Stan’s new murder mystery Hightown manages to throw the audience off-kilter right from its opening moments.
The series kicks off with images of tourists and families frolicking happily along the picturesque beaches of Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, the tone then shifts when images depicting drug use and arrests begin to appear against the backdrop of the famous holiday spot. Indicating that Hightown’s story is more interested in grit than gloss.
Hightown is the latest offering from Jerry Bruckheimer, the Executive Producer and creative mastermind behind everything from Flashdance, Top Gun, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
The series is hooked on Jackie Quiñones (Chicago Fire star Monica Raymund), a local National Marine Fisheries service agent who spends her nights getting high and trawling the local hotspots for female tourists to hook up with, using her badge as an extra flirtation device to get invited back to the ladies’ various hotel rooms.
It’s after sneaking out of one of these hookups that Jackie stumbles across the body of a young woman who has been shot through the head and abandoned on one of Cape Cod’s most popular tourist beaches.
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It turns out that the body belongs to Sherry Henry, a fentanyl addict who’s been serving as a secret informant for state police detective Ray Abruzzo (James Badge Dale), who initially dismisses the information Jackie attempts to pass onto him about the body.
As a result of this trauma, Jackie spirals to the point that she’s involved in a car accident and lands herself in a rehab facility which, unbeknownst to her at the time, links her to people involved in Sherry’s murder. A discovery that prompts her to begin her own slightly off-the-books investigation into the murder, which propels her deep into the world of Cape Cod’s sprawling opioid epidemic.
One of the highs of Hightown is watching Jackie’s redemption slowly unfold on-screen. While she spends the majority of the first episode getting blackout drunk and hitting up bars for drugs, the discovery of Sherry’s body provides the catalyst for her life to shift.
It’s an interesting story arc to watch her work on her own sobriety for the first time while also delving into the town’s mess of murder, cover-ups and drug rings.