Bellevue – Pilot
By: Maggie Stankiewicz
Bellevue is a quaint, albeit anomalous town that lends itself to the underbelly of blue-collar living. Annie Ryder (Anna Paquin) is visibly intoxicated, wobbling in her heels like a newborn giraffe as she fumbles with a set of car keys. A man witnesses her struggle in amusement, sucking on a cigarette and laughing until she falls to the ground and rises with a large rock in tow. Frustrated that her car keys didn’t work on the lock she had been trying, Annie smashes the car window until the glass cracks into a spider web.
The Casual Observer doesn’t find this too amusing – it’s his car. He springs forward and shoves her against the side of the car as she cackles along. In yet another strange shift in tone, Annie lets out a breathy sigh. A jump cut later, Annie and Dwayne (FKA The Casual Observer) are in a seedy hotel room. Dwayne snorts a line of cocaine off of Annie’s bosom in between sloppy kisses.
Dwayne offers her a bump, but she blows it off of his hand. In a frenzy, he gets up and punches the mirror, stimulant rage is no joke. After having a change of heart, Annie surrenders to his will and decides to play his game. Now with half a rail of cocaine up her nose, law enforcement bust the door open and slap some cuffs on Dwayne. Annie’s partner Brady (Bill MacLellan), her boss Peter (Shawn Doyle), and another detective name Virginia (Sharon Taylor) are all equally impressed and alarmed by how convincing Annie is as an addict. Once the arrest is made, they all part ways. Alone and disheveled, she phones in a friend to come pick her up.
The humble “Welcome to Bellevue” sign that graced the city limits has been vandalized with red paint, the phrase now reading, “Welcome to Hellvue,” a sure sign of what’s to come.
In a city where the sun always rises, Annie Ryder is struggling to rise up and out of bed – a consequence of the hell her nervous system endured the previous night. Enter Daisy (Madison Ferguson), the adolescent daughter of Annie. Daisy manages to pull her mother from bed and out the door; Daisy off to school and Annie off to the grand opening of a new brewery with the Mayor.
Daisy Ryder is at the head of her class, delivering a presentation on Sandy Driver, a teenager who was murdered in 1994. A cop on the case, her grandfather, was killed while investigating Sandy’s murder, in which she was presented as a religious symbol. Concurrently, Annie is called to a construction site to talk down a local named Neil Driver (Andreas Apergis) who has gone off of his medication. The call ends quickly, her humanity shining through, and she is summoned to the scrap yard. A biological male teenager named Jesse has gone missing. Jesse is questioning his sexual identity and has been expressing himself through the use of makeup and his mother’s dresses.
The investigation starts off with a myriad of seemingly random clues. A bloody tooth among the gravel. Magazine clippings of various body parts decorate the trees like the ornaments. An anonymous tip on a sex-offender who just moved into the area. Annie decides to pursue this lead first, and heads straight to the bar. It doesn’t take her long to weasel into a conversation with the suspect, but he was expecting her. Her pulls an envelope addressed to her out of his pocket and slips out of the bar before she can catch him.
Back at home, Annie goes through a box of mementos. It is the anniversary of her father’s murder, and she recalls in vivid detail the night she found out. The story of her father’s death, and his faux afterlife haunt her still – the timeliness of Jesse’s appearance triggering little moments from long ago. As she combs through the box of treasures, Annie opens and closes a series of small, carelessly folded notes. The notes are all addressed to her, arranged in a manner that is eerily similar to the note she received earlier in the day. In fact…the penmanship is almost exact, and it’s all addressed directly to her.
The memories, the familiarity of Jesse’s disappearance, and probably the tail-end of a coke high drive Annie to the closet floor, where she sits in contemplation. Daisy catches wind of her mother’s trip to the bat cave and marches down the long driveway to a truck. Pulling open the door, she startles the man inside with a curt, “…she’s in the closet again, Dad.” Her father, Eddie (Allen Leech), nods knowingly and enters the home to sit beside her in the closet.
Daisy’s apparently separated but amiable parents pass a bottle of wine back and forth before Eddie pulls out a small bag of pills. Annie questions him on his use, and he claims that an old established back pain has come back to haunt him. Annie drops it and changes the subject. Daisy joins them and opens up the note addressed to Annie, trying to decode it. Eddie has managed to fall asleep, to which Daisy asks her mother, “How could you not love that guy?”. It’s clear that they both love him, but sometimes our demons are the ones who cast out the light.
In the midst of her conversation with Daisy on the riddle and the original sin, Annie has an epiphany about immaculate conception and makes her way to an abandoned storage area – leaving Daisy at home with her father. As Annie makes her way through the ivy-invested structure, multiple cellphones begin ringing from among the Nativity Scene’s pieces. In a symphony of robotic sound, Annie is bombarded with the messages: Jesus is calling. Nature is calling. This sends Annie into a frenzy, and she tracks down the Sex Offender/Messenger Boy. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know much. Annie pushes him down and calls Crime Stoppers to get her crew back to the scene.
Brady, Peter, and Virginia meet Annie to search the area for prints and other evidence that may help them find their missing teen. They don’t find anything conclusive, other than the confirmation that Jesse’s abduction is religiously motivated, a fact that carries Annie all the way to the local church for a chat with the priest. Annie is visibly uncomfortable with blind faith and religion, a fact that the priest makes mention of. Annie has been brazen since her teens.
Annie and Virginia decide it’s time to dive deeper into the mystery, and meet up with Jesse’s mom, Maggie (Victoria Sanchez). Maggie reveals that a few days prior to Jesse’s disappearance, he had a cross-shaped burn on the palm of his hand. Annie probes for more information, and an offended Maggie makes a jab at the feisty detective – noting that Eddie has been to the “wrong” side of town a little too frequently. Pain will make good men go bad.
Back at the station, Annie and Peter review the evidence. As she scans the photos of the Nativity Scene, another memory is pushed to the surface. The way she would hide notes in the woods for the father that had long since died, and the way her notes would always be met with a reply. Peter can sense her uneasiness and breaks her out of the flashbacks.
The town has convened to execute a search party for Jesse. It is there that Annie meets back up with Maggie to apologize for pushing too hard. Both women have softened since the sun went down, and Maggie admits that she did very little to question Jesse for fear of making his life harder. The night Jesse disappeared, he asked his mother how she felt about his changing gender identity. There is an immense feeling of guilt behind Maggie’s eyes and she admits that she’d stop drinking if Jesse came back. Annie promises that she will bring him home to her.
Daisy comes to find her mom and leads her back to Eddie as he chats up another local. He says he’s going to stay behind, and a jealous Annie takes Daisy – loudly announcing that Eddie has a crush on his conversation partner. In the car, Annie expresses concerns over Daisy’s fixation with Sandy Driver. Daisy defends her school project, stating that it’s a part of her life too, one that Annie was trying to protect her from.
Their conversation is cut short by dispatch announcing that Mr. Driver is out and off of his meds, again. This leads Annie and Daisy to take a detour back to the Nativity Scene’s storage area. Annie leaves Daisy in the car while she investigates, looking for the loose local. Annie gains some additional insight on the crime and makes a call to Peter. While she’s distracted by the Jesse case, and the re-emergence of her ceramic clown – Daisy is haunted by someone outside the car. They smear writing on the back window, scaring Daisy to the point of urination. Daisy pounds on the car horn, but by the time Annie gets outside, the man is gone.
Daisy demands they leave, her pants stained with evidence of her fear. Annie is clearly shaken, it’s not just Jesse who is being targeted this time around. They drive until they’re at a safe distance, and Annie pulls over to hug Daisy. The gesture is not reciprocated. Daisy asks Annie to drop her off at Eddie’s for the night, scared and mad at her own mother’s recklessness. Annie obliges, the ever-expanding space between them filling up with Annie’s lies, her past, and an uncertain future.