Everybody's playing dirty this week on Now and Then [Apple TV+ recap] | Cult of Mac

Everybody’s playing dirty this week on Now and Then [Apple TV+ recap]

By

Now and Then recap Apple TV+: Things get increasingly complicated this week.★★★★
The five teens of Now and Then are under suspicion.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+’s Now and Then, a Miami-based murder mystery, starts to play dirty this week.

New roommates Marcos, Isabel and Sofia are primed to turn on each other. Political couple Ana and Pedro have a huge, expensive mess on their hands. Mother and son Daniela and Hugo might have more secrets than anyone. And Detective Neruda finally opens up about the reasons she’s so committed to catching and convicting all of them.

This sleek little show has as much confidence as it does wonderfully seedy plot threads. The excellent first season continues apace.

Now and Then recap: ‘Crossing the Line’

Handsome surgeon Marcos (played by Manolo Cardona) is caught in the past. The police may suspect he killed his old school chum Daniela (Soledad Villamil), who was blackmailing Marcos and his friends for their involvement of the death of their former friend and high school classmate Alejandro (Jorge López).

But right now, all he can think about is the woman in his guest house. Former flame and accomplice Sofia (Maribel Verdú) has been staying with him and his fiancé, Isabel (Juana Acosta), because she was afraid to go back to her motel room. She owes money to a bad guy named Bernie (Joaquim de Almeida), and thinks maybe the only way to get it is to pick up where Daniela left off and extort her rich friends.

Elsewhere, Marcos and Sofia’s classmates and other surviving conspirators Pedro (José María Yazpik) and Ana (Marina de Tavira) have their own troubles. Pedro stole money from Alejandro’s family (his mother used to be their maid and they stayed close after Alejandro’s death), but the stash got thrown away by accident. So he went to the dump to look for it.

Someone snapped a picture of Pedro surrounded by trash, looking shady, and his campaign for mayor founders. Ana suggests he play it safe but Pedro’s team wants to start a smear campaign of its own to hurt their opponent. She’s mostly concerned, reasonably, that if Pedro starts digging up dirt on his rival, they’ll fight back and find out they killed Alejandro.

Pedro’s not thinking about that, though. All he can think about is how his son Luis (Martín Fajardo) is embarrassed of the video of his father going viral while rooting around in trash. Ana has an elegant solution: Hire the journalist (Jimmy Shaw) who’s been writing the most negative things about him to be their new press officer.

Murder and dirty tricks

Detectives John Sullivan (Zeljko Ivanek) and Flora Neruda (Rosie Perez) are still on the case of Alejandro’s murder all these years later. Flora never got the case off the ground back in the day because a judge refused to let her tap the phones in Sofia, Daniela, Marcos, Pedro and Ana’s homes. Her failure to nail them for the crime has haunted her ever since.

The murder of Daniela is her excuse to finally get closure on this. Flora starts playing dirty, too. She goes to Isabel while she’s dress shopping and tells her that her soon-to-be-husband and his old friend are implicated in a murder. Wouldn’t she rather know conclusively that she isn’t marrying a criminal? If so … can she get them both out of the house for an hour so Flora can bug the house, finally, with or without a warrant?

There’s a fly in the ointment, though. Marcos’ father shows up when he hears that Marcos’ chaotic old lover is back in town and offers her $100,000 to leave Marcos alone. Sofia thinks it was Marcos’ idea — retaliation for helping Daniela’s son Hugo (Matt Mitchell) with his money problems in the wake of her death, which he thinks makes them all look guilty.

This sullies the evening and they don’t leave, so they only have a few rooms bugged. Marcos finds them and asks Sofia if he’ll be her attorney, because clearly something bad is happening.

And then Hugo calls Flora. He’s drunk and wants to confess something. But he crashes his car before he can.

Every time you show up my problems begin

Though Now and Then has, on paper, truly zany plot twists and turns — as any good bit of potboiler programming should — the execution has a more sober quality than you might think hearing everything laid out. It sounds like daytime soap material but it’s mostly shot like a big-budget thriller series, like Animal Kingdom or Sons of Anarchy or something like that.

We see occasional high-key camera techniques (crash zooms on suspects in a police lineup) that match the intensity of the implications of the plot. However, for the most part you’re watching a very down-the-plate cinematic style from a formal standpoint.

This, I can’t help but feel, helps make the show’s enormous web of deceit a little easier to navigate. It’s also a lot more fun to watch. Something that looks and feels like regular TV, but has a million little nasty ideas under the placid surface, is itself gaming the audience as much as the appearance of the next twist. It just makes watching this sexy nightmare all the more engaging.

★★★★

Watch Now and Then on Apple TV+

New episodes of Now and Then arrive Fridays on Apple TV+.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.