Or Nah? is a feature where we watch and review the first episode of a new TV show. We’ll let you know if it’s worth checking out. As always, these reviews are the opinion of the reviewer, but we’ll try to adequately explain why you should or shouldn’t give the show a chance and provide shows for comparison.
Quarry | S1E1: “You Don’t Miss Your Water” | Created by: Michael D. Fuller and Graham Gordy | Directed by: Greg Yaitanes | Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Jodi Balfour, Peter Mullan, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Damon Herriman, Edoardo Ballerini, and Chloe Elise.
What’s It About?
A bloodied Logan Marshall-Green wakes up face-down in the edge of a lake. As he groggily makes his way up the shoreline, gun in hand, he comes up behind another man leaning against a tree and promptly shoots him right in the back before walking over to his lifeless body and putting another bullet in for good measure. Welcome to Quarry.
Quarry is all about Mac Conway (Marshall-Green), a Vietnam vet who comes home to a 1972 America–Memphis, to be exact–that hates him, and he has to find a way to deal with his new life. The way he ends up finding puts the skills he honed in war to good use at home–while also earning him the name Quarry. You may recognize the title and premise, and that’s because this series is based on the long-running series of books from prolific crime writer Max Allan Collins.
How is “everything” for an answer? I suppose a more detailed and nuanced answer is called for here, though.
First, the atmosphere is perfectly defined. As Mac and Arthur (Jamie Hector) are shown returning home, there’s an ephemeral haze over everything. It all feels like a dream, for the first twenty minutes or so of the episode, even when the events taking place are decided more the stuff of nightmares. Along those same lines, the aesthetic is well-constructed, starting with protests about what’s termed “The Quảng Ngãi Massacre” and leading into the constant presence of the 1972 US Presidential Campaign, namely of George McGovern, it all comes together to viscerally place you into Mac’s world of isolation and PTSD-laden, emotional tumult.
Speaking of visceral feelings, the pilot’s use of diagetic or “source” music is perfect and is clearly intended to affect your view of the series as the pilot takes its title from an Otis Redding song present within the episode itself. That in-universe music is mixed wonderfully with a subtle score to create a whole experience which helps keep you in the scene, but also “in the moment” enough to be aware when the intensity ratchets up.
As a topper, there is no reason to believe any of the positive things about this pilot will go away, as the entire 8-episode first season is directed by one person, Emmy Award-winning veteran director Greg Yaitanes, who has previously directed multiple episodes of House and the recently ended Cinemax series Banshee, and written almost exclusively by the series’ creators Michael D. Fuller and Graham Gordy (with the only exceptions being episodes 5 and 6 being written by Jennifer Schuur and Max Allan Collins, respectively).
I, frankly, did not dislike anything about this pilot. What I will say is it was not, at all, what I expected. Specifically, it did not feel like the Quarry I saw in my head while reading The Wrong Quarry, which I reviewed for the site. Now, full disclosure, The Wrong Quarry is the eleventh book in the Quarry series and came out in 2014, 38 years after the first book in 1976, and it is the only book in the series I have read; it isn’t as if I’m some kind of expert on the books, so anyone who is more familiar with them may watch this and feel like it is exactly like those books.
I’m all the way in on this series, and the fact that it is only an 8-episode season feels right. This is a story that needs to be tight because it will trade heavily on its intensity, and that is not easy to hold for a ton of episodes at a time.
Don’t watch this if: you don’t like stories about coming home from Vietnam, nudity, or bloody violence.
Quarry or Nah?
A visceral thrill ride from start to finish, Quarry’s pilot episode sets quite the stage for what is sure to be eight episodes of unmitigated suspense and intrigue.