First Watch: Low Winter Sun – “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

“Folks talk about morality like it’s black and white, or maybe they think they are smarter or they’re at a cocktail party acting all pretentious and they say its grey. But, you know what it really is? It’s a damn strobe.”

That strobe is exactly what AMC’s adaptation of Low Winter Sun is all about: showcasing that no one is purely dark or light, good or evil, but constantly flicker between the two as we go. This isn’t a new concept, of course, the blurred line between good and evil has been central to many television shows before Low Winter Sun (Luther, The Shield and The Wire come to mind for crime dramas specifically) and many will come in the future, I’m sure. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though many have listed it among their reasons for disliking Low Winter Sun. However, I find a show with a more realistic approach to morality and ethics (aka alignments) than a tale of good versus evil to be exponentially more interesting.

Low Winter Sun centers around Frank Agnew (Mark Strong) and his friend(?), or at least co-worker, Joe Geddes (Lennie James), a pair of detectives that work in Detroit. The pilot begins with Geddes trying to make sure Agnew doesn’t lose his cool over what they are about to do: getting revenge on Geddes’ partner, Brendan McCann, for killing a woman who Agnew apparently had feelings for. Everything goes according to plan as the two detectives drown McCann and place his body in his car before sending it into the river to stage his suicide, but it seems much too easy. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Dexter — nothing ever goes that smoothly in Dexter.

The pilot then takes some time to introduce us to the main characters on the other side of the law: Damon Callis (James Ransone) — who I just called Ziggy in my notes since I never caught his name — his friend Michael (James Harvey Ward) and a few other people who I didn’t care to notice. Our first introduction to Damon & Co. comes with a raid on a drug kingpin’s cocaine stash that was supposed to include support from a dirty cop, but the cop never shows (because Agnew and Geddes just killed him). Damon doesn’t let that ruin his plan, though, and enters the stash house anyways, successfully getting his hands on the cocaine and killing the only witness while he’s at it.

Back at the police department, Internal Affairs Officer Simon Boyd (David Costabile) shows up to make things a bit more interesting. It turns out that Boyd had come down to the department to investigate McCann, but McCann is, of course, missing. The scenes that follow with David Costabile really made this episode for me — it’s too bad that he probably won’t be around for very long to keep me interested in this show. One more reason for me to start Suits, I guess.

Near the episode’s end, the department is made aware of a car that has fallen into the river and they head out to investigate. Of course, as we know, the car is McCann’s and he’s found, dead, in the driver’s seat. Agnew has some suspicions about Geddes’ motive for killing McCann, but there isn’t much time for that just yet as there is a special surprise waiting in the trunk of McCann’s car.

Uh oh.

Low Winter Sun initially comes off as “The Wire: Detroit” with its depiction of villainous cops and (potentially) sympathetic criminals, but The Wire is widely considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces of television — does that moniker have to be a bad thing? I’m not sold on Low Winter Sun by any means, but I’m not tossing it out either. I’ll give Low Winter Sun its due and give a solid verdict with a Turning Point in the upcoming weeks.

  • Rating: “Not sold .. not tossing it out.”
  • Comment: Low Winter Sun is in a position where people will underestimate it (airing right after Breaking Bad), but it is too early to tell whether or not it deserves the low expectations and ratings that it has been recieving 
  • You might like Low Winter Sun if you like: crime dramas, but don’t have access to HBO Go to watch The Wire; characters who cross the line between good and evil on a regular basis; The Wire, especially if you were the only person in existence to like Ziggy; The Shield

Low Winter Sun has just started airing its first season on AMC right after Breaking Bad at 10 PM PST on Sundays.

About Daniel

I'm a guy who spends way too much time playing board games and watching television with his friends. View all posts by Daniel

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