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Dangerous Opinion: New TV series The Rook is actually better than Bodyguard.

The opening scenes of The Rook set up the most fascinating kind of TV puzzle.

In The Rook, which is screening now on Stan, a young woman (Emma Greenwell) wakes up at Millennium Bridge in London surrounded by dead bodies, with her hands clad in latex gloves.

It’s a gruesome yet compelling scene in which to kick off a new series and is made far worse by the fact that she has no idea who she really is or how she came to be there.

With the sense that another type of threat is looming nearby, the woman holes herself up in a skeezy London hotel and then over the next couple of days begins to slowly unravel and then piece together her former life and identity.

Through a series of hidden video messages that she had left for herself, with her past self knowing that a memory wipe could be a potential threat, she learns that her real name is Myfanwy (rhymes with “Tiffany”, as she says in the video) Thomas and she’s not exactly a regular citizen.

Take a look at the trailer for The Rook on Stan, post continues. 

In fact, she’s actually a high-ranking agent with supernatural abilities in a British secret service called the Checquy.

The Checquy exist to combat the supernatural and unnatural forces that threaten Great Britain. Mostly through the act of monitoring people with Extreme Variant Abilities (dubbed EVAs inside the agency) and recruiting them into the organisation. They also fight human traffickers who capture them and sell them to the highest bidder. The Checquy is Britain’s last truly secret service for people with paranormal abilities, but of course, there’s much more going on beneath the surface than first meets the eye.

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The clandestine British agency is made up of spies who all work under titles relating to chess pieces.

Myfanwy, of course, is a Rook and early on in the first episode, we are introduced to her boss Linda Farrier (Joely Richardson), a King in the Checquy and the first member of the organisation to show up to Myfanwy’s apartment after her memory wipe and advise her to hide the condition.

There is also Conrad Grantchester (Adrian Lester), the Queen in the Checquy. Both Conrad and Linda are jockeying for power of the agency by withholding information from each other and Myfanwy while using the secrets they do have as leverage

Early on in the first episode, the audience is also introduced to Monica Reed (Olivia Munn), an agent from the American BVA, a Checquy sister agency.

Without her memory and with no idea who she can trust, Myfanwy must navigate the word of the Checquy and try to figure out how she became the target.

The Rook is based on the debut novel of the same name by Australian author Daniel O’Malley, although the TV series is much more spy thriller compared to its more mythical book counterpart.

It’s this dark, spy thriller-themed tale set against the backdrop of London and taking place within an agency set up that has drawn The Rook to be compared to the BBC international hit series Bodyguard. While the fast-paced nature of the unraveling storylines are similar in style and tone, The Rook offers up a much more richly drawn world and endgame.

In many storytelling instances, The Rook seems to draw inspiration from both the X-Men franchise, through the conversation around the rights and protection of ‘othered’ super-charged beings, and from The Bourne Identity series, utilising the trick of using the protagonist’s memory loss to bring the audience into the story.

The Rook is a compelling new TV offering that will keep you guessing along the way, a slow-burn story with some excellent pay-off .

The Rook is airing now on Stan. New episodes drop every Monday the same days as the US.

For more stories like this, you can follow Mamamia Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik on Facebook.  You can also visit our newsletter page and sign up to “TV and Movies”  for a backstage pass to the best movies, TV shows and celebrity interviews (see one of her newsletters here). 

Tags: features , pop-culture , review , stan , tv-2
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