Dark, weighty, and full of bad people doing bad things, Reckoning is a tough watch in places but has more complexity than you might first expect.
This review of Reckoning (Netflix) is spoiler-free.
Troubled cop Mike is haunted by a cold case from his past, a case where teenage girls with tattoos were murdered and mutilated. With the apparent return of the killer, Mike must return to the hunt and protect both his family and sanity as he faces off against the mysterious killer hiding in plain sight.
Reckoning, now available on Netflix, is quite possibly the most relentlessly bleak drama I’ve seen for a while. Of course, any show whose plot is about the hunt for a serial killer whose victims are local teenage girls is going to be pretty bleak; it’s subject matter that you don’t usually find much levity in. In Reckoning, however, the bleakness is baked into every single frame. Every glance, expression, and dialogue any of the characters share is grim and weighs heavily and hangs over each and every moment. This is not one that really lends itself to binge-watching, I found that between episodes I needed to come up for air and take a deep breath to cleanse myself.
The opening episode sets up an underwhelming premise, a serial killer who was never caught has now returned and is on the hunt again. The cop that failed to catch him has never forgiven himself and still bears the scars of his failure, with nightly nightmares a regular feature of his routine. The show initially sets itself up as a cat and mouse style thriller with the killer attempting to dodge the unravelling cop on his tail. As the episodes tick by, however, things get more complex and there is more going on here than initially meets the eye. None of it cheerful.
This is a show about broken people trying to pretend they are not all broken set against the backdrop of a community trying to come to terms with being under attack from a serial killer. The performances are consistently good, and the writing is solid. Where Reckoning perhaps struggles is under the weight of its own darkness, this is a show with a very low opinion of humanity and every single character seems capable of unspeakable acts. Without giving the audience anyone to root for it’s hard to invest in this as much as it might otherwise deserve.
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