Culprits – Season 1 Episode 1 “Change of Use” Recap & Review

Change of Use

Episode 1 of Culprits begins with a masked man hunting down Marcello Bari in his luxurious villa. Bari is a stuntman famous for performing in films. The assailant is after him for something involving a woman named Dianne Harewood.

Our attention shifts to Joe Petrus, a middle-aged man in a relationship with Jules. He drops off Jules’ kids, Frankie and Bud, from his first marriage with Natalie, at school. Joe is in the process of redeveloping an abandoned store into a new-age cafe. The city planning committee, headed by Harry Metcalf, is apprehensive about the application.

The involvement of liquor is what irks them. However, Joe explains that he wants to be a part of the neighbourhood’s culture and heritage and wants to make a difference. Joe puts his proposal on the notice board for public announcements where something else catches his attention. He spots a proposed change of use announcement that will result in the extension of the bypass and clearance of a woodland area. Joe visits the site and sees that the work has already started.

He goes back home with the kids. In the wee hours of the night, however, Joe sneaks out of bed and drives to the area. He hops the fence, gets to the marked tree, and fetches a heavy bag that he carries back into his car. While driving home, Joe witnesses an accident at an intersection. A lady is badly injured and the perpetrator absconded from the scene. Joe quickly uses a public bin to hide the bag and calls for help. The officer’s attitude is underscored by prejudice due to his skin colour.

However, as law mandates, Joe is required to go to the station to give a statement. The officer asks him twice if he is sure about the license plate number of the perp. But Joe doesn’t retract any of the details. He is dropped back home by a patrol car from where Joe once again takes off to the designated bin. He has just missed the garbage collection truck. Joe races to get inside a bin on the truck’s route and is thrown in with the rest. He scrapes out the bag and manages to retrieve it.

In the morning, he tells Jules the truth about the crash, but not the “cash.” While dropping off the kids, he learns that Taylor’s father, Kyle Bedrosian was arrested for a hit-and-run. Joe is shocked to discover that Kyle is the absconder from the previous night. He also reads a news piece about Bari’s murder.

It is revealed through a clever and crisp flashback from London that Joe’s real name is David Markings. He used to work as personal security for Don Bardwell, a prominent figure in London’s organized crime network. In the scene shown to us, Bardwell is invited to a meeting with the other Dons. However, it is a trap to assassinate him. Joe is up to the task and tactfully brings Bardwell alive from the situation. A few days later, in another flashback, Joe is approached by a guy named Fixer, who works for Dianne Harewood. She is introduced as a crime boss who has great influence in the city.

Harewood meets with him at an exhibition and tells him about an opportunity. It is a heist that will require Joe’s services if he chooses to be a part of it. The score runs into millions, after which he wouldn’t have to work a day in his life. Joe will also have to leave his current life. The circumstances in the present day indicate that the heist was indeed successful. Later, at the gym where he works as a trainer, Joe is visited by DS Salinger. He takes Joe for questioning at a safe house. DS Sarge and Salanger harangue him with questions about the meeting with Dianne. But Joe doesn’t break. 

Later, he is arrested by a few masked assailants. They turn out to be Salanger and Sarge, who actually work for Dianne. She wanted to make sure Joe was appropriate to be a member of the secretive mission and he has passed the test. He is introduced to the team the next day: Dianne (called “Brain”), Salanger (Right Hand), Sarge (Soldier), a woman codenamed Officer, Joe (Muscle), and Bari (Driver). 

The Episode Review

Culprits begins on a very promising note. The plot is unique and refreshing. Episode 1 constantly unfolded at every juncture as we learnt more about Joe’s past life. It is unlike any heist story we have seen that may lean more toward the aftermath rather than the event itself. Nathan Stewart-Jarrett is very impressive and looks like a reliable lead. Arterton is the other recognizable name on the roster whom we saw very little of in this episode.

I am not sure how much the writers will be able to focus on the lives of the characters going forward. Jarrett’s character will certainly get a lot of attention, though. I am also keen on the representation of his relationship with Jules. The juggling of the two timelines will remain key in how the series turns out.

On this evidence, Episode 1’s formulation of giving the present-day more significance should work just fine. 


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You can read our Season 1 review of Culprits here!
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