The pilot episode sets the scene efficiently, introducing the Bayview Four and laying the groundwork for a twisty whodunit.
This recap of One Of Us Is Lying season 1, episode 1, “Pilot”, contains spoilers.
You have to admire the efficiency with which the One Of Us Is Lying pilot sets the scene. Admittedly, it’s not exactly a complex premise, and it’s very on-trend for young-adult dramas, but nevertheless, the introduction to the show’s first episode lays out several key details and doubles as an introduction to the four main characters, their various archetypes and deeply-held secrets, and the interloper who threatens to throw the social dynamics of Bayview High into chaos by disseminating those secrets via a gossip blog called “About That”.
Our omniscient narrator is gossip-monger Simon (Mark McKenna), whose only real friend is the insecure Janae (Jessica McLeod); both vocalize the show’s John Hughes-alike set up in the earliest moments, though also point out that they’re the only people who realize the connection. About That is Simon’s way of spicing up the semester, but also of getting his own back for what one assumes is an ostracised life as the school weirdo. As he outlines his various targets, we’re introduced to the show’s four main players: Bronwyn (Marianly Tejada), a straight-A star student who cheated on a test; Addy (Annalisa Cochrane), a popular looker who cheated on her boyfriend, Jake (Barrett Carnahan); Cooper (Chibuikem Uche), a star athlete who’s secretly gay; and Nate (Cooper van Grootel), an off-the-rails wild child who has been selling drugs on campus. As you can see, there’s plenty to be going on with.
One Of Us Is Lying season 1, episode 1 recap
The John Hughes comparisons only intensify when these four students, along with Simon, find themselves in detention through a variety of contrived circumstances. Everyone, by the way, knows Simon runs About That and absolutely despises him, which he seems to quite like. It also gets him killed. He drinks a cup of water from the fountain in detention and immediately drops dead, leaving the other four as suspects. It’s a shame since Simon is much more charismatic in the show than he is in the source material. But his death is also the crux of the entire plot, so you know… needs must.
Simon’s death thrusts these characters together. Some had pre-existing relationships, some didn’t, but their dynamics are all adjusted by the event. Addy seeks solace in Jake. Bronwyn and Nate seek solace in each other. Janae is left alone, though asks Addy outright if anyone even tried to help Simon. Before long, all four are introduced to Officer Miller (Marci T. House), who explains that Simon died after going into anaphylactic shock from his peanut allergy — there was peanut oil in the cup he used, and no epi-pens in his bag or the nurse’s office. Suddenly, they’re all not just witnesses, but murder suspects. The round of interviews allows for more backstory for each character, including their feelings about Simon and About That. Simon’s bag and laptop are both missing, and nobody knows where either is. Claims not to, anyway — the title One Of Us Is Lying isn’t exactly an accident.
We learn rather quickly that Bronwyn’s lying about having Simon’s bag, for instance. She took it, she claims, since Simon lives across the street and she thought she could give it back when he recovered, a ruse that Nate saw through immediately. But Simon’s death is having ripple effects all over the school, so it’s not unreasonable that people would act out of character on the back of it. Addy is particularly worried that her affair with Jake’s friend, TJ (George Ferrier), will be discovered, and Cooper is maintaining the appearance of heterosexuality so as not to jeopardize his baseball scholarship chances — luckily, his “girlfriend”, Keely (Zenia Marshall), is also his best friend and was the first person he came out to. She socially benefits from being in a relationship with one of the school’s cool kids, anyway.
But nobody really knows how to mourn Simon or honor him. As Janae points out before she sings an original NSFW song at the school’s football game, he’d hate all the festivities. None of it is genuine. Nobody knows how to feel since everyone hated Simon, but not quite enough to wish him dead; they don’t miss him, but they feel his absence all the same. They feel it, especially when About That sparks to life even in Simon’s death, with a message from someone claiming to be his killer, saying “you’re welcome” for doing the thing that they all wanted but didn’t dare to.