Death and Other Details is pretty hot right now. High up the Top Ten list on Netflix, getting a lot of well-deserved buzz, but rather than talk about what a cool take on the age-old Agatha Christie Orient Express trope it is – and it is! — let’s talk instead about ex-sword-fighter, surgeon, and crusading psychoanalyst Mandy Patinkin, and his sidekick, ex-super-hero Violett Beane
It’s very hard to draw a straight line from Inigo Montoya to this alcoholic failed Marple, Rufus Cotesworth from Death and Other Details … but then that’s always been a problem with Pantinkin, right? I mean everybody remembers the classic line:
My name is Inigo Montoya. You kill my father. Prepare to die!
… but how many connect that guy to the super-intense and humorless doctor in the early days of Chicago Hope, or the driven semi-genius who ran the Criminal Investigation Division for years over on Criminal Minds? And even connecting that guy to this gruff, bearish, bearded dude with the horn rims and the bad attitude and vaguely European accent in the new Hulu show. Wait, that’s Inigo Montoya? That guy?
Maybe the one thing that does connect all those disparate characters in intensity. Patinkin never does things by half; he is always fully present and as focused as those lasers that fix your eyeballs . And whether he’s manic or acidic, emotionless or gruff, he is a force to be reckoned with.,.
… and who better to undercut him with honesty and dry wit than Violett Beane, playing a long-ago betrayed client who now all growed up and just as good at this deduction stuff as he is. Beane, she of the awesome haircut, holds up against Patinkin line for line and step for step, … and better yet, she gets to have hot sex along the way, too.
What, you don’t recognize her? Of course you don’t. She is just as much a chameleon as Patinkin. And I would have sworn I’d never seen her before this… until I looked at her IMDB listing and saw that she had played Jessie Quick on The Flash like 21 times – and I’d seen every one of those! — and had no idea it was her. She did a not-bad horror movie for Blumhouse, too – Truth or Dare, you can catch it on Amazon Prime. And she did three full years on a latter-day version of Touched by an Angel on CBS, something called God Friended Me that I never saw once. And each time – Beane is totally unrecognizable. It wasn’t just the hair color or cut, which changes with every show. No: this is more than just the new eyebrow or lip liner This young woman – all of 27 – can act. She can take on roles that are wildly different, one from the other, and just project them with such authenticity you’re sure you’ve never seen her before. And this has to be her big breakout role. The cool and quietly brilliant deductress role, Imogene, has got to be the breakout role for her. Hopefully, we’ve got decades of watching her, and seeing who she’ll be next.
The series? A good whodunnit. It doesn’t really clast and icons, — you’ve got your ultra-rich trapped for a period of time in place from which there is no escape, a seemingly impossible murder, and a private detective with a worldwide reputation for deductive genius, given nine days to solve it before their luxury ship docks. Have you seen it before? Of course you have. And you’ll line up to see it again, the next time its done as well as this one is – lots of nice plot twists, a beautiful bit of production design and cascading bits of witty repartee. If you like this sort of thing, you’ll like this sort of thing. It’s unrolling a week at a time on Netflix, and let’s hope it finishes as strongly as it begins. Give it a go.
But really – Jessie Quick as Doctor Watson? But sexy? You gotta love it. And it turns out Violett Bene isn’t the only alumnae of the Arrowverse who’s making a big splash in the streamers these days, as dirty as that sounds. So maybe being a B-list DC superhero ain’t so bad after all. Meanwhile, try tuning in to the unfolding story of Death and Other Details. Let’s see how it all turns out.