Confession: High Seas first showed up on my recommended Netflix queue and I was drawn in by the glitzy, glamourous, Titanic meets an Agatha Christie novel aesthetic. I am a sucker for Titanic. I watch at least part of it every time I stumble across it on TV. So the lavish art deco ship, the beautiful historical costuming, and the suggested hint of romance would have been enough to hook me, even without the intrigue of the murder mystery that would drive the plot!
I’d never heard of High Seas before it popped up on my page. Unlike some of Netflix other summer hits which cropped up in conventional advertising (Always be my Maybe is pretty light and enjoyable!), High Seas came out of nowhere, likely because, while it’s a Netflix original, it’s from a Spanish production team, and foreign films and series are just now breaking in on the mainstream scene thanks to the success of Roma (and, for better or worse, Nailed It, Mexico). Admittedly, it took me an episode to get used to the audio and video not being in alignment. The English dub over the Spanish dialogue is actually pretty well done, but slightly disarming at first watch. In any event, it doesn’t distract from the story or the pretty cinematography, so don’t let it scare you away!
The show opens with the Captain writing in his log about three murders that have occured over ten days on the cruise ship he’s navigating from Spain to Brazil. It then flashes back to ten days earlier on the morning the ship left port. We meet two sisters, Carolina and Eva, who are travelling to Rio to start new lives. Carolina is to marry one of the ship owners while cruising, and Eva is to meet a publisher in Brazil who is interested in her short stories and poetry. On their way to the port, their car strikes a young woman who is fleeing an abusive husband. She begs the sisters to help her steal away on the ship, insisting her husband will kill her if she’s made to return to him. Sympathetic to a fault, Eva agrees to hide the woman in her trunk and sneak her aboard where they think they will be able to pass her off as a servant or housekeeper.
Once on board, we meet the full cast of characters, all of whom seem to be running from something in their past, or trying to start a new life. The captain is on his first voyage since his wife passed away. The sisters just lost their father. Their uncle is onboard for the wedding, and because he decided to sell the family business in Spain after Eva and Carolina showed no interest in taking over. The first officer, Nicolas, used to be a thief, but was taken under the wing of the captain and is turning his life around after his wife’s disappearance during WWII. As the character’s begin to interact and fraternize, alliances, friendships, and romances form. But not everything is as it seems, and that evening as Nicolas and Eva meet on the deck of the ship to flirt, they witness a woman fall overboard. Or maybe she didn’t fall…perhaps she was pushed.
The mystery is off and running, and as the ship’s detective works to sift through the evidence, the ship’s passengers take matters into their own hands, unearthing family secrets, hidden identities, and a dastardly plot that puts everyone’s hope for a happy future in jeopardy.
At only eight episodes, the plot moves quickly, so you won’t get bored! If there’s a criticism of the plot’s structure it’s only that it ends so clearly set up for a sequel that the writer’s only made a mild effort to tie up the loose ends of the main character’s stories. That said, I’m not sad about a sequel, so I’ll wait for season two to find out how things played out!
High Seas is glamorous, pulpy, beautifully shot, fast paced, and feels indulgent…everything you could want from a summer binge watch. At only eight episodes, it’s not a long commitment, just enough for a staycation, lazy weekend, or quick summer breeze through!
Suggested wine pairing: Prosecco!