The one line that constantly pops up in your mind while watching Who Is Erin Carter? is this: "Hey, I have seen this before!" There is nothing original about this series. Some of its visuals are too derivative, like the one where a dog finds a buried dead body. Why don't the characters dig deep before dumping bodies? One of the people who does the dumping here is a police officer, and he assures his partner-in-crime that the hole is sufficiently deep. You think a policeman would be an expert at these things, but this one turns out to be as inept as other characters from other films who got caught because a jogger's dog sniffed out a not-so-deeply buried dead body.
Normally, a show like Who Is Erin Carter? that doesn't reinvent the wheel would have turned out to be insipid. I certainly end up exhausted after sitting through six to eight hours of detritus. Yet, I couldn't stop looking at the screen. I don't feel tired, either. Who Is Erin Carter? is not really terrible. There is a good show buried within it somewhere. Unfortunately, what we have currently received seems to have undergone major modifications. I don't know what the plans were initially, but by being released as a limited series, the show has been forced to abandon some threads and arrive at an incomplete conclusion. Did the creators lose confidence in their material? Were they informed later that Netflix wouldn't like to continue with their production, so they somehow wrapped everything up in the first and only season?
Whatever the case, it's sad that a series with so much potential won't return with a sequel. Sure, the seven episodes run on a familiar path, but Who Is Erin Carter? doesn't see clichés as something that needs to be executed in a mechanical manner. The show revels in recycling the proverbial wheel and is committed to its vision. If it sporadically feels "lazy" or "unemotional," that's because some of the plot points are rushed. They are not allowed to breathe, so they fail to leave an impression. Characters make a sacrifice/decision, and their actions seem so out of place that you think the series is simply attempting to reach the finish line. For instance, when a mother stops someone else from being a "distraction" and diverts the attention of bullet-firing minions, you feel nothing for her. Here is a woman who waited years to meet her daughter, yet the moment when she finally sees her in the flesh is devoid of emotions.
In fact, you don't care about many of the characters. They just...exist. There is a bitchy neighbor, an unhappy lover/police officer, a caring and supportive husband and a smart daughter. All these people look like stereotypes, and I constantly waited for them to become something more than just a one-line description. Perhaps a longer version of Who Is Erin Carter? would have met the necessary requirements. The daughter continuously shifts between being irritating and intelligent. The neighbor, at one point, suddenly becomes soft-hearted and even decides to take a daring step. Things occur so rapidly here that nothing ever comes across as urgent. This swiftness can give rise to unintentionally humorous events, like when Erin (Evin Ahmad) finds a first aid kit in a camp. Another such moment comes whenever Jordi learns the truth about his wife, Erin. (A woman arrives at a birthday party covered in blood, though no one gives any reaction to her appearance. I am not sure how the series wants us to take this event, but I liked it very much.)
Not all the humor is inadvertently created. Notice how Harper (Indica Watson) frightens a boy to make him shake her hand or how a man politely asks to not be interrupted while giving threats. When Erin is asked if she has any last words to say to a dead man, she angrily utters, "Fuck you!" "I meant a prayer or something," says a confused Emilio (Pep Ambròs). Ambròs seems to be sleepwalking in the show. His reactions are so monotonous you think he merely wants to finish shooting his scenes and go back to his home. Susannah Fielding, too, doesn't offer much variation. In one scene, her character, Olivia, mentions that she's drunk. However, we fail to notice any difference between the intoxicated Olivia and the sober one. Sean Teale does whatever he can with his warm eyes, and Douglas Henshall looks like a teddy bear, not a menacing gangster.
Ahmad is in almost every scene here, and thankfully, she does her job well. One of the reasons I so strongly want a second season is that I want to see this actor again in this form. Ahmad's body is athletic, flexible, and beautiful. When she hits someone, we don't doubt she has seriously harmed the other person (the action sequences, though, could have used flair). Just observe Ahmad sitting on a chair and practicing the art of quickly aiming a gun, and you will instantly understand she means business. She is like a glue - a powerful glue - that binds the whole show together. Due to her presence, even some of the weaker elements become digestible. Her character is quite interesting. Her first instinct during confrontations is civility and sympathy, not violence. Erin even tells her daughter that not all problems should be solved with viciousness. Alas, not everyone has a positive outlook, which is why she mainly ends up having aggressive encounters. Fortunately, she's not just a schoolteacher. So, who is Erin Carter? After a while, I stopped caring about this question and found pleasure in simply watching Ahmad. Can we please get a second season?
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