Rabbit Hole's two episode premiere delivers an intriguing mystery, but one that feels artificially slowed and whose biggest surprises are ruined by the promotional lead-up.
While Kiefer Sutherland recently revealed he thinks any potential 24 revival should move on without him, the Flatliners star isn’t done with espionage thrillers. Rabbit Hole’s two-episode premiere debuted on Paramount+ over the weekend, and there’s a lot to like about Sutherland’s new adventures as a corporate spook caught in a conspiracy. But it’s dragged down by a combination of a pace that feels like it wants to be moving much quicker and a growing list of non-surprises de-fanged by the show’s marketing.
RABBIT HOLE SERIES PREMIERE REVIEW SCORE
The Rabbit Hole premiere introduces Sutherland as John Weir, a consultant who specializes in corporate espionage. While seamlessly working a job that tricks a high powered trader out of a lucrative stock, Weir has a one-night stand with Hailey (Meta Golding), who he’s convinced was hired in a futile attempt to blackmail him. His prime suspect for the blackmailing is FBI Agent Jo Madi (Enid Graham), who apparently has a past of pursuing Weir.
One of the people Madi warns Weir against is his friend and former co-worker Valence (Jason Butler Harner). Sutherland’s spy doesn’t listen, of course, and after completing what appears to be a straightforward and bloodless gig for his old friend, one of Weir’s targets winds up dead and the consultant is framed for the murder.
On the run and trying to figure out exactly what is going on and who’s behind it, Weir soon finds Hailey — the same woman he thought was trying to blackmail him — to be possibly his only ally. With Golding seemingly the only character in the Rabbit Hole premiere outside Weir’s cloak-and-dagger world proving to be both his romantic interest and his only friend, it’s difficult to not be reminded of Amy Brenneman’s role opposite Jeff Bridges in Hulu’s The Old Man.
Rabbit Hole‘s season premiere has a lot of things going for it. The thriller is blessed with a great cast and it’s got a genuinely intriguing mystery. But among its chief problems is that it’s trying to give us a mind-boggling, dizzying puzzle, and someone forgot to tell the pace and the tone.
Once again, like The Old Man, the Rabbit Hole premiere often turns to flashbacks of Weir’s childhood. The looks into the past prove central to the plot beyond simply giving us background on Weir, but nevertheless, they slow things to a crawl.
Neither the pace nor what should be a much more serious, hectic tone is helped by the sitcom level quips and back-and-forth between Sutherland and Golding. Hailey essentially becomes Weir’s hostage, but eventually takes that as seriously as a Brooklyn Nine-Nine character. When the two of them are on the screen together — which is a lot — it starts to feel like The Bourne Identity by way of The CW.
Likewise taking away from the sense of urgency are some very strange choices. As much as the Rabbit Hole series premiere wants us to feel that John Weir is under pressure, the dark forces working against him seem to be stupidly asleep at the wheel.
A perfect example is in the second episode where the man whose face is being broadcast from billboards as a wanted murderer not only easily gets in and out of a NYC police station, but has a fistfight with a bad guy spook right in front of the station in broad daylight. Whatever oppressive world of surveillance is on the lookout for John Weir must take a lot of naps.
Presumably it’s no fault of the show’s creators, but the Rabbit Hole premiere also suffers from some really poorly conceived marketing. If you watch Paramount+ on a regular basis, then you have probably been hammered with a combination of Rabbit Hole, School Spirits, and Yellowjackets ads over the past couple of months. If you bothered paying attention to any of those Rabbit Hole spots, then the premiere’s biggest reveal will be completely nullified if you’re still awake when it happens.
The puzzles of the Rabbit Hole premiere have me intrigued enough to keep watching, but if the show doesn’t fix some of these issues, then my review of the series finale is bound to be a lot less friendly than this one. You can see whether or not you agree with me. The two-episode premiere of Rabbit Hole is streaming now on Paramount+.