Full Circle review: complex web of characters

Claire Danes and Zazie Beetz in Full Circle

Full Circle, a limited series on Max directed by Steven Soderbergh, brings a multi-level story from the past into the present when a 16 year old boy is kidnapped.

Full Circle is fascinating because it has a big cast of characters swirling around each other, yet it still manages to be a character driven story. Three women, in particular, propelled the story.

Mel Harmony (Zazie Beetz) worked as a postal inspector. She broke the rules constantly and was always under threat from her boss Manny Browar (Jim Gaffigan). She talked back to her boss, broke up with her girlfriend regularly, never followed protocol, and was the smartest and most intuitive cop around.

Claire Danes, Dennis Quaid, and Timothy Olyphant in Full Circle

Sam Browne (Claire Danes) was the mother of the boy who was meant to be kidnapped, Jared (Ethan Stoddard). More on that mix up in a bit. Sam and her husband Derek (Timothy Olyphant) were wealthy, but she was the brains in the family. Her father was a celebrity chef, Chef Jeff (Dennis Quaid).

A group of criminals from Guyana, lead by Savitri Mahabir (CCH Pounder), were the ones planning the kidnapping. In Savitri’s mind, kidnapping this particular boy at a particular time would restore cosmic justice and right the wrongs that had been done to her and her family 20 years ago.

Mel was irritating and difficult to the max. Sam was smart and all business. Savitri was deluded by her belief in the traditional folk religion of Guyana and didn’t see the reality around her. In a big and excellent cast, these three women gave the story life.

The Rest of the Characters

Claire Danes, Dennis Quaid, CCH Pounder, Timothy Olyphant, Adia, Zazie Beetz, and Jharrel Jerome in Full Circle

Savitri’s main lieutenant, Garmen (Phaldut Sharma) and her nephew Aked (Jharrel Jerome) were in charge of the kidnapping operation. Two young men freshly arrived from Guyana, Xavier (Sheyi Cole) and Louis (Gerald Jones) were meant to help. Louis sister, Natalia (Adia), worked for Savitri as a masseuse.

But the kidnapping went completely wrong. Everything went wrong in every way with events. They kidnapped the wrong boy, a kid named Nicky (Lucian Zanes). They thought they had Jared, and Nicky said nothing to make them think otherwise. They demanded $314,159 from Sam and Derek, to be paid at exactly 1:11 AM.

Sam and Derek realized Jared was safe at home, but they tried to deliver the money anyway to 1) protect the other boy, and 2) prevent future attempts on the real Jared. That didn’t go well either.

Mistake after mistake escalated the body count and the danger. The connections between events of the past and current characters and events was revealed slowly as Mel Harmony and other police tried to solve the various crimes. Sam dug around in her past. Lots of long held secrets came out in the process.

The series was a 3-D puzzle box of intersecting characters and events. The suspense held up well over the 6 episodes. The ending was quiet but held out the hope that truth and right might prevail.

If you watch this mystery series, I’d love to hear what you thought about it.

2 thoughts on “Full Circle review: complex web of characters”

  1. christopher swaby

    fun fun series. larger than life characters. the disparities btwn those who had and those who had not was stark. the way the young were used by the older was believable. i understood every character and why they did what they did, even as i was hoping they would do something different. Mr. Soderbergh gives us reliably entertaining and interesting product.

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