Roger Ebert Home


Netflix’s new comedic thriller “Bodkin” opens with the show’s protagonist, Gilbert Power (Will Forte), stating, “When I started this podcast, I didn't expect to solve anything. I didn't expect it to change my life.” It sets up the characters' preoccupations well, and also exposes the main problem with the genre their fictional series is embedded in. The series follows American true crime podcast host Gilbert and his researcher Emmy (Robyn Cara), who team up with journalist Dove (Siobhán Cullen) to uncover the mysterious disappearances that plagued the Irish town of Bodkin decades prior. 

As these amateur detectives continue to dig deeper for answers, they garner the attention of the town's various inhabitants. Some are fans of the show, while others are more than hostile to the new visitors. Despite this, Gilbert and Emmy are determined to get another hit on their hands, while Dove becomes entwined with the mystery and will stop at nothing to expose their identity. The three of them start off on the wrong foot, but as the series unfolds, they grow to care for one another, and surprisingly, their different methods of interviewing and interrogating work in the group's favor. 

From the first glares the trio receives, it’s clear that Bodkin and its community are hiding some big secrets. On their first few days in the town, this causes a malicious hit-and-run (thankfully, it doesn’t end in death) and their driver’s car to be set on fire. The town’s charming scenery, which often catches Gilbert off guard, covers up a woven bed of secrets that each member of the community wants to keep hidden. This is the main point of contention in the series and works well to showcase the failings of the true crime genre.

The series, in its first few episodes, is about the repercussions that come with telling a story about a place you’re not originally from and a place whose people don’t trust outsiders. Whether it be a podcast or a documentary, the relationship that listeners or viewers have with the media they consume is one filled with discord. Right off the bat, Gilbert says to Emmy that “the best stories are always mysteries,” showing us that he himself doesn’t understand that the stories he’s telling belong to real people. Dove on the other hand aptly compares true crime podcasts to “public hangings” putting her and Gilbert and Emmy on opposite sides of the play field.

As the series further unfolds, the themes it was attempting to juggle aren’t necessarily gone from “Bodkin’s” inner workings. Still, they do take a backseat compared to the actual mystery at hand. However, with episode 4, the show begins to give a voice to the supporting characters, giving a voice to the people whom the trio of protagonists unknowingly exploit. The most interesting here is undoubtedly Seamus (David Wilmont), one of the town's most illusive, and powerful members. While Dove is convinced that he is responsible for the disappearances of the three people who went missing during the Samhain festival, Gilbert isn’t so convinced. 

In an attempt to get more information from the man, Gilbert spends the better part of episodes 4 and 5 with Seamus. In their time together, it becomes apparent to Gilbert and us that there’s more to him than meets the eye. The growing relationship between the two is almost heartwarming – if such a word can exist in a black comedy like this – and the chemistry between Forte and Wilmot is electric. As they drive around to settle a debt Gilbert has with a bar patron, the two confide in each other about their romantic and life failings. As their relationship becomes more sincere, Gilbert becomes increasingly desperate for Seamus not to be the evil man Dove is convinced he is. It’s the best relationship in a series that hinges on brief or extended conversations and truly allows the show's writing and acting to shine.

Ultimately, “Bodkin” succeeds in a landscape of thrillers and true crime expansions. It expertly crafts a riveting mystery but also fleshes out its central – and supporting – characters. A series like this hinges on the chemistry of the show’s cast, and thankfully, each and every player gives it their all. Dove’s determination and coyness mix well with Gilbert and Emmy’s sweet disposition and, in turn, allow the Americans to become detectives in their own right. The difference in how they not only see the world but see their professions allows them to crack the case wide open and expose that this cold case might not even be lukewarm. 

Instead, the case at hand is a simmering beast waiting to be exposed, lying dormant beneath the soil of Bodkin for decades. It’s been waiting to be unearthed, and with the work of Dove, Gilbert, and Emmy, it soon will be. Each secret is mentioned by a passerby fleetingly, though the biggest ones stay hidden between the tight-lipped mouths of the show's most important players. The story never overstays its welcome and instead unfolds into one of the most entertaining shows of the year. Underneath it all is a warning that perhaps some things don’t need to be uncovered, and perhaps they’re left better off dead. 

All episodes were screened for review. On Netflix now.

Kaiya Shunyata

Kaiya Shunyata is a freelance pop culture writer and academic based in Canada. They have written for, Xtra, Okayplayer, The Daily Beast, AltPress and more. 

Now playing

Mother of the Bride
Food, Inc. 2
Art College 1994

Film Credits

Bodkin movie poster

Bodkin (2024)

420 minutes


Siobhán Cullen as Dove

Robyn Cara as Emmy

Chris Walley as Sean

David Wilmot as Seamus

Will Forte as Gilbert


Latest blog posts


comments powered by Disqus