I knew very little about the Amazon Prime show called The Widow, other than that it starred Kate Beckinsale, and involved her being the widow of someone killed in a plane crash. Based on that premise, even with Beckinsale in it, it sounded like a show ripe for cancellation after Season 1. It needed a hook.
It was really weird watching this right after watching When Heroes Fly, because there is a similar premise. In WHF, nine years after a girl is killed in a car accident in Bogota, someone sees her picture in a newspaper and they have to investigate if their friend is still alive. In this case, the Widow has lost her husband in a plane crash in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but catches a glimpse of someone that looks a lot like her dead husband on news footage of an attack in Kinshasa. She too is drawn to investigate.
The show opens really oddly, with an almost Public Service Announcement scene about child soldiers…you see a young girl climbing way up in a tree to look out over the forest while an even younger boy worries about her safety. After she climbs down, they go over to a nearby tree, pick up their rifles, and join the other soldiers hiking through the jungle. Then you jump-cut to a mountain range where a woman hiking falls and scrapes her knee, and has to walk to the nearest town for medical attention (later you realize this is the widow, if you didn’t already recognize Beckinsale). She sees the footage on the news and starts freaking out. And finally, you see a jump-cut to a man in a medical office having his eyes checked for a potential surgery, as he’s blind. What do all three of these people have in common? Absolutely no clue for quite some time. The kids are in the DRC, so there’s that; the Widow goes to the DRC to find her missing husband, so there’s that link; and it turns out that the blind guy was the sole survivor of the plane crash. Except he’s sitting having a drink with another blind woman, totally having nothing to do with the rest of the story yet.
Beckinsale is good as the Widow, looking way older than 46 years. Not as compelling as in Underworld though. 🙂 She can hold her own, so there’s no worry there on the acting front. Alex Kingston plays a friend / coworker of the dead husband (I’m not entirely clear on the relationship there, feel like I missed something), and she’s decent. Kingston is a hit and miss for me — I loved her in Discovery of Witches, and generally hated her in Arrow. That’s more about the characters probably though than her. Here she is closer to the DoW character, which is a better fit. Continuing on the “good side”, Jackie Ido plays a journalist whose pregnant wife was on the plane and is helping the Widow look for the husband, Will. I had trouble placing him, but he was the driver in Taxi Brooklyn, where I really liked him. He’s good here too, but the first episode has him a bit inconsistent for his character. Matthew Le Nevez plays presumed dead Will, but you don’t see enough of him to get a feel one way or another.
For other supporting cast, I almost got Charles Dance and Bart Fouche confused as it shows time jumps from the days after the plane crash and the current time, I thought they were the same character. Dance has been in tons of stuff over the years, and I liked him as the Judge in the mini-series And Then There Were None, as he often plays someone a bit shady. Here he is, I think, a parent figure although again, the references were a bit oblique at times to the past, and as I said, I got confused as to who he was. By contrast, Bart Fouche is clearly the “bad guy”, but with no real presence, just a lead for them to investigate.
The part that REALLY confuses me is Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as the blind survivor of the plane crash. He’s also in NOS4A2 that I’ve started watching, and he’s really solid. A definite presence, I just have no idea how he connects. He’s just sitting waiting for possible surgery, and talking to another blind woman, played by Louise Brealey. Since she played the duplicitous Gillian in Discovery of Witches, and Molly Hooper in Sherlock, I think I assumed in watching her that she has some sort of hidden role/agenda. Maybe she does, maybe not, but she’s far easier to watch here than in DoW, but again, that might be more the character than the actress.
And the mystery is compelling…what DID happen? I want to know what happened to Will, what’s happened in the last three years, why does it look like Beckinsale might have tried suicide at some point, how did she get saved, who are the DRC child soldiers, and WHO THE HECK IS THE BLIND GUY???? So I’m going to be watching. Even if I have to regrettably predict CANCELLATION…I just don’t see what the hook would be for season 2.