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The Last Thing He Told Me—Things Unsaid

Based on the popular novel by Laura Dave, The Last Thing He Told Me is an Apple+ mini-series in  eight episodes. It tells the story of Hannah, a newly married second wife (Jennifer Garner) and  her teenage stepdaughter,  Bailey  (Angourie Rice), who go in  search of the suddenly gone-missing husband and father, Owen (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau- Jaime Lannister in  “Game of Thrones”).  The FBI  suspects Owen of involvement in a high-tech Ponzi scheme.  Owen leaves a two-word message for Hannah:  “Protect her.”  The problem:  Bailey loathes her stepmother.  And Hannah must not only team up with Bailey to find Owen but must also somehow be the mother Bailey sorely needs, after Bailey’s mother died when she was only nine.

In a mother-stepdaughter series of squabbles Hannah and Bailey begrudgingly attempt to deconstruct Owen’s past in order to understand his sudden disappearance and his intentions. Through flashbacks and the support of Hannah’s best friend (Aisha Tyler), we see  Hannah’s clever means of deduction as she unravels  clues to what happened. There are moments in the story that feel too slow-paced and more far-fetched than they need to be to keep the mystery moving, but the viewer is drawn in nonetheless.

Owen’s enigmatic history and the journey Hannah and Bailey go on together is enough to keep one hooked.   Who is Owen really  and why did he leave his daughter and wife? 

Sometimes, however, The Last Thing He Told Me feels like an unpolished draft of a script, not the adaptation from  a popular novel.  The story of Owen is weak.  He is barely on screen–except in bed with Hannah–so his backstory is vital for understanding who he was and who he has become.

And poor Bailey–playing less into the stereotypes of teens who dislike their step-parents, this character should be a sympathetic, more subtle  presence,  not just an annoying one.

The ending is satisfying, making this a solid B  mini-series to watch.  Not a great mystery but Jennifer Garner saves it from mediocrity.

Availability:  Apple+

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