A MURDER AT THE END OF THE WORLD is a series about an amateur sleuth who attends a retreat of brilliant minds, only to find herself trying to solve a murder. Part Arctic noir, part mystery, and a whole lot of offbeat storytelling one expects from Brit Marling and Zal Batmaglij, it was pretty good but not great for me.
Darby is a young woman seemingly haunted by her experience hunting a serial killer with her partner and lover Bill. When she receives an invitation from a tech billionaire to attend a secret, exclusive retreat, she can’t resist–she’s also pretty obsessive. When one of the guests dies, she suspects foul play and soon realizes they all may be in danger.
The show has a lot going for it. Marling and Batmaglij are always good for challenging, provocative ideas and striking a slightly unsettling mood. The idea of a group of online sleuths tracking down a serial killer made for a pretty cool backstory. The Arctic noir setting was quite beautiful and isolating. The story has a great setup filled with intrigue, and the last act gets to the end with a strong pace and a touching denouement. Clive Owen, who plays the tech billionaire, is particularly good and shows us his more menacing side.
I had a few problems with it, though. For one, I found the dips into the backstory far more interesting than what was going on in the present at the retreat, the real purpose of which is never really explained. There are themes about late-stage capitalism and the temptations and dangers of technology, but they’re never really explored to a point. The characters at the retreat aren’t particularly interesting, including Darby herself, who mostly scowls at everything and appears to know everything. Coming out in 2023, the show presents tech that isn’t all that crazy mind blowing, given the explosion of AI earlier in the year. The ending twist isn’t all that surprising.
Overall, I liked it. Honestly, I would have preferred a series that was just the backstory–that could have been a lot of fun to watch as a more developed story. It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly entertaining and fairly well done, and I found it worth the watch.