Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 -|Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 7 -|Review Score – 1/5
Apple TV+’s The Last Thing He Told Me professes to be a gripping domestic thriller that revolves around the lives of Hannah Hall and her stepdaughter, Bailey, after their husband and father, Owen Michaels, mysteriously disappears.
It is based on Laura Dave’s novel of the same name, but it just cannot rise above the challenge to defy the source material or add a dramatic tinge to provide a fresh twist to it. The wholeheartedly disappointing execution makes the experience a frustrating one, something Apple hasn’t provided on too many occasions. Jennifer Garner, Angourie Rice, and Nicolas Walder-Costau make for a mouth-watering cast but find little support from essential narrative elements.
Season 1 picks up right from Owen’s sudden disappearance after his firm, The Shop, comes under the scanner for financial fraud. At the beginning of the story, Hannah is faced with a series of unsettling events following his disappearance. She discovers a note from him with the words “Protect her,” and together with Bailey, embark on a journey to uncover the truth about Owen and his sudden disappearance.
As Hannah digs deeper into Owen’s past, she begins to question the foundation of their relationship and the secrets Owen may have been hiding.
The Last Thing He Told Me has several narrative exigencies, including the dynamics of Hannah and Owen’s marriage by delving into their past and present relationship. The exploration of Hannah and Owen’s marriage reveals layers of complexity and raises questions about trust, loyalty, and the true nature of the person they thought they knew. It delves into the idea that even in the closest relationships, there can be hidden depths and unspoken truths that can unravel the fabric of a marriage.
In addition to the examination of Hannah and Owen’s marriage, the series also focuses on the new companionship between Hannah and Bailey. As they navigate the uncertainty surrounding Owen’s disappearance, Hannah and Bailey form a bond forged by their shared love for him.
They become allies in their quest for answers and provide support and strength to one another during this challenging time. Their relationship evolves from stepmother and stepdaughter to a partnership built on trust, understanding, and resilience, which marks impressive personal growth for the characters.
Through the above companionship, there is an attempt to explore themes of family, resilience, and the power of connection. But the potential vested in the portrayal of the transformative nature of difficult circumstances and the potential for growth and healing from this unexpected alliance is never realized. One cannot simply overstretch uncertainty and extrapolate it onto the vision of the overarching story.
The Last Thing He Told Me falls desperately short of utilizing that powerful storytelling tool. The continued buildup is facetious, as we discover at the end, because of the underwhelming choice to conclude the story in the manner that it does.
To be fair, Dave’s novel encapsulated themes of heartbreak and betrayal through the experiences of its characters. And the show does a good job of channeling them through Hannah and Bailey. The emotional toll of such a betrayal, depicting the depths of Hannah’s pain, confusion, and resilience as she grapples with the loss and attempts to uncover the truth surface impactfully in the season.
It raises questions about how well we truly know the people closest to us and the vulnerability that comes with trust and love. In terms of social commentary, the show completely misses the plot that Dave explored in the novel. She cleverly incorporated elements of culture, technology, and crime to enhance the narrative and explore their implications on the characters’ lives. None of that is touched upon in the show, which is a huge miss. The creators seem so obsessed with focusing on Hannah and Bailey that they forget about everything else.
The underworld of financial fraud and white-collar crimes, which are such a big part of the story, is absent from the show. Instead of inviting viewers to consider the complexities of trust, the consequences of deception, and the potential dangers lurking beneath the surface of seemingly ordinary lives, The Last Thing He Told Me makes the mistake of characterizing its universe as one-dimensional.
Garner and Rice are unfortunately deserted by the writers, and they do not have the resources to dive deep into the psyche of their characters and are stuck with trying to express chemistry about their growing closeness.
The Last Thing He Told Me might be Apple TV’s most disappointing offering. The show has done good numbers but overall, it has not made us tempted to come back weekly to follow the story.
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Verdict - 5.5/10