Prime Video’s Harlan Coben’s Shelter takes us to Kasselton, New Jersey, and makes us privy to the strange developments that have been taking place there for quite some time now. Mickey Bolitar hadn’t imagined in his wildest dreams that, in a matter of days, his life was going to turn upside down. He had moved to a new city with his family, and he thought he had his entire future planned. But life had other plans for him, and soon he found himself at the center of a mystery, and he had no option but to try to solve it and find the truth. So, let’s find out what happened in Shelter Episode 1 and how an unpleasant and unprecedented turn of events wreaked havoc on the life of Mickey Bolitar.
The Bolitars Have An Accident
Mickey Bolitar had moved to Santa Monica with his father, Brad as he believed that it would be better for his basketball career. But before any of that could happen, the family met with an accident, and while Brad died on the spot, Mickey’s mother survived, though she was in a critical situation. Mickey moved in with his aunt, Shira Bolitar, and he had stopped looking forward to anything in life. On the first day of school at Kasselton High, he met a cheerful Arthur Spindell, who was the head of the committee that was given the responsibility to look after the new students.
Arthur was trying his best to strike up a conversation, but Mickey was just not interested. Mickey wasn’t in a mindspace to have any sort of small talk, but Arthur wouldn’t leave him alone. In school, Mickey met a girl named Ashley, and it was quite evident that he felt attracted towards her the moment he saw her. Things moved quickly, and they not only exchanged numbers but decided to meet after school for a date. It brought a smile to Mickey’s face, as the first day didn’t turn out to be as horrible as he thought. When Mickey was returning from school, something strange happened to him. He stopped by a dilapidated house, and he saw a very strange old lady standing there and looking at him. That lady told him that his father was still alive, and she went inside the house and bolted the door. Mickey shouted at her to tell him more, but nobody answered.
Just then, one of the students from Kasselton, Ema Winslow, came there and looked at Mickey as if he were insane. She told him that if he was trying to pull a prank on her, he better stop, as she was not going to get scared. Mickey didn’t understand what was happening, and he later came to know that nobody had lived in that house for ages. Mickey came to know about the myth of the bat lady, but he knew that nobody would believe it if he said that he had indeed seen an old lady at the house.
What Happened With Brad 25 Years Ago?
At the very beginning of Harlan Coben’s Shelter Episode 1, we come to know through a flashback that something happened 25 years ago with Brad that changed his life entirely. Back in the day, when Brad and his family were living in Kasselton, New Jersey, an 11-year-old boy named Daylan Shakes had vanished, and law enforcement authorities could never find out what had happened to him. Some believed that it was the doing of the bat lady, who used to live in an old haunted house, but others dismissed it as a rumor. Nobody had ever seen the bat lady, and it was more of a folklore that parents told their kids to stop them from going outside at night.
One day, a few bullies from Brad’s school gave him a dare to enter the haunted house and Brad agreed to do so as he was too scared to raise his voice against these boys. When Brad reached the porch, the door suddenly got unlocked, and as soon as he stepped inside the house, the door got locked on its own. When Brad didn’t come out for a very long time, the bullies started getting paranoid, and they called for help. Shira, Mickey’s aunt, told him that though his father came out of the house unharmed, he was never the same again. Shira didn’t believe in the legend of the bat lady but she knew that the little boy must have experienced something that shook him from within.
Shira narrated the entire incident to Mickey, and that’s when he got even more inquisitive about what lay inside the house. Mickey knew that he was not delusional enough to imagine the bat lady and he was certain that there was an actual person inside the house. Mickey had gotten restless since the day the old lady told him that his father was still alive. He knew that it couldn’t be possible, but his mind was still clouded with a lot of doubts. Mickey needed answers, and for that, he needed to talk to that old lady, whoever she was, face-to-face.
Why Didn’t Ashley Come To Meet Mickey?
Ashley didn’t turn up for the date, and Mickey was disheartened, but he also had this feeling that something was not right with her. We had seen that a teacher at Kasselton High, for some unknown reason, was secretly clicking pictures of Ashley, and he had been told by the old lady living in the haunted house to bring Ashley to her at all costs. Ema, Arthur, and Mickey decided that they would go to the haunted house and try to look for some clues and see if the old lady had something to do with Ashley’s disappearance. Mickey went inside the house while Ema and Arthur waited outside. Mickey found Ashley’s hippo magnet lying there, and he knew that something was not right. Meanwhile, a mysterious man clad in a suit found Ema and Arthur waiting for Mickey outside the house. Ema and Arthur escaped and Mickey joined them later and told them about what he had found.
At the end of Harlan Coben’s Shelter Episode 1, a lot of things came to light that made the entire scheme of things even more complicated. Firstly, Arthur and Mickey went to Ashley’s house, and they found out that somebody had been assaulted there. At first, they thought that it was Ashley, but they found out that it was the husband of the woman who lived there. The woman, whom they believed to be Ashley’s mother, said that she didn’t know anyone named Ashley, and Mickey and Arthur just couldn’t understand what was happening as that was the address she had given at the school. If Ashley didn’t live there, then the biggest question would be why she had lied about such a thing in school. It is possible that she knew that she was in danger and that she was dealing with things that she couldn’t tell everybody.
We also saw that Ema had a tattoo of a blue butterfly on the back of her shoulder, which looked kind of similar to what was drawn on Ashley’s locker, over which she had stuck her hippo magnet. The teacher who clicked Ashley’s picture was shot dead by the assassin who was working for the old lady. Earlier, we had also witnessed that Brad had called Shira and told her to look after his family if anything happened to him. Listening to him speak in that tone, it felt like he knew that his life was in danger and that something would happen to him in the near future. Maybe it was an accident, but somebody had conspired against Brad and his family and killed him. From Ema’s butterfly tattoo to Mrs. Friedman’s apprehensive behavior, everybody had their own secrets, and Mickey had a lot of digging to do if he wanted to connect all the dots and get a clearer picture. In the upcoming episodes, we will get to know what exactly happened to Ashley, if she was still alive or not, and whether Brad’s death was an accident or a pre-planned murder.