Two and a half episodes of exposition lead to a fantastic scene
For better or for worse, the first three episodes of Daisy Jones and the six (which debuted today on Prime Video) are all about getting everyone in the right place at the right time, with the right mindset.
Before Daisy Jones (played by Riley Keough) met the Six, she was a free-spirited groupie turned aspiring songwriter in Los Angeles, when they were a brother-led band from suburban Pittsburgh. . Based on the book of the same name, Daisy Jones and the Six will ultimately tell the story of the group’s greatest performance – and how they all went their separate ways right after.
But before that happens, before Daisy and the Six inevitably collide, creators Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber attempt to build who they are and what they want, just like the book did. But while the structure of the book could be used for quicker and generally more interesting exposition, the series feels overwhelmed trying to retain the book format. That is, until the final moments of the third episode, which finally hint at just how compelling the series could become.
(Ed. note: This post contains some spoilers for the first three episodes of Daisy Jones and the sixand some book spoilers.)
Photo: Lacey Terrell/Prime Video
Daisy Jones and the six – the book, not the show – is structured like an oral history, with different characters recounting the same experience from their own perspective to the author of the fiction. It’s a key element of the story that comes to a head in the climax, bringing the author into the fold and revealing a crucial twist. The show attempts to replicate that by turning it into a talking heads style documentary. But having characters sum up what a flashback just showed onscreen is less compelling than piecing together what happened from their slightly different accounts. Talking heads aren’t used as effectively as they could be, as they mostly announce what’s about to happen or summarize what just happened, instead of adding more depth to the characters by the way they say so.
And because these first three episodes are so much about establishing everything, it turns into a lot of emphasis on the same things, without too much fun. It’s almost a drag – until the end of the third episode, when Daisy Jones and the Six finally meet in a fiery recording session. Producer Teddy Price (Tom Wright) enlists Daisy to help polish a song frontman Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin) has written. Billy resists the changes proposed by Teddy and Daisy, as it is a very personal song for him. Daisy, on the other hand, is mostly there for the ride. They clash, but ultimately try their luck. At this point, Billy is particularly surly, insisting that they revert to his version afterwards. When Daisy tries to talk to him, he pushes her away, but she just says she wanted to tell him she likes his voice.
Photo: Lacey Terrell/Prime Video
And then Teddy lies that Billy’s mic isn’t working, forcing Billy and Daisy to share a microphone and record. It is clear that there is something happens there – an unspoken attraction because Daisy wants to be taken seriously and Billy tries to turn his life around for his wife and newborn daughter; a respect for the other’s musical skills but a reluctance to admit it; and from the majority of episodes we’ve seen so far, two totally different paths and musical ambitions. There’s a lot left unsaid, and it all goes into the resulting performance, which is nothing short of electric. Hopefully that indicates where the show goes from here.
After all, the story of Daisy Jones and the six can’t do much when these two aren’t together. But Keough and Claflin have fantastic on-screen chemistry, which these two characters absolutely need to make the story as dynamic as the book. And the fact that the music, with its rock duets reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, is as stellar as it promises good things for the future. After all, this is a show about a band’s most iconic album; if he fails to deliver the music, he can only go so far. The awkward exposition of these three episodes could almost be worth it, provided the rest of the series lives up to it.
The first three episodes of Daisy Jones and the six are available on Prime Video now, with new episodes dropping on Fridays.