White Lines gets off to a solid start, planting the seeds of a compelling mystery and building to a surprisingly tense climax.
This recap of White Lines season 1, episode 1, contains spoilers.
White Lines Episode 1 begins with Laura Haddock’s Zoe narrating straight to the camera, and that’s a formal gimmick repeated all throughout the episode. She isn’t quite breaking the fourth wall, as it’s revealed later, but it certainly feels that way as she sets the scene: Rain in a Spanish desert has revealed a mummified corpse that she, and the local authorities, believe to be her brother, Axel, a famous Ibiza DJ who disappeared twenty years prior.
But the body hasn’t been discovered on Ibiza. It has instead turned up in the territory of Andreu Calafat, who believes the placement to be intentional. Axel had a tattoo of the name Kika, subsequently revealed to be Andreu’s daughter, and since the police are prohibited from opening an investigation into a crime that is twenty years old, it’s Zoe and the Calafat family who have a vested interest in finding out what happened.
For Zoe, the death of her brother has defined her life, since it’s strongly implied that she has had some kind of breakdown as a result of it. Her husband tries to talk her out of following the trail to Ibiza for precisely this reason, but she insists, and he goes the way of all spouses in crime dramas like this one — he gets out of the way. I imagine he’ll be forgotten about for most of the season unless he’s returned to in order to remind Zoey that she’s getting too close to the truth or some such. We’ll see.
As for the Calafats, there is obviously a connection between Axel and Kika, and throughout White Lines Episode 1 it becomes very clear that a) Andreu wasn’t responsible and that b) he strongly suspects his wife Conchita and his son Oriol were. Both are immediately characterized as shady and rather creepily close, and they’re very invested in a looming casino deal that requires Ibiza’s famous excess to be massively toned down. The murder of an English DJ would, one assumes, threaten this deal quite a bit.
The covering up also threatens the business of Daniel Mays’ Marcus, one of Axel’s friends from back in the day and a resident DJ and drug dealer who recovers a hefty helping of cocaine from the ocean and stuffs it all inside an inflatable banana boat only to be told by Oriol that none of it can be sold in his family’s clubs until the deal has been finalized. Oriol charmingly threatens Marcus and his kids with social services, which means we’re getting him on-side as a potential ally to Zoey. They know each other from way back, he has cute kids, and their mother is played by Angela Griffin, whose job on the island seems to be organizing and overseeing swanky orgies — one of which is later attended by Oriol because of course he attends orgies!
Andreu wants Boxer, his head of security, to look into Axel’s death. All roads lead to Marcus’s house in White Lines episode 1, since Zoe also turns up there, as it happens right after his banana boat splits and deposits heaps of cocaine all over the lawn. His dogs snaffle the powder and get high, which I think we could have dwelled on a bit more. But there is reminiscing to do, as Zoe and Marcus recount old house parties when Axel would DJ and Marcus would get the young Zoe out of bed to dance the night away. They were close. And that means when Marcus called Zoe years later to tell her that her brother had gone to live in India, he was lying to her. But why? He claims it was for her sake.
I like the dialogue here when Zoe says that Marcus seems sad. In his twenties he lived like a God — now he’s a mid-forties DJ in way over his head, never having really moved on or grown-up. How could he not be sad? He and Zoe are interrupted by some frolicking among the coked-up dogs and the arrival of Boxer, who tricks Marcus into getting in his pool and then holds him under the water with the cleaning net, demanding to know who killed Axel. Zoe witnesses and hears all this, threatening Boxer with a harpoon. Boxer’s great, by the way — charismatic, threatening. But he’s evidently not immune to a harpoon through the leg. Zoe counts to three, and the scene cuts away when she gets there.
This is effectively tense business. We return to Zoe’s to-camera narration, which turns out to be a video call with her therapist, Joanna, to whom she explains that Axel was murdered and that she just shot a hitman with a harpoon. It’s been a busy few days, in other words. She, Boxer (on crutches), and Marcus all leave together as her voiceover explains that she’s going to stick around with Marcus for a while. He’s hiding something. She’s going to find out what it is.
To close White Lines Season 1, Episode 1, Oriol enjoys himself at that orgy, and Andreu calls his daughter, Kika, to tell her that his dog, King, has died. He needs her there with him. And maybe it’s just me, but the presence of the woman whose name was tattooed on a mummy is probably going to impact the investigation into that mummy’s murder. Just a hunch.
- Conchita wants a priest to bless the casino. He refuses.
- I’m of the opinion that the mummy isn’t Axel at all, since why go to the bother of rendering the corpse completely unidentifiable aside from a tattoo that could quite easily be faked? You heard it here first.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.