“Frie” wastes no time in getting to the heart of the matter, introducing the Millennium Trial and the jurors who’ll decide its outcome.
This recap of The Twelve season 1, episode 1, “Frie”, contains spoilers.
The Twelve episode 1, “Frie”, has a couple of different objectives, and it accomplishes them economically in this opening installment. First, the Millennium Trial, a controversial, landmark case involving former headmistress Frie Palmers being accused of murdering both her best friend and her child. She is, fittingly, one of the first characters we meet, in a smoky meeting with a man. The court case begins in three days and will take up the rest of the season.
But that’s not all, of course, since introducing the members of the jury – and the nature of jury duty – is equally important here; Delphine, Yuri, Noel, Carl, Holly, Arnold, all have backstories, personal prejudices, and quirks that are integral to their interpretation of the case. This essentially parallel narrative, tracking both the criminal trial and the lives of those who will determine its outcome, is the defining aspect of The Twelve and is put across well here right out of the gate.
The basics: Frie is being accused of murder, twice, both of her best friend Britt and, twenty years later, her daughter Rose. The case is a big deal, and there’s plenty of media attention. This proves problematic for Delphine, who is keeping her jury duty a secret from her abusive husband, Mike, while Yuri runs a construction company with his brother, Bjorn, which will also become important as we progress. Each jury member has a similarly complex backstory; The Twelve episode 1 begins to give each of them some depth.
During the first day of court, we get a basic outline of both deaths and learn some details regarding Frie’s relationship with Stefaan, his relationship with Margot, and some spicy details about STDs, drug abuse, sole custody, and lingering bitterness. You know – the usual. There’s nothing novel about how this information is relayed, but that’s part of the appeal. The Twelve is almost documentarian in its approach.
Balanced with all this, of course, are reminders of the nature of jury service, and the moral responsibilities; the importance, too, of being impartial, at least as far as such a thing is possible. Relationships begin to develop among the jurors or at least suggest the possibility of developing, while certain opinions – even those held by members of the police – are made very clear.
If The Twelve season 1, episode 1 feels utilitarian, you can’t fault it for pace. It dives right into the nitty-gritty of the case and lays its cards out nice and early; these are the people we’re going to be focusing on, it seems to say, and their personal lives are going to matter just as much as the development of the criminal case. You can’t have one without the other, and The Twelve doesn’t intend to. It’s a smart, compelling opening to this intriguing show.
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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.