Shining Girls Episodes 1 – 3 are the first three instalments of an American thriller streaming television series based on the 2013 novel The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. Though ostensibly about a serial killer, there are supernatural horror elements in this series that recalls the Stephen King HBO adaptation The Outsider from 2018.
S P O I L E R S
The premise seems straight-forward for a crime thriller –
Years after a brutal attack left her in a constantly shifting reality, Kirby Mazrachi learns that a recent murder is linked to her assault. She teams with a veteran reporter to understand her ever-changing present and confront her past. (IMDb)
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However, the above premise merely skims the surface of what the series is really about. The perception of reality. Thanks to her traumatic experience, Kirby (Elizabeth Moss) suffers from a psychotic disorder that has burdened her with a significantly altered or distorted perception of reality.
Kirby’s distortions are often caused or triggered by hallucinations (false perceptions), delusions (false beliefs) and/or disrupted or disorganised thinking. Thus, in the first episode, she believes she is single and living with her rock musician mother but in fact, she is married and her mother is a deeply religious worship leader! This sense of disorientation is shared by her colleague Dan Velazquez (Wagner Moura) who is an alcoholic and a drug addict, with also a tenuous grip on reality.
Which then leaves us with Harper Curtis (Jamie Bell), the villain of the piece. We see Curtis in 1964 and the early 1990s (the time the series is set) looking exactly the same! We also see Curtis attack scientist Jin-Sook (Phillipa Soo) but discover that she is still alive but her staff card was left in a victim from 1970! Talk about your mind fucks! Who (or what) is Curtis? A demon? The Angel of Death? A time traveller? Surely, Curtis cannot be an ordinary human being. If he is, then the series makes no sense whatsoever. Curiouser and curiouser.
Shining Girls Episodes 1 – 3 are certainly worth the time and effort. While there is an element of the “mystery box” trope, the strong performances of Moss, Moura and Bell ground the fantastical plot enough to hold back the doubts for now. Recommended!
Now streaming on AppleTV+.
… still there’s more …