Pieces Of Her season 1 review – an uneven series enhanced by two stunning performances

By Adam Lock
Published: March 3, 2022 (Last updated: January 20, 2024)
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Netflix series Pieces Of Her season 1


This thriller is packed full of twists and spy clichés but works best when it focuses on the emotional core at the heart of this complex story.

This review of the Netflix series Pieces Of Her season 1 does not contain any major spoilers.

Access the archive of recaps, reviews, and features for Pieces Of Her.

This eight-part mini-series is driven by two superb performances, each woman playing the same character across two time periods. Toni Collette (Hereditary, Unbelievable) plays the older Laura Oliver and Jessica Barden (The End Of The F***ing World) the younger version. These award-worthy roles are the backbone of this story and push an uneven spy thriller perilously close to prestige TV territory. The Netflix adaptation of the 2018 novel of the same name by Karin Slaughter boasts some magical moments, but in the end, is weighed down by a complex plot.

The story begins with Andy, a thirty-year-old 911 call operator, celebrating her birthday at a local diner with her mother Laura. This unsuspecting meal quickly descends into complete anarchy, easily becoming one of the most shocking events in 2022’s TV calendar. A gunman shoots dead three Crab Shack guests and then heads for Andy, dressed in her police uniform. The crazed killer wants Andy to retaliate, possibly to even shoot him, yet she is unarmed. A cold and calculated Laura parries his next shot and is stabbed by the criminal. The knife firmly wedged in the palm of her hand, she uses it to deftly slit the shooter’s throat. A dramatic shift of tone that will get any viewer’s heart racing, this moment not only shocks but sets the whole saga in motion.

Andy is unnerved by her mother’s actions and packs to stay with her stepfather. Whilst collecting her bicycle, she witnesses a hooded intruder break into Laura’s home. The criminal ties Laura up and begins to suffocate her. Andy is on hand to save the day but unwittingly kills the torturer. Laura gives Andy a set of instructions that take her on a journey of discovery. Her daughter begins to unearth many dark secrets from Laura’s murky past.

The show rapidly shifts into the tired genre conventions of the espionage thriller – with patchy results. There’s plenty of farcical absurdity as Andy tracks down murderers and takes on clichéd disguises. Characters change from hero to villain and vice versa, with lots of double crossings and an endless array of twists to hook in the binge viewer. Some are more shocking than others, but the series works best when it drops the action and focuses on the emotional toil these events incur.

One of the highlights of the drama comes in the form of Laura’s past life. An eighties subplot led by Jessica Barden as the young Laura, whose original name is actually Jane Queller. She’s perfectly cast as the fragile yet fiery piano player, who falls madly in love with a revolutionary. These flashbacks involve a tragic romance and a plot to topple a billionaire business tycoon’s empire. This storyline is exciting and layered, all working towards addressing the woman that Laura would become. Unfortunately, the most entertaining section of the series is also its weakness. The exposition and backstory weigh down the modern-day storyline and detract from the overall drama.

Don’t be fooled, Pieces Of Her season 1 is no failure, it’s a gripping drama, with some stunning performances and genuine heartfelt emotion. It doesn’t quite live up to the rip-roaring energy of the opening episode, yet there is lots to praise. The twists can be surprising and there are scattered moments of beauty within it all. The series is structured to keep the audience coming back for more and I’m sure Netflix has another hit in the making here. It’s just a shame that the uneven tone doesn’t quite match the show’s initial potential.

What did you think of the Netflix series Pieces Of Her season 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

Netflix, Streaming Service, TV Reviews
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