City on Fire Season 1 Episode 1 Recap – why is Charlie in therapy?

By Adam Lock
Published: May 12, 2023 (Last updated: June 8, 2023)
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Apple TV+ series City on Fire Season 1 Episode 1 - We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us - Recap


City on Fire opens with a handful of enticing mysteries. There’s intrigue in these setups, but the plotting is far too rushed and cliched for viewers to grow any attachment to any of these conventional characters.

We recap the Apple TV+ series City on Fire Season 1 Episode 1, “We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us,” which contains spoilers.

Apple TV+ brings us yet another crime drama series to get stuck into, this time an adaptation of Garth Risk Hallberg’s novel City on Fire. The premiere introduces viewers to a complex new crime mystery, which features your typical drug-addled rock band, the wealthy elite, and per the title, plenty of arson.

City on Fire Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

“We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us” opens with the show’s central crime, college student Samantha Yeung is found in the park with a gunshot wound to the head. The opening episode then reverts to a few weeks earlier to walk us through the events that led up to this heinous act.

Why is Charlie in therapy?

The series focuses on awkward teenager Charlie, who is receiving therapy after his father’s death during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. The sessions allow Charlie a chance to explore the city, and he soon meets an old high school acquaintance called Samantha.

The teens quickly become the best of friends, with Samantha deciding to take Charlie on as her protege, hoping to transform this unsociable outcast into a more confident, cool kid. See, Samantha is your standard cool teen, obsessed with rock music, photography, and art. She’s even written her own zine about the rock band Ex Post Facto.

The friendship stumbles when Charlie is grounded after an eventful New Year’s Eve party, where he is banned from seeing Samantha ever again. She contacts Charlie out of the blue to tell him that Ex Post Facto is reuniting for a one-off gig.

Samantha hangs up and hitches a ride with her gang of misfits, who seem to consist of band members and vigilante types. They’ve just set a church on fire and quickly flee the scene of the crime.

Next, we’re introduced to the other main storyline, set in the affluent uptown, focusing on a wealthy real estate family. Regan discovers that her husband Keith has been cheating on her when she is sent a mysterious letter in the post. She decides to end the marriage after his confession.

Regan is also concerned about her distant brother William. His boyfriend Mercer reaches out to Regan, but she is unsure how to respond.

William is an artist and an addict. He refuses to open a letter from Regan and won’t talk with Mercer about his family or his past either. On Mercer’s birthday, William ditches his boyfriend to get high. He then bumps into an old bandmate, Sol, a friend of Samantha’s.

Who is William?

It’s then revealed that William is Billy Three-Sticks, the Ex Post Facto member who caused the band to split in the first place. Sol informs William that the band is getting back together for a gig tonight. William is invited to come and watch but won’t be performing.

Who is Keith sleeping with?

Samantha phones Keith, desperate to speak with him in person. It would appear Samantha is the one who Keith is sleeping with in this affair that has ruined Regan’s marriage. Samantha thinks she knows who sent Regan the note and warns Keith that something bad will happen.

Keith can’t meet with Samantha, though, as he is attending Regan’s family’s Independence Day celebrations. Mercer opens William’s letter and discovers that the brother has been invited to the same event. Mercer decides to attend the event alone to seek out some answers.

Later that day, Samantha and Charlie’s head to the gig, but she leaves him at the club to meet with Keith. Outside the extravagant party, Keith spies Samantha and bails.

Mercer finds Regan at the party, and they privately chat about William. Regan then meets with her uncle Amory, who has some important news to share. Regan’s father is to be arrested tomorrow for financial crimes. As the COO of the business, Regan needs to be brought up to speed on the company’s plans moving forwards.

City on Fire Season 1 Episode 1 Ending Explained

At the gig, Charlie befriends Sewer Girl. After the performance, she introduces Charlie to the rest of the band in the backstage area. Sol recognizes Charlie from that New Year’s Eve party, realizing that he’s Samantha’s friend. They ask where Samantha is. Charlie remembers that she’d said to meet him at the park.

Meanwhile, Samantha meets with someone inside the seedy park grounds. Mercer waits for a bus only meters away. He hears a scuffle inside the park and goes inside to investigate. He finds Samantha shot, bleeding on the ground. Mercer goes to find help.

Charlie hears Mercer shouting and finds Samantha’s body. He goes over and, panicked, pees himself. Fearing the police sirens, Charlie runs away, hurling his dirty jeans into the bushes. Mercer is then questioned by the police and arrested for drug possession.

What did you think of City on Fire Season 1 Episode 1? Comment below.

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