The newest entry into the realm of odd shows from Starz is The Rook, a fascinating twist on the “enhanced human” genre. Like X-Men and its TV semi spin-off, The Gifted, The Rook focuses on a group of humans with amazing powers, caught up in intrigues, danger, and mystery. Based on the novel by Daniel O’Malley, the premiere was exciting – not as confusing as last year’s Counterpart, but it had a premise that made me want to know more.
— The Rook (@TheRookSTARZ) July 1, 2019
As the episode opens, a young woman regains consciousness and finds herself laying on the ground, in the rain, surrounded by eight bodies. They all look like they had grotesque, painful deaths, and she has blood all over. Bigger issue, which she discovers after she run off the bridge? She has no idea who she is, why she was there, where she’s going. But she discovers a note in her pocket – from herself.
Myfanwy (rhymes with “Tiffany” – Welsh?) Thomas, played by Emma Greenwell, is a mystery. What happened? Why does she keep finding clues to her own identity, prepared by a version of herself that obviously was better informed? These clues lead her to a bank’s safe deposit vault, where the clerks try to either kill or grab her – and get a nasty surprise. And to an apartment, where recently prepared videos, again by herself, give her some of the answers.
The series synopsis, from Starz:
The Rook tells the story of Myfanwy Thomas, a woman who wakes up in the rain beside London’s Millennium Bridge with no memory of who she is and no explanation for the circle of dead bodies splayed out around her. The only clue to her past is a letter in her pocket, the first of several she planted for herself knowing her memory would be wiped. When Myfanwy discovers she’s a high ranking official in the Checquy, Britain’s last truly secret service for people with paranormal abilities, she’ll have to navigate the dangerous and complex world of the agency to uncover who wiped her memory – and why.
The first season of The Rook follows Myfanwy as she searches for her past and questions her role as high-level operative in the Checquy. Tasked with protecting those with supernatural powers – or Extreme Variant Abilities (EVAs)– from the dangerous world of high-dollar trafficking, she’ll also uncover the truth about her own abilities and the extent of her powers that have long lain dormant. As she unearths the truth about her past, she’ll be faced with a choice – revert to her former self, or seize the opportunity for a new beginning. As much as The Rook is a supernatural spy thriller, it is also the origin story of an empowered young woman who chooses to become the invaluable asset her agency always wanted her to be – entirely on her own terms.
The video she finds in the apartment’s safe room gives her more info – about the Checquy (pronounced Shek-Ay) and the people she works with. Myfanwy is one of the Rooks in her department – her coworkers are all assigned chess-piece titles. A Rook, she learns, is an organization role. “You work for the Checquy, a secret wing of British Intelligence that recruits people with certain abilities. You are one of those people. With the potential to be a deadly weapon. By definition, that puts you in danger.”
Her boss, Linda Farrier, “The King,” is investigating the six bodies. An American, Monica Reed from the US Bureau of Variant Affairs, approaches another member of the team, Conrad, “the Queen,” offering information in exchange for a place in the investigation – one of the victims is her former lover. Linda shows up at the safe apartment, and realizes that Myfanwy has no memory – is this a regular occurrence? It was obviously something expected – who else knows?
When Myfanwy decides to go in to work, rather than take the other option available of changing her identity and disappearing, she realizes that not everyone knows of this development. Who can she trust? Conrad, whose special ability is “the power to alter the atmosphere, the very air you breathe”? The Gestalts, four nearly identical siblings who are in fact one person, silently sharing every thought?
I’m interested in the mystery that The Rook has set up! Check it out on Starz. The eight-episode series airs Sunday evenings.