“Behind Her Eyes,” based on Sarah Pinborough’s eponymous novel, premiered on Netflix on Feb. 17, 2021.
The plot of this six-part mini-series goes something like this: Adele (Eve Hewson), a wealthy woman with a mysterious past, befriends Louise (Simona Brown), helping her night terrors by teaching her how to control her dreams. However, unbeknownst to Adele, Louise is actually the secret lover and co-worker of her husband, Dr. Ferguson (Tom Bateman). As Adele and Louise’s friendship progresses, Louise continues to sleep with Dr. Ferguson but becomes increasingly wary of her controlling and mysterious lover as she learns more about his past from Adele. Reality begins to unravel as Adele and Louise’s increasingly powerful dreams are revealed to be the product of incredible psychic powers.
It’s hard to think that a premise so filled with potential for drama and supernatural exploration could be boring. But even with so much to work with, “Behind Her Eyes” fails to create a truly warped and thrilling reality. And if the supernatural element of the mini-series feels like a clumsy add-on, it is because it is. Despite being an integral part of the plot and ending, the supernatural element of “Behind Her Eyes,” at times, feels forced and unnecessary. But, tragically, the show wouldn’t be half as interesting without it. The dream sequences and psychic exploration add another dimension of intrigue to a show which could not possibly hold the same level of excitement without the aid of the supernatural.
Throughout the six episodes, “Behind Her Eyes” cannot decide whether to focus on the paranormal gifts of its two female leads or the psychological intrigue of its characters’ relationships. The series spends so much time (and so little effort) shifting its focus between the two that it never reaches the full potential of either. The result is a messy marriage between a psychological drama and a supernatural thriller — a tangle of narrative that is further hindered by the show’s underdeveloped characters. One often wonders whether the gift of dream-control and mind-reading is really necessary to drive the plot forward, or whether the plot is even moving.
None of this is to say that the show is a complete loss; it certainly has its moments. “Behind Her Eyes” is a perfectly bingeable series with enough mystery, sex and intrigue to keep viewers watching. The strong performances given by the main leads add a level of depth that could not be achieved with the plot alone. Simona Brown does well with the otherwise dry and one-dimensional character of Louise. Tom Bateman is haunted, tortured and sometimes frightening as Dr. Ferguson, bringing a cloud of gloom and anger that draws viewers into the mystery of his character’s motives. The real standout, however, is Eve Hewson, who brings a balance of loveable charisma and a sense of deep, unhinged psychological torment to Adele. The actors’ ability to create tension and intensity in otherwise dull moments makes for a decently enjoyable viewing experience.
But, if nothing else, a mini-series on Netflix should at least have a gripping plot and a satisfying (or at least comprehensible) ending. Instead, “Behind Her Eyes” has an uninspired plot and an ending so frustratingly lackluster and nonsensical that it leaves viewers feeling, at best, disappointed. Its ridiculous conclusion renders any depth that the show approaches meaningless.
The tragedy of “Behind Her Eyes” is that it has the ingredients for some truly fascinating storylines but it never realizes its full potential. If you are looking for a gripping show filled with mystery, murder and lucid dreaming to escape from reality for a while, give “Behind Her Eyes” a try. If nothing else, the ride is interesting, but just know that you might be disappointed by the destination.