Tell Me Lies – Season 1 Episode 1 “Lightning Strikes” Recap & Review

Lightning Strikes

Tell Me Lies is Hulu’s latest offering about a toxic college love story. The shady romance, however, transcends the stages of life, chasing its takers like an apparition even after it has ended. The catch is – it never ends!

Hulu has dropped three episodes to begin the season followed by seven episodes on a weekly basis until 26 October, the date the finale airs. Grace van Patten is the mysterious star of the show, playing Lucy.

In a very brief flashback, episode 1 of Tell Me Lies sees Lucy (Van Patten) lie in bed with a bearded man, Steven Demarco (Jackson White). They are about to have a passionate love-making session before we cut back to the present; in June 2015.

Lucy wakes up with her boyfriend, Max, who notices that Lucy’s heart is beating strangely faster. It is a special day for Lucy as one of her college friends is getting married to her college sweetheart. She makes the drive to the wedding, where Bree apologetically says to her that Steven will be there as well.

Despite her requests to Evan, her groom-to-be invited him as he was a part of his “gang” back in college. Lucy is undeterred and says she can handle it. Other important members of the group who come together are Pippa, her boyfriend in college Wrigley, and of course, Steven. Before when Bree was getting ready, Pippa had asked Lucy not to make this day about her and try to ignore Steven completely. Although Lucy says she will be okay – it has been four years – she takes a deep breath when she sees Steven again. A flashback takes us eight years back when Lucy was leaving home for college. She felt she couldn’t work long distance relationship and broke up with her boyfriend of two years.

A strange thing about Lucy is that she calls her mother “CJ”, her initiates. The back story on that would be interesting to learn. Anyhow, she has an argument with her mother in the car when she mentions Lucy’s father. For some reason, it feels like he is not in the picture anymore. Lucy meets her roommate, Macy, for the first time and receives a hug. Turns out, they both live 20 minutes apart. They meet their next-door neighbors, Bree and Pippa, and the four girls instantly connect. Pippa introduces them to Wrigley – rather he introduces himself to them. When Lucy looks over at his group of friends sitting at a distance, her eyes meet with Steven’s. It is an intense exchange between the two, writing a tempting script for the times to come.

Wrigley invites them to his party later that night, where all of them go. In the dorm, while getting ready, Lucy confesses to her friends that she does not feel she is a good person and also expresses her apathy towards everything in life. It is almost as if she is just sitting there, watching other people have great experiences in life.

At the party, Lucy meets Diana, presumably a senior, who warns her to stay cautious with Wrigley. Steven catches up to Lucy and is too straightforward and forthcoming for Lucy’s comfort. Her friends save the day as Macy even recognizes him from her hometown. It is here that we are introduced to Drew, Wrigley’s younger brother, who is set to play a pivotal role going ahead.

The next morning, Macy confesses that she also mirrors Lucy’s feelings and is about to tell her an embarrassing secret before she is cut off by Steven’s call. He again asks out Lucy on a date but she shoots him down. Bree sits with Drew and kisses him, indicating they might be starting a relationship. Her friends sound their approval from a distance but Lucy is perturbed by a voice message left by CJ. She goes back to her room and stays the night when Macy asks her to come along.

Pippa and Bree are engaged somewhere else and she doesn’t want to go alone. But Lucy is adamant and stays. In the morning, she notices that Lucy’s bed is still undisturbed, indicating she didn’t come back.

A crying Bree breaks the news to Lucy and Pippa that Macy met with an accident last night. She was drunk and struck her car into a tree, killing her. This news mortifies Lucy and her entire group is disturbed. They go back to Lucy’s room, from where they go to a vigil arranged for Macy. All the friends in the group go and afterward, they go to a party to drink away their sorrows. Lucy is specifically upset and even throws up post-drinking. Steven steadies Lucy and takes her back to her room.

“Lightning Strikes” Ending Explained

Lucy cries for Macy and she feels bad for what she said earlier to Steven. She confesses that people’s perception that she is not a nice person bothers her and asks Steven to stay the night – platonically. Steven charms Lucy when they wake up together in the same bed with their clothes on. She finally gives in and agrees to go on a date with her, even confirming her interest by kissing him. Steven leaves the room, and the camera follows him. He makes his way to his own dorm where Diana from a couple of nights ago, is waiting outside his door. It turns out that the two were in a relationship and Diana broke up with Steven a few weeks back, saying she has trust issues. Steven again turns on his charm and the two engage in a steamy make-out sesh. But Steven is not able to “get it on” and Diana leaves.

Steven gets a call from Wrigley asking him to come immediately. He reaches his house and he tells him that Drew has made a big mistake. Macy is involved but we do not hear more from him as Steven reaches Lucy’s door to go on their date. Well, this was unexpected. According to the police, based on what they found, Macy had run into a tree, drunk. But what role does Drew have to play in her death? Was he also present at the party where Macy went? Did he meet her later or maybe he was the one who ran into her? All of these questions are nicely set for the next episode.

The Episode Review

‘Tell Me Lies’ has a start true to its source material. The wickedness and perverseness are brewing right below the skin, waiting to explode into life. Episode 1 was a decent start, if not the best, and it seems from this episode that the series will be a slow burn. We still have another nine episodes to go so expect it to take its sweet time getting to the central conceit. First impressions of the protagonists, van Patten and Jackson White are good. The pair has instant chemistry, although, the individual performances can be a bit more nuanced.

Maybe it is what the characters demand but right now, the two actors do not seem very into it. Story-wise, the first episode seemed much like any other teen drama where a sudden murder stirs up controversy. The only change here is that high school is replaced by the freshman year of college. I know it is early days but it will remain a stout task for the creators to give Tell Me Lies a distinguished flavor. We will hold on a bit more to our praise until we see more of the story unfold.

Next Episode

You can read our full season review for Tell Me Lies Season 1 here!

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