As we started watching Episode 1 of “Chemistry of Death,” it felt like another series on just another day. It is based on Simon Beckett’s novel, and before going forward, allow us to clarify that we haven’t read the book. Hence, our review is not based on how good the story is but on how skeptical we are that it will feel repetitive. There seems to be a written rule that every protagonist in a fictional mystery must come with a tragic past, which is almost always the death of a loved one. Additionally, as stunning as the cinematography of “Chemistry of Death” is, even that is becoming a little dated. Haven’t we already seen shots of forests and cottages as recently as in “Three Pines”? Our research tells us that the book that the series is based on was a huge success.
From the looks of it, “Chemistry of Death” is going to be a crisp and faithful adaptation. Our complaint lies solely with the repetitive nature of literally every piece of content in this genre. Here we have another person who sees the unseen but through the lens of forensics. Is this really something new? The book came out in 2006, and the series in 2023. A gap of 17 years with no adaptation to the changing sensibilities of the audience. Fans of the book will probably enjoy the series more. Either way, let’s follow what happens in the “Chemistry of Death” Episode 1.
The Death In The Forest
Two boys, Neil and Sam, are walking in the forest when they discover the decomposing body of a woman. It is a shocking sight indeed, as she is completely unclothed, and there are large wings placed on her sides, creating the picture of a fallen angel. The boys go back home, and presumably, their mother alerts the authorities. The local doctor, David Hunter, comes to check up on them and tells them to give him a call if they feel anxious or want to talk about their experience. After speaking with the kids, David has a word with Linda, their mother, and she tells him that she suspects that the dead woman in the forest might be Sally Portland, as she had a dream about her. Now, it is one thing to say that you haven’t seen a person for a long time, so you think they might be in danger, but how do you manage to claim a dream as a premonition in 2023? “Chemistry of Death” wasn’t supposed to be a comedy series. Either way, the police arrive at the house and ask the boys to show them where they found the body. But Dr. David Hunter offers to accompany them, as he has understood where the corpse could be. After he takes them there, he drives to Sally’s house and finds that it hasn’t been lived in for a while. The mail and packages are on the floor, her goats haven’t been fed, and there is a general sense of disarray. While he is giving some water and grass to the goat, he is visited by a detective, or as we would call him, DCI Mackenzie. He questions him about his relationship with Sally, and though there seems to be some suspicion about David, it doesn’t amount to much.
In the beginning, we pointed out that “Chemistry of Death” felt very similar to literally everything else. For those who might have been offended by that statement, we can point out one way in which it is different, and that is that nobody in this fictional setting is curious or panicked about the gruesome murder in their town. Life goes on as usual, though Neil seems to not be completely okay. He faints in class, and David comes to visit him once again. Neil says that he is fine, but David reminds him that he can talk to him if he wants to. On the other hand, Linda’s husband, Bill, seems to be a short-tempered, abusive man who nobody in the town really likes. Coming back to our doctor, the DCI investigates him and finds that he is quite distinguished in his field. He asks him to help with the case of the woman in the forest. David is reluctant at first, as he has stayed away from it all to avoid the trauma of his past from resurfacing. But after witnessing a fight in a bar, he agrees to inspect the scene. He deduces by looking at the growth of maggots that the murder had to have happened around 9–10 days ago.
‘Chemistry of Death’ Episode 1: Ending Explained: Does The Search Party Find Linda?
Linda, the boys’ mother, goes jogging every morning and evening, and on one such run, she finds a dead bird in her path, arranged in a manner similar to the corpse of the woman in the forest. Before she can process the horror of it, she is kidnapped. A day after she goes missing, a search party is organized for her. When her husband is questioned as to why he did not report her missing earlier, he says that he had assumed that his wife had gotten away to get some space from him. Previously, she used to go to Sally’s house whenever she needed that. We can tell that Bill is being painted as the obvious suspect, but he is likely not going to be our killer.
DCI Mackenzie tells David that he needs him to inspect the body by putting his past behind him. David understands the need for it but struggles with the flashbacks that leave him a little disoriented. Nevertheless, he inspects the body and draws the conclusion that the woman’s throat was slit while she was still alive and that it is the work of two knives and possibly two people. At the same time, the search party is making headway, and it looks like they are about to find something. Our guess is that Linda is dead, and her body will be discovered, which will be shown to us in the next episode.
What Should We Expect From ‘Chemistry of Death’ Episode 2?
“Chemistry of Death” is just six episodes long, and it is undeniably crisp. If Linda is actually dead, David would have to help in the investigation with his expertise, which would bring back unwanted memories. We might learn more about his past in the next episode. Additionally, the way the corpses are being staged indicates some occult or religious fanaticism. We were surprised that it wasn’t even mentioned as a theory in “Chemistry of Death” Episode 1. Hopefully, it will be addressed in Episode 2. We suspect that there is going to be a romantic angle between David and Jenny, so more progress on that. Finally, we believe that there is more to Neil than being the child who discovered the corpse. We hope to uncover that in the coming episodes.