One by One - Harper's Island Detailed Review

"It started out cheesy, which is perfect for the type of show it is. I feel bad for peeps that didn't stick with it!"

That was a friend's take on Harper's Island, and I couldn't agree more! It did start a little cheesy, but by episode 3, it's pretty amazing!!!! I'm trying to decide what kind of review to give you, and it's hard to decide. I mean, I've already told you how I feel about the show, what it's about, what the plot is, all that jazz... on the other hand, however, an episode-by-episode break down would take FAR too long to write, because it isn't the type of show you can just summarize, and I'd have to go into detail about each episode. I also can't go into each and every character because, as stated before, there are 25. That would also take too long.

So, I guess the best thing to do is give you a spoiler-filled "What I liked/didn't like" review. That way, I'll give you more of an insight to the show, without repeating too much of what I've already said. I also feel it appropriate to give the finale it's own pro/con section.


SO - without further ado:

What I Liked:

The "Cal/Chloe/Sully" relationship.
It wasn't a love triangle...I feel I should say that first. When I say the "C/C/S" relationship, I merely mean that those character relationships were my favorite. Sully/Chloe not so much... Sully was clearly only focused on scoring with Chloe, but what I liked about that aspect of the relationship was how faithful Chloe was. Her character always struck me as kind of a sleaze, and that was mostly because she was a blonde bombshell. I think that's what the writers were trying to get with that... stereotypes. I decided I didn't like Chloe from episode one because I thought she'd be the typical blonde... and I absolutely thought she'd get with Sully, because he was so hot. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Chloe not only stayed faithful to Cal, but had no interest in Sully what so ever. It became clear that what Chloe and Cal had was love.

The Cal/Chloe relationship is COMPLETELY about love. Geeky british guy with a beautiful american blonde... it's incredibally unlikely and at the same time, an awesome underdog story. But I wasn't as impressed with the fact that they WERE together, as I was with the fact that they stayed together, and the numerous displays of absolute twitterpation with each other. The relationship was just refreshing... I couldn't point out exactly what I liked about it, but I really liked it.

The Sully/Cal aspect was my favorite... their friendship was absolutely unlikely but portrayed amazing development in each of their characters, especially Sully. Sully is the typical good looking bully type character. He thought he could snatch Chloe away from Cal simply because Cal was a geek, and Sully was a looker... but as the show rounds out, Sully begins to respect Cal. He sees what Cal and Chloe have and realizes that he wants a relationship like it. One of my favorite scenes in the whole series was when Sully tells Cal to take care of Chloe. It was very touching, showing that not only does Sully respect Cal and their relationship, but he actually has feelings for Chloe that are more than just a booty call.

The Parrallel Mystery: Harper's Island centers around 2 story lines, the first being the murders happening on the island, and the second being the John Wakefield murders from the past, and how Abby dealt/is dealing with them.

HI is not the first show to deal with more than one story line, but I felt it was the first I've seen in a long time to handle BOTH story lines well. And, on top of that, both story lines were mysteries. I constantly found myself trying to figure out not only who the present murderer was, but wanting to know more about the Wakefield murders of the past, and if Abby's dad really killed Wakefield.

Neither of the storylines/mysteries gained presidence over the other, either... When Wakefield is revealed as the murderer, you think both mysteries would be solved... but HI does a great job of keeping the mystery alive. Does Wakefield have an accomplice? Did he have a child? Is it Abby? How did Wakefield stay alive? Why did he murder the woman he loved? The entire show keeps you guessing on BOTH storylines, right up until the very last scene.

The Wakefield Twists: The "Wakefield is still alive" twist was a tad predictable, but not much. The entire show, you are being thrown on different paths, like a bloodhound with a broken nose. You find something plausible, but then, OH WAIT! This is plausible, too! You think you know who the killer is, and then, in a glorious and epic - and I mean EPIC - reveal, you find out that the murder is, in fact, ONCE AGAIN, John Wakefield! I had my hunches, but the show did SUCH a great job of throwing me off, that when it revealed him, I didn't see it coming. I was completely blown away and caught off guard. It truly was amazing.

Furthermore, the "Wakefield has a kid" twist was VERY well executed. At first, you think it's there to put doubt on Abby's character, then as a motive for her father to be the killer. Right before the amazing Wakefield is the killer reveal, you're lead to believe the whole thing was a lie, that Wakefield didn't have a child, that it was merely the ramblings of a crazy man in jail... only to find out he DOES have a child, that Wakefield found him, he's a son, and is probably Wakefield's accomplice in the present day murders. WHOA... take a minute, take a breath, and digest that plate of crazy. Then you spend your time obsessing over who it could possibly be. The show wants you to believe it's Jimmy, but by this point, you've stopped trusting the show. My money was on Sully, I thought it was him for so long... but holy crap, it's none other than Henry Dunn. HENRY FREAKING DUNN! He's Wakefield's son!!! WHAT? Wow. Chew on that. Now, I didn't trust Henry ever since J.D. was killed, but still... it was so well executed, I was shocked and blown away. The Wakefield twists are some of the best twists I've ever seen in anything, and they were expertly executed.

Henry Wakefield-Dunn: Loved him. I could go ON AND ON about why I love Henry Dunn, but this note would be much longer than I want it to be, so... I'll stick with a few things. Henry Dunn was my favorite character. I loved that he was a small deck hand who came from nothing... I loved that he got the girl. I loved that he was strong and stood up against Trish's father. I loved that he was so in love with Harper's Island, and I loved the relationships he had with all his friends. And he was just CUTE. Cute and charming. He was sooo sweet, and had a great smile, and was simply... perfect. Even when he was a bad guy, I loved him. His character fit everything very well. There wasn't a single characteristic that seemed out of place or out of character. He was the all American Boy, and gosh darnit, people liked him. But he wasn't annoyingly so... Part of that was probably Chris Gorham's doing... he's a great actor, and gave Henry lovable subtleties, and didn't overact any aspect. His freak outs weren't overly acted, his sadness not obnoxiously so. The character was in Gorham's capable hands, and he proved himself a fine actor with it.

What I Didn't Like:

It was only signed on for one season (AKA Everyone dies). Part of the draw of Harper's Island, at least for me, was that it was only signed on for one season. That's cool and all, but after watching it, after being pulled in... after falling in love with the characters, I wish there were more seasons in store. I wish that others could return to the island, that there could be more mysteries. I understand why it wouldn't work, the plot would get old, it would fizzle out... HI is better off if it stops while it's ahead... but it's heartbreaking that everyone had to die, and it's bittersweet knowing something so awesome is over so fast.

Untapped Potential. HI had so many subplots that, had the season been longer, could have been explored, and made amazing. They probably wouldn't have added anything to the story, but it would have been nice to seen certain things explored, like Roger's affair, or Malcolm's corrupt...ness... or even Mr. Wellington hiring Hunter. All of those would have been fun to explore.

Useless Characters. There weren't a lot, but characters like Shae and Madison tended to get under my skin. Shae's only purpose seemed to be sitting in a chair, crying, and Madison's seemed to be getting into trouble. Characters like that bother me, and I felt they pulled from the story. Especially Madison. She's an idiot. Not to mention, she was very stereotypically creepy.


What I Liked:

The Pace.
I loved how the pacing was in the finale. Very fast, but not too fast. Full of suspense.

The "Out of nowhere" twists. There were a lot of twists in the finale. Not so many that they were ridiculous, but a lot to keep you interested. Enough to keep you on your toes. And each and every one was very well executed.

The video at the very end. I thought this was an amazing and beautiful touch. The ending
leaves you VERY empty inside and, while it doesn't make the depressed empty feeling go away, the home video at the end does provide a sort of closure. And it's simply beautiful. Seeing everyone talking to the camera as they were before everything went to pot, seeing characters that were long since dead one last time, hearing voices you thought you would no longer hear... and just the innocence of the video... the feeling that they had no idea what was awaiting them, even Henry... it made me cry. I was fine through most of the finale, but that last little video made me cry. It was what the episode needed. I was wondering how they were going to leave us hanging, how they were going to end it, and it was absolutely perfect. It gave the feeling that this was over. This is where we started, and this is where we are. What a week we've had. It was, as I've said before, simply beautiful.

What I Didn't Like:

Henry's Insanity.
I loved the "Henry is Wakefield's child" twist. I thought it was very well crafted... however, I didn't like that they took Henry completely over the cliff. I didn't like the "I'm in love with you Abby, even though you're my half sister" thing, and I didn't like the crazy.
I think the story would have been perfectly fine if they had let it be... it would have worked out perfectly if Henry had been found by Wakefield, discovered he was his father... Wakefield then told him that Abby's mother was his mother, that she had given him up for adoption. Henry, in response, gets angry... feels abandoned. What kind of woman would give up her own child??? Not to mention, he had grown up with her, and she never said a thing. Understandable. That would supply him with the motive to kill. He could have then, in turn, decided to keep Abby alive still, and turn on Wakefield. After all, Abby was still his best friend. They had grown up together, she was like a sister to him. She couldn't have possibly been held at fault for what their mother did, she hadn't been born. He still could have wanted to live with her, as her family... all doable without making him crazy.

BUT - in defense of the finale, that was the ONLY thing I didn't like about it.

I loved this show... I can't wait till it comes out on DVD!!! I encourage EVERYONE to see it, no matter WHAT. :)

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