Candy premieres five episodes on Monday, May 9, with one new episode per day airing through Friday.
Candy, starring Jessica Biel (in the first of two limited series on this true crime case from 1980), is a suspenseful and disturbing examination of a grisly ax murder that occurred more than 40 years ago in a sleepy church suburb in Willie, Texas. The first episode, “Friday the 13th,” offers a compelling setting while also teasing Pandora’s Box with secrets to be revealed as the series progresses.
Bell, who also produces executive, plays the “God-fearing mother who can handle it all” Candy Montgomery, who is in stark contrast to her friend Betty, played by Yellowjackets’ Melanie Linsky. Betty is at the end of her emotional rope, at home with her newborn, longing for relief from crying and more support from her husband Alan (Hello Pablo Schreiber), a caring man but also someone whose work includes traveling. Meanwhile, the Kandy clan, or at least its encounter with it, is so noisy and exhilarating, that Kandy thinks it’s a good idea for Betty’s oldest kids to sleep another night because they’re all going to catch The Empire Strikes Back and the girl wouldn’t be able to see her otherwise.
This sets the stage for Candy having to quickly show up next to Betty’s to pick up her baby swimwear…well, that’s where Candy’s framing and shape, the chain, creates and captures a truly chilling violence. We can’t see what’s going on during this house call. It will all unfold eventually, of course, but keeping us out of it at first is a smart idea. All we know is that Candy leaves Betty’s house in flight mode, bloodstained on her and the look in her eyes dizzy. As often as you can, she conjures up an instructive story about why she was late for a talent show at Bible school and left us in shock.
The Candy version model is intriguing, as we’ll get one class a day for an entire work week in some sort of “gluttony” model. Hulu has its own research and algorithm reasons for this, of course, but that could be in part because of HBO Max’s Love and Death — from David E. Kelley and starring Elizabeth Olsen as Candy Montgomery — which also landed this year. You’ll tell the same story, of course, but How do He will say it is unknown. Currently, Candy gives us a very scary opening episode, never giving us the full details, but instead letting us watch Candy herself trying to put on a happy face, for fear of losing her entire life to what she did, allowing us to imagine the horror she’s hiding.
Early episodes always have the pressure of drawing viewers in enough to make them want more, which is a risky move to not show most of your cards. She always wants to back off a little, but “Friday the 13th” backs off a lot, which is actually better for her. We know that something very shocking has happened. We don’t know what and we don’t know why (provided that we chose not to do a Google search for this case). In the end, we get a peek at what happened, but it’s still confusing. Watching Candy’s reactions to what happened, while her family tries to have a fun outing and Betty’s daughter stays with them, is amazing. But the most potent part of the suspense comes from Allan, when Betty doesn’t pick up the phone and is away in a hotel room in a completely different city.
Candy, which is based on real events, will apparently dip her finger into a reenactment, based on everyone’s testimony and narrative. The technology of the age will also play a role in communication and the ability of characters to access information. When Alan, who has left his wife in a sad state, begins to worry deeply about her and his child, and what she may have done, it is a very moving hour. Schreiber is great as an increasingly anxious Alan, who only has an ’80s phone system to work with. He calls the neighbors to knock on his door. His calls were redirected to the restaurant where he eats. He even calls Candy, who empathizes but also works in a self-preservation mode.
Just from the point of view of the drama, this ill-fated phone card game, which eventually leads to several neighbors entering and exploring Betty’s house, is a low-key victory. “Friday the 13th” takes its time, keeps us guessing, and makes the horrific discovery in a way that only adds to the tension. The four main characters here – a group that also includes Timothy Simmons from Veep as Candy’s husband, Pat are very good at portraying the cute and “normal” type that hides a darker belly. We really leave this episode with one answer for every hundred questions, but it’s all done in a way that makes us go crazy knowing the whole story.