Television Tourniquet: We Set Sail for 'Harper's Island' -- Episode 1!


Harper's Island Episode 1 "Whap"
Written By: Ari Schlossberg
Directed By: John Turtletaub
Original Airdate: 9 April 2009

In This Episode…

The series premieres with a wedding party setting sail on a private yacht for parts unknown.  Actually, the parts are known: Harper's Island, a secluded resort town.  The bride, Trish, summered there – Daddy is loaded.  The groom, Henry, is from the other side of the spectrum.  He and his family used to work the summer season on the island.  Everyone is assembled, except for Trish's cousin Ben.  Unable to wait any longer, Daddy promises to send a charter boat for him when they get in touch.  That won't be necessary.  Ben has been lashed to the underside of the very yacht he is supposed to be on.  Ben has a SCUBA tank on him, but that is only to keep him alive until the boat gets going – and the propeller beheads him.  What a way to start a show.

Harper's Island has a dark history.  Seven years ago, a man named John Wakefield went crazy and slaughtered six people on the island, including Henry's parents and his best friend Abby's mom.  This is her first trip back to the island, and first visit to the tree where the victims were strung up in a gruesome display.  Abby's father still lives on the island – he is the sheriff, and they have not spoken since the murders.

Meanwhile, Trish's ex, Hunter, is back on the island, desperately calling Trish.  He wants her back, and refuses to accept she is truly going to marry a "pauper."  Hunter is conspiring with Trish's father, who doesn't want his daughter marrying a "commoner."  Unfortunately, Henry's Uncle Marty (his only remaining family save for his troubled brother, JD, with suicidal tendencies) overhears this plot.   Even more unfortunate, Henry sees Hunter's name pop up on Trish's caller ID.

Also of note in this episode: Trish's creepy niece Madison (the flower girl) wanders into her parents' room in the middle of the night to tell them stoically that her "new friend" told her that "people died here."  When not playing with ghosts, Madison's other hobbies include burning snails with a magnifying glass.  Abby receives an anonymous phone call, with nothing on the other end but the haunting tunes of "Ave Maria."  At the end of the episode, a news clipping of her mother's death is taped up to her bathroom mirror.

Dig It Or Bury It?

It's off to a bit of a soapy start, but that's understandable.  There are 25-odd characters in this show – all could be victims, all could be suspects.  I feel like JD was thrown in as an obvious suspect – he'll probably be a victim soon enough.  But I think the creative and gruesome deaths (well, gruesome for network television) hint that, once we get all this silly exposition out of the way, we're in for a bumpy ride.  I'm really looking forward to the next episode.

Harper's Deaths

No one expects the "name" to die first.  But in fact, it was Harry Hamlin, a.k.a. Uncle Marty.  The sketchy guy – who's rolling the entire episode and has a mysterious bag loaded with cash and a semi-automatic handgun stuffed in his waistband – totally had it coming.  He heads out into the forest in the middle of the night, crosses a small, decrepit bridge.  The wood gives way and he's wedged in tight.  The killer starts attacking him from the bottom up.  He squeezes off a few shots before his entire lower body is severed and he bleeds out.

I don't count Cousin Ben's opening death as an "official" murder because we didn't even know him.  He was just their to whet our insatiable bloodlust.

Harper's Prophecies?

It's a little too early to start making predictions about who will die next, or who the killer really is.  I think JD is definitely a victim, and Madison definitely a survivor.  She's too small to have the physical strength to slaughter a grown man, and they never kill kids on TV – the censors get nervous about it.  

Wild thought: could Robin from Harper's Globe be the killer?

And speaking of Harper's Globe, here's what happening on the online tie-in series this week...

Harper's Globe -- Episode 4

Robin and Brent take a weekend trip to Seattle, where the luster of a new relationship fades quickly.  Robin is jealous of a cute bartender who isn't even really flirty.  Then they run into Brent's buddy, who happens to be Trish's cousin Ben (the one who dies at the beginning of Island).  Ben is a drunken frat boy-type, which pisses off Robin.  She heads back to the hotel and leaves in the morning – without Brent.  Also, the serial killer Dangerous Wreck is now torturing the boys in an interrogation room.

Don't forget to check out Fancast to chat LIVE with the newly 'dead' every Friday at 10am PT/1pm ET!