Unbelievable Season 1, Episode 1 is uncomfortable to watch but so damn important to understand the variables surrounding a sexual assault victim.
This recap of Netflix Series Unbelievable Season 1, Episode 1 contains significant spoilers. The series is based on a true story. You can read the review of Season 1 by clicking these words.
Nothing about this episode is comfortable. It’s justifiably uncomfortable and extremely important.
Unbelievable Episode 1 begins the true story of Marie (Kaitlyn Dever), who was raped in her apartment. She is put through the police processes following on from the assault; asked initial questions by an investigator, detailing the events, to then having to repeat her story to another investigator, and then having to explain her experiences to a nurse. The number of times Marie has to tell her story is flagrantly adding to the trauma, and at one point, she asks, “I have to tell my story again?”
But it’s not just the process of explaining what happened that makes the experience uncomfortable. Marie is medically examined and photographed — it is truly horrifying to watch, and Unbelievable Episode 1 directs it with the truth in mind.
And it gets worse for Marie, who is timid and unspoken through most of the episode. She becomes irrational about changing the bedsheets and wants to sort out her apartment immediately.
Marie’s experience becomes compounded when Judith (Elizabeth Marvel), a woman who used to care for her as part of the foster system speaks to Detective Parker (Eric Lange) directly — she talks about her behavior as a child growing up; bringing up moments when she used to beg for attention and dance in a sexual way. Judith tells the agent that she believes something is off, as a sexual assault survivor herself.
The second half of episode 1 is upsetting; Detective Parker calls Marie back in and has already concluded that Marie has lied. He examines her DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) records and believes she needs attention. Parker highlights viable inconsistencies in her story, drawing out statements from Judith and her friend Connor. As tears begin to flood down her face, and she is pressured to withdraw her story, she admits that there is not a rapist and agrees to write another statement.
The nightmare continues as she writes in her statement that she dreamed she was raped, and the detectives once again bring Marie in and ask her to rebuff the story and write the actual statement they agreed.
After speaking to her counselors, Marie agrees to try and change her statement again, but she is bullied by the investigators, who explain if she fails the polygraph test she will be charged. Her statement retraction ousts her from the counselling group, and as the episode draws to a close, Marie contemplates suicide.
Unbelievable Season 1, Episode 1 is one of the best opening chapters I’ve watched in a while in terms of the importance of the subject matter.
You can read the recap of Episode 2 by clicking these words.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.