Tell Me Your Secrets [Season 1 Review]

Tell Me Your Secrets is Amazon Prime video’s upcoming 10 episode mystery thriller following the likes of The Undoing and Big Little Lies. The story follows the intertwining lives of three characters. Emma Hall (Lily Rabe) who is put into witness protection after her boyfriend Kit Parker (Xavier Samuel) is found to be a serial killer. Mary Barlow, (Amy Brenneman) whose daughter Theresa (Stella Baker) is missing. Mary is suspicious of Emma’s involvement with the disappearance causing her to hire John Tyler (Harnish Linklater) a rapist on a road to redemption, to track down the elusive Emma. The show flashes between Emma’s past and present as the characters try to piece together how much Emma was involved in the horrendous killings, what happened to Theresa, and what secrets are still being hidden?

Tell Me Your Secrets casts a dark and riveting look at the complexities of grief. Emma weaves through the anguish of a now misshapen love story that has left thoughts questioning its authenticity and her identity. Mary struggles with the harrowing and obsessive search for her child. Despite her better judgement she can’t come to terms with the possibility of her child being dead. And John weaving through the battle of pouring effort into escaping a frightful version of himself. Each of the main characters while strikingly different are struggling to make sense of a world that has been turned upside down leading to questionable choices.

Lily Rabe as Emma Hall in Amazon Prime’s Tell Me Your Secrets.

Regardless of the morality, it’s easy to see why certain decisions are made by each person. The character arcs over the season are devastatingly perfect as you are taken on a journey through everyone’s misery. It’s easy to label someone as monstrous, but when caught between feeling sympathy and rage from a person’s actions is where an exceptional character lies. Rabe, Brenneman, & Linklater bring an ability to ebb and flow through the sinister yet relatable sides of Emma, Mary, and John.  With so many dynamic main characters on screen, it can be difficult to appreciate the smaller roles. It’s worth mentioning Elliot Fletcher who plays Jake Barlow, Mary’s son. Jake is constantly stuck between validating his mother’s feelings and putting her in check when she is out of line. His short yet impactful screen time left me wanting to know more about him. How is he really handling the disappearance of his sister? What does he think happened? Similarly with Marque Richardson who plays Tom Johnston, a budding love interest for Emma. Richardson has been known in recent years for his work on Dear White People, proving his ability to embody nuanced characters. It was disappointing to say the least to see him in a role that did not utilize his talents.

Furthermore, the main story conflicted with a mishandled subplot which is jarringly apparent as the show progresses. Emma’s involvement in the small Louisiana town she is placed in due to Witness Protection comes with its own set of secrets. At a certain point, the building skeletons in everyone’s closest borders on overkill. The whiplash of reveals as the ending came into view felt rushed and sloppy in an attempt to wrap up loose ends. That said, given the inherent graphic nature of the show, one of my favourite aspects is the ability to rely on what is not said or shown, particularly when it comes to sexual assault. There was never a moment of unnecessary violence for the sake of advancing a storyline or shock value. It is a good example of how tv and movie content can explore themes of a graphic nature without displaying a woman’s pain for consumption.

Tell Me Your Secrets is captivating, fast paced, and has you questioning everyone’s true motives until the very end. There is an assumption of intelligence in the audience that allows you to draw your own conclusions and judgements. Despite some of the rocky plotlines amongst the mystery, the drama, and the heartache lies a show that tackles how well do we really know the people we love.