Roush Review: ‘Trickster’ More Notable for Diversity Than Originality

Joel Oulette Trickster Jared
Sienna Films Trickster XIX Inc.

If not for the hero’s sinister doppelgänger and a few other eerie touches in the first two episodes made available for review, Trickster would be most notable as an unsweetened depiction of Canada’s underrepresented Indigenous community. Score one for diversity in The CW’s latest import from our Northern neighbor, even if we might wish for this downbeat youth drama to get spookier a bit faster.

The prologue makes it clear something supernatural is afoot, when a demon — you know it when you see it, because of that clichéd Eyes-Go-Black Syndrome — takes a baby into the woods, stopped from some dire purpose by a mother’s primal scream. Flash forward 17 years, and the focus squarely falls upon Jared (a solid, brooding Joel Oulette), the baby who’s now a teenager, seeming much more grown-up than either of his separated parents.

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His mom, Maggie (Crystle Lightning), is still screaming all these years later, a hot mess of a party animal whose manic conversations with unseen people may not be hallucinations. His dad, Phil (Craig Lauzon), is a comparatively forgettable sad sack on disability, and like Maggie, mooches on their responsible son to get by. Described as the high school’s “most aspiring underachiever” by a guidance counselor, Jared augments his meagre salary from a fast-food joint by peddling “happy pills” he concocts in a shed, selling them from the drive-through window.

Trickster wallows for a while in Jared’s seemingly dead-end world, an outsider amid all of the local bullies and mean girls, befriended only by a chubby gamer (Nathan Alexis as “Crashpad”) and the newly arrived Sarah (Anna Lambe), a foster kid with multi-hued hair who channels her discontent into social activism: “Hardcore resistance with a dash of sparkle,” she describes herself. But soon (if not soon enough), there are signs this is no ordinary coming-of-age drama.

Start with the visions. Jared begins seeing and hearing things: his own double, who’s up to no good, and a talking (at one point rapping) crow with ominous pronouncements like, “Your time is almost up.” And then a familiar-looking hipster, Wade (Kalani Queypo), rides into town on his motorcycle, hinting at a special connection to Jared.

Joel Oulette Kalani Queypo Trickster Jared Wade

(Shane Harvey/© 2020 Sienna Films Trickster XIX Inc.)

Bottom line: Trickster‘s setting may not be familiar, but the tricks sure are.

Trickster, Series Premiere, Tuesday, January 12, 9/8c, The CW