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The Secret Daughter–Season 1 Finale (Risk It)

I wondered what the finale would be like after Billie was told that she’s not a Norton.

I liked the focus on Harriet and her intentions behind her actions being revealed to both Billie and the viewers. I liked the display of evolution in their relationship as Billie was the only one who knew where to find her and gave her some tough love, in regards to her grief and Susan, to the point where she actually defends Susan. Speaking of Susan, it was a little cringeworthy to have her pretending to be nice to Billie purely to avoid a lawsuit. I’m divided as to whether this is a part of her character, writing that needs to be improved or possibly both. I found it interesting that she takes the risk to lie to Jamie about Billie’s whereabouts at the end of the episode, considering that she would still be at risk of a lawsuit, which is why she was pretending to be nice in the first place. Despite this, I am looking forward to seeing this played out next season.

I did enjoy the next step of Billie’s career path, which was being a headliner in Jack’s Bar, as well as being on show for a record producer. I enjoyed it as it went full circle–in the pilot she is performing to a small crowd in a pub and in the finale she is performing for a larger crowd in a sophisticated bar, with the possibility of a huge career in front of her. While Jessica Mauboy looked great in her dress, I personally felt that the symbolism wasn’t really needed, as her evolution as a singer was already obvious. I felt that Kirk Pengilly’s cameo as the record producer was purely inserted to state the obvious to Billie, and that his performance was a little stiff, however his character did his job. I wonder if Kirk’s performance is just a cameo or whether he’ll be a recurring character next season if Billie does return to Sydney.

I felt that the writers did a good job of wrapping up this season’s plots and establishing new plots for the next one. Since Billie admitted the truth to Susan and Harriet to Jamie, I’m wondering whether it will be common knowledge when the next season kicks off. I’m also looking forward to finding out where Gus and Billie ended up going and I felt it was a smart choice by the writers to leave it open.

Overall, this episode, for a finale, did its job. I also felt that it was understated, however this was consistent with the level of drama throughout the season, and was well done. I’m looking forward to reviewing season two next year.

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The Secret Daughter–Season 1, Episode 5 (I Fought the Law)

This episode didn’t have the drama I hoped it would, until the last two minutes.

This episode was mostly about Billie’s court case.

Ryan O’Kane played the role of the ridiculously bad solicitor rather convincingly, however what I liked most was Gus’ role in the subplot. For the first time Gus shows some ironic competency with the law or rather what happens when you break it. I feel that Gus trying to help Billie by being a “double agent” and for calling the police to report Bruno and Rachel for stealing the necklace, was ingenius and the highlight of the episode as it shows immense character development. I also loved the revelation of Billie’s prior conviction involving a plastic fork and a pizza.

In regards to the outcome of the court case, it was obvious that Billie wouldn’t be going to jail and in all honesty, the dragging out of the court case and Jamie’s sweet but cheesy character reference were cliches. I understand the need to advance the overall story, however it could have been done better.

Harriet’s behaviour was the most interesting element of the episode, especially as it lead to the outcome at the end. Harriet’s conscience is finally catching up with her and she reveals the truth to the solicitor about the shoplifting incident, as well as Billie not being a part of the Norton family. I also liked her interactions with Bruno and Rachel as it served Billie’s subplot and also served as a reminder to the public of how people can take advantage of social media and how easy it is to do so to children. I also found it interesting that she is the only one who can see the chemistry between Jamie and Billie.

I feel that Layla and Jamie’s hook up was only added to make Billie feel jealous, which I have stated in my previous reviews is strange, due to the fact that she didn’t know that she’s not related to Jamie, until now.

On an another note, I feel Susan is becoming more unlikeable due to her reluctance to help and her obvious joy when she overheard Harriet revealing the truth to Billie. I’m glad that Jamie finally called her out on her behaviour and I’m looking forward to seeing what she’ll be like in the finale now that she has an upper hand.

Overall this episode wasn’t as exciting as I thought it should be, however it was a definite improvement from the last one.

 

 

 

The Secret Daughter–Season 1, Episode 4 (Lean on Me)

I felt that this episode is a bit of a filler to lead into the remaining two episodes.

My reasons for this are due to the episode revolving around Jack’s funeral, the arrival of Layla, the return of Gus, the media catching on to Billie’s appearance in the Norton family and Bruno’s discovery of where Billie is. All of these moments are building up towards explosive drama.

While it was good that the funeral was brief so the viewer isn’t traumatised or bored, I felt that Chris’ eulogy was sweet however it was undermined by Jared Turner’s stiff performance. I felt that he was trying to hard to be emotional and it honestly didn’t feel authentic. It didn’t surprise me that a couple of journalists managed to sneak in and take photographs of the funeral, the whole “hiring security to keep media away only for them to show up” plot device is a cliche. However I felt it was a good and realistic choice for the media to reveal Billie’s whereabouts to Bruno.

Despite how I felt about his performance at the funeral, Jared Turner’s performance with Renee Lim (Vivienne) was amusing. Considering how serious Chris is, it was a breath of fresh air to finally see a perkier side to him after he and Vivienne finally give into their lingering feelings. I loved the interaction between them, especially Vivienne first attempt at declaring her feelings for him as it gave the episode as whole some much needed humour.

I find Billie’s jealousy towards Layla making a move on Jamie strange, considering that she believes Jamie is her brother. I think the whole “love triangle” angle would only be effective if she thought or knew that she wasn’t related to him.

I’m interested to see what Bruno and Rachel’s next move will be now that he knows where Billie is. I’m also interested in seeing the next episode so I can find out who this “worst lawyer” will be for Billie’s court case. One thing I wasn’t interested in seeing was Billie’s band in Walperinga as they really didn’t add to the episode.

Overall the episode was clearly a filler and because of that it was a little dull, however I think it provides a great transition to the remaining episodes.

 

 

The Secret Daughter–Season 1, Episode 3 (Where Do I Belong?)

Jamie describes the whole family situation to Billie as “a bit of a rollercoaster”, to me that quote sums up the whole episode.

This episode kicks off on an emotional note with Billie breaking down over the shock of being told that her DNA matched Jack’s and that she is a Norton. The question that Billie keeps asking herself is also presented to the viewer–how is this possible?. I liked this choice by the writers as it keeps the viewers on their toes.

I loved the interaction between Gus and Billie when she is trying to get him to admit the circumstances behind her conception, to prove that she isn’t a Norton. It contained the right amount of emotions and tension, not to mention it was absolutely cringeworthy and heartbreaking. For the first time the viewer is meant to be sympathetic towards Gus and ironically this is when Billie’s sympathy towards him disappears. I liked the choice by the writers to have Gus be so broken down by this that he finally faces the music and returns to Walperinga. While he has been amusing to watch so far, Gus’ excruciating ability to get himself into trouble over and over is getting old, so having him out of the picture for a little while is a nice change.

Meanwhile the family’s true colours are starting to show a bit more with the revelation of Jack’s recent video will. Jamie was appointed executor and considering Chris’ and Susan’s attitudes towards Billie, it’s pretty obvious Jack made the right choice. Chris is a hard one to read, all he seems to care about is the business, however he has good intentions which are made clear by his willingness (albeit reluctant) to help Billie, with his feelings towards her truly shifting after he hears her sing. Harriet likes Billie and adoringly becomes addicted to her Jack-like hugs, however her intentions come into question when it is revealed that she is the one who swapped Billie’s DNA sample with her own. Susan is clearly a gold digger and there is something going on with her and the family lawyer, which I am looking forward to eventually discovering.

Meanwhile I found the interactions between the gang, Jamie, Chris and Billie hilarious, however I also knew it was too easy and they are clearly planning to cause more grief for Billie and the Nortons’ down the road.

The ending of the episode was a bit of a shock for me as it makes the show even more confusing. We’re told to believe that Billie isn’t the secret daughter one minute, with a DNA test saying she is the next, with Harriet breaking the swab and proving that Billie isn’t a Norton, the next minute after that. I know this show is meant to be a bit of a mystery but it’s too indecisive for my liking, I hope this is a writing technique to serve the story as a whole rather than just being sloppy.

Overall the episode was a rollercoaster, however it was also a turning point as a few cans of worms have been opened for future plots, which will make the show even more interesting.

The Secret Daughter–Season 1, Episode 2 (Stuck in the Middle with You)

This episode was a little flat for me. The pilot established the characters and circumstances, as it should, however the second episode is supposed to set things into motion, it did this, however it didn’t seem to contain any enthusiasm in its execution.

The beginning of the episode emphasised how much of an outsider Billie is in the family, as she overhears the awkward and intense conversation about her by the rest of the family, as opposed to being a part of it. However this is contrasted well with the moments where Billie bonds with them. I liked the choice by the writers to contrast Billie’s character with the Nortons’ when she sanitises what Jack said about Susan and Chris and was truthful to Harriet. I also liked her scenes with Harriet as it showed their bond developing, as well as highlighted the clear problems within the family with Harriet’s shoplifting.

The moments where Billie bonds with Jamie and Harriet are contrasted well with her straining relationship with Gus. How he managed to get out of the boot on his own is beyond me, but I thoroughly enjoyed his scenes with Connie and, while I definitely don’t condone stealing, the way in which he takes advantage of his situation (especially with the facial mask) is hilarious. However while those mostly odd scenes made me laugh, they were balanced well with the brief moments of Gus’ sincerity and seriousness, such as when he admits to Billie that he doesn’t mean to cause trouble and when Billie stands up to him.

I didn’t feel that the Walperinga and gang moments were necessary as they did very little to progress the story in this episode.

The ending of the episode threw me through a loop as Billie admits to Jamie she’s not his sister and yet her DNA was revealed to be a match to Jack. I thought that Gus might have followed through with his idea to submit Harriet’s hair for the DNA test, however this is yet to be confirmed. I liked this choice by the writers as it provides the opening for the next episode.

Overall the episode was flat but entertaining.

The Secret Daughter–Season 1, Episode 1 (Flame Trees)

I didn’t know what to expect from The Secret Daughter, other than what I saw in the trailers. The premiere episode could have been better, however overall it didn’t disappoint.

I’ve always found Jessica Mauboy fabulous, however I do question whether her incredible singing abilities are relied on too much in her acting gigs. I’d rather see more of her as an actress than a singer who happens to be acting. In this episode, I enjoyed seeing her portray the character of Billie more when she wasn’t on stage and I question whether the singer in Billie was conveniently created to incorporate Mauboy’s talents and whether the show would have been better off without doing this.

The episode did its job as a pilot–it set up the premise, introduced and established the characters and paved paths for further plots and character development down the road.

In regards to the characters, I found the Norton family to be filling typical moulds of a rich family. You have the regretful patriarch in Jack, the young (perhaps questionable) stepmother in Susan, the oldest with his heart set on taking over the family business in Chris, the fun-loving Jamie, and the youngest and open minded Harriet. Billie is likeable and strong when she needs to be, however she was also a bit of a doormat when it suited the stories, which isn’t really a great thing, as it’s showing a lot of inconsistency. However I want to withhold from true judgement until I’ve seen the rest of the season, I’ll give the lack of consistency a pass since it’s only the pilot. I’m looking forward to seeing how the characters develop over the course of the season.

In regards to the writing, I felt it was pretty tight, especially for a pilot. The Poppy Roberts red herring, the dynamic between Jamie and Billie, and the twist of the fake Rolex, was well done. However there were some moments that were too convenient, such as Jack’s photo remaining intact after the crash and Gus not suffocating while in the boot of a car for four hours.

Australia as a whole was greatly displayed throughout. The scenery was showcased seamlessly as part of the plot, Aussie jokes and dialect were subtlely thrown in and Mauboy nailed it with the classic Cold Chisel.

I was shocked that Mauboy is the first Indigenous lead actor in a scripted drama….shocked that this milestone has only happened now.

Whether Billie is really pretending or whether she somehow turns out to be Jack’s daughter remains to be seen, it could go either way. It’s something I’m looking forward to finding out.

Overall, I enjoyed The Secret Daughter and I’m looking forward to watching and reviewing the remainder of the season.