A Murder at the End of the World Is a Smart, Stylish Cozy Mystery

A Murder at the End of the World is a tricky title. It might refer to a murder in a remote location or a murder amid the literal End Times. In the case of FX’s smart, stylish new drama, premiering Nov. 14 on Hulu, it’s a true double entendre. The plot works on multiple levels, too. Set up as a classic cozy mystery, the detective story grounds an investigation of technology and enterprise in the age of climate apocalypse. Are the world’s wealthiest innovators saving humanity or hastening our demise?

This combination of thematic ambition and narrative complexity will be familiar to fans of creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s previous TV project, Netflix’s spiritual sci-fi puzzle box The OA. Murder is a more grounded show, trading heady speculation for terrifying reality.

So-called “Gen Z Sherlock Holmes” Darby Hart (Emma Corrin, The Crown’s young Diana) has published a true-crime memoir chronicling how she and her then-boyfriend Bill (Harris Dickinson), as teenagers, hunted a serial killer. The book attracts the attention of tech billionaire Andy Ronson (Clive Owen) and his wife Lee (Marling), a pioneering hacker, who invite her to an exclusive retreat at their high-tech hotel in the snowiest reaches of Iceland. The topic is the world’s bleak future and the guests an intimidating group of artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and activists. When bodies start to drop, Darby hacks the hotel’s extensive surveillance tech to investigate.

Some episodes are too long, and the season sags in the middle. Like The OA, Murder could use a dash of humor to vary the somber tone. But these are small complaints when Marling and Batmanglij have so thoughtfully built an inquiry into the consequences of AI and surveillance capitalism within the framework of a whodunit, yielding a mystery both current and timeless.

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