Howdy ladies and gents, I’m back with my first TV for a while in the form of Blood and Water. Now I can’t recall how I found out about this show, I think it may have been due to Simu Liu’s involvement. Whatever the case is, I added to my watch list on Amazon Video recently due to the intriguing premise and as someone who has been residing in Canada over the past year, I wanted to check out more of their original material. So I finished the first season yesterday morning and felt compelled to talk about it as there doesn’t seem to be many reviews about it online.
The plot can be summed up as the following:
“When Charlie Xie, son of billionaire real estate developer Li-Rong Xie, is found murdered, Police Detective Josephine Bradley is brought in to investigate, despite having just been diagnosed with cancer.”
So the story was pretty good and more engaging than I expected. Now I have seen a fair amount of crime dramas and at first, this show was hitting a lot of familiar beats, but after a while, it finds its groove and I was compelled to see how the story progressed especially in the latter half of the season. The major themes revolve around family, legacy, secrets and lies, and uncovering the truth. At first, things play out in a usual fashion, but as we dive deeper into the Xie family drama and secrets and the personal issues that Det. Bradley, my interest kept rising with each episode leaving me wanting more. I think part of that was due to the runtime. Each episode clocks in at around 23 minutes which is 20 minutes less than your standard American show, and with this season being 8 episodes long, it moves at a swift pace, yet feels like it has the appropriate amount of time to tell its story. Also due to the majority of the characters being Chinese, there are more where the characters flow between talking English and their native languages of Cantonese and Mandarin. It is very rare for shows that involve other races to highlight their culture beyond just surface-level material, but this felt like it went deeper by incorporating family relationships, mythology and especially the language into the story in a way that felt realistic and respectable. The presentation is also solid. Visually the show is shot well and has a moody atmosphere highlighted by low lighting and a muted colour palette. And since the show is set in Vancouver it was fun recognising certain exterior locations as well. The music was fine, but one thing I didn’t like was the opening music, it’s just a complete downer and doesn’t have a unique or memorable sound to it.
Moving onto the cast, they were all really good in their roles and only got better as the season continues. Firstly there’s police detective Josephine Bradley played by Steph Song who handles her role very well with subtly. Bradley’s tough, stubborn and doesn’t always play by the rules, but she’s passionate about her job and only wants to help. Charlie Xie played by Osric Chau mainly shows up in flashbacks, but I enjoyed Chau’s performance and his screen time with his family. Loretta Yu also does a good job as Charlie’s widow, Teresa. She had a troubled history with drugs and due to her relationship with Charlie, it puts her at odds with his family. Charlie’s father, Li-Rong ‘Ron’ Xie is played very well by Oscar Hsu. Ron is a man who is prideful and while he cares for his family, he’s a tough and cold businessman who is concerned with his public image. Fiona Fu as Weiran Xie, the matriarch of the Xie family, she carries herself with dignity and while she’s reserved, she can also be ardent and not afraid to speak her mind. Elfina Luk is also quite good as Anna, Charlie’s sister who is the most level-headed of the family and the closest to her deceased brother. And then there’s Simu Liu as Charlie’s brother Paul. He was my favourite. Paul, like his sister, is pretty well-headed and calm, but he holds a lot of pain and secrets which comes to light as the story progresses. By the end of the season, his character was the most captivating character and Liu’s performance was fantastic. I can see why Marvel picked him up for Shang Chi. And finally, Peter Outerbridge was decent as detective Al Gorski, Bradley’s seasoned partner who doesn’t always agree with her but also offers advice.
In conclusion, Blood and Water season 1 was different than I expected and took a little while to get going, but when it worked it was pretty engaging and overall I enjoyed it. I would recommend it.