CBS All Access celebrated Halloween by turning classic fairy tales into straight-up horror stories.
The streaming service on Wednesday debuted Tell Me a Story, a drama series from The Vampire Diaries EP Kevin Williamson (and starring a few alumni from Williamson’s past projects, like TVD vet Paul Wesley).
Though future episodes will drop on Thursdays, Tell Me a Story‘s series premiere was appropriately released on the spookiest day of the year, and it introduced a gaggle of characters who got caught up in Williamson’s take on beloved fairy tales. (Ever been curious about an R-rated version of Little Red Riding Hood? Well, wonder no more.)
Before you give us your thoughts on Episode 1, let’s recap who we met in the hour:
KAYLA | Tell Me a Story finds its modern-day Red Riding Hood in Kayla Sherman (The Originals‘ Danielle Campbell), a high school student who lost her mom a little over a year ago. Since then, she and dad Tim (Parenthood‘s Sam Jaeger) have relocated from Oakland to New York City to live with Kayla’s grandmother (Sex and the City‘s Kim Cattrall), though Kayla makes it clear from her first moment on screen that she has no interest in rules or respecting authority.
During her first day at her new school, Kayla becomes fast friends with a fellow party girl named Laney, and the two of them sneak out that night, fake IDs in hand, to go to a club called Rapture. Once there, Kayla makes very lusty eye contact with a man named Nick (American Crime Story‘s Billy Magnussen), and their sexual tension on the dance floor gives way to a hook-up at Nick’s apartment later that night. Kayla seems just as interested in Nick as he is in her — but after she shares the story of her wolf tattoo, which she got to honor her late mother, Kayla’s walls go right back up, and she leaves Nick’s apartment despite his pleas to exchange phone numbers.
Kayla and Nick do meet again before the hour is over, but it’s under less-than-ideal circumstances: Nick, who previously had no idea that Kayla was a high schooler, shows up in Kayla’s classroom as her substitute teacher the next morning, and they are both stunned to lay eyes on each other.
GABE | Along with his roommate, Billy, Gabe is a dancer at the same club where Kayla and Nick first met — and when he’s not on the dance floor (or in a dance cage, rather), he’s a big fan of snorting cocaine. After he and Billy are done with their shift at Rapture one night, they go to a hotel somewhere else in the city, expecting to party with someone named Dan, a guy with whom Billy has previously hooked up.
When they arrive at Dan’s hotel room, though, it isn’t exactly a party; it’s just Dan, who offers them more cocaine and alcohol. As the night goes on, Dan begins to get handsy with both Gabe and Billy — but when Gabe interrupts the action to use the bathroom, he spies Billy taking money out of Dan’s wallet in order to make his rent that day. When Dan realizes there’s larceny going down in his hotel room, he gets violent, pinning Billy against the wall and demanding he get his money returned to him… and when Gabe finally pulls Dan off Billy, Dan crashes into a table and dies after hitting his head on the corner of it.
Billy, stunned at what just happened, immediately dashes from the room, leaving Gabe to clean up the mess — literally and figuratively. Gabe ultimately decides to call his estranged sister, Hannah (Once Upon a Time‘s Dania Ramirez), and she arrives at the hotel to help Gabe wipe down his fingerprints and stage the scene to look like an accident. They exit through the hotel lobby, where they’re clearly caught on a security camera — but in the hours after the incident, nothing pops up on local news stations about a death in a hotel room. “Maybe we got lucky,” Hannah suggests, to which Gabe responds, “We’re not lucky people, Hannah.”
JORDAN | Rounding out the main ensemble is Jordan (Zoo‘s James Wolk), whose relationship with girlfriend Beth seems to be on its last legs. In short: He wants to get married and have kids, but she doesn’t want to bring children into the world. “Terrorism is not going away,” Beth tells Jordan. “There’s just going to be more guns and more mass shootings, and I am not bringing a child into this world so it can be shot dead in a classroom.”
But after a bad fight in which they come thisclose to breaking up, Beth wakes up the next morning and seems newly committed to the relationship. In fact, she even bails on a political rally that she was planning to attend that day, and instead brings Jordan to a jewelry store where she proposes to him. “It kills me that you thought I didn’t want you,” Beth tells her beau. “We are the best part of me.” Jordan accepts Beth’s proposal without hesitation, and they make their way into the store to buy wedding rings — but their happy engagement is ultimately short-lived.
Not long after Jordan and Beth enter the store, three armed men wearing pig masks burst into the building to rob it. (We’ve previously met two of the robbers: Paul Wesley’s club bartender, Eddie, and his friend Mitch, played by OUAT‘s Michael Raymond-James. The third, a character named Sam, is someone we’ll get to know more in later episodes.) At first, the robbery goes down without any real violence; the customers get down on the floor, an employee leads one of the men to the store’s vault, and the whole thing could be over in minutes, as long as no one makes a scene.
But the jewelry store’s security guard tries to be a hero, and he grabs one of the robbers and holds him at gunpoint. Unfortunately, when the second thief returns from emptying the vault, he shoots the security guard right in the back, and the man is dead instantly. The three robbers make their escape from the store unscathed — and when Jordan turns to check on Beth, she reveals that a stray bullet hit her in the stomach during the shootout. Despite Jordan’s best efforts to keep her alive, Beth bleeds out and dies in her new fiancé’s arms.
OK, your turn. What did you think of Tell Me a Story‘s debut? Cast your votes in our polls below, then hit the comments with your reviews of Episode 1.