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Kate Beckinsale Shines in 'The Widow' on Amazon Prime
March 1, 2019  | By David Hinckley

If you’ve ever been in a serious situation compounded by a growing sense that you weren’t sure you could trust anybody at all, welcome to Georgia Wells’ world.

Georgia Wells, played brilliantly by Kate Beckinsale, is the engineer driving The Widow, an eight-part series that becomes available Friday on Amazon Prime.

A joint production with Britain’s ITV, The Widow is a thriller that lives up to the term. Viewers realize only slightly ahead of Georgia that whatever lies around the next corner probably means her no good.

The turns down dark corridors, and the twists that take us there, often seem channeled directly from the playbook of Alfred Hitchcock.

Neatly maximizing the contrast with what is about to unfold, Georgia begins our story as the blissfully happy partner of Will (Matthew Le Nevez). Will is as affectionate and thoughtful as he is handsome.

Naturally, he works for an organization that does the Lord’s work, providing humanitarian aid in the strife-ravaged Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Then, as he’s returning to their London home from a quick emergency mission, his plane crashes in the jungle. His body is never found, but then, a lot of bodies are never found, and after seeing the shattered wreckage of the aircraft, no one holds out much hope.

Georgia flies to the DRC to get the bad news in person, and while this gives her a first-hand look at how dysfunctional the general situation there has become, she flies back to London and begins going through the motions of life.

She does make two friends on her trip to the DRC, Emmanuel Kazadi (Jacky Ido) and Pieter Bello (Bart Fouche). All three speak of those they lost in the crash, creating a bond instantly and permanently fused by shared sorrow.

Cut to three years later. Georgia sees something on a television news clip that jolts her into wondering whether maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t know the whole story about the crash. Or Will.

She returns to the DRC and reunites with Emmanuel, who lives there. She also visits Will’s old office and reacquaints herself with Will’s boss there, Judith Gray (Alex Kingston). Judith invites Georgia to stay at Judith’s home while she’s in town.

Judith and Emmanuel start turning over stones and surprise – they find surprises. They also get warnings, some more subtle than others, about the dangers of poking around.

Meanwhile, two other scenarios are unfolding, seemingly random and unrelated. One, in the jungles of the Congo, involves a renegade group that considers its members rebels and would more commonly be called terrorists. Their recruitment policies involve the conscription of pre-teens, by any means necessary.

We also meet two people in Rotterdam, both applying for a clinical trial that offers the hope of restoring sight. Mr. Helgason (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) and Beatrix (Louise Brealey) share a drink and swap stories.

By the end of the first episode, these seemingly disparate threads begin twining together, in ways that suggest powerful, shadowy forces are rumbling not far below the surface of our story.

We know some of this before Georgia realizes it. We do not know all, however, so we too can be surprised by things the bad guys can do. And who the bad guys are.

Beckinsale plays Georgia as largely innocent, though not myopic. She’s a quick study, and fortunately, she’s tough. She’s got a long learning curve, though, because it turns out there’s a whole lot of stuff she was never cc’d on.

That’s not an unfamiliar setup for a mystery crime thriller drama. Beckinsale makes The Widow feel fresh.

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