Reckoning is a 2019 Australian series about a serial killer and homicide detective living in the same town with children who attend the same high school where the serial killer works and stalks his victims.
10 out of 10 stars. It’s pretty darned good.
Mike Serrato has been stalking the Russian River Killer (RRK) for several years. The killer stopped killing for 8 years and Mike assumed he was caught on some other charge and imprisoned or, better yet, died. But he was wrong because RRK has claimed another victim, a local teenage girl from the same high school as the one Mike’s kids attend.
Leo Doyle is a likeable high school guidance counselor who flirts with the high school girls in his charge. He’s even had intimate relationships with several of them. But none of them suspect who he really is. Not even his wife who was the victim to a similar crime years earlier when Leo “saved her”. Little does she know he’s the one who strangled her in the first place.
If all of this sounds a little far-fetched, the series does make you a believer and part of the charm of this series is that the Australian filmmakers know very little about living in California, so it’s almost an ongoing comedy as well. (The film supposedly takes place in California’s Russian River Valley.)
RRK strangles young women, cuts off their tattoos, and leaves their bodies by the Russian River. (The Russian River is never featured in this film. All of the kills are left near a body of water somewhere in Australia with Australian plants, topography, and trees.) From the very beginning, we know the killer, Leo Savage, the high school guidance counselor. And it’s chilling to watch him become enraged over the simplest of things.
It’s also chilling to see Leo’s son Paxton let off without any charges or public record when he is arrested at school with a loaded gun. Instead they call his dad (professional courtesy from one high school to another) and he’s transferred to the high school where Leo works. There Paxton meets Sam, Detective Doyle’s daughter, and they becomes fast friends, another subplot that adds to the tension because Paxton likes hunting animals and killing them with his bare hands. (There is a graphic scene in which he kills a dog with a brick and another scene in which he kills a bird with his hands.)
Then there’s Leo’s wife Candace, who recently had a miscarriage. When she has their reverend over and he gives his condolences to Leo, Leo says, “It wasn’t a child. It was barely a fetus.” Candace was the victim of a near homicide years earlier when she was a stripper. An unknown assailant jumped her, dragged her to the Russian River, and strangled her to death. Then she was brought back to life by Leo, who she believes is her hero. Little does she know he’s the one who strangled her in the first place.
If Leo’s family is odd, so is Detective Mike Serrato’s. Mike has the tattoos of RRK’s victims tattooed onto his chest so he sees them every morning when he wakes in the bathroom mirror. Ew. That’s just creepy. His wife Paige is having an affair with the neighbor. Mike apparently had an affair with the first victim’s mother years ago. His oldest daughter Amanda seems to be trying to be RRK’s next victim. And his youngest daughter is friends with Paxton Savage and joins the boys wrestling team who Leo coaches. The youngest of the Serrato clan, Jake, is also a budding serial killer. He breaks his sister’s finger, sets the shed on fire, and his parents reward him by taking the day off and giving him whatever he wants. :0
Still, it’s an engaging 10 hours when there is literally nothing good to stream that’s not a repeat.
Now for the plot holes.
- The Russian River Valley is one of those iconic places that most Californians know because almost every year it floods there and you see the photos on the news. This was filmed in Australia and looks nothing like Russian River Valley.
- Really bad casting. It takes a great deal of hand strength to strangle a woman, even a petite woman. The killer has teeny tiny girl hands. He is not a big man. Since the young women are awake when he strangles them, it’s really unrealistic that he could overpower them and strangle them without at least a few of them getting away.
- Serial killers have a type. None of the victims looked anything alike, nor were their personalities similar. The only thing they had in common were tattoos. And they weren’t even similar tattoos.
- Detective Serrato works for the Sheriff’s Department. In the U.S. county sheriffs are a separate jurisdiction from city police departments. they never have their own homicide squads. This takes place in a fictional town so there would be a police department, NOT a county sheriff involved.
- California is one of the most enlightened states when it comes to identifying juvenile delinquents. I know child who was expelled for bringing a pocketknife to school. A teenager who brings a loaded gun to school would be expelled and held for the police. It would be very public. He would not be transferred to another school in California. Maybe in Texas, not in California.
- Even if a county sheriff’s department were in charge of a homicide case, they would not have nearly as many resources as this one, not even in California.
- Detective Serrato’s son Jake kicks several classmates AND a teacher. He would also have been expelled.
- Baton twirling in high school? No. In Texas maybe, not California.
- Leo’s house is expensively furnished and wallpapered. A high school guidance counselor could never have afforded this. Not in a million years. And his wife used to work at K-Mart, so the money didn’t come from her either. She was a stripper before that.
- Leo’s dad has stage 4 Alzheimer’s yet he seems to remember murdering his wife when questioned. Alzheimer’s doesn’t work that way. You can’t “spur” memories on.
10 out of 10 stars. Yes, it has some plot holes and other issues, but there is literally nothing but junk on Prime and Netflix and even the paid channels like HBO, STARZ, and Showtime.