Apple TV’s Black Bird is a thrilling crime drama based on James Keene’s 2010 autobiographical novel, ‘In With The Devil: A Fallen Hero, A Serial Killer, and A Dangerous Bargain for Redemption’.
It follows Keene’s character (played by Taron Egerton) who is tasked with befriending a serial killer, Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser), in a maximum security prison. He attempts to get past his secrets and get a confession out of the killer in hopes of attaining freedom from his own jail sentence.
The Penultimate episode of Black Bird takes a different approach and showcases another flashback focused on a mysterious girl. We see her visit the beach, spending time with her sister, talking to other people her age, among other very ordinary things.
In prison, Jimmy suspects that Carter has let his secret out as he gets weird looks from all inmates. He walks to the shrink’s office but is greeted by a new doctor who is not aware of his undercover identity. The other doctor is on vacation.
Their conversation revolves around Jimmy’s reason for being imprisoned which involves the doctor warning him not to influence other inmates. She uses Larry’s example and lets him know that Jimmy is having a drastic impact on the serial killer.
On the outside, Lauren and Brian are deep in the investigation as they try to prove Larry guilty. They retrace their steps to the locations earlier mentioned by Larry in his confession to try and discover the bodies of his victims.
Fate eventually favours them a little when they discover a gas station in the middle of nowhere near the area and discover that it was under construction during the time of the murders. They suspect that there might a body or more underneath.
Larry finally catches up with Jimmy in jail and the two get to talking again. The former talks about a visit from his brother (the one at the end of last episode) and mentions that he doesn’t like his wife.
Eventually, as it always does, their discussions turn to girls and sexuality and Larry discusses how girls were married at a young age in earlier times. Jimmy uses this opportunity to ask Larry about the youngest women he’s been with.
There is visible excitement on Larry’s face but he flips the question onto Jimmy who is disappointed at the failed attempt at getting a confession.
Eventually, Larry has his session with the shrink where he sexualises innocent characteristics of children. The doctor tries to change the subject multiple times but Larry somehow sticks to it, radiating a new form of confidence.
He then expresses that his appeal is going well, making him happy and with Jimmy being his friend, he doesn’t feel alone anymore. Things turn bad for Jimmy when he notices Carter spreading his secret in the yard, one gang at a time.
He finally sees him give the news to Gigante and realises that he’s got very little time left. He rushes to find Larry who is in the wood shop and tries getting a confession.
The duo talks about women they have had sex with and Jimmy mentions that he’s slept with around 80 women. Larry begs to know the secret but Jimmy reveals that he just talks. Larry responds by saying that no woman ever wants to converse with him.
In an interesting turn of events, they move on to Jessica Roach and Larry keeps talking. He says that she spoke nicely to him at first but retaliated violently when he tried to kiss her.
In a vague yet horrifying description, Larry says tat he knocked her out with the rag soaked in starter fluid (which he mentioned he keeps in his van in the last episode) and raped her. Jimmy is confident he’s got a concrete confession but holds off asking for the body’s location.
Elsewhere, Brian and Lauren discover Roach’s bike which Larry gifted to another girl he was into. However, this isn’t a strong enough evidence to keep him locked up. The only way he can be convicted of the murder is if a body is found.
Finally, it is revealed that the girl in the flashbacks is Roach herself and the narrative is depicting her memories to land a gut wrenching blow to the audience. They end with her receiving that same bike as a present. This moment emphasises how cruel and dangerous Larry’s actions have been to so many girls and their families.
The show ends with Jimmy Sr. staring at the prison from the car park as his son, who has been suppressing so many emotions for a very long time, starts crying inside his cell.
With his secret out, it is only a matter of time before his cover is blown in front of Larry or he is killed by someone.
- Joe Chappelle wears the director’s hat for this episode and hits it out of the park in terms of maintain the enthralling suspense of the show.
- We get to see the vulnerable side of Jimmy as well as feel the severity of Larry’s crimes via Jessica Roach’s memories.
- Egerton and Hauser get better at their performances with every episode and it is borderline disturbing to see them in action together.
- They play off of each other so well, it is almost like watching a true crime documentary.
- The investigation on the outside of the prison is also an interesting aspect of the show and gives a much needed insight into what went behind keeping Larry Hall locked up.
- What the show also does brilliantly is infuse a very creepy sense of thrill in silence. Scenes with no dialogue have an equal level of gravitas in them if not more compared to the ones with them.
- This episode, although brilliant in itself, has set up the perfect route into the finale which, if done with the same level of consistency, can cement Black Bird as one of the best mini series ever made.