One thing we can say for sure is that High Desert brings nothing new to the table. Here we have yet another protagonist who is so consumed by her troubles, which are entirely solvable, by the way, that she believes she can push people around to get what she wants while feeling slighted by the consequences of her actions. There is not a lack of complex women on screen, but this particular woman seems to be a favorite, and we don’t understand why. She is not even likable. Either way, here is a recap of High Desert episode 1.
Why Does Peggy Become A Private Investigator?
It is safe to say that Peggy Newman’s luck started going downhill ten years ago, in 2013, to be precise, when the DEA raided her home during a family pool party, and Peggy had to flush down all the marijuana, drugs, and money. Peggy and her husband, Denny, were running this business, and that is where they got their money from. But the DEA raid and the subsequent imprisonment of Denny seems to have put an end to that.
In the present day, Peggy, who is obviously not rich anymore, is working as a barmaid in a restaurant with a Western theme. It is a job her siblings, Dianne and Stewart, find embarrassing, but there is not much to say or do about it. However, they have come to visit Peggy with a particular purpose. Peggy has been living in her mother’s house and taking care of her all this time. This is why Dianne and Stewart continued to support Peggy with whatever money they could while paying the mortgage on the house. But now that their mother is dead, they do not want to continue doing that. They ask Peggy to find a better job so that she can make the payments herself. In fact, Dianne and Stewart offer to help Peggy through any transitional period as long as she shows that she is seriously working towards her own improvement. But Peggy is not ready for that. She is a drug addict, though she won’t admit that, and she doesn’t seem to want anything other than to just get by. Even weeks after her mother’s death, Peggy keeps picking up her medicines for her own addiction. We can see the self-loathing on her face when she does that, but she looks as if she cannot help herself.
High Desert Episode 1 doesn’t make it clear whether Peggy is actually devastated by her mother’s demise, but she certainly hates the new responsibility of taking care of herself.
Despite what Peggy might want or not want, she has to find a way to earn money, and she finds that through her friend Jeannie who is having trouble getting full custody of her son from her abusive ex. In addition to that, the private investigator Jeannie hired, Bruce Harvey, to get some dirt on her ex has simply absconded with her money. While watching TV with her friend Carol, Peggy sees an advertisement being run by Bruce Harvey where he talks about a training course to be a PI. Peggy feels like she can do that job without the certification or the training. We have to admit that she did come across as somewhat talented in this regard. When Carol was worried that a man in a yellow hat was a federal agent who was tailing her, Peggy nicked his wallet rather neatly to verify that he wasn’t. In the hospital, she could tell by just looking at a teenager that he was addicted to methadone. She also has a lot of likeability and charm that makes everyone fall in love with her. Maybe Peggy is right when she says that she can be a private investigator.
The very next day, she shows up at Bruce Harvey’s office and demands that he give back Jeannie’s money and give Peggy a job. Bruce doesn’t have much of a choice with Jeannie since Peggy threatens to take him to a small claims court, but he is on the fence about Peggy’s job. Peggy looks at it positively, unlike her siblings, who don’t see the earning potential of this job. Stewart is especially furious with Peggy’s attitude since he sees that she is living quite lavishly. He tells her to cut back on her expenses or sell her coffee machine to pay a month’s mortgage, but all Peggy can reply is that their mother is dead.
The next day, Peggy goes back to meet Bruce. She has already proved that she could be a good investigator when she made him coffee the other day, exactly the way he liked it. She figured out the recipe by going through his garbage dump, which had too few coffee cups and way too many empty sugar sachets. But Peggy doesn’t get the job because she is a good investigator; she gets it because she is able to ward off his landlord, Mr. Geasly when he comes there to demand the rent for the past two months.
Does Peggy Get A Divorce?
At the beginning of High Desert Episode 1, Jeannie’s co-worker, Tammy, tries to pull her down a little by boasting about her fiance and the 2-carat ring she had gotten from him, which, according to Peggy, looks like a moonstone. That had riled Tammy enough to want to prove a point to Peggy. Therefore, she sent her a video saying that her fiance was very well off and was going to provide her with all the luxuries of the world. But Peggy had a sharp eye, and she spied a painting in the background by Picasso that had been missing for years. She takes that video to Bruce and tells him that this is some fresh business, but he believes that it is a fake. With a little push and pull, Peggy gets him to agree to investigate it. He asks her to enroll in the PI training, but she just wants to work as an associate or an intern and get 30 percent of whatever he makes from his cases. Of course, they bargain it down to 10%, but Peggy has a job now. When she goes to inform her siblings of this, she finds them about to leave without telling her and ignoring her calls. The way she is being treated breaks Peggy’s heart, but she cannot deny that her life and her actions do not warrant any other treatment. Therefore, her first step in pulling her life together is to take some acid and go to prison to meet her husband and ask him for a divorce. Denny wanted to wait till he was released before they decided to separate from each other, and Peggy played along. But with her new job, Peggy needs a clean record. Though she can’t erase the past charges against her, she can divorce Denny, who is a felon serving time in prison. At the end of Episode 1 of High Desert, Peggy finds that Denny had only pretended to sign the divorce papers, and in fact, he was still married to her. Peggy is furious and is ready for this battle for the sake of her new career and her life.
High Desert Episode 1 feels a little haphazard, to be honest. Here we have another woman who refuses to take accountability for her life, and the people closest to her are tired of picking up the pieces. We remember watching a certain series like this a while back titled Tiny Beautiful Things, except that High Desert is a little more on the comic side. Characters like Clara or Peggy are not as complex as they are exhausting, and we wish that writers and makers of series and movies would wake up to this reality. Until then, this is what we get.