City on Fire
Found shot in the head in Central Park amidst 4th July celebrations, everything in City on Fire revolves around the mystery of what happened to Samantha (Bodies Bodies Bodies’ Chase Sui Wonders) that night and how the music-loving college student is at the centre of a series of interconnecting plot lines. There are a lot of moving parts in this latest Apple TV+ drama, each of which has enough substance and engaging characters to make its own series. However, the show takes longer than expected to find its feet, with the mystery only starting to come together during the halfway point.
The first episode serves to introduce viewers to the key players and the day’s events that led to the tragedy. These primarily involve Samantha’s relationship with her lovestruck friend Charlie (Wyatt Oleff) through a handful of endearing sequences that give the opening episode a quirky indie rom-com flavour. The gears then switch to the strained romance between Mercer (Xavier Clyde), the man who found the body, and his heroin-addicted rockstar boyfriend (Nico Tortorella), and then to the charismatic vocalist (played by Max Milner), who’s more like the leader of a cult than a band. As the show progresses with flashbacks being used to fill in some gaps, more about these people and their various connections are gradually unpicked, slowly unveiling a tautly written web of conspiracies.
While the series seems to want to frame Charlie’s involvement as the primary focal point, his narrative branch is the least interesting. It’s only when his path crosses with the far more interesting rock band (made all the better with a hypnotic performance from Milner) that the character is put to better use. Likewise, the meandering life of Tortorella’s rocker boy and the family drama ensuing between a wealthy couple have a similar habit of slowing down the pacing whenever they take the focus away from Milner and his band of misfits. However, even these less interesting additions become more intriguing when their relevance to the grander mystery begins to take shape.
Though the varying parallel stories that form City On Fire start life as a mixed bag, viewers will require a little patience for the show to find its stride. With four episodes still to go, it’s unknown to this writer how much of this potential will survive until the conclusion.
City on Fire is released on Apple TV+ on 12th May 2023.
Watch the trailer for City on Fire here: