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The Cry - Episode 1.01 - Review: "A Nonlinear Timeline (And Why That's Good)"

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BBC's The Cry is a new psychological thriller based off of the book by Helen FitzGerald. As someone who is a big fan of both the book and Jenna Coleman, I was excited beyond belief for the premiere. And no, it did not disappoint!

The story follows Joanna and her struggle as a new mother. The story weaves between several different timelines to set up the story. There's a court hearing, a psychologist visit, Joanna and her husband's past, and the present (along with some snippets of the in between).

The nightmare all begins when she and Alistair set out to Australia in hopes of gaining custody of his daughter, Chloe. And as everyone probably knows, going on a long flight with an infant is never fun. With her obvious signs of postpartum depression and an entirely unhelpful husband, you cannot help but feel for her, even when she's shaking her baby around like a ragdoll while screaming at strangers. (That plane ride will always infuriate me — Don't people have any compassion? It's not like a baby has an off button. It's going to cry and a flight attendant asking the mother to keep the baby quiet is not going to change anything.)

It's a relief when they finally get off the flight. Everything is calm, for the most part. There's a fire quickly spreading causing a bit of worry, but otherwise, everyone is simply going about their lives. Joanna and Alistair have a calm ride. Alexandra and Chloe prepare for their arrival. What comes next is unexpected, even knowing what the show is about. The moment that Alistair and Joanna enter the milk shop is so eerily calm...

Suddenly, everything goes wrong.

Noah goes missing!

What exactly happened in those moments while Joanna and Alistair are in the milk shop remain a total mystery. What happened to Noah? Who took him? Will they find him (alive)? I guess we will have to wait and see.

For a premiere, I was highly impressed. Yes, the timeline is a bit confusing, but a quarter of the way through I got a hang of it. It made the show enticing and fresh, even for those who have read the book. I have no doubt that everything will piece together perfectly in the end.

And for those wondering, you should absolutely read the book — but perhaps when the programme is over.

The book is definitely a page-turner. I bought the ebook one night and did not put it down until I was finished. There's so many twists and turns; it's wonderfully written and really delves into the minds of all these utterly complex characters. You'll feel yourself sympathizing even when you shouldn't. It had me thinking for weeks — with thoughts flooding back with all the discussions of the new series.

As many people know, sometimes books just do not translate well to screen. The written art has no boundaries when it comes to personal thoughts, internalized struggles, etc. Yet, the show does something so different to combat this, that you might want to wait to let the show play out the story before you go reading the book. You see, the book switches between multiple POV's and occasionally multiple timelines (mostly linear with speckles of the court case). There is no mystery surrounding what happens to Noah; the readers are clued into what happened and who was involved as soon as anything is amiss. The intriguing part is that the characters are not clued in at all and readers are left with their thoughts and speculations. The book focuses on some of the important players — the grief everyone goes through, the accusations, the paranoia. It focuses so much on the inner struggle (compared to the resigned shock of the outer struggle) that I wondered how the show would be able to pull it off. The answer is: by changing how the narrative is told — a non-linear timeline.

I adore the route the series went with. I have seen so many people expressing their frustrations at the way the timeline jumps around, but it is what makes the show so enticing. Even as someone who knows the storyline and how it will play out, I still find myself biting my nails and wondering what will happen next. How will they reveal these twists? When? I can't even imagine how it must feel for the audiences tuning in for the first time. It almost makes me wish I did not think to touch the novel until the show was over. I live through the eyes of my friends, most of whom came about the show with little to no prior knowledge.

To those of you who found the first episode confusing, I urge you to keep watching. It will make sense soon enough, and the series is better for it.

What did you think of this episode of The Cry? What do you think happened to baby Noah? What is Joanna standing trial for? What are your theories? Let me know in the comments below!

Don't miss episode 2 of The Cry tomorrow at 9pm on BBC One!

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