Bourne To Be Wild
Adapted from the novel of the same name, The Rook offers an interesting, intriguing and oftentimes well-paced mystery. It’s a show that takes the opening segments of The Matrix and mixes it with The Bourne Identity’s amnesia narrative, adding a touch of superhero drama into the mix to form the core of The Rook. It’a a show that feels overly familiar with just the right touch of originality to keep you watching to find out what happens next.
We begin with a girl waking up in the rain with dead bodies lying all around her. She runs through the streets of London, determined to find a quiet place away from the CCTV cameras to hide out. Under the neon glow of a local hotel, she grabs a room and heads upstairs where she promptly bolts the door shut. Armed with a handful of letters, she continues to read them, revealing more about her life in the process. She’s had her memory erased but she’s also been given two keys. One to build a new identity and the other involving a box that’ll send her crashing back to her old life. However, she’s warned the latter will be dangerous. As she reads on, she learns her name is Myfanwy Alice Thomas.
Led by Lady Farrier, the police investigate the murder of the bodies Myfanwy left in her wake. Conrad greets a woman from the American Embassy at the station who tells him she wants to be an active part of the investigation. Begrudgingly he agrees, despite his doubts about her motivations.
Meanwhile, Myfanwy follows the clues she has, having chosen the blue key, into a bank. However, the clerk punches her in the face and drags her away. As the two look set to hurt her, she somehow kills them both through telekinetic powers controlling electrical energy.
Instead of the blue key, she uses the red, grabs an envelope and the gun from inside a safety deposit box and after trying (and failing) to open the blue box, quickly escapes before it’s locked down and boards a bus. Inside the package is a tablet with a post-it reading “Watch Me” written on the front. She heads back to her apartment where she begins go discover everything about her old life, while a strange choice of music kicks in for a montage segment.
Eventually she does decide to watch the tablet where she finds a video of herself telling her there’s a secret room hidden in her flat. Once there, we learn Myfanwy is part of a secret organisation recruited for their special abilities. This automatically puts her in danger but she learns about the others in her group. Farrier is the one in charge of this ragtag band of specials but suddenly she shows up at the door. After some persuasion, Myfanwy plays ball, taking her pills but tells Farrier to leave.
Instead she watches the videos on her computer and comes across one about her memory loss. Determined to get some answers, she practices her own confident persona in the mirror before heading off to the government facility, and back to work. She passes security and manages to keep up the persona infront of the other members of the group who don’t suspect anything.
Ingrid gives her her phone back, prompting Myfanwy to take her seat in her office where she casually begins opening and closing drawers in a bid to find out more about herself. It works too, as she finds an envelope. Inside, the letter reveals that the person who betrayed her is inside the room and tells her she’s told not to trust anyone where we leave the episode.
For the most part, The Rook delivers a pretty solid opening episode. Although some of the ideas do feel ripped from other shows, the way they’re all stitched together to form a collective whole, with Myfanwy slowly learning more about herself on the videos, is something that’s cleverly implemented and never really feels contrived, despite the abundance of expository dialogue during these moments. Myfanwy’s amnesia is very reminisce of that from The Bourne Identity too, right down to the safety deposit boxes and police chasing after them.
If there’s one blemish on the episode though, it comes from the montage segment inside Myfanwy’s apartment. The music here feels completely out of character and worse, is sometimes in danger of off-setting the bleak mood cast up until that point in the episode.
I’ve always been a fan of Starz’ original programming and while they’re not always the most lucrative gold mines when it comes to stand out shows, they’re pretty reliable and almost always deliver something entertaining and chock full of interesting visual tricks. The Rook is no exception. Boasting decent pacing and plenty of question marks hanging over this one going forward, we’re left with two simple questions going forward – just who was the betrayal orchestrated by and who can we trust?
Before we get answers we’ll have to wait another week but given the work done here to build up this world, let’s hope it’s every bit as exciting and intriguing as this opening episode.