Sugar – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review


Episode 1 of Sugar begins with a black-and-white scene. A Japanese man named Hideo gets a call from someone who tells him he dropped some money outside his window. The man, all suited up, enters his house and confronts Hideo about kidnapping a boy named Yuma. When Hideo refuses to say, the man attacks him. Once he’s passed out, he finds a woman and a young boy hiding in another room. Sometime later, the boy’s father arrives and the man leaves.

This is John Sugar, a private investigator who helps find missing people. He doesn’t like hurting people but will if he has to. Later, he’s at a bar when he gets a request for his services from a man named Jonathan Siegel.

Sugar flies into Los Angeles and gets a taxi from a kindly driver named Munzer. He gets off by a suburban house and meets a woman named Ruby. Before he enters, he gets a sharp headache but it soon subsides. Ruby calls Sugar out on the fact that he’s taken up a case with Jonathan Siegel. Ruby is Sugar’s manager and doesn’t like that Siegel reached out to Sugar directly.

We see that Sugar met the famous film producer at his lavish house. It’s Siegel’s granddaughter Olivia who has disappeared. She has disappeared before on account of drug use but this time she hasn’t contacted Siegel, which worries him. And she’s been two years sober now.

Ruby tells Sugar to not take up the case since it wouldn’t be good for his health. He says the girl reminds him of Djen, which changes Ruby’s mind. She then gives him a gun that was used by Glenn Ford. She also tells him to go see a Dr. Vickers but he says he’s fine. Sugar then brings out his snazzy, blue convertible and leaves.

He has a look at Olivia’s car and then her apartment. While he’s searching, Olivia’s half-brother David Siegel turns up. He’s looking for Olivia on his father’s orders. After he leaves, Sugar finds a photograph of Olivia with her ex-stepmother, Melanie. Sugar heads to a bar and pays a homeless man, Carl, to look after his car. Inside, he meets Melanie, a former rockstar. He gets a few drinks with her and describes how he is unable to get drunk. At the end, she asks if he wants to take her home.

They go back to his car and Sugar thanks Carl. He even convinces Carl to reach out to his sister and help him some more. When Sugar drives off, we see that David Siegel’s security guard Kenny is following them. They go to Melanie’s house where she makes a move on him but he turns her down. Since she’s had too much to drink, he decides he won’t get any answers tonight.

Outside the house, Sugar confronts Kenny and tells him to stop. In the cover of darkness, Sugar heads back to Olivia’s place and hacks into her car. In the trunk, he finds a dead body and scans the person’s fingertips. He then goes back to the Del Corazon, the hotel where he usually stays.

In his bungalow-style room, Sugar sets up various security cameras. A woman comes to serve him dinner and gives him a letter someone left for him. It seems to be a party invitation. Sugar then watches a video of Rachel Kaye, Olivia’s mother who died in a car accident. In a bag he found at Olivia’s place, Sugar finds compromising photos of Rachel.

Suddenly, his arm starts to tremble and bleed. He loses focus and stumbles to the shower. A moment later, Sugar is fine. There was never any blood. Afterwards, he injects a liquid into himself and goes to bed at the end of Sugar Episode 1.

The Episode Review

Episode 1 of Sugar is all vivid colours and sleek visuals splashed across LA landscapes. The visual style of the show is front and centre, grabbing your attention but almost overpowering the narrative. John Sugar is similar to others of his genre — he has the loneliness of Sherlock, the broodingness of Perry Mason, and the skills of pretty much every other genius detective on screen. Colin Farrell does a good job of Sugar’s investigator skills and personal troubles.

A lot of this episode sets things up — the missing case of Olivia, Sugar’s PTSD but also his desire to help others (the show really goes out of its way to show us he cares about homelessness), supporting characters like Ruby, Siegel, Melanie and David. It’s not boring but it’s also not very engaging and despite all the eye-catching visuals, you could be scrolling on your phone while watching this episode.


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Read our Season 1 Review of Sugar here!

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1 thought on “Sugar – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review”

  1. Thanks for the recap-review… Though the episode isn’t engaging, it is a first episode, after all, and there is enough going on, with the main (the missing girl) and the secondary story (Sugar’s issues: health problem, addiction, he hallucinates ! …), to keep the viewer intrigued, in any case. Numerous questions do come to mind as one watches so there is enough there to elicit interest for a second episode, at least.
    The slow-ish “Noir/Neorealism” feel to both the atmosphere and the use of filmography/cinematic effects, are really well done. It’s different. It’s interesting. As a first episode, I’d say well done.
    BTW – this Colin Farrel… a younger version of “Monsieur Spade” – (another series that hasn’t been too greatly appreciated but is well worth watching). That series had an interesting plot – hopefully this series will give us a few twists and turns to figure out.

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