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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

REVIEW: ‘A Murder at the End of the World’ captures its audience with mesmerizing and chilling ambience

Photo courtesy of FX

“A Murder at the End of the World” is a new murder mystery and psychological thriller brought to viewers by FX and Hulu. The series stars Emma Corrin, who played Princess Diana in “The Crown.” Here, the non-binary actor plays as “Gen Z Sherlock Holmes” Darby Hart — a tech wizard, a hacker and an amateur detective. Hart received her nickname after she and her boyfriend, Bill, dug into the cases of the victims of a serial killer. Years later, Darby is invited by billionaire Andy Ronson to Iceland for a meeting of intellectuals, who he believes can help save the planet from destruction. Here, a murder takes place and a rabbit hole of secrets is uncovered.

Despite its 70-minute episodes, time isn’t wasted because every scene contributes to the narrative in a large way. Every sequential scene invites me to continue watching like an opening a door into a comfortably cool room where a murder waits to be solved.

Of course, it’s not all just a steady flow. There are several scenes that induce discomfort and trepidation, like when Darby and Bill have taken the clues of discovered victims of the serial killer to find another victim. Another scene that ties into the horror aspect is when Darby comes across the murder scene in Iceland. What I love about this series is that it only tries to unnerve me a bit here and there, not just for shock value.

As with any good murder mystery and thriller, the show’s story leans into uncertainty with some of the character decisions and tells just enough to keep the viewer intrigued and curious. The narrative makes me ask questions like: What is the deal with Andy Ronson, and why bring a group of underground intellectuals to Iceland? Is the murder that occurs tied to him? What is the reaction of the serial killer when he is revealed to Darby and Bill? 

The setting in all the scenes adds so much to the show’s edge as well. The scene where Darby and Bill are in the killer’s basement, drilling and breaking the concrete floor to find one of the undiscovered victims, is gray and unsettling, just like the job they tasked themselves with. They are also underground, beneath the feet of where the killer walks, as if they were trapped and in their current place because of the killer himself. The hotel in Iceland is technologically advanced and is welcomed by the staff and Ronson; however, it is also dark with its curved and leering hallways and feels isolated since it is in the middle of Iceland’s wilderness.

The show isn’t bloated in the slightest. There is an organic and uniform pacing with just the perfect amount of plot revealed when it needs to be. Each episode flew by, and it felt like I only blinked once in 70 minutes 

This show perfects an overused but rarely well-executed plot device: flashbacks. In these two episodes, I was jerked from Darby’s present-day struggles in Iceland all the way back to Darby as a young girl with an interest in forensic science. On paper, jumping between all of these scenes sounds choppy and wouldn’t pan out well on screen, but it works perfectly here. Every flashback ties in with its modern counterpart. For instance, when Darby is walking outside of the hotel she is staying at in Iceland, coming across the murder scene, it goes back to one of her first crime scenes as a child. This shows that these two separate and distinct events, while both very similar, will each represent a turning point in Darby’s life. These scenes flesh Darby out as a character, having me stand on her side, as if I was with her throughout her adventures and findings. 

I can’t wait to see what the other five upcoming episodes will detail and reveal to me about the situation with Andy Ronson, Darby and Bill’s relationship and struggles, what happened with the serial killer Darby and Bill exposed and then, of course, who the killer is at the Iceland hotel. “A Murder at the End of the World” is all so riveting and makes me eager to find out more. 

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About the Contributor
Tyler Guthrie, Columnist
Tyler Guthrie is a second-year columnist with The Sunflower. He is a creative writing major with a Spanish minor from El Dorado, Kansas. Guthrie uses he/him pronouns.

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