The Irregulars season 1, episode 1 recap – the opening chapter explained

By Daniel Hart
Published: March 26, 2021
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Netflix series The Irregulars season 1, episode 1 - Chapter One: An Unkindness in London


The opening chapter of The Irregulars is clearly a teaser of what’s to come as it embeds the characters and brings an urgent mystery that needs solving.

This recap of Netflix’s The Irregulars season 1, episode 1, “Chapter One: An Unkindness in London”, contains spoilers.

Another week, and another teen drama for Netflix, but this should be one we look forward to, bringing Sherlock Holmes but with a twist.

Episode 1 opens with Jessie (played by Darci Shaw) walking through tunnels with a lantern. She’s suddenly overwhelmed by energy floating around her; she sees skeletons that suddenly come to life and wakes up — it was a nightmare, and she’s in a panic. Her sister Bea (played by Thaddea Graham) reassures her that it was just a dream and tells her to go back to sleep.

The next day Jessie wakes up Bea and wishes her happy birthday — Bea is 17; Jessie excitedly and gives her an invisible birthday present (they live in the poverty-stricken area of London) — sweet perfume so she can seduce men, but Bea tells her she isn’t looking for men. These two have a back and forth, chemistry-filled sisterhood that will entertain viewers. Suddenly, Bea realizes Billy (played by Jojo Macari) and Spike (played by McKell David) are not in their beds.

Bea stops Billy from fighting

And then “Chapter One: An Unkindness in London” flits to Billy and Spike at an underground fighting ring. Spike is nervous and wants to leave. Billy is up to fight next against a man about three times his size. Bets are thrown in. Bea then turns up, and she looks furiously at Billy. Billy explains that Jessie needs their help with doctors. Spike suggests they work at the workhouse, which emotionally impacts Bea — she’s had an experience there. Episode 1 brings a tale of poverty and anguish; young adults cannot take care of themselves with a doctor’s visit due to lack of funds.

After discussing how to get money, Billy realizes that Jessie has disappeared. Jessie is wandering the streets, and she can hear whispers in her voice (the subtitles state the voices are from Dr. Watson). Suddenly, a carriage drives towards her, and Bea has to push her out of the way to prevent her sister from getting run over. The carriage driver Daimler is furious; Bea doesn’t like how Daimler speaks to them and tells him to get back in his carriage. Leopold, a member of the Royals, admires Bea’s tenacity from the carriage; “Chapter One: An Unkindness in London” brings a Cinderella-type scenario; rich prince meets poor girl.

Bea runs into Dr Watson

And finally, The Irregulars season 1, episode 1 brings in the Sherlock Holmes element to kickstart the story into action — the formalities are over.

While Bea visits her mother’s grave in the dead of night, she sees a man following her with a tophat, so she walks away quickly. She leads the man with the top hat into a tunnel and threatens him with a dagger. The man calls himself a doctor and states he and his partner have been watching Bea from Baker Street and offers her money in exchange for her help — he’s Dr. Watson (played by Royce Pierreson). Episode 1 then flits to a pub, and Dr. Watson orders a room. Dr. Watson explains to Bea that he and his partner run a small detective agency. He tells her that four newborn babies have been stolen and asks Bea to gather her friends and find the family’s daughter — Susan Shipley.

Talking to Susan

Finding Susan does not take long. The next day, Spike claims that he’s found Susan Shipley; he tells a fractured, comedic story of how he got Susan Shipley’s location. In the next scene, Susan is hesitant in talking about her sister Laura. Eventually, Susan admits the night Laura went missing, she snuck out of the window to spend time with her romantic interest. When she came back, Susan Shipley was gone. Suddenly, the group is attacked by a flock of birds, and they have to flee. Bea and Billy manage to find safety, and these birds are rampantly hitting their shelter — it feels like the end-of-the-world. Spike finds them, but as they leave the shelter, they see Susan; she’s dead — the birds killed her and gouged her eyes out.

“Chapter One: An Unkindness in London” confirms that this is more than a Sherlock Holmes story. Bea confronts Dr. Watson, and she tells him that they are out and expects payment. Dr. Watson reminds her that a girl is dead and four newborns are missing and that she will be paid once she has good information. As Dr. Watson leaves the room, Bea can hear coughing from another room.

Leopold wants to experience real London

The Irregulars season 1, episode 1 briefly takes the audience away from London’s poverty and introduces the audience to a wealthy person in the story. Leopold is having sexual fantasies about Bea back at the palace on his bed. He then sneaks out and heads to a pub for a beer. He overpays for the beer, and the bartender is flabbergasted. A sex worker brings Leopold to a room and offers her services, but when he rejects her, he’s kicked out with the following line: “Welcome to London”.

Helping out Bea

And then both worlds match up.

While out in the streets, Leopold (played by Harrison Osterfield) sees Bea, and he’s struggling to talk to her. He notices she is holding a Raven’s feather and tells her it’s unlikely she’s found it in London. Bea reveals she’s part of an investigation into four missing babies. Leopold offers to read the information to see if he can provide a different perspective. He tells her that the babies are likely to have been born in the same hospital at the same time and date and explains where she can get the birth records; he feels that the babies all born at the same time are all at risk, not just the four missing. Bea and others go to the town hall with Leopold; Billy doesn’t like him, but Jessie finds him “tasty”.

Finding the remaining baby from the six

And Leopold becomes useful quickly as he finds records of six babies born at the same hospital at the same time; one has died, four are missing, and there’s an address for the remaining baby. However, he believes something strange is happening here that involves the birds. Jessie wants to help, but Bea tells her to go home because she’s a liability and that she’s worried about her. Jessie believes she’s a burden and walks off.

The sixth baby

The group head to the address of the remaining baby. Billy enters the house, but the baby is awake and crying. Billy tries to keep the bedroom door closed as the parents try to enter the room, but then a bird flies in and takes the baby. When they follow the bird, they find a man looking over the baby — he claims the baby is his, and when he opens his coats, loads of birds are released.

But Jessie is not a liability, as the first episode suggested. At home and asleep, Jessie is having a nightmare, and she’s choking in it. Spike is trying to get her to breathe as he sees her struggling to breathe in her sleep. Jessie’s nightmare turns into a lighter dream. A man tells her she’s in Louisiana; he tells her of a man that can control birds, and he wants her to find out where he got his powers from. He explains that if Jessie touches the man, she will find out where he got it from. Jessie wakes up. It seems she has powers of her own.

Arthur Hilton

Bea believes the man will not stop taking babies until he finds his. She looks at the record of the baby that died to see the names of the parents, Angela and Arthur Hilton. And then she smiles; Arthur Hilton is a Head Ornithologist at London Zoo. Everything is clicking together.

Bea and the group find Arthur Hilton. She tries to explain to the man that his baby is dead, but Arthur refuses to believe it; he uses his powers to unleash the birds, so they have to flee. Jessie turns up and tells Bea that she has to touch Arthur Hilton. When she grabs his hand, they enter Arthur’s memories — it’s the day his daughter died. Arthur is told that his baby has been taken to the morgue; the moment was too painful, so he made himself forget. Arthur admits it was too painful. Jessie then finds out how Arthur got his powers; he took part in a seance to speak to his Aunt and asked for help. Suddenly, he could feel powers running through him –he doesn’t know where the powers come from.

The ending

The Irregulars season 1, episode 1 closes with a statement — it wants the audience to know what ride they are about to board.

Jessie and Arthur leave the memories, and Arthur breaks down in tears. Bea is confused about what Jessie did. She visits Dr. Watson — as she enters, the doctor is disgruntled at someone and tells them not to come back. He gives Bea the money and confirms that all the babies have been returned. Bea wants to know how he knew about her sister Jessie; Dr. Watson tells her that her sister is gifted. He explains that darkness has entered the city and that this is the beginning — the opening chapter of The Irregulars is clearly a teaser of what’s to come as it embeds the characters and brings an urgent mystery that needs solving.

Netflix, TV Recaps
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