Episode 3 of Shining Girls starts with Dan waking up on the subway. Blood drips from his sleeve as he notices glass shards sticking out his arm. A bar receipt in his pocket confirms exactly where he’s been. Retrieving his keys from the bartender, he heads home to find his son Freddie playing videogame. He’s pretty nonchalant to his father’s behaviour.
Now, just prior to this Dan got inside his car and noticed a strange tape in the cassette deck and the seat seemingly adjusted. If that wasn’t enough, the books on his shelf are out of sorts, with half of them lying on their spines. It’s a pretty unnerving sequence, and as the camera tracks past Dan, it zooms outside to show Harper on the other side of the road, sipping a coffee and watching the house.
At work, Kirby learns about Dan’s alcoholism as Abby quizzes her on Dan’s health. Specifically, whether he’s sober. The man has a clear battle with the bottle, typified by Abby revealing that Dan had to take a leave of absence at one point. (Something Dan brushes off when Kirby asks him, claiming he wanted to spend time with Freddie.)
Kirby shows her findings to Dan at his desk, including numerous newspaper clippings and blurbs. They obviously can’t use the tape and in order to verify the possible connection to our killer though, they need the police records.
Dan and Kirby head to a storage facility full of cold-case files. There are barrels lining shelves on both sides and Kirby is called out for dawdling as she takes interest in what could be held inside. Anyway, as they begin searching through the backup copies of the files they’ve requested, Kirby hits a breakthrough. She finds a case file from 1984 belonging to a woman called Willie Rose. She too was cut open just like Julia and Kirby. Inside her they found a gold pin.
As they continue on, the pair find a number of other victims too; Catherine Moore, Margot Zelle, Karen Polacheck and Summer Francis. While that may not mean much, the years are certainly interesting. These murders stretch back to 1972 and it appears there are 8 in total. Kirby is the only survivor.
Kirby finds her own storage bin and even lays out the evidence across the floor. Dan encourages her to put it back (after sneaking away to have a cheeky drink with the boys) as they move their investigative efforts back over to Dan’s place.
While they piece this string of murders together, Harper continues to weasel his way into Dan’s life, finding Freddie in the supermarket picking up groceries. He claims to be a friend from work but we obviously know that he’s not. After mentioning Julia, he drops a candy bar in Freddie’s jacket, “Imagine what else he’s not telling you [about the nature of his work]” And walks away.
Now, just prior to this, Harper also stalks a young lady in the store, goading her to take off with the alcohol without paying. However, the “way out” he encourages her to take is actually a path leading to the store room. Harper follows, and finds her stealing more booze.
Harper unnerves the poor woman, who’s trapped in the corner of this room with nowhere to go. He doesn’t want anything from her though, pointing out that he has no use following a woman who couldn’t find a door. It would appear that Harper is driven to chase women whom he believes are intelligent.
At Dan’s house, he reads through Kirby’s journal and realizes she has a log of every conversation they have had, alongside basic facts on her life. Kirby admits that she feels lost and needs to journal as a way of navigating through her life, piecing together every constant.
The evidence that the pair have found so far is enough to get this case started, even if it’s not enough to incriminate anyone or bring it to the police. Kirby though, ends up falling asleep on the sofa that night but when she wakes up, finds Freddie there and Dan gone. He left early to speak to Abby, bringing his editor everything he’s found thus far. However, when Abby finds out Kirby is his source, she’s shocked. “A survivor hunting a serial killer, that’s your story!” She says incredulously.
Meanwhile, Kirby eventually heads back to see Marcus, explaining what she’s been up to. He warns that Dan has never finished a story and that he’ll “run right through her.” This unnerves Kirby as she begins questioning what she’s doing.
When Dan returns, he admits to Kirby that he’s told Abby the truth about her being his source. Kirby isn’t happy and doesn’t want her name leaked by the police. The thing is, if they only use the names of the deceased to try and tie this story together, it’s not anywhere near as effective as it would be if they used Kirby’s name.
Dan agrees to write his story based on the evidence from the seven other cases and reinforces just how powerful a story this actually is when there’s a real survivor. A survivor is a much more powerful tool of persuasion for readers.
With a lot to think about, Kirby heads back to her desk and finds a photo print requested from Marcus, in an envelope with the words “Love, M” on the front. As she checks out the picture, she notices a keyring from the planetarium. This is, if you’ll remember, where we found that woman, Jin-Soo, in episode 1.
Anyway, this keyring belongs to Jin-Soo, who’s actually still alive. The key is actually for her locker. Kirby is shocked to find that she’s still alive.
After a show about stars, Kirby catches up with Jin-Soo that night and questions what happened to her. Now, it turns out the employees at the planetarium were given locker keys that year and she lost hers last week, meaning there’s no way they could have ended up in a crime scene from 1972. What the heck is going on?
Kirby thinks the same thing and ends up looking in the reflection of the glass at the planetarium, only to find her own hair much longer now.
Dan heads out that night and ends up drinking and taking drugs. As he stumbles to the subway station, Harper stalks him and follows the veteran reporter. It catches him off-guard too as he stumbles down the escalator. He smashes his glass bottle and cuts his arm open.
It’s now apparent that the scenes at the start of the episode, leading up to Harper watching him from outside, are actually out of sync. On the subway station, there’s a moment where Harper looks like he’s going to push Dan in front of the train but thankfully he thinks twice about doing it. He does, however, learn that Dan’s source is one of his survivors.
The Episode Review
The plot thickens and with it, the amount of mystery and weird occurrences at play. This seems to be a trend for AppleTV originals, given both Lisey’s Story and Losing Alice grapple with this idea of losing oneself and reality being distorted. For now though, the series manages to cleverly edit together the start and end of this episode, reinforcing the timelines being out of sync and everything not quite as it should be.
The editing and cinematography in general has been really good and it’s interesting to see how even the opening credit crawl is starting to become useful to piece together areas and items that crop up through the story.
There are a lot of questions still to be answered here though, including Harper’s motivation, what’s going on with the timelines and how Jin-Sook slots into all of this. It’s now clear that her murder in episode 1 was actually out of sequence and not happening in real time. While that’s a clever inclusion, one can’t help but feel knowing her fate completely extinguishes any sort of tension that may have arisen from trying to stop that from happening.
However, the show is still enticing and the ending certainly leaves plenty of questions going into next week’s follow-up.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|