Episodes 1 & 2 of “Sugar,” created by Mark Protosevich (Thor, I Am Legend) and directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God), star Colin Farrell as the titular character. The eight-episode series, set in Los Angeles, follows private detective John Sugar as he investigates the disappearance of Olivia Siegel, the granddaughter of Hollywood royalty Jonathan Siegel.

The premier episodes set the stage for Sugar’s unraveling of the mystery surrounding Olivia’s vanishing, gradually drawing us into Sugar’s personality and work ethic. He is extremely kind, witty, professional, has multilingual skills and can foresee things well in advance. Sugar is also empathetic, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. In other words, he is a true gentleman – a rare species in the modern world.

The show, on the other hand, is handsomely directed. The unique use of the camera offers glimpses of the golden era of noir cinema, and Farrell’s central performance keeps the viewers thoroughly engaged. His riveting portrayal constantly piques our interest in his character amidst the importance of the disappearance case.

Initially paying homage to noir cinema, with our protagonist being a cinephile, the series hints towards a possible genre-bending twist as it treats us to remarkable visuals, occasionally immersing us in a black-and-white backdrop. Farrell’s portrayal of Sugar is convincing and personal, particularly through his background narration, which reflects his identity as one of the “good guys” who prefers not to harm others. However, he also grapples with being a victim of the human condition in a vast, lonely world.

In this article, I dissect the first two episodes of “Sugar,” breaking down everything that takes place. Please be aware that the article contains spoilers, so reader discretion is advised.

Sugar Episode 1 “Olivia” Recap:

The premiere episode of Apple TV+’s “Sugar” introduces us to LA-based private investigator John Sugar, who is called back to his town when he receives a message from famous Hollywood producer Jonathan Siegel (James Cromwell). When he receives the message, he is ecstatic because deep down, he is a true-blue movie lover who has just completed his task of finding the missing son of a Yakuza clan in Tokyo, Japan.

John Sugar is a man of many tongues, as we see him speaking fluent Japanese, Arabic, and Spanish throughout the first two episodes. He is a perfect gentleman who puts people first and himself later. This is evident from his inability to bring his focus to a major health setback, as we see his hands twitching every now and then.

Anyway, Sugar lands in the Hollywood city – Los Angeles – and goes straight to his handler, Ruby (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), who is quick to confront him about going to the client directly instead of going through her. Ruby is not eager to allow Sugar to take up this case, especially after he has just completed a major operation and is not paying attention to his health. She tells him to visit Dr. Vickers, but Sugar turns her decision around by saying that the case, which is about the disappearance of Jonathan Siegel’s granddaughter, Olivia (Sydney Chandler), feels important because she reminds him of his sister, Djen.

Even though Ruby is not completely taken by that idea, since Olivia was a recurring drug addict and there is Hollywood royalty involved with the case, she succumbs to his wishes but only allows him to proceed if he carries a gun with him. This is where we get to know that Sugar is strictly a no-violence man, but he decides to keep the gun when Ruby convinces him that it is the same one that the late actor Glenn Ford – a person Sugar is deeply fond of – used in his movies.

Next, we see him taking out his vintage Cadillac and driving it through the Californian sun straight to Olivia’s apartment complex. While he is trying to get a sense of the girl by looking through her apartment, David “Davy” Siegel (Nate Corddry) – Olivia’s half-brother – shows up with his hired gun and tries to intimidate Sugar. Their initial exchange makes Sugar feel like David is not telling him the truth about what he knows of Olivia. Going through Olivia’s stuff, Sugar comes down to his next person of interest – Melanie Matthews (Amy Ryan) – and decides to visit her at a bar.

Unrelated to the central plot, for now, we also see Sugar offering a helping hand to a homeless person named Carl and his dog, Willey. This whole sequence with Carl shows a truly sensitive and kind side of Sugar that further establishes his character in a steady light.

We then see Sugar hanging out with Melanie as the two of them get completely sloshed. Sugar claims that he doesn’t get drunk because of his high metabolism and later takes Melanie back to her place, tucking her in like the fine gentleman that he is despite Melanie’s advances. He doesn’t talk to her about Olivia straightaway and instead leaves for a better chance. However, we also understand that Sugar is all alone in this world as he finds it difficult to gel with others. This is the reason why he prefers to stay in temporary housing and not a place that he could call home.

When he returns to Olivia’s parking lot after blowing off Kenny (David’s hired gun), he discovers a dead body in Olivia’s car trunk and uses his gadgets to identify it. Then he returns to his lonely world at the Hotel Del Corazon and meticulously plants surveillance cameras all around the place before receiving an invitation card for a party, possibly for all his other co-workers.

Then he investigates Rachel Kaye Pariah – Olivia’s biological mother, a yesteryear’s actress who died in a car accident. In his investigation, Sugar stumbles upon similarities between Rachel and one of Olivia’s recent social media posts before he finds Rachel’s compromising polaroids in Olivia’s belongings. This shocking discovery sends a shiver down Sugar’s body, and for a moment, he blacks out.

The ending of Sugar Episode 1 finds him lying down after injecting himself with some kind of medicine.

Sugar Episode 2 “These People, These Place” Recap:

Sugar Episodes 1 & 2: Recap & Ending Explained
A still from Sugar Episode 2 starring Colin Farrell as John Sugar.

Episode 2 of Sugar opens with our introduction to Bernie Siegel (Dennis Boutsikaris) – Olivia’s father and Rachel’s ex-husband. Talking to him makes us realize that he is aware of Sugar being followed because he knew the meet-up he had with Melanie, who was also Bernie’s other ex-wife. Bernie tries to outsmart Sugar, who later puts him in his place and asks him about the Polaroids. Bernie, for some reason, gets mad at Sugar for being outright judgmental about him being involved with his daughter’s disappearance because he doesn’t seem to care all that much.

Later, when Sugar goes back to his room, he finds that Davy and Kenny, on Bernie’s order, tried to find dirt on him. They trespassed into his room and planted a hearing device that Sugar swiftly disables. Next, he talks to a few of Olivia’s acquaintances, including her drug dealer, to discover that she had been clean for over a year.

Why is Bernie worried about a possible scandal?

We briefly see Bernie and his new wife, Mrs. Siegel (Elizabeth Anweis), discussing a scandal that Davy has been affected by. They discuss how paying off seven out of eight women who came up with an accusation is not enough, and if the news comes out, they will have to shelve the upcoming project that Bernie has put his own money into.

Who is Carmen Vasquez?

Sugar meets Jonathan Siegel to inform him about the updates on Olivia’s disappearance where the name Carmen Vasquez comes up. Sugar tells him that on tracking Olivia’s car GPS, he found out that she had made multiple visits to Carmen’s place before Ms. Vasquez was raped and murdered. So, Sugar comes to the conclusion that Olivia’s disappearance and Carmen’s death might be connected because the body that he found in Olivia’s trunk was that of Carmen’s killer – Clifford Carter.

Jonathan, who now knows that there is a homicide that can connect to Olivia and his family’s name, requests Sugar to not report the body. On the other hand, things start getting broader for him to narrow down, which is why he decides to go back to Melanie and question her for real this time.

He attends an AA meeting where Melanie comes clean about her alcohol addiction and her loneliness, which feels close to home for Sugar as well. However, back at her place, she is not very helpful with his questions. Talking to her makes him believe that somehow Bernie’s influence has restricted her from opening up about Olivia’s sudden shift towards women’s rights issues.

I am going to take a wild guess here and assume that Olivia is directly or indirectly involved in trying to uncover a human trafficking ring that’s operating possibly under the guise of Hollywood’s money-churning machine. Before leaving, he tries to probe Melanie into disclosing something she knows about Olivia, especially after he shows her Carter’s picture, but Melanie seems to be lying through her teeth before asking him to go away.

Once again, Sugar is being tailed by a mysterious car, only this time, they are keeping a safe distance from him. As he is driving through, he finds Wiley – the dog that was with Carl, the homeless man in the previous episode – abandoned. He gives him a lift as Wiley leads Sugar to a motel room where he finds Carl dead after overdosing.

Sugar had given him some money with a promise that he would call his sister and apologise; however, he didn’t. This makes Sugar sad, who breaks character for the first time and gets violent on discovering the dealer that led to Carl’s death. Later, he takes Wiley with him.

Sugar Episode 2 “These People, These Place” Ending Explained:

What happened to Carter’s body?

Next, Sugar drives back to Olivia’s parking lot and discovers that Carter’s body is gone and someone has done a really fine job with the disposal. At this point, only two people could have done that: a) Jonathan Siegel, who might have gotten his men to get rid of the body before Sugar’s conscience makes him report it, or b) Ruby, who knows that Sugar has a tendency of getting too involved with his cases, leading him to possible trouble. I am assuming that Sugar will soon find out who is responsible because he finds a trace of hair.

The ending of Sugar episode 2 takes place in Teressa’s (Carmen’s sister) apartment. A group of criminals are squatting in her living room and want to know what happened to Clifford Carter. The main guy gives out a typical ‘bad guy’ vibe and is the first truly generic character of the show thus far. He questions Teressa if she knew about Carter’s whereabouts since he has been missing for over two weeks. He also shows her a picture of Melanie, asking if she knows her.

The episode ends on this note, leaving us with the realisation that Melanie knew Carmen. In my opinion, Melanie was helping Carmen to come out of her involvement with Carter. Carter must have been an abuser who, with his connection to the guy mentioned above, was involved in human trafficking. Both Melanie and Olivia would have teamed up to save Carmen, but when they were not able to, Olivia would have gone into hiding.

At this point, the show has many open ends and can go anywhere. Let’s hope episode 3 of Sugar provides useful clues to help us figure out the bigger mysteries.

Read More: Sugar (2024) Series Review: Colin Farrell is a film-noir nerd in Apple TV+’s mysterious and deceptive detective story

Trailer:

Sugar Episodes 1 & 2 Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia
Sugar Episodes 1 & 2 Cast: Colin Farrell, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Amy Ryan, Dennis Boutsikaris, Alex Hernandez, Lindsay Pulsipher
Sugar Episodes 1 & 2 Genre: Drama, Mystery | Runtime: 8 Episodes
Where to watch Sugar

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