Episode 1 of Lisey’s Story begins with a woman swinging. This seemingly innocent scene is undermined by an ominous bite of text confirming that every marriage holds secrets.
Well, the marriage in question here is between award-winning writer Scott Landon and his wife Lisey. Scott is listed as a national treasure and prepares to accept an award during flashbacked moments interspersed throughout the episode.
A crazed gunman shows up at his conference and shoots Scott in cold blood. Lisey grabs a shovel and swipes at the man, leaving a nasty gash across his face. Scott survives the blast though, while this gunman eerily claims that Scott “stole his mind”.
Fast forward to the present and Lisey is a widow, grief-stricken and forced to pick up the pieces of her life. Amanda rings and encourages Lisey to come over with Darla for dinner.
Midway through talking though, Amanda suddenly snaps, berating Charlie for having an affair and breaking her cup into pieces. Apparently this isn’t the first time she’s done this, and Lisey urgently phones Darla, telling her that “she’s doing it again.”
However, things take a turn for the worst when Professor Dashiel shows up at Lisey’s, asking her to hand over the unpublished papers that she’s been withholding. It seems Scott has been sitting on a lot of work and Dashiel is desperate to get this back for purely selfish, financial reasons. These papers are worth a lot of money it seems.
He’s pretty harsh on Lisey, who eventually makes a point of unceremoniously reversing her car into his and driving away. Dashiel doesn’t seem too phased though, sighing before ringing Jim and telling him to help. Jim confidently claims “she can’t say not to me.”
When Darla shows up at Amanda’s place, she finds the house choked with smoke from burning mac and cheese on the hob. Amanda is beside herself with shock, with blood caked over her hands from running broken pieces of china over her palms.
As we see more of the past, we see an absolutely bizarre turn of events. Scott sits with Amanda, somehow managing to projectile vomit water from the pool into her mouth. Anyway, this snaps Amanda out of her mental state as Scott tells her they need to talk about Lisey.
Anyway, Amanda clings to this memory and reveals this to Lisey, telling her the pool is dangerous and claiming there’s a treasure hunt afoot. That first clue seems to be linked to the shovel we saw earlier in the episode.
According to Scott, if you “solve all the riddles and find all the clues then you’ll get a prize” This sticks with Lisey that evening, as whispers of Scott’s voice bleeds through.
In fact, it manifests itself in a dream sequence later that night. Lisey sees herself alongside Scott (temporarily at least) while a wedding goes ahead. He reinforces that she needs to follow the clues, with lines in the sand reading “Mr MD Bool”
Lisey rings the Doctor about Amanda’s deteriorating condition. It turns out Scott knew about this and has always arranged payment and the details for when this would take place – they were just waiting for Lisey’s call. But the real question here is how? How did Scott know this would happen?
Before she can ponder this, Jim rings Lisey and demands she hang over the papers as she never understood Scott’s genius. He calls her Yoko and begins to turn nasty, threatening her. Lisey however, fires back by cursing at him and hanging up.
As the episode closes out, Lisey thinks back to her husband’s manuscripts and believes the secrets and clues she seeks may well be lying there.
The Episode Review
In true Stephen King fashion, Lisey’s story gets off to a suitably weird and eerie start, with a mystery involving Lisey’s deceased husband Scott and seemingly mind control too. It seems like Scott may have actually hidden his secrets within the papers, and the unpublished stories may be the “Stolen” memories Scott’s shooter mentioned.
However, the visions and numerous eerie occurrences really lend themselves to the hallmarks of other King stories we’ve seen adapted to the small screen. There are echoes of The Outsider and Castle Rock here, feeding into an enticing mystery and a pretty artistic one at that.
This is a serious slow burn though and with lots being hidden beneath the hood, Lisey’s Story bows out with a suitably ominous ending.