The first episode of Dublin Murders, which premiered on Starz on November 10, ends with the kind of earth-shattering twist that guarantees you’ll be watching next Sunday’s episode. Detective Rob Reilly (Killian Scott) has a secret — and now we all know it.
Unbeknownest to everyone but his partner, Detective Cassie Maddox (Sarah Greene), Rob has a deep personal connection to the murder he’s investigating in Knocknaree, Ireland.
Dublin Murders switches between two timelines (and two color palettes). In a grim, gray 2006 Ireland, Rob and Cassie Maddox investigate the murder of Katy Devlin (Amy Macken), a 13-year-old girl found on an architectural ruin in the middle of the Knocknaree’s woods.
Peppered within this somber atmosphere are flashbacks to the ultimate summer for three kids in 1985 Knocknaree. Peter Savage (Niall Jordan), Jamie Rowan (Ellie O’Halloran), and Adam Reilly (Michael D’Arcy) are enjoying the bright green, free range, low supervision summer memorialized in shows like Stranger Things.
As with Stranger Things, the kids’ idyll is interrupted by tragedy. Peter and Jamie disappear in those woods. Only Adam is left alive. He’s found strapped to a tree without any memory of what happened to his friends.
The two tragedies of the Knocknaree woods are definitely connected — but not necessarily in the way conspiracy theorists and tabloid journalists, convinced of a cult, believe.
At the end of the episode, we learn that Rob Reilly is Adam. Yes, eyes widening with vast surprise is the correct reaction. After the incident in the woods, Adam went to boarding school in England (hence the accent) and began using his middle name, Rob.
So those flashbacks? They’re actually memories. Solving Katy’s murder may depend on Rob’s memories of that summer, which have — up to now — always failed him. More than a simple whodunnit, Dublin Murders becomes a show about trauma, the unreliability of memory, and self-destruction in pursuit of the truth.
While preparing for the role of a man tortured by his past, Scott turned to an unlikely source: Succession. As Succession stans remember, Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) is scarred by memories of his older brother, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), locking him in a dog cage. At a drug-fueled bachelor party in Succession’s first season, Kendall contradicts Roman’s understanding: He actually loved being locked in that cage.
Whether this is true or just a Roy family manipulation is unclear. Still, Scott saw parallels between the brothers’ interaction and Rob’s situation. “Romulus is left thinking: Wait, have I remembered this wrong? I’ve been carrying around this trauma, but it’s a memory that is false,” Scott said in an interview with Refinery29.
Just as Dublin Murders switches between the ‘80s and 2006, Rob travels back to his old self. So many years later, just how much can Adam say to him?