Scrublands – Episode 1 Recap & Review

Episode 1

Episode 1 of Scrublands kicks off at St. James Catholic Church in Riversend, with Father Swift receiving thanks for donating laptops to the school. Sadly, the mood shifts dramatically when Father Swift unexpectedly pulls out a rifle and shoots five people: Craig, Tom, Alf, Hugh, and Gerry. Afterwards, Robbie, the town cop, shoots and kills Byron.

A year later, Martin Scarsden, a journalist down on his luck, arrives in town to write a follow-up article about the massacre that shook the town. His first stop is the local bookstore and cafe run by Mandy, who isn’t thrilled to hear he’s a journalist digging into old wounds. Mandy defends Father Swift, calling him a good man and dismissing the rumours of him being a paedophile as false. However, Constable Robbie disagrees and believes Swift was what the rest of the town says he was.

Martin feels like he’s on a wild goose chase with no leads in sight. Therefore, he reluctantly calls his boss to suggest dropping the story, but his boss insists he write it anyway, quoting Martin’s lack of recent articles. Feeling stuck, Martin continues his investigation but hits one dead end after another as the townspeople clam up about Byron Swift.

A slight breakthrough comes when Martin meets Harley, who reveals that Byron was questioned by the police on Saturday following a child’s report of abuse. The next day, Byron went on a rampage, shooting five people.

However, for some, like Mandy, Byron was a great man who arrived in Riversend a few years back, opened a church and became known for his kindness and willingness to help everyone, regardless of their faith. While Mandy doesn’t excuse Byron’s terrible act, she believes there must be a resonant reason behind it. She asks Martin to focus on understanding the “why” behind Byron’s actions rather than just the “what.”

Martin meets up with a couple of the town’s teenagers, Jamie and Allen, to get a sense of what’s been happening in their lives and in the community, including their thoughts on Byron Swift. Jamie says that Byron was a paedophile who liked hanging out with younger kids, posing as their friends. However, Allen seems to be holding back something important. Interestingly, Jamie and Allen are the sons of two of the men Byron shot a year ago, Tom Newkirk and Craig Landers.

Martin finishes up his story and tries to find a signal to send it off to his editor so he can skedaddle from the town ASAP. But his plans get derailed when Jamie and Allen get into an accident. Allen breaks some bones, but tragically, Jamie doesn’t make it. While giving his statement to Robbie, Martin learns that before Byron died, he asked Robbie to talk to Harley Reagan.

Robbie did, but it didn’t lead to anything significant, so he closed the case. Also, before the shooting, Byron made a mysterious call that the cops couldn’t trace. Martin realizes there’s more to Byron’s story than meets the eye and decides to stick around for a few more days.

The Episode Review

There’s definitely more to Byron Swift’s story than meets the eye. Mandy’s comments suggest that she knew Byron personally and believed he wouldn’t have shot those people without a reason. But what could that reason be? The plot becomes more interesting when it’s revealed that the pastor everyone knew as Byron Swift was actually using a stolen identity.

This begs the question: why would he go to such lengths unless he was running from someone or something?


Next Episode

You can expect a full season review for Scrublands when this series concludes!

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