[Warning: spoilers ahead.]
I’m on record as loving and losing shows over at ABC so I’m usually very reticent to pick something up on the network until it’s been renewed, and I seriously hope I’m not jinxing it, but I took a chance on the deeply odd and very sweet Will Trent, and I think you should, too. And you’re in luck, because there’s a rerun twofer tonight starting at 9 pm ET, and the rest of the season so far is streaming on Hulu.
Based on Karin Slaughter’s book series about the titular Trent, the drama series is part procedural and part exploration of the lasting effects of childhood trauma. Will (Ramón Rodrìguez) is a detective with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI), which I legit did not know was a thing in the world. He came up through the foster care system and when he wasn’t on the receiving end of abuse at the hands of his foster parents, he was being roughed up by his foster siblings.
All save one. Angie Polaski (Erika Christensen), who grew up alongside Will, is now a police detective for the city of Atlanta. She’s also a recovering addict who’s been on again/off again with Will since they were teenagers but it’s much more than an FWB arrangement. If they weren’t so traumatized by their upbringing, they’d most likely be fully together, but each accepts what they’re able to give the other, and is understanding that what that looks like is transient.
Will’s other great love is more recent. When he rescues his neighbor’s chihuahua after she passes away and the animal rescue organization very astutely guilts him into keeping her, he quickly becomes, as he puts it, “a grown man with a small dog who wears clothes.” Her name is Betty and she’s adorable and Will is begrudgingly besotted, becoming that dad.
At the outset of the series, Will’s commander, Amanda Wagner (Sonja Sohn), who recognized his keen intellect and stepped in years earlier and saved him from following another, dark path, pairs him with Faith Mitchell (Iantha Richardson), a detective she poaches from the police department. Faith has her own traumas, too, and Amanda knows exactly what she’s doing by throwing them together. They mystify and aggravate each other until shared and individual moments of vulnerability make them see themselves reflected back. It takes a little while but they do become true, invested partners.
Angie’s partnership is a little more muddled because she’s paired up with Michael Ormewood (Jake McLaughlin), a hothead, married detective with whom she trysted before she was sober. She wants off of vice and into homicide, so she shelves the hella awkward arrangement that gets additionally awkward when word gets out who she and Will are to each other.
In addition to all the delicious character elements, the series is a procedural with parallel and sometimes intersecting investigations, and save one particularly torture porny episode that went on too long with a kidnapping scene, it’s refreshingly light on onscreen violence. We’re told what happens, and we see the aftermath, but we’re not in it in real time, which I’m grateful for.
Rodriguez, who is also a producer, is transformed in the role of Will to the point that I didn’t immediately realize he was one of Aaron Paul’s besties in Need for Speed, which I had on repeat a while back. He’s very, very good here. And Christensen has been a favorite forever and she’s also great as a woman still processing her demons but now through a sober POV that helps her navigate her personal and professional lives with a little more clarity.
Sohn and Richardson are new to me, and I adore them. As women who are fresh out of f-cks and randomly empathetic, they are extremely fun to watch. Mclaughlin handles a difficult role well. We’re not supposed to like Michael, but in later episodes we start to see that he’s not as cocky as he might seem, and his prior combat duty has left him with some anger management work to do on himself.
Executive producers are Liz Heldens, Daniel Thomsen, Karin Slaughter and Oly Obst. Howie Deutch is one of the producers and has directed a few, and I full nerded out that Lea Thompson, whom he met way back there on my senior year of high school obsession Some Kind of Wonderful and has been married to for over 30 years, also directed.
I’m not sure how many episodes we’re in for this season, whether it’s nine, 10, or 13, but there are eight so far on Hulu, two reruns tonight on ABC, and two weeks til the next new episode at 10 pm ET/9c on March 21st for you to catch up. Get on it. You’re welcome.
Here are a few sneak peeks.
[Updated 4/23/23 — We’re getting a Season 2!]
Photos and video courtesy of ABC.
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