A Murder at the End of the World Chapter 1 Recap: No More I Love Yous

“Homme Fatale”

Darby stands at a podium in a bookstore in A Murder at the End of the World
CR: Chris Saunders/FX

The following recap contains spoilers for A Murder at the End of the World Chapter 1, “Homme Fatale” (written by Brit Marling & Zal Batmanglij and directed by Brit Marling).

A Murder at the End of the World Chapter 1, “Homme Fatale,” opens with Darby (Emma Corrin) on her way to a reading of her book, The Silver Doe, while “The End” by The Doors plays on the soundtrack. Is there a reason “The End” plays at the beginning? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t ignore it.

Indeed, A Murder at the End of the World doubles down on this structural move, as Darby reads from the end of her book, even as she notes she’s been told she’s not supposed to do that. We flash back to her time with Bill (Harris Dickinson), but after they’ve met and fallen in love, and after they’ve pieced together enough details about the killings they’ve been investigating to have a suspect (and an address) in mind.

We don’t get those details in this first episode, but we should note that there is something to be curious about when it comes to what path led Darby and Bill from a Jane Doe with silver earrings, through a database of unidentified dead and to this vacant house in a subdivision. That hardly seems like a straight line.

Bill wants to back out of their plan to break into the house, but he doesn’t, and the two sing along to Annie Lennox’s “No More I Love Yous” on the car ride there. After they arrive, Darby hacks the garage door with a laptop and mentions Lee Anderson (who I somehow already knew would be played by Brit Marling). Darby says Lee was the greatest female coder around, who wrote a manifesto about how misogyny was ruining the promise of the internet, got doxxed, and disappeared.

It’s not entirely clear when that happened, or what year it is supposed to be when Darby and Bill break into this house. Her large, clunky iPod would point in the direction of the early aughts. But she still has that iPod in the present timeline, which would seem to be now, so there’s nothing definitive there. Darby does mention to Bill that they are investigating a case from 2000, with the implication that this was long enough ago that the authorities would no longer care about it. So maybe I’m overthinking this. But, also, why are we being shown that iPod so prominently?

Bill and Darby digging in dirt beneath a basement floor
CR: Eric Liebowitz/FX

The garage door hack opens all of the garage doors on the block, but Darby and Bill seem to get away with it. They pull into the garage and close the door. They go into the house and down into the dark basement. And they proceed to start busting up the cement floor in search of remains.

They don’t find anything and fall asleep on the floor as they take a break. When Darby wakes up, she notes that the stairs have been rebuilt at some point, so they dismantle them, leaving me unsure how they had planned to get out of the basement. Their focus, however, is on what they find. There are bones buried in the dirt and a ring on the skeleton’s finger. They determine that the first victim was their suspect’s wife, Patricia.

I should also note that Darby has implied that their suspect was a cop.

There are footsteps, and a man with a gun appears at the head of the stairs (that no longer exist). Darby and Bill start rattling off the names of victims (I infer), before he steps in front of her and we hear a gunshot.

But now we’re back to the book reading in the present day, and Darby says she’s going to stop there. We don’t know how they got out of the situation we’ve just seen them in—presuming this really happened—only that they did. And though it’s not in the book, we learn in a further flashback that Bill left Darby shortly thereafter, with a note on the mirror saying things were both too much and not enough.

So, that’s one mystery that A Murder at the End of the World Chapter 1 leaves us with, and one has to wonder how much the Silver Doe case is resolved in Darby’s book.

One also has to wonder why Andy Ronson (Clive Owen) invites her to his retreat. Darby dedicated her book to Lee Anderson, who at this point has married Ronson, but that dedication itself is tenuous enough for someone at the book reading to ask about it. Darby is something of a hacker, but if Ronson is the tech genius he’s purported to be, that hardly feels like enough to draw his interest. And it’s Andy, not Lee, who invites Darby.

Perhaps we should take him at his word that he sees her as someone capable of original thinking that could contribute to saving the world.

Sian and Darby shake hands on the plane
CR: Eric Liebowitz/FX

But then there’s the fact that Bill is there. Darby hasn’t seen him in years at this point, though he’s become an acclaimed artist called Fangs. Moreover, he was not on the plane, though most of the other guests were. Before dinner, Ray (Edoardo Ballerini) fills Darby in on the bios of those she will be sitting next to at the table, but he says nothing about Bill, who she ends up sitting directly across from.

Call me paranoid, but part of me thinks that Bill is the reason Darby is there and that this surprise was intentional, though maybe the goal was to surprise Bill with Darby as opposed to the other way around.

The two go for a walk, and Bill seems to suggest that he has something to tell her, but that he’ll only tell her if she comes back to his room with him. He also says he’s there because of Lee. He knows Lee. But Darby declines the invite to his room.

She searches the internet for Lee Anderson and Fangs and finds pictures of them together. She gets out that old iPod and listens to Annie Lennox. Then she goes to Bill’s room, but he doesn’t answer the door.

Along with Darby, we hear groaning and some banging noises. She runs outside and around to the window to Bill’s room, where he smashes his bloody hand against the glass. If anything he says is a clue, I didn’t catch it.

But, Bill is dead. I take it this is our murder at the end of the world.

So, who killed Bill, and why? Why was he there in the first place? What was his connection to Lee Anderson? What happened back in Iowa with the Silver Doe case, and does that pertain to what’s happening now?

A Murder at the End of the World almost feels like a straightforward whodunnit after its first episode, but there are a lot of weird things at the margins that complicate that picture. And this includes the fact that Bill seems to be alone in his room when Darby sees him die at the end of the hour.

This is a two-episode premiere, so I’m on to Chapter 2 immediately. I hope you’ll join me.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

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