A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Rook centers around a secret British intelligence agency that deals with people with supernatural powers and an agent who finds herself a target because of her own special abilities. The cast of this drama is fairly diverse, counting within it several powerful female characters, a man of color, and a woman who uses a wheelchair (but the way she gets around isn't particularly highlighted). Expect mature content: violence includes deaths with paranormal elements (like a character who seemingly kills by electric shock) and some onscreen gore, like a scene that shows dead bodies in a morgue. A main character self-harms and we see scars on her leg. Characters have extramarital sex with rhythmic movement, a brief flash of from-the-side male nudity, and discussion of how many times the female participant had an orgasm. A woman's nipples are visible through a filmy bra as she changes clothes. Cursing includes "f--k," "s--t," and "hell," and sometimes English slang: "bollocks," "sod it."
What's the story?
Based on the fantasy spy novel of the same name by Daniel O'Malley, THE ROOK opens as Myfanwy Thomas (Emma Greenwell) wakes up beside London's Millennium Bridge with no idea who she is -- or why eight dead bodies lie in a rough circle around her. As she soon learns, she's a member of England's ultra-secret intelligence agency, Checquy, which works with people with supernatural abilities -- powers which Myfanwy soon discovers she herself shares. Now she must figure out why she's a target, and which of her coworkers betrayed her. Steely boss Linda (Joely Richardson)? The four-strong psychic sibling set known as the Gestalt? Or someone she's forgotten and isn't watching out for at all?
Is it any good?
This spy show has a cool, meaty premise and is adapted from a fairly bonkers genre novel, so why is it so juiceless and staid? The Rook's first few moments promise a gripping thriller -- a nightmarish situation: abandoned, alone, memoryless, and clearly in some mortal danger. From there, The Rook starts piling on the good-on-paper complications: mysterious super powers, a human trafficking conspiracy, shifty coworkers who can't be trusted, including a bleached-blond foursome of sibs who share consciousness. With so many interesting things to focus on, why does Rook spin its wheels by forcing us to watch Myfanwy (rhymes with "Tiffany," the series helpfully informs us) wandering around her apartment or having conversations in gray-tinged offices?
It's a pity, because the series is so good at times. In the show's first episode, when Olivia Munn shows up as a headstrong American agent poking into the Millennium Bridge deaths, smooth Checquy agent Conrad (Adrian Lester) tries to ferret out her interest in one particular death. "Is it a tracker?" he asks. "A tattoo? A chip? I do hope you won't try to cut off a finger." We have no idea what he's talking about, but we don't have to -- we understand what Conrad is getting at, and it's genuinely thrilling not to have a plot point explained to death. If only the rest of The Rook were as thrilling.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about memory loss as a storytelling technique. Starting a series or movie with a character who doesn't remember who they are is a relatively common gimmick -- consider movies like The Bourne Identity or Blindspot. Why would a writer want to start in this way? What dramatic possibilities does this setup hold?
The Rook has both political and supernatural elements in its plot. Why would a story about a secret government agency be interesting to audiences? What fears or concerns does this part of the series speak to? Is it realistic?
How do you know where The Rook is set? Are we explicitly told, or do we infer the setting through clues? What clues do we have? How do most shows communicate where they are set in space and time?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love drama
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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