Roush Review: 'Rellik' Spins Its Mystery in Reverse

Matt Roush
Cinemax

Even telling you how this six-part mystery begins is a spoiler. Rellik, which sounds like one of those gloomy Scandinavian imports but is actually a dour British procedural, opens with the takedown of an accused murderer who may or may not be guilty. And then the images begin to play backwards as the story continues in reverse chronology — which is Rellik’s theme and its suffocating gimmick, starting with the title (Killer spelled backward).

I miss redrum.

What's Coming and Going From Hulu in April 2018

What's Coming and Going From Hulu in April 2018

Catch the second seasons of 'The Handmaid's Tale' and HBO's 'Westworld.'

“If we could go back far enough, we could understand why people do what they do,” muses London detective Gabriel Markham (Richard Dormer, Game of Thrones’ Beric Dondarrion), both the hunter and victim of a serial killer who uses disfiguring acid as a tool. Hideously scarred in an attack, looking very Phantom of the Precinct, Markham is a classic tormented noir hero, estranged from his family and sleeping with his intense partner (Jodi Balfour, The Crown’s Jackie Kennedy).

This hardly groundbreaking theory of the past informing the present is Rellik’s narrative engine. As conceived by genre veterans Harry and Jack Williams (The Missing), the story rewinds several times each week — “13 hours, 15 minutes earlier” is a typical transition — as well as between episodes, a convoluted device that's more dislocating and confusing than it is illuminating.

Richard Dormer, Jodi Balfour in 'Rellik'

One entire episode unravels a red herring from finish to start, which at least offers some closure to one loose end, but the further we move backward (or is it forward?), the more secrets are revealed, including those of Markham's boss (Ray Stevenson) and a creepy therapist (Paterson Joseph of Timeless) who may be implicated in the killer's backstory.

The biggest problem with Rellik is that if it were told in regular linear style, it would only be notable for its unrelenting bleakness. Whodunit becomes when-is-it in a limited series that ends up as just another ydoolb ssem.

Rellik, Season Premiere, Friday, April 13, 10/9c, Cinemax

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