Now and Then Review 2022 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
To grow up is to learn the painful truth that nothing will ever go completely according to the plan you set out for yourself. All your hopes and dreams fall away as, more often than not, they become entangled in the harsh realities of adulthood. You will either see them strangled into nothingness or become so compromised that you can hardly recognize yourself anymore when you look in the mirror. It is in this reflection that the intriguing if somewhat scattered Apple TV+ series Now & Then finds itself. Akin to the best parts of a show like Big Little Lies, the characters are vapid and cruel. Still, they’re trying to strive to be the best versions of themselves regardless of their past mistakes that they’ll eventually have to confront head-on.
Over the eight episodes of the first season shared with critics, we are taken into the lives of a group of college friends from Miami who are now facing an uncertain future and a past that won’t stay buried despite their best attempts to leave it all behind. For a while, it seems to have worked as they have built their own lives, careers, and families. They have almost managed to delude themselves into thinking that they’ve dodged a collective bullet that could have ruined everything. This fantasy all comes crashing down around them when, 20 years after the tragic death they had hoped everyone would just forget about, they all get the same text from an unknown number that will change everything and threaten all that they have built: “Tomorrow. Alumni meeting. Attend or I’ll tell the police what happened on graduation night.”
What exactly this is referring to or who is the person sending it is initially kept vague. The recurring use of found footage from an old camera shows a night of celebration the friends shared two decades prior. What seems playful and fun takes on a more ominous tone when intercut with the rather grim reactions of their adult counterparts. Many have tried to move on with their lives by becoming successful doctors or aspiring politicians while others have only just managed to scrape by. No matter their situation, it soon becomes clear that the fragile life of denial they have clung to could be shattered in an instant. It is in seeing how the fractured group comes to terms with this that Now & Then is at its best, proving to be a dynamic portrait of its deeply flawed characters and their hubris that continues to haunt them. It is fascinating to follow their desperate attempts to avoid accountability that are juxtaposed against an unwillingness to actually reckon with what they all did together in the last days of their youth.
The exact nature of the mystery itself is the least interesting aspect as we quickly learn the basics of what happened and can often infer the rest. There are some unexpected developments for those looking for twists and turns, though this frequently feels like window dressing for what the show is actually interested in exploring. It is the more character-driven elements where Now & Then really shines, showing how the innocent younger versions of these people become more bitter and disillusioned by the time we see them in the present. As we witness various characters continue to lie, cheat, steal, and descend into darkness, the show finds resonance in teasing out how their external personas differ from who they really are. They all have things they are trying to hide and will do whatever it takes to keep them hidden from even those closest to them. Double lives and deception are found everywhere.
There is the idealistic mayoral candidate Pedro, who is played with a thin veneer of confidence by a multifaceted José María Yazpik that masks a growing vulnerability. Alongside him is his wife Ana, played by a captivating Marina de Tavira who audiences will recognize from 2018’s Roma. She is the real brains of the campaign and usually has to clean up after her husband. Manolo Cardona’s troubled Marcos works as a plastic surgeon with his father despite past aspirations to become a part of more humanitarian causes. Facing more dire circumstances are Sofia (Maribel Verdú) and Daniela (Soledad Villamil), who don’t have the same family support. All the actors make up a riveting ensemble cast, each revealing the deepest insecurities of their characters with an eye for subtlety even as things begin to spiral out of control. Though they’re united by compelling performances, the latter characters have not found the same economic success that the others have. It all creates a clear dividing line of class, gesturing at something more incisive that still remains mostly in the background.
There is something resembling a deeper observation about how wealth can protect certain people from accountability while others are left to bear the brunt of the consequences. It just doesn’t get to the point of being as sharp or focused as it could have been. However, it is a prevailing idea that is woven throughout the character moments and informs much of their decisions. Less compelling are the more conventional crime-drama elements which, while necessary to show there is still the potential for legal consequences, mostly end up feeling like a distraction. Central to this is the police duo of Flora (Rosie Perez) and Sullivan (Zeljko Ivanek) who are the most significant characters to be played by the same people in both timelines. In the past, both of them seem to always just be about on the cusp of piecing together who is responsible for the tragedy. This is undercut by future them, who clearly didn’t solve the case, making every new development lack real stakes when its outcome is foretold.
The precise reasoning of why they ended up failing is a lingering curiosity, though not enough to justify prolonged flashbacks that are about keeping us updated on an investigation we know goes nowhere. Perez does do an admirable job in bringing nuance to what could have been a flat character just solely focused on driving the plot. She carries Flora with a passionate energy that frequently shifts into being obsessive to the point of being selfish and self-destructive. The more she goes rogue and the case becomes personal, the more interesting her character becomes. One particular scene also makes for one of the more striking shots where she witnesses the younger version of herself drifting away in an elevator while she goes in the opposite direction. While certainly blunt, it still captures the eye and is part of a recurring motif about how the past is bleeding into the future for all the characters. The way this is conveyed visually is done with perpetual creativity that is varied in execution yet consistent in more profound meaning as it shows how time is collapsing in on itself.
Similar to another Apple TV+ show, the outstanding Pachinko, Now & Then is all about the way the past can echo into the present in unexpected and tragic ways. While this series is not as consistent in conveying this emotion or as ambitious in its scope, it still is able to use this as a device with enough emotional weight to make it effective. This is frequently diminished by clunky exposition dumps when the show writes itself into a corner. The most egregious of these come via awkward and forced news broadcasts, where anchors flatly deliver lines to insert suspense by telling us what is happening as opposed to showing it. Thankfully, the rest of the show is carried by its strong direction and acting that make it easy to largely forget about these missteps. There is some unnecessary rushing in its conclusion as it barrels towards a strange cliffhanger. However, the core of Now & Then all works quite well as the emotional weight of the two timelines converging reveals much about the characters and the inevitability of their past catching up with them. No matter how much they wish the tragic events they caused in the past would go away, they remain fixed. It is what unites them, a reflection of how callous acts are not bound by years but will be something they carry with them forever.