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‘Wicked City’ Review: “Pilot”

Caroline Fortuna ’19/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Ed Westwick in Wicked City. Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless.
Ed Westwick in Wicked City. Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless.

ABC’s newest drama, Wicked City, brings us back to the seedy past of Los Angeles Sunset Strip in the ‘80s. Set in the murder capital of the world, the show portrays a serial killer, the Bonnie to his Clyde, the LA Police Department, and the drugs and music associated with the time period. So what is it that will sustain Wicked City’s success, despite its otherwise redundant plot of the struggle between a serial killer and a cop?

It is in its setting that Wicked City will find its greatest strength. The show exists in the notorious time period of the ‘80s in LA, which gives the show a fresh and unusual look on the television screen. In the first five minutes, you can see the creators’ dedication to this strength, as the viewer feels engulfed by the aura of The Strip. They use authentic bands of the ‘80s, ensure that ever character is dressed as if you pulled them out of the era itself, and most importantly, do not shy away from portraying the the violence and degradation of LA in the ‘80s.

Ed Westwick certainly sheds his image as Chuck Bass in Gossip Girl, as he now plays a convincingly psychotic serial killer named Kent Galloway that charms women, dedicates a song to them on the radio, and then proceeds to kill them.

In the first episode, we dive right into the complexities of Kent. He seems to be able to transform into whoever he needs to be to attract women. While he seems an emotionless monster incapable of stopping his actions, the mentioning of children seems to prevent him from killing. When he learns that one of his potential victims, Betty Beaumont (Erika Christensen), has two children, he takes an immense liking to her, enough so to bring her into his world and show her his beloved hobby.

Erika Christensen and Ed Westwick in Wicked City. Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless.
Erika Christensen and Ed Westwick in Wicked City. Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless.

The pilot shows us just a glimpse at the potential of Westwick and Christensen’s electric chemistry. Christensen’s character is revealed as a sociopath herself, able to match Westwick’s psychotic tendencies. The actors are unbelievably convincing in their disturbing roles, and become even more enthralling when sharing the screen together, which will help set the show apart from others. The audience wants to look away, but to Westwick and Christensen’s credit, simply cannot do so.

Concurrently, the show follows two homicide detectives, Jack Roth (Jeremy Sisto) and Paco Contreras (Gabriel Luna), whom discover the remains of Kent’s headless victims. If Westwick and Christensen’s airtime is disturbed and complex, the detectives’ storylines are no break from this. With Roth’s crookedness and Contreras’s infidelity, the audience can be invested in a sub-storyline that again adds more to an otherwise normal plot line. Much is left open with where these storylines can take us, as different doors were only cracked open.

The show is also rounded out by effective minor characters like Karen McClaren (Karolina Wydra), who is an aspiring journalist that has had close encounters with Kent, and a paparazzo, Diver Hawkes (Evan Ross).

Gabriel Luna in Wicked City. Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless.
Gabriel Luna in Wicked City. Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless.

With the introduction of all these attractively complex characters, coupled with the grit of the ‘80s, the premiere is able to enthrall the audience with its sexy appeal, and satisfy audiences longing for a thrilling show.

The premiere also sets up for an enticing season filled with complexities and disturbances. While critics worry about a glorification of violence and degradation of women, the show stays true to its setting and message, immersing the audience in the world of the ‘80s, and making the Strip and its drugs, violence and rock ‘n’ roll, real characters in a fictional show.

Episode Grade: B+

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