In a TV landscape drowning in psychological thrillers Behind her eyes Slots in homogeneous terrain. Meanwhile, Netflix seems like a partner ordering for the two of you at a restaurant, knowing what we want better than us – beautiful people; dirty secrets; strained (grueling?) relationships. This new series, based on Sarah Pinborough’s 2017 bestseller of the same name, is a neat checklist of all three. While it maintains the book’s shocking twist (it was marketed with its own hashtag #WTFThatEnding), even that isn’t enough to make it happen Behind her eyes an edge above its myriad counterparts.
The series begins with a sweet meeting. Louise (Simona Brown), who got up at a bar by a friend, spills a drink on a tall, dark, handsome stranger, David (Tom Bateman). An evening of flirtation leads to a single kiss before breaking up: “I can’t do this, sorry.” When Louise goes to work the next day, she finds David and his wife Adele (Eve Hewson) in the office. Schocker: David is your new, married boss. And if there were any doubts Behind her eyes is a psychological thriller, David is a psychologist.
A curvy love triangle emerges, stimulated by Adele, who pursues a friendship with Louise for unknown purposes. Of course, all three are hauling serious emotional baggage – obviously Adele, whose black bob, blue eyes and the almost catatonic Stepford woman believe something more sinister.
The secrets of the show are revealed through excerpts from cryptic conversations, nightmarish dream sequences and of course the genre’s favorite exhibition crutch: flashbacks. Scenes of Adele, who was previously long-haired and smiling and lived in an unspecified institute, promise to dig out her past to explain the present. Not just her gift – which consists of a hostile marriage and pharmacy value pills – but also that of David and Louise. However, the clues are too few and far apart. Tempo is crucial in a thriller and Behind her eyes often succumbs to yawning lulls. Conversations go in circles and the same scenarios reveal the same truths over and over again.
The series is not without compelling moments. Adele and Louise’s fragile friendship is ripe for self-destruction, making their calmly tense scenes together some of the most exciting on the show. But the story, as translated on-screen, has so many familiar TV elements in it that it feels like a repetition of something you’ve seen but forgotten. None of the numerous twists and turns are surprising. Except, of course, for a bombshell that keeps the promise of a good shock – but at what price?
When I saw the bizarre twist finally play out on the screen, I felt shortened. It turns out that the cost of surprises is manageable. Reason and narrative continuity too. If the series is a puzzle, its ending is part of another puzzle.
Behind her eyes sticks to the classic Netflix letter: you don’t have to like it, you just have to watch it.