City on Fire Season 1 Episode 5 Recap – what photographs are on Samantha’s reel?

By Adam Lock
Published: May 26, 2023 (Last updated: March 19, 2024)
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Apple TV+ series City on Fire Season 1 Episode 5 - Brass Tactics - Recap


“Brass Tactics” contains some truly cliched dialogue and many unrealistic scenarios, but the plotting starts to build some momentum nonetheless. There’s also an intriguing rivalry between William and Amory, while the final third is teeming with dramatic twists.

We recap the Apple TV+ series City on Fire Season 1 Episode 5, “Brass Tactics,” which contains spoilers.

The plotting in City on Fire begins to heat up in “Brass Tactics.” Regan (Jemima Kirke) and Keith (Ashley Zukerma) question their own suspect in the case. Charlie (Wyatt Oleff) has Samantha’s (Chase Sui Wonders) photographs developed, which leads to more intriguing mysteries, and William (Nico Tortorella) digs deeper into the investigation as all those involved in the case start to panic.

City on Fire Season 1 Episode 5 Recap

The previous episode ended with Keith being visited by Detectives Parsa and McFadden. They interrogate him back at the station. Keith’s alibi is relatively weak, and his motives are quite strong, yet the Detectives’ boss lets him go.

It’s revealed that Amory was behind this early release. They discuss Keith’s missing gun together, although Keith wants to solve his own problems and asks Amory to stay out of his business.

Once home, Keith confesses to Regan he owns a gun, but it has gone missing. Keith thinks that their son Will stole it. He even implies that Will could be the shooter.

They decide to question their son about all this the next day.

Is Will the shooter?

Will admits that he took his father’s gun and sent the note about the affair. He just wanted Keith to acknowledge that he knew about Samantha. Will took the gun and fired it to see how it felt. He states that he didn’t shoot a girl but a bird instead, referring to an earlier mystery from the series. Will is clearly not the shooter. Later, Keith throws the gun into the river.

Elsewhere, artist and drug addict William follows Samantha’s clues to a burned-down building, which is now owned by the Hamilton-Sweeney Group. He turns all these clues into a large mural at his art studio.

Bruno visits to collect some of his artwork. But William isn’t interested in his art anymore; he wants to solve the case. Bruno is happy that William has been inspired again. William thanks Bruno for his continued support.

Why does William visit Amory?

William decides to face his demons and meets with Amory at the Hamilton-Sweeney headquarters. He tells Amory that he is investigating the shooting. He knows Samantha loved his band and that Amory’s business is buying burnt-out buildings. William also adds that Nicky knows Samantha, and somehow Nicky knows Amory too. The artist warns Amory he’s going to take him down.

In the other subplot, Charlie returns to the band’s base after ordering Samantha’s secret photos to be developed. Sol and Sewer Girl don’t trust Charlie anymore, though. They share their suspicions with Nicky.

Their leader looks through Charlie’s belongings and finds the receipt for the photographs.

Charlie needs money for these photographs, so he goes to steal from Nicky. Unfortunately, he is caught in the act. Nicky drags him to their protest outside of the Hamilton-Sweeney skyscraper. Here, all the many storylines combine.

William exits the building and is chased by Sol and Nicky. The Detectives, who were there to question employees, see this chase and get involved themselves. Even Charlie is spotted and runs. Amory orders Nicky to kill William, knowing they’re all connected somehow.

Charlie pawns his father’s watch and has the photographs developed. The photos seem ordinary, although he notices that a few are missing.

The shop owner explains that a man paid him to look through them. He must have stolen the missing pictures. This is probably Nicky’s doing.

What photographs are on Samantha’s reel?

With nowhere else to go, Charlie sneaks into the University’s darkroom and develops the missing photographs himself. One picture is of Nicky outside a burning building, and another is of Nicky and Samantha together, possibly romantically involved with one another.

A final flashback explains the story behind these photographs. The band was burning down a building. Samantha heard a person trapped inside. Nicky dragged Samantha out of the building before she could save them. Samantha took photos to prove the crime, to possibly turn on Nicky.

Sol saw Samantha taking these snaps and demanded the film. Samantha quickly swapped the film and hid the photographs from the band before Sol could destroy them. He then ruined the film and Samantha’s camera.

City on Fire Season 1 Episode 5 Ending Explained

One of Nicky’s friends heads to the studio to destroy William’s work in the present. Bruno catches them in the act, though, and he is attacked. The intruder sets William’s studio on fire, with Bruno passed out inside.

As the episode ends, Nicky and Sol chase William onto a boat. Nicky forces William onto the upper deck, which is completely deserted. Nicky states that William is going to die without gaining any answers. Sol then strangles William and chucks him overboard.

What did you think of City on Fire Season 1 Episode 5? Comment below.

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