Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first two episodes of A Murder at the End of the World.
If you were a fan of Netflix’s The OA, you’re familiar with creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s ability to weave a twisting, turning mystery that keeps viewers guessing throughout. Sadly, due to the streamer canceling the show after its second season, Marling and Batmanglij never got to finish their cult sci-fi hit, leaving audiences guessing about a cliffhanger ending.
With their new show, FX’s A Murder at the End of the World, the duo takes no such risks. The seven-episode limited series, the first two installments of which debuted Nov. 14 on Hulu, is a tight whodunnit that answers the questions introduced in its premiere by the time the finale comes to a close.
The murder mystery centers on Darby Hart (Emma Corrin), a 24-year-old hacker sleuth referred to as “Gen Z Sherlock Holmes” who is invited to attend a reclusive billionaire’s secret retreat after publishing a true-crime memoir chronicling how she and her then-boyfriend Bill Farrah (Harris Dickinson) solved a string of serial murders as teenagers. The summit, held at a remote and futuristic Icelandic hotel, is hosted by tech mogul Andy Ronson (Clive Owen) and his wife, Lee Andersen (Marling), a famed hacker who has disappeared from the public eye in recent years.
“The generation below us has grown up completely in the world of technology,” Batmanglij told the Los Angeles Times of the framing for Corrin’s character. “We were fascinated by [that dynamic] that allows this generation to go toe-to-toe with a billionaire who has all the power and intelligence and all this stuff. We wanted to tell a story of how this generation can hold the other generations to task.”
Once at the snow-swept compound, Darby discovers that Bill, now a famous artist who goes by the alias “Fangs,” is also a guest. The two have been estranged for six years, but when Darby witnesses a bloodied and frightened Bill’s final living moments from outside the window of his hotel room, she becomes determined to figure out who was behind his death.
What happens in the debut episodes of A Murder at the End of the World?
The series’ first two episodes—titled “Homme Fatale” and “The Silver Doe”—set the stage for Darby’s investigation, with the narrative jumping back and forth through time to show how she grew up visiting crime scenes as a coroner’s daughter before teaming up with Bill to track down the killer behind a series of unsolved “Jane Doe” murders.
Bill’s death takes place at the end of the premiere, following the introduction of the summit’s nine guests—an exclusive group of artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and activists—as well as Ronson’s latest innovation, an omnipresent AI-assistant holographically personified as a butler named Ray (Edoardo Ballerini).
The second episode opens with Darby racing to get help from a Brazilian doctor named Sian (Alice Braga) who was the first woman to walk on the moon. Sian tries to perform CPR on Bill but it’s too late, and Ronson later claims that Bill died from a drug overdose. But Darby is suspicious of the circumstances surrounding his passing and begins to search for clues.
After breaking into Bill’s hotel room, Darby discovers that the only place Bill has syringe marks is on his right arm. She asks Ray if it’s common for drug users to inject themselves in their dominant arm and he confirms that it’s not. Darby then witnesses Lee breaking into the room to investigate Bill’s body as well. She later confronts Lee and learns that she’s also suspicious about Bill’s death not being an accident.
As the episode nears its end, Darby hacks into the hotel’s security system footage and sees that both Ronson’s former righthand man David (Raúl Esparza), an Argentinian-American venture capitalist, and Ziba (Pegah Ferydoni), an activist who escaped from Iran and supposedly hates Ronson, were both hanging out outside Bill’s room at different times on the night of his death. But her most startling discovery is that an unidentified masked man appeared outside his room after Bill had gone inside.
With five episodes to go, it’s clear there’s a lot we still don’t know about what’s really afoot at the retreat.
A Murder at the End of the World is set to run through Dec. 19, with a new episode dropping on Hulu every Tuesday.