‘Landscapers,’ directed by Will Sharpe, is a true-crime drama about an unusual couple – Susan and Christopher Edwards. The mini-series rejects linear narrative and instead experiments with the film language. The off-screen and on-screen space constantly interchange when the characters move from one scenario (visual space) to another. Color is another interesting aspect of the series, from red to green to black and white, as it changes according to the space and the dominant emotion.
‘Landscapers’ Plot Summary
The mini-series takes its visual cue from Susan’s love for cinema, particularly old Hollywood films. The first episode ends with the couple confronting the police, and Chris ensuring Susan that they will tell what they know as the truth and not say a word without a solicitor. Susan abides by the instruction; the solicitor advises her to say “no comments,” no matter what the question.
Other than presenting the police with a brief summary of the murder night, Susan sticks with what was advised by her solicitor. Things get complicated when Chris does not seek legal advice and decides to face the police interrogation all by himself. While a surge of sure-shot confidence might have spurred the decision, the questioning does not go according to what he had planned. The Nottingham police start to mess with their heads, especially Susan’s. They make her believe that they both were not saying a similar story, provoking Susan to speak up, which she does. Their story had errors, from the house not smelling of rotten flesh after a week of the murder to the body being in rigor mortis even after seven days.
The police doubted the couple from the very beginning, as the gunshots indicated that both William and Patricia Wycherly, Susan’s parents, were murdered by the same person. The couple stuck with their version of the tale, in which William was murdered by Patricia after a heated argument, and upon being provoked by Patricia, Susan fired gunshots and killed her mother. A week after the killing, Susan and Chris go to Wycherley’s place. That is when Susan confesses to shooting her mother in the act of self-defense and Chris helping her bury the bodies, as they feel the police would have doubted their intentions otherwise.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Susan’s Troubled Childhood
Landscapers Episode 1 indicated a childhood secret that troubled Susan. The second episode started with the same shot of a schoolgirl running, which merged with a memory of her parents, where the father was playing the piano, and the mother took her medication with a drink. Susan shared her traumatic past with Christopher to explain what bothered her. Her father sexually abused her from the time she was a child. Her parents always argued, and their marriage was not a peaceful one.
Apparently, Patricia herself told Susan that they got married only because she was pregnant with Susan. It was on the night of the double murder that Patricia, as told by Susan, confessed to knowing about the fact that her husband sexually abused her daughter. It was not just the father with whom Susan shared a traumatic past but also her mother who “hated” her and considered her to be impossible to love.
This confession to the police hinted that the double murder was not committed only for money but also out of spite. The final nail in the coffin was when Susan’s mother convinced her to write off her share of the property her grandfather left her. Patricia had promised that they would not sell the house, but they did so, and bought another property in Mansfield. This incident had left ‘the Edwards’ feeling betrayed and made them feel that the parents, in a way, owed them the money.
Christopher Edwards And His Savior Complex
Christopher took care of his alcoholic mother and his brother. The mother passed away after he got married, and the brother died young. The death of his family members troubled Chris to a great extent, to the point that he mourned for days locked up in his room. This was when Susan started writing letters pretending to be Gerard Depardieu to cheer her husband. Chris felt responsible for Susan and took it upon himself to care for her as she was what he called “fragile.”
Chris’s step-mother Tabitha had explained to the police how he loved saving people and cared for them. He stopped going to the gun club, an activity he enjoyed, simply because Susan did not want him to stay away from her for too long. His interest in guns was another reason why the police considered him to be the one who shot Susan’s parents. It was a way to attain justice for her traumatic past and also get the money from the Wycherley’s.
‘Landscapers’ Ending Explained
There is a constant shift in visual space during the police interrogation. The audience is kept in the interrogation room where the police question the Edwards, and the moment they recall their memories, the viewers are shifted to a memory space. The film is divided as per various memories, and the characters move from one space to the other. The lights and colors change the moment they enter their memory space; the brilliance of the director and all the creative team members can be witnessed in this mini-series with the way they decided to narrate the story. The court trial has been shot in black and white, a choice that is often made in this series, particularly when the fond memories of the couple are recalled.
Susan had written a letter to Chris, but she received no response, assuming that their love had died. During the trial, Susan realizes the amount of personal sacrifice that Chris had made to be with her, and in a way, he lived her life. At the same time, Susan did all that she could to protect her husband.
In the end, whatever she said was not enough against the mounting evidence that the police had, from how Susan lied about the brass shells she found on the floor, to the fact that she was terrified of guns, making it impossible for her to have murdered her parents. The couple is convicted of the double murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison. In the end, Chris writes a letter to Susan, pretending to be Gerard Depardieu. This indicates how he might have known all along that she wrote the letters, and he decides to keep the fantasy alive by sending a similar letter to Susan.
‘Landscapers’ artfully captures the world of fantasy in which Susan lived. The series breaks the fourth wall, reminding the audience constantly that they are watching a series and how the visual space is a constructed one. From the actors’ wigs to the camera person, every detail that is traditionally kept hidden is shown in this series. The series-makers remind us that it is a reenactment of the lives of two individuals who were more than just the crime they committed.
Landscapers is a 2021 Crime Drama Mini-Series created by Ed Sinclair. It is streaming on HBO Max.