Surface (Season 1), Episodes 1, 2, 3: Recap & Ending Explained

Surface_Season_1_Episodes_1_2_3 Recap (1)

Surface (Season 1), Episodes 1, 2, 3 Recap & Ending Explained: ‘Surface’ is a new thriller series created by Veronica West that just started streaming on Apple TV+. Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the lead role of Sophie, it presents an intriguing tale of a woman who suffered a traumatic head injury that left her with serious memory loss issues. Through the episodes, we see her trying to find pieces from her past and make sense of the reality around her. The first season also stars Oliver Jackson-Cohen as her husband James and Ari Graynor as her close friend, Caroline. We also meet Baden (played by Stephan James) as an undercover cop who tries to help her with her journey.

Surface (Season 1), Episodes 1, 2, 3 Recap: 

At the beginning of the first episode titled ‘Ictus’, we see Sophie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) waking up from a nightmare, where she experiences herself drowning. Whether it represents a piece of her memory or her mental state is not clear. She goes on with her routine like a regular day in her life. During the breakfast with James (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), we get to know that she is resuming her duties from the hospital where she works. We see her trying to log in on her iPad but not being sure about her password. During her commute, we encounter her phobia related to the ocean when she tries to persuade her driver to not take her by an over-sea bridge. She seems not to have recovered from the trauma of the incident.

She does not remember what happened to her and is trying to find the missing pieces from her memory. She is told that the memory loss is due to her suicide attempt which resulted in a severe head injury. Later, while speaking with her therapist – Hannah (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), she mentions her terrible dream. Her therapist tells her that most of her memories won’t be recovered but suggests using a therapy method of neurofeedback for the recovery. Afterward, while having drinks with Caroline (Ari Graynor) and a few other friends, she feels dissociated due to the same issues. She can’t understand how these can be her friends. During their conversation, Caroline mentions a guy from the bar who kept looking at her. Sophie sees him (Baden) but can’t recognize him.

At home, Sophie tries on a black dress while getting prepared for the dinner she is going to with James. He seems displeased with her choice and persuades her to try rather another one. Later, when she arrives outside the venue, she meets Baden who informs her that the story she is being told is not the complete truth. Afterward, when she goes inside with James, she has an awkward interaction with the host, given her memory loss. When she goes into the ladies’ room out of embarrassment, she takes out a piece of paper from her purse, with location details of a bar or a restaurant that she can’t remember much about.

Later, at the hospital, she tries to go over the hospital details of her accident. She finds out that she was admitted not just 5 months before, but also 18 months before – probably due to a case of domestic violence. She tries to get more information from James and Caroline about the past, but they do not tell her much beyond what she already knows. Meanwhile, she decides to head to the place written on the aforementioned piece of paper. Over there, she meets Baden who again tells her to let him help her. Sometime later, at home, while she reads her suicide note, she asks James where he was when she was being rescued. He mentions being in Portland for a business trip at the time of the incident and regrets not being with her then.

At later night, she tries to log in again and adds the details of the bar she visited as the password. It works and she finds a tape where she sees herself in a room along with Baden. She gets baffled by their sexual encounter. The next morning, she goes running to the place where they met the previous night. She meets him again, and after their interaction, she keeps running to the shore where she encounters a person she remembers from her fleeting memory. She speaks with this female officer who tells the things said by her after being rescued. She mentions how Sophie kept telling how she was pushed by a man. And while her ID mentioned her name, she kept insisting her name was Jess. The first episode ends on this intriguing note where it becomes more and more difficult for Sophie to trust anyone around her.

The second episode titled ‘Muscle Memory’ show Sophie questioning the image of perfect reality being shared with her. Since James mentioned his trip to Portland, she tries to verify it on his travel records from his firm. She speaks with his assistant who mentions that there is no record of such a visit made by him. Later, when she tries to check his bank account history, she realizes that she does not have access to these accounts. When she asks James about it later in the evening, he mentions this to be due to the conservatorship he has filed as a result of her health condition.

Surface Season 1 Episodes 1 2 3

At the suggestion of her therapist for a getaway, she goes on a weekend trip with Caroline. During their conversation, a topic involving horses comes into the conversation, and her comfort with animals. It flashes a memory in her mind, where a woman called out to her as Tess. When they go back home later, she asks Caroline about her past and her marriage to James. While Caroline mentions some discomfort faced by her in the past, she does not disclose any particular details with her. While trying to find the truth about James, she checks the photos from the convention that James claimed to have attended. However, she doesn’t find him in those photos which increases her suspicion of he hiding something from her. It makes her certain that James was not in Portland as he claimed to her. She rushes out to meet Caroline but overhears her having a phone conversation with James. She mentions how Sophie is getting suspicious and how difficult it is getting for her to lie. Since Sophie can’t believe either Caroline or James now, she reaches out to Baden and asks for his help.

The third episode titled ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’ starts with Sophie and Baden continuing their conversation at his apartment. He mentions why he is pursuing this case and informs her about the evidence he has about the falsehood of James’ alibi. He tells her to contact him through her burner phone, which Sophie has no recollection of. She learns about it at that very moment. Later, when she goes home and finds this phone, she goes through the texts with Baden and realizes their romantic affair before the incident. To get to know more about him, she heads to the police station and asks for Baden and learns from the officer that no one by that name works there.

Later, when they meet, he (Baden) mentions how his being undercover is the reason for him not being on the records as the police on the incident. He also informs her that he is taking up this case out of love for her and because of being certain of James’ involvement in trying to kill her. They speak about how they first met and he mentions how her dissatisfaction in her life out of being a trophy wife for James led to her affinity with him. At the office, James gets to know about an investigation happening at the firm related to a financial issue. He gets anxious and tries to postpone his meeting with the committee.

Sometime later, Caroline arrives at Sophie’s home and tries to speak with her since she was ignoring her calls. She tells her about her affair with James and the guilt of thinking that this is what led her to a suicide attempt. Since she had lost those memories, James thought that it could be a fresh start for him and Sophie which is why he told Caroline to keep lying to her. During their conversation, she mentions the tumultuous past Sophie had with James and how their marriage wasn’t in perfect condition. She also informs her about the argument both were having on the boat, which puts James, unlike his alibi, at the scene of the crime.

Surface (Season 1), Episode 3 Ending Explained: 

Later at night, Sophie goes out to a private club with James where he was meeting with his colleagues. She chats around with them like it’s a usual affair and that’s when she receives a call from Baden. She informs him that she can’t speak with him at that time due to an obligation, but he pops up in that club sometime soon. James catches them speaking with one another but does not show a sign that he remembers Baden. That leaves their relationship being the reason for his murder attempt out of the equation for Sophie.

While speaking with one of his colleagues, she gets to know about a huge amount of money that has gone missing from the investment firm James works for and how the investigation for embezzlement has left James quite tense. She considers this to be a probable motive for him to kill her since she knew about it. Afterward, Sophie meets Baden somewhere outside and mentions the same to him. Due to the feeling that she can only trust him now, she kisses him, which seems like a sign that she wishes to continue her investigation with him.

Through these first three episodes, ‘Surface’ builds a strong foundation for its suspenseful narrative while not losing sight of the purpose behind it. The controlling nature of James is revealed through many of his interactions, and the end especially seems to hint at his involvement in her murder attempt being due to financial issues. The way the show’s writing tackles the discovery of truth from Sophie’s eyes makes the unraveling just as intriguing as it would be for her. This personal approach becomes successful in keeping you hooked to the screen. And the highly evocative performance by Gugu Mbatha-Raw becomes a strong reason to watch the narrative unfold further.

Surface (Season 1) Trailer

Where to watch Surface
Akash Deshpande

Obsessed, fascinated, and always nerding out about cinema! You can find me in the corner of a room ruminating over the last TV series I watched.