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The Cry: the big questions we have after watching episode one

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Kayleigh Dray
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The Cry

Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode one of The Cry

The Cry, starring Victoria’s Jenna Coleman and Top Of The Lake’s Ewan Leslie, premiered on Sunday 23 September at 9pm. As expected, though, the first episode – which dealt with the disappearance of Alister (Leslie) and Joanna (Coleman)’s baby son, Noah – left us with a lot of questions. 

Here, Stylist’s digital editor Kayleigh Dray does her best to unravel them all.

Why were Alexandra’s fingers caked with dirt?

As viewers fought to build up a picture of the events that led to baby Noah’s disappearance, Alister’s ex-wife, Alexandra (Asher Keddie) was seen rushing into a fast-food establishment.

Dishevelled and out of breath, Alex – who had been shown tossing a shovel into the boot of her car earlier in the episode – asked the staff if she could use their toilet. It was at this point that the camera zoomed in on her hands, which were caked in mud and dirt. And, when she heard that police had closed off the road ahead, she simply leaned backwards and looked out of the window: there was no surprise on her face whatsoever.

Could it be that Alex, desperate to keep her daughter Chloe (Markella Kavenagh) with her in Australia, has done something terrible to Noah, in a bid to pin the blame on her ex-husband and sully his reputation? Has she stolen Joanna’s son, so that she can show the new mother how it really feels to lose a child (“Can you imagine having your child taken away from you?” she asked her previously)? 

Or, y’know, is this all a massive red herring? After all, Alex may have been painted as the embittered ex-wife thus far, but we don’t really know all that much about her just yet. She could just as likely be a keen gardener as she is a cold-hearted kidnapper / murderer.

“There’s a lot of fear in Alexandra and I hope that I have made the progression from really palpable fear on her part through to great strength,” Keddie told Stylist when we asked after her character earlier this week. 

“There’s a redemption for her as a woman and as a mother later in the show.”

Is Alexandra covering for Chloe?

Early in the episode, it is revealed that Chloe has been physically abusing her teachers at school. Plus, there’s the fact that the teenager has sworn that she will not allow her father to take her back with him to Glasgow – no matter what the courts rule. Could it be that she was involved in Noah’s disappearance? And, if so, could her mother have been covering for her?

Can we really trust Alister?

Alister, in all honesty, doesn’t make a very good first impression in this episode of The Cry. In it, we learn that he brought Joanna to his family home, laid her down on the bed he shared with his wife and proceeded to seduce her – without once telling her that he was still married to another woman. We know that he left Joanna feeling tired, isolated and unsupported after Noah’s birth: after all, it is he who insists that she do all the night feeds, keep the house tidy and run errands for him. And we know that he, when his wife has spent the entire flight to Australia trying to settle their teething and disgruntled baby boy, made sure that he got a good night’s kip – yet still complained about jet lag upon landing. What a douchebag.

Is all of that enough to point the finger at him? Well, no. But we have more to consider – such as, for instance, the fact that Alister is PR to a politician facing a bubbling scandal, and is therefore skilled at controlling perceptions. Indeed, when he and Joanna are readying for a television interview about Noah’s disappearance, he is shown leaning towards her and asking: “do you think you might cry?” 

It could be concern, but it sounds like a suggestion – particularly when you consider the fact that he has already approved her choice of demure dress. When their baby goes missing, too, it is he who immediately leaps into action: as Joanna stands frozen, clearly in shock, he rushes about grabbing at strangers and asking them if they “have seen a person with a baby”. His immediate assumption is that their baby has been taken. Why?

Speaking about his character previously, Leslie said that Alister is “someone who likes to be in control” and slowly starts to unravel throughout the series.

“He is a tricky character,” the Top of the Lake actor continued. “I imagine he will be a tricky character for the audience.

“He’s a tricky character to play because he’s not very sympathetic.”

Hmm.

What has Joanna been accused of?

We know that Joanna was struggling to cope following the birth of her son, and that she felt the need to hide this from friends, family and strangers alike, lest she be judged inadequate. We know, too, that she was behaving oddly after landing in Australia: she is shown staring blankly out of the car window in one scene and, when she is asked how her flight was by the owner of their holiday rental, she crushes Noah’s body towards her and rushes outside to vomit over the balcony.

Similarly, when the couple park up outside the convenience store where Noah disappears, she waits for a few moments before following her husband inside… leaving Noah alone in the car. When Alister questions her as to why she has done so, she responds woodenly that she has “forgotten something” – almost as if she is reading from a script. Could it be that something happened in those few moments that we didn’t see? 

Very possibly. Thanks to the flickering timeline, it quickly becomes apparent that Joanna is a person of interest in a court case. She spends time with a psychiatrist, who attempts to ascertain her state of mind (the ruling: that Joanna has suffered significant trauma, but is of sound mind) – and takes to the stand to be questioned. However, it is worth noting that she chooses to do so whilst wearing a vampy red dress… one which we know her husband would never have approved of. Is this an allusion to the “two Joannas” she speaks of during her therapy session?

Speaking about her character to The Mirror, Coleman has said: “‘When we meet her she’s dealing with post-natal depression. What’s interesting is that she doesn’t behave in the way that someone whose child has gone missing should.

“You would expect outpourings of emotion, but that doesn’t happen.

“And once a newspaper puts a lens on that it’s, ‘Why is she not grieving? Is she in shock or is she a liar?’ I guess the question is, ‘How would you expect someone in that position to behave?’ There’s constant double-bluffing going on.”

And what does the title of the show really refer to?

Is it Noah’s incessant crying, which has been steadily driving his mother to the brink of despair? Is it Joanna’s feeble cry of help when she learns that her son has disappeared? Is it the tears which Alistair insists his wife shed for the police press conference? Or is it, as some viewers have suggested, an allusion to The Boy Who Cried Wolf?

We guess we will have to wait until the second episode to find out the truth.

The next episode of The Cry will air Sunday 7 October, 9pm on BBC One. You can watch the first episode here.

Image: BBC One

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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