worried that there’s something else that could potentially blow up.

We then jump to the Fourth of July, and Charlie heads out with Sam to go and watch this band. She’s clearly frazzled and struggling to hold it together, and the pair head in to see the band at the club. After getting past the bouncer, Sam abandons him in the club and rushes out, claiming there’s something she needs to do and she’ll be back in an hour.

This hour is spent waiting for Keith, but when he passes the location of Regan’s scheduled dinner, he decides to keep on driving. There’s a brief meeting between Regan and Mercer at the soiree that evening, as the latter gets off the bus ready to step into another world.

Regan is a bit of a mess and clearly drunk already, and she ends up picking out a spliff and heading to the rooftop to relieve some stress, believing this will do the trick to help numb the pain. Outside, Mercer confesses to Regan about his true feelings for William but isn’t so sure it’s reciprocated. They get on well and confide in one another.

Back inside the club, Charlie ends up in the midst of Sam’s crew, who welcome him in with open arms… until they learn that he actually knows Sam. Their demeanour immediately changes to one of chilly disdain, and eventually leave him with Nicky, the frontrunner for the band, who encourages him to do coke. Just before he sniffs a line though, William shows up.

Outside, Sam follows whistling into the park, where she’s confronted by someone. A couple of bangs echo up to the rooftop, where Mercer realizes this is the sound of gunshots. Regan shrugs it off, claiming it’s fireworks, and brings him into the lion’s den again, where Regan introduces him to Amory Gould.

Amory makes pleasant with Mercer before turning his attention to Regan, where he reveals a damning fact. Regan’s father is about to get arrested for wire fraud and his signature has been on everything, so this is definitely happening.

While Regan spirals inside, Mercer is similarly thrust into an uncomfortable position when he hears someone sobbing and calling for help in the park. This is when he sees Sam, catching us up to the start of the episode. Sam is left in a pool of her own blood so Mercer calls the cops for help.

As he hurries to meet them, Charlie shows up and sees Sam on the floor. He urinates himself suddenly, which inevitably ends up on the ground next to her, and as the feds show, he races off, deciding to ditch his trousers, throwing them in the bushes nearby. Unfortunately, Mercer is arrested as the suit jacket he happened to be wearing sports drugs inside.

The Episode Review

The way Charlie ends up mixed up in this crime is a bit contrived and to just urinate on the ground like that and then suddenly stop when the police show up, just does not happen.

It’s a sloppy way to get Charlie involved but similarly, the situation with Mercer. He seems the type to be very meticulous so how was it that he didn’t notice the drugs inside the pocket? This one could be written off but these niggling issues stand out as red flags for where the writing could go in the future.

There’s lots to uncover with his mystery and so far the verdict is still out on exactly how this one is going to fare. The characters are a bit of a mixed bag, and there’s a lot going on here too, leaving the possibility for further twists in the tale. With two episodes released today, hopefully we’ll get some answers in the follow-up.


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You can read our full season review for City on Fire here!


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