Will Trent: Pilot
January 5, 2023 9:13 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Special Agent Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) relies on his keen instincts and unique experience to uncover the truth when a murder investigation reveals there's more to the story than meets the eye.

Series overview: Special Agent Will Trent was abandoned at birth and endured a harsh coming-of-age in Atlanta's overwhelmed foster care system. Determined to make sure no one feels as he did, he now has the highest clearance rate.
posted by rednikki (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Thanks for posting this. I asked to have it added as I intended to post it but haven't gotten around to actually writing up the post.

I was going to make mine books included, as I lot of my opinions originate in how the material adapted from the source, but if that's not the way this thread is going to go, I'll refrain from commenting on that part.
posted by sardonyx at 11:50 AM on January 5, 2023

A nice surprise.
posted by amtho at 1:04 PM on January 5, 2023

I will say I felt a disconnect in the way the episode was shot and filmed. During the parts when Will wasn't in the scene, it felt like a modern, gritty crime drama. During scenes with Will--especially when he was doing his crime-scene-interpretation thing--the camera techniques/direction/etc. seemed as if they belonged in a somewhat dated and more light-highthearted series (something like Monk, for example). It felt jarring and off-putting.
posted by sardonyx at 1:10 PM on January 5, 2023

I like that they're building the ensemble from the beginning. It feels like there's going to be a great group of characters rather than just one interesting one. For the people who have read the book - does this seem like a full-season adaptation of a novel, or are they cramming a book into two episodes?
posted by rednikki at 7:24 PM on January 5, 2023

I will watch every episode because while Will is adorable, Betty is adorabler and I love her.
posted by the webmistress at 7:45 PM on January 5, 2023 [1 favorite]

It feels pretty quick.

My copy of Fractured (which this episode seems to be based on) has the main story coming in at 514 pages. The video tape viewing that shows the car switch happens on pages 128 and 129. The grenade scene (where the wife exposes her cheating husband's lifestyle) is on page 221. A lot of plot has been totally dropped. A lot of Will's personal information and history seems to have been revealed too quickly and easily.

What I will say is that when I initially heard about casting, I was really dubious and after having watched the episode, I can't say my doubts were lessened. I don't want to sound like one of those people who complain about things for the sake of complaining and who have issues with colour-blind or gender-blind casting. This is one of those cases, however, where I feel something fundamental to the characters has been lost due to the casting decisions--decisions that have nothing to do with the skill or performance of the actors involved.

Like a lot of mystery-series/suspense-series readers, I find myself more interested in the characters than the actual mysteries. In this case, I've always found that the characters are great examples of the tensions that happen to people when their outward (and expected) privileges clash with their less visually obvious limitations and societal strikes. (I'm sure I haven't explained that well. Sorry.)

In the books, Will a tall, good-lucking, well-spoken white man with dark blond hair who drives an expensive sports car and wears three-piece suits. That's a whole big stack privilege points right there. They are the kind of privilege points that should make him start life on the easy mode and cruise from on upward from there. If anything the suits and the car are signifiers that he's got money or class behind him, giving him even more of an advantage in life.

Admittedly, he's got a facial scar, but it's the kind that fictional characters have that are supposed to make them look dangerously sexy. And his other scars aren't typically visible, so he's still at maximum points for his physical appearance.

In reality, he's a mess of self-doubts. He was never officially diagnosed with dyslexia, he only came to understand what it was later in life, and self-diagnosed. He struggled with learning and basic job duties (note the tape recorder) and mostly kept his condition a secret. So super easy mode is less easy. His time in group homes and foster care left him a traumatized abuse (psychological and physical) victim who has a hard time relating to people socially (ding some more privilege points from him) with no family support and no money. The car was an older wreck he rebuilt and restored himself (so he's not flashing his wealth with his ride). And, as was mentioned, he has the reputation of busting crooked cops (which wipes out a whole pile of cop-related privilege points and makes his professional life stupidly difficult).

What I'm saying is that despite his white-guy advantage, he has a zillion reasons to be othered and to be playing on a way more difficult mode than he should--which makes him interesting as a character. This is especially true in comparison to people like his boss who is a successful (drives a Lexus), older (in her sixties) woman (negative privilege points) who was among the first women to fight their way onto the force (again, deduct piles of privilege points) even though she came from a police family (add a few cop privilege points for that) and who now is so tough that she makes agents cry. Amanda is more adept socially, she can play the political game with ease, and she also has a very strong manipulative streak when it comes to controlling other people's lives--even if that is mostly done for their supposed good.

I think a lot of tension is undercut by casting a Hispanic/Latino (I don't know how he self-identifies) actor to play Will as it makes it way, way too easy for him to be seen as an outsider, especially by police officers in a southern state. If they've got a beef with him for being weird, for not being part of the brotherhood, etc. it's so much easier to ascribe racial motivation on top of their other dislikes. The clash is harder and more uncomfortable when they're forced to reject somebody who, based on outward appearances, should be one of their own--if not one of their alpha male leaders (based on his skills and clearance rate)--but is, instead, somebody who is under the thumb of a pushy, cranky, older, ballbreaking woman. (Somehow, I suspect macho white cops would be more comfortable seeing a Hispanic man being controlled by a woman.)

By having all three major GBI leads people of colour*, it sets them up (artificially) as the good cops versus the bad cops and the incompetent cops. Maybe this is the only way Hollywood can make itself feel good about telling positive police stories these days.

*Faith falls between Will and Amanda on the outward privilege scale. Here is how she is described in the book: "She was young, probably in her early thirties, of average height and pretty in the way that thin blond women were naturally thought to be pretty--but there was something that kept her from being attractive. Maybe it was the scowl that had been on her face or the flash of raw hatred in her eyes."

When Amanda was at the age where she joined the force, she thought of herself as no longer at the Mary Richards stage but not somebody mistaken for Edith Bunker either, in case anybody is curious.

If I ignore Amanda's backstory and history from the books, I think she actually works better with a Black actor playing the role. I think it adds to the sense of privilege tension. I'm on the fence about Faith, also for book-related reasons.
posted by sardonyx at 10:15 PM on January 5, 2023

(something like Monk, for example)

That's a selling-point for me, "I'm in!" - I like quirky mystery shows. (Or quirky in general)
posted by rozcakj at 10:07 AM on January 6, 2023 [2 favorites]

I haven't read the books but I enjoyed this. It does seem to be pulling in two different quirky mystery show directions, with "Monk" on one side and maybe "Homicide" on the other, but I liked both of those shows so I'll give it a chance.

The exposition WAS a bit much. We definitely could have found out some of the backstory in Episode 2, especially since it seems we're not doing the one-case-per-episode format.
posted by mmoncur at 12:54 AM on January 8, 2023

That "objectively hot" ad is beyond annoying. He's fine for TV, but nothing special on that scale. Don't try to force-team me, CBS!
posted by praemunire at 12:19 PM on January 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

I'm not familiar with the books, really liked that apparently the show is much less white than the books, but did cringe a bit that Will Trent apparently graduated from the Benoit Blanc School of Southern Drawl, especially in the opening scenes.
posted by TwoStride at 12:45 PM on January 8, 2023 [4 favorites]

Haven't read the books so I don't have that baggage and I'm loving this. Love the diversity of the cast, love the interplay of the characters, just love the whole thing. It's rare that a detective/mystery type show draws in both my husband and me but husband thoroughly enjoyed this.
posted by cooker girl at 9:34 AM on January 19, 2023 [2 favorites]

Will Trent apparently graduated from the Benoit Blanc School of Southern Drawl

Came here curious to see if anyone was talking about the show. I want to like it, but the fact that the rest of the cast talks like people in Atlanta talk, but the main character is inexplicably doing a Foghorn, is so distracting. Ramon Rodriguez could have spent 15 minutes in Atlanta before shooting started and discovered that Latino men here talk like Latino men and do not have Foghorn accents and in fact no one here has a Foghorn accent because it's not a real accent. But instead I guess he just watched Knives Out and/or Looney Tunes for his accent?
posted by hydropsyche at 2:10 PM on January 28, 2023

I'm not from Georgia so I'm not the best judge, but it did seem like the accent got better and by episode 4 I didn't feel like Will was talking any differently than the other cast.
posted by mmoncur at 8:10 PM on January 28, 2023

Weird. I just watched episode 4, and it was the one that made me the maddest because it felt like after the accent had floated around Benoit Blanc style for the first 3, by episode 4 he had inexplicably settled into the full Foghorn permanently. I honestly don't know if I will keep watching because that accent is so bad and there's no reason for it.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:08 AM on January 29, 2023

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