TV Review – “Reprisal” on Hulu

Hulu’s newest drama series, Reprisal, follows femme fatale Doris Quinn on her mission to exact revenge on her brother and his gang of gearheads who left her for dead. At least, that’s how the new series is billed. The season premiere however, left me a bit unsure of what exactly the focus will be.

The first episode of Reprisal opens with a slew of dead bodies, something you’re going to have to get used to seeing if you plan to watch this series by the way, and a woman approaching the three men who put them there. We quickly learn that the woman is the sister of one of the men and that he is not a good guy.

The brief opening sequence results in what we learned from the description of the series. The woman, whose name we learn is Katherine, is left for dead. We then jump ahead to “some years later,” where Katherine is alive and is now going by the name Doris Quinn. We know she’s looking for revenge on her brother’s gang, but in the meantime there are some other, somewhat overly complicated, plot points she has to deal with.

The bare bones of this story are not exactly groundbreaking, but something I would completely be on board for. Abigail Spencer is fantastic as Quinn and her mission of vengeance would be a lot of fun to watch. However, what we get in the premiere is her fighting to keep the restaurant that her dying husband is leaving her while his son gets his gangster friend to threaten her. It felt for a bit like someone left the wrong tape in the case of my Blockbuster rental (thank goodness for On Demand and streaming services, huh?).

While she seemingly dispatches of these complications to both her mission and the plot of the series, there’s still a whole lot more going on in this first episode. A very large portion of the nearly 60-minute runtime is dedicated to other characters who are not, at this time at least, directly impacting Doris’ plan.

We have met Katherine/Doris and sympathize with her. We are completely on her side. So why is a sizeable chunk of the premiere episode dedicated to introducing and humanizing one of the leaders on the gang we want to see her destroy? Am I going to have to root for her to kill this guy after we just met his adorable little daughter?

Even more puzzling is the side story in which we watch a new recruit (played by Mena Massoud of Disney’s Aladdin) for that same gang literally fight his way onto the crew. Of course, he is eventually connected to Doris in some way, but why should we be interested in the struggles of his gang handler who is frustrated for being passed over for some sort of gang promotion? That bit also includes an educational montage on the gang’s operations that feels like it was taken right from a Tarantino movie and feels very out of place.

I’m sure this will all come together in the end, but for now, it’s just overly complex. It almost feels as if the team behind the series didn’t trust the original story they came up with and decided to add multiple layers to it in an attempt to make it different.

With all of that being said though, there is a good story to be told here. Again, it’s not a groundbreaking one, but Spencer alone is compelling enough to draw you in. If this series were to take a much more basic approach to the core story and not complicate it with other plot points and additional characters, I feel it could be a lot of fun to watch.

The entire cast does a fantastic job, even if some of their characters feel out of place. I am particularly excited to see more from Massoud, though I hope he plays more of a role in the overall story and not just his struggle to become a trusted member of this gang.

With so much great new content constantly popping up across a seemingly never-ending array of services, Reprisal is right on the cusp of being worthy of your attention. With a great leading woman and interesting story, it has the potential to be one of the best new series out there, but it also has potential to be confusing and forgettable. Let’s hope for the former.

Reprisal will begin streaming on Friday, December 6 on Hulu.

Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."