2 out of 5
Created by: Francesca Brill and Luke Watson
Jodie (Jill Haffpenny) seems to live in a mire of life and work struggles, development arrested by the loss of her son, Tom, some years back, in a drowning. Her ex-husband has moved on, new wife and whatnot, and he especially isn’t plagued by the belief that Tom may not have actually died, as his body was never recovered.
And then Jodie sees a boy on the street whom she knows is Tom, grown up, and being called Daniel.
No one else believes her, of course – just as she’s the only one holding the torch for her child still being alive – and so she’s left with, uh, no choice but to stalk to kid and insinuate herself into his life, including faking the experience and paperwork to become a part-time teacher at his school.
There’s enough meat for a distracting home-video thriller here, but even at four episodes, The Drowning is put out to try to draw things out logically over its runtime. Nearly everything – from when Jodie first spots Daniel and onward – feels like plotting by convenience, and the steps she takes to get close enough to Daniel to discover what she believes to be the truth, while relying on the ol’ standby of a parent’s love as the motivating factor, seem to err toward the ridiculous, dangerous, and fairly stupid. Other subplots concerning Jodie’s business partner; or foibles with the people who present Jodie with the forged paperwork; or the erratic and clipped behaviors of Daniel’s single father, Mark (Rupert Penry-Jones), are just additions to the fluff around Drowning’s fairly vacant center – there’s the clear sense that the show is just stalling for time. The final episode’s rug-pull of reveals doesn’t help this much.
Haffpenny gives a strong performance, despite her character being written rather unevenly: she maintains control over Jodie such that though her actions are pretty nutty, we never really think the character is. Cody Molko, as Daniel, also does an appreciable job, even if the script again doesn’t give him much to work with regarding the emotional turmoil such a situation might actually cause. And I’d say the show starts well, even if it’s all-too-clearly belonging to the drama-of-the-month template. There was an opportunity to do something a bit deeper and patient after that first ep that the show surely missed, but at least the initial potential was there.