Apple TV+ murder mystery Now and Then draws to a simmering close this week.
Pedro has lost his campaign, but there’s always more to lose. Ana is ready to turn on him. Sofia’s troubles catch up with her. Marcos suspects his father. Flora suspects her best friend. Hugo suspects Sofia. And there’s only an hour to wrap things up.
It’s been a marvelous bit of sensationalism from start to finish. If we get a second season of this bilingual thriller, it will be a welcome development.
Now and Then recap: ‘Tape 35’
Season 1, episode 8: In the season finale, entitled “Tape 35,” Election Day is done. Pedro Cruz (played by José María Yazpik) is drowning his sorrows and dodging calls from Ernesto (Eduardo Noriega). Ernesto threatens to tell the world about their affair if Pedro doesn’t exonerate him by taking the blame for the financial crimes committed by the failed mayoral candidate.
Meanwhile, Francis (Jimmy Shaw) takes Ana (Marina de Tavira) to meet Pedro’s conquerer, the newly elected Mayor Brady (Steve Howard). Brady offers her a job. Everyone noticed that she was the one with the killer instinct on the Cruz campaign. She says no, not wanting to hurt Pedro, but we all know she isn’t done thinking about it. After all, she and Pedro are barely speaking — and when they do, it’s to argue.
Flora (Rosie Perez) wakes up from her mastectomy to the news that her partner has gone missing, just as she discovered something interesting about the case. Perez’s long look at herself in the mirror is a series highlight for her, and she wasn’t exactly phoning it in before then.
She hits the streets to figure out what happened, limping and winning and grunting in pain. She screams at a guy who takes her cab while making her very slow getaway from the hospital. There’s also a great moment where she’s trying to make a phone call in an elevator. It’s got nothing to do with anything; it’s just a great character note.
Tale of the missing tape
While breaking into the safe owned by Marcos’ (Manolo Cardona) father Arturo (Victor Mallarino), Sofia (Maribel Verdú) finds the missing tape that Daniela (Soledad Villamil) was looking for the night she was murdered.
It might be the tape with the footage of Sofia, Pedro, Ana, Daniela and Marcos killing Alejandro (Jorge López). But why was it in Arturo’s safe? Maybe something to do with that visit to Arturo’s house that detective John Sullivan (Zeljko Ivanek) made the day Sofia left for Colombia.
Sofia and Marcos go to Ana and Pedro with the tape. They watch it, reliving the night that set their lives on this course. Then they agree to destroy the tape.
A flashback to a fingerprint
Flora calls John and he plays dumb, so she’s back at square one, but she remembers something about the case after their call. Back in the day, when she sent Sullivan to interrogate Arturo because Marcos’ fingerprint was on the dead woman’s car door, he came back and said that the print belonged to one of the paramedics. Sullivan and Arturo came to an agreement, and Sullivan made the charges go away.
Marcos goes to confront his father, thinking he killed Daniela. But of course it’s much more simple: Sullivan killed her at Arturo’s behest to keep their secret from surfacing. While Marcos is dealing with that, Bernie’s (Joaquim de Almeida) guys pick up Sofia off the street.
More political shenanigans
Pedro’s washing the car when he hears the news that the Brady campaign was just busted for wrongful conduct. That means Pedro is now mayor by default. He shocks Ana by not including her in the campaign strategy when he returns to the office. Their partnership appears to be done, which might mean the marriage is, too.
Sofia also dissolves her relationship with Marcos after Bernie strong-arms her. She can’t go with him, and has to confess that it was her idea to blackmail everyone. Which means that he lost Isabel (Juana Acosta), his fiancé, because of her. He leaves for Colombia without her.
Flora does a little digging and finds out conclusively that Sullivan stymied her investigation and probably killed her partner. She goes to his house with a gun and interrogates him. Turns out Arturo promised him better cancer treatment for his wife, Lisa (Miriam Cooke).
Flora’s going to shoot Sullivan, but he overpowers her and she hits the ground, aggravating her surgical wounds. He calls her an ambulance. Perez and Ivanek both do great, great work in this scene. I love this relationship and it comes to a beautiful head here, with him too concerned to look out for himself first.
I’m going to do what I should have done many years ago
This has been a most satisfying season of TV. I’m starting to pick up that the best Apple TV+ shows the ones fearless in the face of trashiness, tawdriness and terror.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant remains the gold standard, but I had an absolute blast watching Now and Then. The writing is pure TV madness, with all the secret parentage and philandering and murders and every other zany development. However, because we’re in era of more serious casual TV programming, the directors and actors treat it like it’s Tennessee Williams.
Everyone is trying to present these ludicrous turns of events with all the gravity they can muster, which made Now and Then a serious delight when it could have just been fun. Every actor swings for the fences, every composition is thoughtful. This is great TV.
Watch Now and Then on Apple TV+
You can watch the entire first season of Now and Then on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.