Tell Me Your Secrets Season 1, Episode 1 recap: Once I Had a Love

Tell Me Your Secrets -- Courtesy of Amazon Studios
Tell Me Your Secrets -- Courtesy of Amazon Studios /
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Tell Me Your Secrets Season 1
TELL ME YOUR SECRETS SEASON 1 – Courtesy of Amazon Studios /

Tell Me Your Secrets Season 1, Episode 1 recap: Emma fails to save Jess.

Lily Rabe stars as Emma Hall, the former lover of serial killer Kit Parker (Xavier Samuel). Emma isn’t her real name, but it’s part of her new identity in witness protection with help from her counselor Peter Guillory (Enrique Murciano). At the start of the hour, Emma is still in prison when she gets a visit from Mary Barlow (Amy Brenneman), mother missing girl Therese Barlow (Stella Baker). Mary vehemently believes that Parker is responsible for kidnapping her daughter and implores Emma to help her find out what happened to Therese. Emma blows her off.

We skip ahead to Emma’s arrival in Saint James, a sticky hot town in the bayou with a thick layer of grime on every surface. This is the start of Emma’s new life, a life without Kit. We don’t know what happened between them yet, but flashbacks tell us that they were passionately in love. But Kit was also accused of violently murdering nine teenage girls. Emma is forbidden from contacting Kit, but she can’t help herself. She writes him a letter to say her final goodbye. Shortly after reading it, Kit commits suicide.

When Peter breaks the news to Emma, she comes dangerously close to pulling a Juliet to Kit’s Romeo. The only thing that seems to stop her is a young girl named Jess (Emyri Crutchfield), who Emma helps when she witnesses her being bullied at a local fast-food restaurant. Emma and Jess quickly forge a friendship. Something about Emma seems to attract tormented girls.

Jess’s mother recently died from a heart attack, and she’s living in a group home. Emma’s act of kindness earns her a teen follower. Despite Emma’s standoffish persona, Jess follows her home. They bond. Jess tells Emma the legend of the swamp monster, and the giant she imagines is following behind her to get rid of anyone who is mean to her.

Sadly, Jess doesn’t make it to the end of the episode. Jess decides that Emma needs her necklace, which functions as a totem to keep her safe, more than she does. An older woman notices that Jess isn’t wearing it and points out that she is no longer safe without it. Not long after, a terrified Jess runs to Emma’s house and beats on the door, desperate for help.

It’s at this moment when Emma is several pills deep into the bottle. She ignores Jess’s cries for help. (And conveniently lays on the floor amid a bunch of newspapers with headlines discussing her and Parker’s crazy love affair. One says that she lied to keep him safe, about what?).

But Emma doesn’t die. It’s not clear if she didn’t take enough pills to die or she changed her mind and threw them up; I’m leaning toward the latter. I think Jess made her second-guess her decision. Feeling guilty for not answering the door, Emma rushes to Jess’s safe place in the bayou and discovers her dead body, blood pooling from her stomach.

Then Emma almost comes face-to-face with a mysterious figure lurking in the shadows and just barely makes it back to her house in time. So, who, or what, killed Jess? Will they come for Emma next?