Full Circle–Around and Around
The title, Full Circle, represents a belief in Guyana ritual and magic to break a family curse. Savitri Mahabir (CCH Pounder), a Guyana racketeer, has had a curse placed on her family, resulting in the murder of her beloved brother-in-law. Intent on breaking the curse, Mahabir creates a circle of vengeance–what comes around, goes around. Literally, she orders a retaliatory murder in Washington Square Park, in New York City. To break the curse Guyana traditions must be followed, requiring a circle for the crime to be drawn in chalk in Washington Square.
In the next scenes in episode one, we see Sam Browne (Claire Danes) in an affectless marriage discussing their spoiled, entitled son, Jared, with her husband Derek (Timothy Oliphant). In their elegant Upper East Side apartment, they soon receive a threat from two Guyana kidnappers who have their son. Sam’s celebrity chef father (Dennis Quaid) is brought in to meet the ransom they cannot afford on their own.
For reasons that remain amorphous throughout the mini-series, the kidnapping is botched. The kidnapping incorporates several symbolic circles, including a ransom of $314,159, the mathematical equivalent of pi.
Mahabir’s superstitious plot involved several henchmen who make the kidnapping even more difficult and convoluted. The Browne family calls in the police to help . Agent Melody Harmony (Zazie Beetz), a rogue investigator with no support from her boss, is the only law enforcement officer who seems competent to solve the kidnapping as well as bring down the organized crime network of Mahabir.
This miniseries has a number of characters introduced midstream, which derails the emotional momentum and pace needed to steer the plot forward. And the subplots and motivation for the kidnapping, the teenagers who run amok, and the chef’s implied malfeasance are unnecessarily convoluted. Teenagers can be addled, but in Full Circle their directionlessness feels like whiplash. Even Claire Danes and Tim Olyphant cannot make Steven Soderbergh’s Full Circle a thoroughly satisfying series to watch. The viewer is left with puzzles without connections, in a story that goes round and round, but does not complete the full circle.