This scene-setting opening chapter establishes a decent premise and compelling central figure, but it’s more concerned with a burgeoning mystery than unpacking the repercussions of its ideas.
This recap of The One season 1, episode 1 contains spoilers.
The One episode 1 – that’s going to get annoying, isn’t it? – is your classic scene-setting opening installment. It has a clear agenda of introducing the premise and the characters and the plot, and it accomplishes those things in a workmanlike manner that it sustains, frankly, all throughout the season. It starts with the remains of a body being dredged from the Thames, and the fact the event occurs in such close proximity to a presentation given by Rebecca Webb about her new DNA-based dating app should clue you in that the two are inextricably linked.
Everyone’s on dating apps these days, and the idea of being able to identify your exact soulmate is a compelling one, hence the popularity of the app and thus the spike in divorce rates, government interest, proposed restriction of DNA usage, and worried investors. Everything in our current society is commodified anyway – why should love be any different?
The dead body is that of Ben, who we see in a flashback – every show has to have them – when Rebecca met him in a bar. The cops investigating this are Kate (Zoë Tapper) and Nick (Gregg Chillin); the reporter taking an interest in Rebecca’s company is Mark (Eric Kofi-Abrefa), who’s married to Hannah (Lois Chimimba) and shares her “misgivings” about Rebecca’s app. We know where this is going, don’t we folks?
The One season 1, episode 1 also, naturally, begins to establish Rebecca’s ethical fluidity, using the threat of matching an MP’s daughter with a criminal if she doesn’t stay in line. Her ruthlessness is looked upon rather fondly by her associates, but it helps that she has a seemingly magically powerful company backing her up. As we see with Kate and Hannah, the allure of DNA dating seems indescribably strong, almost to the point of contrivance. There’s a hand-wavey way that The One deals with all this that seems a bit taxing on the old patience. The mystery plot seems much higher on the agenda, especially once it’s revealed that Ben died from falling rather than drowning, and Kate’s matched date becomes the victim of a hit and run.
Rebecca obviously has some involvement in Ben’s demise, as does James – we’ll have to see how all that pans out in upcoming episodes.