The devil is in the details: stream HBO thriller Mosaic

25 September 2018

The devil is in the details: stream HBO thriller Mosaic

If you can’t resist a good mystery, Mosaic (2018, now streaming on Showmax) will thrill your inner detective with its twisty plot and attention to detail.

The clues about who could have killed children’s book author and illustrator Olivia Lake (Sharon Stone), and why, are layered into each episode in flashbacks four years into the past, as well as in the current timeline when Olivia’s severed hand washes up in a stream.

As Petra Neill (Jennifer Ferrin) – the sister of Olivia’s conman fiancé who was jailed for the murder of Eric Neill (Frederick Weller) – investigates the case over the course of six episodes, parts of certain scenes will stand out as clues to what really happened.

The pleasure of streaming, of course, is that we can view and review certain moments when we realise their significance.

Ready to unleash your inner Poirot? Here are three clues that snagged our attention…

1A: Red right hand

Mosaic is on Showmax

1A: The red right hand

If suspect Joel Hurley (Garrett Hedlund), who’s introduced in the present right at the start of episode 1, isn’t the killer, how did he injure his right hand between 10:16 and 11:47 on New Year’s Eve, the night that Olivia disappeared? Why was his T-shirt found buried with Olivia’s corpse? And what did he really ask Tia and Frank (Jeremy Bobb) to lie about that night?

Olivia’s autopsy reveals that she was punched in the face by a right-handed man before being bludgeoned with a hammer. In episode 5, the coroner tells detective Nate Henry (Devon Ratray) that the shirt was used to mop up blood. The T-shirt shows Nate’s original artwork – which we see him discussing with the owner of a print shop in episode 1… a print shop where they make multiple silkscreened copies of designs.

Hmmm. Are anyone else’s knuckles looking a little cracked?

2A: The map and mineral rights

Mosaic is on Showmax

2A: The map and mineral rights

In episode 1, Olivia’s billionaire neighbour Michael O’Connor (James Ransone) and his right-hand-man Tom Davis (Michael Cerveris) are seen discussing a geological survey of their area that “found something”. Moments later we see Michael showing Olivia the survey map, but she rejects his offer to buy her land quite contemptuously. A very similar map shows up in episode 6 as Petra is looking for information on Beryllium deposits…

Mosaic is on Showmax

2B: A similar copy of the map

3: the symbol

Mosaic is on Showmax

3: The symbol

The symbol containing four arrows is displayed by people who are members of a cult called The Church Of Eventualism. After the killer murders Olivia, he or she flees, but later returns to Summit, Utah as a convert to the cult. The cult members are actively trying to protect the murderer or, more specifically, the money that they have donated to the cult.

But even more than the cash, they want the mineral rights to Olivia’s land (this was eventually explained in the app – see below – but largely skipped in the series). So every time the symbol appears, it’s likely that someone is spying on or meddling with Petra’s investigation – like in episode 4. Watch carefully to see who is linked to the symbol.

Piecing together the puzzle: app versus TV show

Mosaic (also the name of Olivia’s children’s charity) lived up to its pieced-together title during the show’s original broadcast in the US this January (sorry, South African fans – it’s wasn’t available in our area), as the series was supported by an iPhone app that allowed viewers to view the story in short clips from more than one point of view and in both flashbacks and flash-forwards.

They were also able to research background documents, emails, news clippings, voice mails, police reports, drawings and more. The result was a combination of TV show and detailed computer adventure game… or a “choose your own adventure” book.

“It was a way to dive deep into fragmentation in a way that I wasn’t really able to do before,” says series creator-director Steven Soderbergh. “We’ve gotten used to watching TV now with three scrolling lines of information at the bottom of the screen all the time. People do not view that stuff the same way that they would have viewed it 20 years ago. My attitude is, ‘Well, if they’re going to be distracted by something, let it be me!’”

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