I'm three episodes into The Undoing, a murder thriller screening on Neon starring an ageless Nicole Kidman and an aged Hugh Grant.
They're a New York couple with money and social standing. She's a successful therapist from a wealthy family, while he's a cancer doctor treating young children. Their only child goes to an elite private school.
They're the kind of people - good looking, rich, with interesting high-status jobs - that many of us lower on the social pecking order might be envious of.
Kidman is edgy and intense. Grant is affably charming as always, but never before deployed so wonderfully against type, as we soon learn he's the main murder suspect.
It's all building towards a big twist at the end. Maybe a few dummy twists on the way to keep us guessing.
To not know the end is a big part of the pleasure of watching a psychological thriller, sci-fi mind-bender or old fashioned whodunit. It's why I love them.
The trick, though, is that the twists and surprises must ring true. It's nice to be duped if it's done cleverly and the reveal is plausible.
On the other hand, to be simply deceived by an improbable conclusion that wasn't foreshadowed isn't satisfying. It's like a bad dessert at the end of a wonderful meal. The dessert is what sticks in your mind when you get up from the table.
Mare of Easttown (also on Neon) starring Kate Winslet got it about right. As is the convention, you were pulled into believing the murderer was one person, then another. Then, finally, the killer was no one you had thought at all.
It's a game, of course. We know we're being manipulated to think one thing, only to have it overturned in the next episode.
It's amazing what a close up of a slightly worried but essentially blank facial expression can convey. That's a character concealing guilt, definitely. We fall for it every time.
Helped by the fact that in a good thriller, nearly everyone - a bit like real life - is guilty of something.
After the end of Mare of Easttown, there was only one character whose possible guilt was overplayed and didn't ring true when all was revealed.
Another character was playing decoy the whole series. You kept wondering when he was going to be identified as a possible murderer. But it didn't happen. He was just as we were made to believe he was.
Something similar occurred in the Netflix movie Stowaway, starring Anna Kendrick and the ever-reliable Toni Collette. Soon after takeoff from Earth, the three-person crew on a space flight to Mars discover an unwanted passenger.
I was fully expecting the story to take a certain path up until the final quarter. But, because it didn't take the turn hinted at, I was left with a very different aftertaste. A pleasanter one than if a more predictable lost-in-space movie plot had unfolded.
The main device at work in all thrillers and whodunits is simple: it's the withholding of information. We see the characters only part of the time.
We see camera angles for a scene that leaves out something important.
Or the narrative sequence is skewed, letting us believe the character's emotions are because of what we view immediately beforehand, rather than emotions resulting from some other event we haven't witnessed.
In the case of The Undoing, I'm speculating that there was more to an elevator scene than first shown. Am I right?
What's concerning me slightly about The Undoing is that the big twist coming is for Kidman's character to be the killer. That seed has been planted.
If it turns out to be so, I'm not convinced that it would be believable, based on what I've viewed so far.
Or maybe suspicions are being raised only to be shifted to someone else … the father perhaps, played by Donald Sutherland, who's looked suspicious in every role he's ever played.
So far, though, the entrée has been exquisite, the main is on the table and looking and smelling great. I only hope that The Undoing holds its quality all the way through to the last mouthful of dessert.