High Tide In Hightown
As we gear up for the Summer slew of shows to follow in a few months, Hightown starts the party early for Starz with its latest crime drama. While it’s still early days, so far the show has embodied all the usual tropes these summer dramas adopt, complete with a troubled, cliched protagonist and a simple mystery hook to go on. Although Hightown may be simple on paper, the execution actually has some promise for the future episodes to come.
Episode 1 of Hightown begins with two girls, Sherry and Krista, sitting in their car together. When Krista leaves momentarily, two men arrive and shoot Sherry, taking her body and stashing it in the trunk of their car. By the side of the road, Krista watches the entire scene unfold and weeps in disbelief over what’s happened.
We then cut forward to police detectives Jackie and Ed Murphy on the eve of Carnival Weekend. Jackie happens to be taking drugs in secret and after hooking up with a girl at the bar, Jackie stumbles out her house and finds Sherry’s body down by the docks. Two police officers, fronted by Detective Raymond, head to the scene and quiz Jackie over what happened.
When she returns home after giving her statement, it’s clear she’s in a rough way and owes rent too. Refusing to heed the warning signs, Jackie’s drug-fueled frenzy comes to an end after she crashes her car and ends up at the police station. Thankfully she phones Ed in her delirious state and he manages to vouch for her. Outside she learns she could be charged with a felony after crashing her car. If she can get sober and lay off the drugs and alcohol however, the Judge may agree to go easy on her.
Jackie makes her way to therapy and speaks to the therapist, putting up her defences until the gravity of what’s happened hits her. As she starts to cry, the therapist agrees to take her on and lets her go to the upcoming meeting.
Raymond meanwhile continues his side of the investigation and finds out the body is that of Sherry’s, his CI. Needing answers, he heads to the prison and speaks to an inmate named Frankie who has gang connections. He antagonizes him in a bid to rattle the man but for now, he remains tight-lipped and seemingly in the dark over what happened to Sherry.
Ray heads to a local strip club and finds a woman named Renee working there. A woman who happens to be Frankie’s wife. He decides to strike a deal with her and questions Renee over Sherry’s death. She doesn’t disclose anything though but when Ray leaves, she visits Frankie in prison and tells him what happened.
As the episode closes out, Jackie attends her therapy session and as she listens to one of the women telling her story, the camera pans up to show a familiar face on the wall – Krista. She phones through to Junior, a guy recently celebrating 3 months sobriety, and asks for a ride off the Cape. As Junior works on the fishing boat, he finds a strange ruby but keeps quiet about it, which is where the episode ends.
While the ending few scenes certainly do enough to pique your interest and keep you coming back to this one, Hightown fails to sink its claws in as deeply as it perhaps could. Partly to blame are all the usual cliches here – including the troubled, wild child persona for Jackie. Already it seems obvious she’ll be forced to work with Ray going forward but so far the characterisation has been pretty light for most of the other characters.
The mystery is simple enough though and this drama could easily be a sleeper hit and produce the goods later on down the line so it’s definitely worth checking back in with this one in the coming weeks. For now though, Hightown gets off to an okay start but whether that’s enough to keep you around for the long-haul, remains to be seen.