‘Sugar’ Episode 1 Recap: What Happened To Olivia Siegel?

If you thought the detective genre was done for and it’s not worth tuning in for another one, Colin Farrell is back to rekindle your interest. Apple TV’s neo-noir detective drama Sugar offers a fresh take on the genre, not following any tropey roads. It revolves around a private investigator, John Sugar, who specializes in bringing lost people back home. When he’s hired by a legendary Hollywood producer to find his granddaughter, the search job in Hollywood proves to be much darker than it should be. 


Spoilers Ahead

What Do We Know About Sugar?

John Sugar is visiting Tokyo for the first time. He saves the son of Mr. Kobayashi, the boss of the Tokyo Yakuza. Sugar is very good at his job; he claims so himself. It’s evident that he actually is, seeing how effortlessly he deduces things and breaks people’s bones. Minutes into the pilot episode, you can see that Sugar is a man of class, and his dressing choice suggests the same. His Savile Row suits and brushed-back hair are distinct, and for an investigator, he surely does stand out in the middle of a crowd. Sugar is not all shiny and suave; he’s clearly struggling with his personal issues as well. He somehow patches up his wounds and cares very little about his personal health. 


What Happened To Olivia Siegel?

Sugar is hired by Jonathan Siegel, an acclaimed Hollywood producer. He returns to Los Angeles to meet Jonathan, and Jonathan tells him to find his granddaughter, who’s been missing for the last couple of months. Jonathan Siegel is not in good health, and there isn’t much he cares about, but his granddaughter is important to him. Siegel insists that Sugar must find Olivia by any means. Olivia is a recovering addict, and she has a reputation for disappearing. Jonathan is only worried because she has been sober for two years, and he saw an energy in her that looked like she’s finally discovering herself. Jonathan’s reason for worrying is that in Olivia’s previous episodes of disappearances, she always called him to check on him. Siegel’s words seem to come from a place of genuine love, and Sugar takes the case. 

What’s The Relationship Between Sugar And Ruby?

Ruby is Sugar’s handler and probably one of the closest people in his life. Ruby disapproves of Sugar taking the Siegel case. Sugar’s health is clearly suffering, and she wants him to visit the doctor. Sugar insists that this case is important to him because Olivia reminds him of his sister, Djen. Ruby is tough, but Sugar knows how to work his way around her. Ruby hands Sugar the documents he’ll need for the case, along with a gun that was used by Glenn Ford in The Big Heat. An ode to a classic film, the first episode of Sugar has multiple  classic movie references. In true James Bond fashion, Sugar also gets a shiny vintage Corvette as he drives away. 


What Does Sugar Find While Investigating?

Sugar goes to Olivia’s apartment for possible leads, and he’s interrupted quickly by Olivia’s stepbrother David and his bodyguard Kenny. Kenny points a gun at Sugar before any exchange of words, and Sugar reveals his identity to them. David is supposedly instructed to come to the apartment every day to check if Olivia is back. Sugar calls him a terrible liar straight to his face and wonders what the purpose of his lies is. Sugar finds a suitcase full of magazines and takes it with him for further investigation. He also finds a Polaroid picture of Olivia and her stepmother, Melanie. Sugar tracks Melanie down in a bar, but he sees a homeless young man sitting outside with his dog. Sugar treats them with respect and asks for the name of the dog. Wiley, The man answers, and Sugar gives him a hundred dollars to watch his car and gives him a phone if he needs to contact him. Melanie Mathews is a rock star, as she’s already singing in the bar when Sugar arrives. They bond over their love for alcohol, but the conversation between them radiates chemistry. Melanie asks Sugar if he wants to drop her off, and he obliges. Sugar meets Carl again, sitting in the same spot, and asks him if he has anyone he can go back to. His compassion for people is fresh to see, as most detectives in recent memory are too smug to care about others much, let alone a random homeless guy. Sugar offers him to pay for his ticket if Carl wants to be with his sister, and it seems like Carl will call his sister and have a roof over his head. 

What Happens Between Sugar And Melanie?

Melanie doesn’t know that Sugar is a detective, and she is obviously charmed by him. His being a Virgo also works for her, as if that’s totally not an excuse for her to get in his pants. Melanie invites Sugar in and offers him a drink. She suggests that Taurus and Virgo people are extremely compatible in bed and leans into him for a kiss. Sugar refuses to lead her on further and tells her that she’s drunk and he’s not. Melanie still insists on him going ahead, but he refuses again. Sugar regrets that he agreed to drink with her, and a drunk Melanie isn’t useful for his case. He puts Melanie to bed and tucks her in. He also cleans up after her before leaving. 


Who’s Following Sugar?

Someone’s been following Sugar the whole day, and he notices the same car outside Melanie’s house. He goes to check on the car, and it turns out to be Kennie, David’s bodyguard. Kennie reaches for his gun, but Sugar taps at his window before he can move further. Poor Kennie is terrible at tailing, and Sugar saves him the further effort. Sugar gives Kennie the address of the hotel he’s staying at. Sugar then heads up to the parking lot of Olivia’s apartment to check her car. He copies the records of the GPS from her car and goes to check on the trunk. There’s a corpse in Olivia’s car, and Sugar is not fazed by dead bodies after doing this job for this many years. He saves the fingerprints and takes pictures of the man before heading to the hotel. Sugar is a regular at Hotel Del Corazon, and he knows pretty much everyone who works there. He sets up hidden cameras inside and outside his room. Sugar inspects the suitcase and finds out about Olivia’s mother, the late actress Rachel Kaye. Known for a movie called Pariah, Rachel Kaye was a brave woman who took on roles most actresses wouldn’t at the time. Olivia reenacted a monologue from Pariah, and Sugar noticed the resemblance of Olivia to her mother. Digging into the suitcase, Sugar gets his hands on some pictures of Rachel in seductive poses. In the closing moments of the first episode, Sugar starts bleeding from a cut he got in Tokyo. His blood stains the pictures he was looking at, and he runs off to shower. He’s having a panic attack as his bathtub is full of blood. Moments later, he wakes up under the shower, noticing there’s no blood and the cut is covered with bandages just fine. He’s having these panic attacks and palpitations quite frequently, and this time a serious hallucination fooled the guy who pretty much does everything right. 

The pilot of Sugar sets a wonderful premise for the rest of the show. We are yet to see all of the Siegels, and the dead man in the back of Olivia’s car is not a good sign. Episode 2 will hold a lot of answers, and it’s exciting when the neo-noir detective genre finds a detective who narrates his own story. 


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Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket is a literature student pursuing his master's degree while trying to comprehend Joyce and Pound. When his head is not shoved in books, he finds solace in cinema and his heart beats for poetry, football, and Adam Sandler in times.

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