Surely you didn’t expect a show titled Rabbit Hole to lay all of its cards on the table.
Deception piles on deception in a conspiracy thriller for Paramount+ from Glenn Ficcara and John Requa (Bad Santa) that manages to find occasional humor in its dense patchwork of illusion. (Had to laugh when a character — can’t say who — confides, “Dying a fake death is a special kind of hell.”)
Making a welcome return to save-the-world TV, 24’s Kiefer Sutherland broods anti-heroically as John Weir, a corporate dirty-tricks specialist (“Forgive me my lack of shame”), haunted by childhood trauma, who falls into an elaborate trap that renders him an instant fugitive. In a twist reminiscent of the 1970s’ classic Three Days of the Condor (or for those with longer memory, Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps), Weir drags a recent though intimate acquaintance, Hailey Winton (the terrific Meta Golding), into his web. As befits the genre, she may be seemingly innocent but she’s hardly a helpless bystander.
The series opens in a confessional booth, as lost soul Weir spills that, “I literally can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not.” In too-typical TV fashion, we rewind three weeks to learn the source of his existential confusion. But first, he shows just how good he is at his job, pulling off an impressive scam that fools his mark into believing what’s he’s seeing, prompting a cocky brag: “I like making rich a–holes pay me to make other rich a–holes lose money.”
Weir could never be confused for an altruistic Robin Hood, and his reluctant companion is no demure Maid Marian. Together, they’ll battle so many layers of disinformation and obfuscation that you may not know whether to take the exposition seriously when the real threat is revealed, a MacGuffin having to do with a power-mad nemesis plotting a new world order. Where Rabbit Hole mostly excels is in pulling the rug out from under the viewer, who like Weir’s patsies should never believe what they’re told or what they may think they’ve seen.
The deeper they dig this Rabbit Hole, the more we trust Sutherland’s inner Jack Bauer will emerge. If that’s really even him.
Rabbit Hole, Series Premiere (two episodes), Sunday, March 26, Paramount+