Full Circle – Season 1 Episode 1 “Something Different” Recap & Review

Something Different

Episode 1 of Full Circle begins with a brief montage of a picture of a resort, a painting, and a young mannequin with needles in it. It can be assumed that this will make better sense later on.

The show is set in New York and as it opens, we see a shooting in Queens. The person murdered is Quincy Mahabir, the brother-in-law of Savitri Mahabir, a powerful matriarch running an organized crime syndicate.

At the funeral, her nephew, Aked, beseeches her to take action against the man who murdered Quincy – Edward Chung, who is most probably a rival head. But Savitri says it is not time yet. She is going back to Georgetown, Guyana, to “look for answers.” When the time does come, Aked will play “a big part” in it. Her number two in the organisation is Harry Garmen, who will be in charge while she is gone.

Savitri meets with somebody who appears to be her spiritual guardian (we might learn more about their identity later) who tells Savitri that he has “found the man responsible for the misfortune of her family.” He is willing to mend ways and reverse his spell but for a cost. To “close his own circle of suffering,” Savitri needs to do exactly what he asks of her. The suffering began at Ranwell’s hands, Savitri’s ex-husband. We see him giving Savitri a printout of a well-known family in the city.

We learn that it was Jared’s head, the young boy being targeted, that was circled in the opening sequence in the photo. For now, we focus on his family. His parents, Derek (Olyphant) and Samantha (Danes) Browne work for the agency that manages the latter’s father, Chef Jeff. He looks like a celebrity and the family is naturally pretty well-off.

Next, we meet Mel Harmony (Beets), a Postal Inspector, who is unsatisfied with her current job situation. She is not being assigned high-value cases by Manny, her boss. It turns out that Mel has a prior history of being unstable and unfit for work. She is also a difficult personality and abrupt with her colleagues. Manny rejects her pleadings to be assigned the “Guyana case” but Mel takes it upon herself to investigate in her free time. We also see that there is a young boy stalking Jared and stealing his stuff. When he goes back to his dilapidated house, we see a bundle of Jared’s things including expensive items like phones and laptops. 

Savitri instructs Harry to fetch him two Guyanese for their operations. She asks him to call Natalia’s brother and his best friend, who has been eager to come to the US. Natalia is her masseuse. The boys are elated at the opportunity and jump the gun without realizing what they’re getting into.

Louis, Natalia’s brother, and Xavier, land in the US and their passports are taken by Len, one of Savitri’s henchmen. Natalia is furious to see them and says “You have no idea what you have gotten yourself into.” Aked meets with them and subtly tells them to put their heads down and follow orders.  They have been indebted to Savitri, who has brought them to the US and will settle them here. But essentially, this is forced servitude. Xavier also meets an online friend, Shakeela, whom he has been conversing with all this while.

Jared is contacted by the boy over IG. His name is Nicky. Elsewhere, the Guyanes are given a job by Paul Tranquada, another important member of the organization. The job is to inject Nielsen, a homeless vagrant, with drugs and kill him. We learn Savitri runs a trust and indulges in insurance scams by purposefully killing vulnerable people like Nielsen – and then taking their payout!

Unbeknownst to them, Mel has become interested in the Guyaness and follows them around. Louis is shocked by what he witnesses. Xavier goes ahead with the job without qualms. Louis confronts Natalia for not revealing the nature of Savitr’s operations before. But this makes Natalia teary-eyed and explains that she is trapped. Savitri’s plan is to kidnap Jared and have Quincy run the whole operation. She meets with the person who wants to complete the circle of suffering. 

Mr Clarence Joseph is an old man who says he lost his grandson some time back. The kidnapping must take place in a circle in Washington Square Park. Mel approaches Xavier at night and acknowledges that she knows about Nielsen’s murder. She gives him his card in a bid to make him cooperate. Harry sends Xavier to execute the kidnapping. He instantly calls Mel and barters his safe route home for the information on the kidnapping. 

Natalia cannot sleep and wakes up Lois to tell him that Savitri is planning to kill Jared for no reason. She asks for Louis’ help to save Jared. They pick up the needle mannequin from the opening scene and the plan is to install the dummy onto a bike, exactly like the one Aked has got. On the fateful night, Xavier calls Mel in a panic and retracts his statement. He decides to cease all contact with her as well. Mel forwards the information to Manny but decides not to take action before his approval. 

Jared sneaks out of the house to meet with Nicky, who promised over a video call that he could help get his stuff back. Aked and his guys are waiting for Jared to go with Sarah, Jared’s tutor, to the park. But Jared cancels on her and asks his grandmother, Kristen, to inform Sarah. They do spot him leaving the house but cannot track him as he goes up a one-way street. Derek and Sam are convinced by Jared’s makeshift bedding that he is indeed in bed.

Aked’s face lights up when he realizes that Jared has fallen into their lap. They kidnap him and call Sam using Jared’s phone. But how did he get it? Did he meet with Nicky already? Aked lays out their demand for money: $314,159. A peculiar number indeed. Sam calls Jeff in a panic, who, surprisingly, is playing chess with Joseph, the man who ordered the kidnapping of his grandson! Jeff and Kristen instantly rush home. Jeff is taken aback by how the kidnappers know about his casino credit limit. Aked makes another call giving instructions on where to drop the money.

The next scene is even more outrageous as Jared walks home, all intact! Jared had gone to meet Nicky, who was wearing the same clothes as him – the ensemble that he had stolen from Jared. Nicky was riding Jared’s bike for a bit and Aked and his guys took Nicky. Joey, a former detective that Jeff knows, arrives at the house and is relieved to find out that Jared is fine. When Aked calls again and the parents put him on mute, Aked takes a bolt cutter and takes out one of Nicky’s teeth. He gets it on video and sends it to the parents. He calls again and Jeff asks Nicky to “tell us something about yourself.” That’s when Nicky says “Call Charisse.”

The episode ends with the visual of the spiritual guardian making a circle in the park specifically for the killing of Jared.

The Episode Review

“The full circle of suffering” is just another way of justifying and propagating shady crimes. HBO’s Full Circle gives a decent introduction to its cinematic universe in the season opener. There are a lot of thematic entanglements that jump out at first viewing. Given Soderbergh’s handling of such subjects and his history of getting the most of out his actors, these threads should come together at the end. 

The weirdness of the central plot is certainly interesting. It is not the usual kind of spiritual interconnectedness we get to see on television. The end result was unusual despite the best efforts by the show’s makers. Episode 1 was a mixed bag – it wasn’t a bad start by any means but perhaps a second viewing after completing the entire season might make us appreciate it more. 


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You can read our full season 1 review of Full Circle here
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4 thoughts on “Full Circle – Season 1 Episode 1 “Something Different” Recap & Review”

  1. Hey Kristina, thanks so much for the heads up. I’ve just gone in and corrected that now. I appreciate you taking the time to write out this comment and let us know!

    -Greg W

  2. Exactly! The screen said “Jared’s phone” and even I was confused for the parents not tracking them through it. It is hard to miss.

  3. Someone tell me why they didn’t use find my iPhone, they had the sons iPhone. Use it to track the kidnappers 😩😩😩😩

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