The One review – a serviceable thriller that wastes a compelling premise

March 12, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, TV Reviews
2

Summary

The One seems reluctant to really examine its premise or its lead, both of which are compelling on their face, leaving only a serviceable thriller behind.

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2

Summary

The One seems reluctant to really examine its premise or its lead, both of which are compelling on their face, leaving only a serviceable thriller behind.

With the popularity of dating apps, a scenario not unlike the one envisioned in Netflix’s new thriller The One doesn’t seem far away. A similar premise – that of DNA-based dating – was already the subject of AMC’s anthology series Soulmates, so this eight-part series written by Misfits creator Howard Overman already feels old hat. Unfortunately, it does very little to dispel those early impressions, failing – nay, refusing – to really dig into its premise or, for that matter, the interiority of what could easily be a very compellingly immoral lead in Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware).

Webb is the CEO of a dating agency that has taken randomness out of the process. Now, there’s no getting-to-know-you period, just biological certainty. She’s also deeply corrupt and self-serving, and has rather intimate ties to her company’s co-creator, its secrets, and a body dredged up from the Thames. This rote detective plot quickly overrules any potential interesting examinations of the sci-fi premise, even with supporting stories such as those of Hannah and Mark (Lois Chimimba and Eric Kofi-Abrefa) and Kate (Zoe Tapper), which are present to basically graft a Soulmates-style relationship drama to the mystery.

With the major success of I Care A Lot, there’s obviously an appetite for a villainous girl-boss character, but Ware doesn’t lean into the part in the same way Rosamund Pike seemed born to do, and the script seems mostly uninterested in rounding out any human contours or taking her villainy to a more enjoyable and determined extreme. You wouldn’t want to find yourself on her hit list, but she’s not really interesting enough to spend much time annoying anyway.

Supporting performances are warmer and more effective but, naturally, given less time and space, not to mention importance in the overarching narrative. That narrative has enough twists and turns to pull you through eight reasonably brisk and pacey episodes, but few of them, if any, will stick. As ever, a second season seems like the goal, but there’s a sense here of the premise being wasted on a thriller plot that reveals all its secrets too soon and leaves you wondering what the point of it all was. Swipe right.

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