John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (Crazy Stupid Love, This Is Us) are behind Paramount+’s new Kiefer Sutherland series. The show begins by tracking Sutherland’s Jonathan Weir, a corporate spy, who pulls off an intricate con designed to affect the stock price of a certain company. It’s a promising opening sequence, and if Rabbit Hole were strictly about corporate espionage and Weir pulled off these capers every week, I’d have been sold. Give me Jack Bauer tanking the markets!
Unfortunately, 24 meets Mr. Robot is not what Rabbit Hole is. The pilot episode is great — intense, propulsive, mysterious, and riveting — but it starts to fall apart immediately thereafter, and by the 5th episode, it’s a confusing, incoherent mess. Rarely have I seen a series come undone so quickly. It’s as though Requa and Ficarra had written the first hour of a movie, realized they had no idea how to end it, and decided to turn it into an 8-hour series in the hopes that a resolution would come to them somewhere along the way. It is a disaster.
But let’s back up to the pilot: There, we see Weir hired to pull off a job where he’s meant to get a picture of two unrelated people who do not know each other and appear as though they are conspiring together. He and his team set the mission into motion, and through some trickery and deceit, not only put the two people in the same place at the same time but engineer it so that one of the people, Edward Homm (Rob Yang), is handing an envelope to the other target.
It all goes off without a hitch … until it doesn’t. Weir believes that a woman he slept with the night before, Hailey (Meta Golding), is another spy, but when he confronts her out on the street, he discovers that she found him on the dating apps (he never signed up for them), and the two then spot Weir’s face on a Time Square screen. He’s been accused of murder in the death of Edward Homm. Weir runs back to the office to figure out what the hell is going on only to witness from the street an explosion on his floor of the building that kills his entire team. Weir runs back to the friend who hired him for the Edward Homm job to confront him, but his friend leaps out of a skyscraper and splats all over the street below.
The splat is important here because the only time we ever know for certain that a character is dead is when we see their body splat across the pavement (another man jumps to his death in a later episode). For instance, in a flashback, we think we see Weir’s dad shoot himself dead when Weir was younger, but we soon discover that his father (Charles Dance) is still alive. Also, Edward Homm — the man for whom Weir is accused of murder — is not only alive but Weir himself is keeping him safe. And the woman Weir slept with who he thought was a spy? She’s just an office worker … who stole millions of dollars from her boss, who is somehow tied into this conspiracy.
I won’t go into further detail except to say that basically everything that happens in the pilot is undone (except for the splat). That continues to happen throughout the series: Every element added to the story is erased in the next episode. It’s like Requa and Ficarra wrote the script on an Etch-a-Sketch and kept shaking it and had to start all over. The biggest problem, however, is that I have no f**king idea what the conspiracy at the center of the series is even about. All we know is that people keep dying, and men with guns keep chasing Weir and his team, which includes the man he’s accused of murdering, his dead father, and the spy he slept with.
There’s a quality Dad Show energy here, and it’s fun to see Kiefer Sutherland and Charles Dance interact, and by that I mean: Chew the hell out of scenery and spit it at each other. I like the look of the series, and the pacing is great, too. It’s just that everything else about Rabbit Hole is genuinely terrible, mostly in that I have no idea what’s going on, and I don’t think the writers do, either.