The Rook Review: Starz Drama Is Heavy on Plot, But Light on Character

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Myfanwy Thomas wakes up at Millenium Bridge in London surrounded by dead bodies. 

She doesn't know how she got there, or what happened to the bodies. That's the hook for new Starz drama The Rook, which premieres tonight at 10/9c. 

To say the series is a disappointment would be the understatement of the century. It leaves behind many parts of what made the novel it's based on a success.

In Trouble on The Rook

It would have probably worked better if it was more faithful to the novel. 

Emma Greenwell (Shameless) takes on the lead role and does her best as her character pivots her way through the dumbest of scenarios. 

Related: Get Starz via Prime Video Channels for Captivating Original Series & Hit Movies!

Four episodes were provided to critics ahead of the debut, and the show doesn't start getting exciting until the third episode. 

It's difficult to see past the clunky dialog, and plot twists that seem way too convenient to take seriously as Myfanwy tries to act like all is well in her life because it's super imperative that she returns to work for some reason. 

Emma Greenwell on The Rook

The character has several flaws, but there's no way to be able to tell how someone would react in the ludicrous scenarios she finds herself in throughout those initial episodes. 

More concerning is that the series is being billed as a miniseries. The plot moves slowly in those early episodes that you would think there was a seven-season plan to spoonfeed answers to the audience. 

Related: The Rook Gets Premiere Date at Starz - Watch Trailer

It's not difficult to understand that Myfanwy has an identity crisis.

She doesn't know who she is but is being given answers to things from herself. She knew something was going to happen to her, so she made video messages and letters to keep herself in the loop.

The Rook Season 1 Poster

Confused much? You will be when you watch the show!

The thing the series lacks is humor. The characters are so serious that it makes the show difficult to sit through. When there is a shred of humor, it feels out of place because of how dark the rest of the series is.  

Everyone appears to be hiding things from one another, and it starts to become tiring. By the time things start getting exciting, it's hard to imagine many viewers sticking around until that point. 

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Even Joely Richardson doesn't get much to work, and that's a real shame because her casting is what initially got me excited for the series. 

She's convincing in her role of Lady Farrier, but it feels like the characters should be doing more to bring a bit of lighthearted humor into things as opposed to serving looks at each other. 

Olivia Munn on The Rook

Olivia Munn is wasted as Monica Reed, a U.S. agent who makes her way across the pond uninvited to get to work on the case, but it's clear from the get-go that she has her own agenda in all of it. 

Her arrival certainly shakes things up in the office, primarily because she wants more control of the investigation when in reality, everyone else appears to be trying to double-cross each other. 

It doesn't appear as though anyone inside the operation actually gets along. It's like they only speak to each other when they need something. It makes most of the characters seem one-dimensional and expendable. 

The Gestalts on The Rook

The best acting comes courtesy of Catherine Steadman, Jon Fletcher, and Ronan Raftery as the Gestalt. Gestalt is one individual that inhabits four human bodies.

That's an intriguing concept, and watching that play out on-screen is infinitely more intriguing than the overarching storyline. 

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I would watch a show all about them any day. Your move, Starz. 

The London setting is a good one for the series and compliments the tone.

Joely Richardson on The Rook

It's clear no expense was spared in the production of The Rook, and that's what we've come to expect from premium cablers like Starz. 

It's difficult not to wonder what The Rook would have looked like as a movie, or even an episode of Black Mirror.

In fact, it would have probably worked better as a one-hour story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

There's definitely a show worth watching in there, but the second half of the season will need to be excellent to offset the mediocrity of the earlier episodes. 

Will you be watching The Rook?

Hit the comments below. 


Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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