Into the Dark The Body Review
Hulu‘s Into the Dark: Season 1, Episode 1: The Body introduces the viewer to a killer so brazen, confident, and seemingly resourceful that he takes the dead body of his latest victim out in public, in full view of everyone, during Halloween. From its outset, it’s obvious that killer Wilkes (Tom Bateman) can actually get away with his method of body removal – everyone thinks it’s a Halloween costume prop. The problem is the lack of logic behind Wilkes’ stratagem. If Wilkes knew he was going to kill the unidentified celebrity, why not bring concentrated acid with him like The Cleaner in Point of No Return, and dissolve the body down the bathroom drain? Or dismember the body and place the parts in a suit case or break the bones of the body like in The Americans and put it into a suitcase so it’s easier to move? Instead, mercurial Wilkes does the one thing that will be the most conspicuous and the thing that has the greatest potential of getting him caught.
Because of this choice, a penchant cleverly touched upon by Wilkes’ employer, explaining Wilkes’ deleterious decision – in part (its purpose), the true intelligence of Wilkes and the script he inhabits is called into question. Even though Wilkes is mercurial in body disposal techniques on specific days of the year, why take any risk? One would think a contract killer would be risk adverse in every aspect of their assignment, especially its crescendo i.e. getting away with the murder.
The Body wants the viewer to believe that Wilkes is so good at his chosen profession that he can take a dead body out in public and get away with it. All that is required for this belief is a suspension of disbelief, which the viewer gladly gives Wilkes and The Body because they want to see what is going to happen next.
Besides the dead body hi-jinks that ensues because of Wilkes’ body disposal choice, the viewer is introduced to the second and only other intriguing character in The Body, Maggie (Rebecca Rittenhouse). Through Wilkes and Maggie’s interactions, Maggie draws out aspects of Wilkes that the viewer didn’t know exist e.g. Wilkes’ high education and memory. From the first act of The Body, the viewer knows that Wilkes is an epicure, but with Maggie the viewer gets a deeper look of Wilkes’ inner sanctum, his mind.
Maggie attraction to mysterious Wilkes is instant, she’s never met anyone like him (an understatement), but Wilkes fights against Maggie’s allure and the latent attraction of her desensitized nature. Through everything else that transpires throughout the remainder of The Body, questions begin reverberating over and over again through the viewer’s mind: Will Wilkes and Maggie or won’t they get together? Will Wilkes succumb to his growing interest in Maggie, who seems more and more like a perfect fit for his “unique” personality and lifestyle? Will Wilkes kill Maggie because she has come to know far too much?
The eventual resolution to these questions is bittersweet, very fitting for the storyline of The Body, and the character of Wilkes. The reversal at the end of the episode called into question two things: 1.) after ten plus years of contract killing, doesn’t Wilkes know how to mortally wound and kill someone with a single knife strike i.e. where to place the blade for maximum effect? and 2.) how does Wilkes’ graveyard, single-stab victim survive such a wound and resultant blood loss (twenty to thirty minutes worth), even if it is non-fatal? These two questions from the on-screen machinations of the people in question cause extreme credulity in the viewer during The Body.
The unidentified dead celebrity body in The Body is a decent MacGuffin, especially since the viewer is given a sense of deceased’s stature in the world without saying who it is (it has to be an actor or a musician based on their number of Twitter followers). It is not a good or a great MacGuffin, however, because of the aforementioned idiocy surrounding the dead body – why risk taking the dead body of a highly-recognizable person that you have just killed in public, even if its wrapped in opaque plastic?
The minor characters in The Body that end up with the dead body, sadly none of them is Sasha Grey who only cameos in the episode, are supposed to be reflections of real world people but are ultimately the episode’s buffoon element, tripping over their own feet as they try to do the right thing while looking out for their own self-interests. These side characters are where the majority of the jokes in The Body come from. One of funniest quips in The Body comes from female minority character Dorothy (Aurora Perrineau): “When the cops come, they’re going to shoot me and lock the both of you up,” bringing the real-world bias of police violence into The Body (before it quickly disappears).
Like the MacGuffin featured throughout the episode, The Body is a decent first entry in Hulu’s new horror anthology TV series. Hopefully the future episodes pick one tone and stick with it so that the impact of serious scenes within the episode are resoundly felt.
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