The pilot begins both darkly and dramatically – a concert violinist is playing in an orchestra when his fingers start bleeding. He grits his teeth and keeps playing as the cuts spread to all his fingers, continuing to play until the very end. When the performance has finished he hurries home and packs hurriedly, gathering his things and his passport into a suitcase – and smashing his violin under foot. He hurries down stairs with his bad to leave, but all the doors and the lift close, apparently on their own. And, in the silence, a phone rings. He answers the phone and there’s a man on the other end who tells him it’s time to pay his debts. He talks about a violinist with no talent who gave up everything to be the best – not anything, everything. He’s had 10 years and now his debt is due. He manages to ram down the doors and escape the building – but a single panel on the wood panelled door opens and sucks him back in. The camera pans to the house number – 999 Park Avenue, but as the light moves, the shadows spell out 666 Park Avenue
Ok, nice Faustian bargain set up. I’m impressed at how much it rammed into just that opening sequence.
Move to the day and Jane Van Veen and Henry Martin arriving to see Mr. Doran. They’re being interviewed for the role of Resident Manager of the apartment building. He’s not particularly impressed with their lack of experience and thanks them for their time, as they leave, Jane pulls out her architectural and historic preservation degrees and pulls a wow that makes Mr. Doran reconsider.
They’re given a tour of the building – 12 floors with the Dorans on the 13th, 203 apartments, 388 residents and a brief meeting some people around – Brian a writer (who lives with his wife, Louise, a photographer, who doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of respect for his writing as a job) and Tony one of the apartment workers. And they see their apartment – which is huge and stunning. The previous manager left to “go somewhere warmer” (Arizona, honest).
Everything is their dream except Jane does see a resident, John Barlow, with a blood stained hand that bothers her. He claims he cut it, but when we see him in his room, scrubbing the hand clean, his hand is unblemished. He goes to dry his clean hand – and it’s covered in blood again, he begs someone unknown for forgiveness.
The Dorans – Gavin and Olivia Doran are ominously plotting about the new residents – about using her to get to him. The next day Jane starts her job as building manager, getting maintenance reports, talking to Gavin Doran about the state of the building – and being invited to a cocktail party and symphony by Olivia Doran (though she and Henry have some brief consternation about how they’re going to pay for a dress – they’re apparently very short on money). During her tour of the building Jane meets Nona, another resident who warns her there’s a thief in the building.
In the laundry in the basement there are several posters listing stolen items – charm bracelets, wallets etc. While there, when she’s all alone, the lights start flickering ominously. She grabs a dusty ladder to try and fix one and during the intermittent darkness a woman, a ghostly woman in white flickers towards her, closer every time the light comes on without moving in between – and disappears when the Jane fixes the light. But from the ladder she does see the dragon mosaic on the floor which impresses her. She tells Henry about it along with her plans to do some research to show her worth to Gavin Doran, since he’s not involving her in the major renovation she fears he may not have confidence in her so is determined to prove herself.
Back to John Barlow with the Lady MacBeth hands, he is reading a paper about a murdered judge. His phone rings and he tells the man on the other end – who sounds like Gavin Doran – about the murder being in all the papers and that they made a deal – John keeps his end and he gets his wife back. He’s told to check the bedroom and there she is, Mary Barlow, apparently alive and well.
Moving back to Ben and Louise and sex that doesn’t quite hit the spot for her since she’s very distracted (they could try wearing less clothes). Her assistant has just quit on her just before a major photo-shoot for Vogue. She rushes around in a panic while Ben follows her being reassuring and promising to help however he can. They have a sweet moment where she admits she knows she’s a little difficult at times and they’re all fluffy. Ben goes back to his computer to write – so far he’s managed a title and “act one” and look over his computer to play peeping Tom looking at the woman opposite. Louise does find an assistant – Alexis, the woman Brian has been peeping at.
Gavin Doran ingratiates himself with Henry during golf swing practice (and almost gets him in a difficult conflict of interest with who he meets who is connected to a legal battle he is fighting as an employee of the mayor’s office) and Olivia drops in on Jane to take her dress shopping and refers to her dead daughter during conversation during trying on dresses and she’s horrified and almost amused by the $4,000 price tag on the dress – but Olivia tries to buy it for her, but Jane can’t accept and may have offended Olivia. And maybe they’re both extremely creeped out by the older couple who wants to give them shiny presents and take them out to parties all the time, y’know because I’d be sorta waiting for them to gently shoe-horn “swingers” into the conversation about now.