Penny Dreadful‘s Samuel Barnett and Wilfred‘s Elijah Wood headline BBC America’s new series, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, premiering on October 22, 2016. Dirk Gently’s, based on Douglas Adams’ books and adapted into a series by Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra), combines sci-fi, comedy, drama, and some action as it follows a bellhop who reluctantly teams up with a holistic detective to find a missing girl and solve a murder. Season one kicked off with an episode titled ‘Horizons’ that introduced all the key players and established the show’s unique tone.
A brief disclaimer: The following recap includes every mention of a Corgi on screen because I proudly admit I’m an obsessed Corgi mom.
Dirk Gently’s Premiere Recap:
Dirk (Barnett) is called to the scene of a bloody multiple murder. Meanwhile elsewhere in the city, Todd (Wood) watches as his car is attacked by a raging man named Dorian (Ty Olsson) demanding money. Todd’s apparently really behind on rent and now his poor car has paid the price for his delinquency. To make matters worse, Todd’s locked himself out of his apartment and has to break in through the window to get ready for work. While on the bus, he spots a lost Corgi running down the street.
Todd asks his boss at the hotel if he can have his check a little early, but that request’s sidetracked by instructions that he visit the penthouse and also take care of a disorderly drunk woman in one of the rooms. The drunk turns out to be nearly naked and crying, and Todd’s accommodating when she asks if he can hang out for a second. She agrees to leave in an hour after declaring she hates men.
On his way to the penthouse Todd finally returns his sister Amanda’s multiple calls, apologizing he doesn’t have the money to help her out. The elevator opens on the 18th floor to a scene of a man in a slightly bloody, sort of dirty, furry costume who looks exactly like Todd. The door closes again before Todd can react.
Next stop: the penthouse. The lights flicker in the hallway as Todd slowly makes his way to the penthouse. He finds a lottery ticket on the floor and pushes the penthouse door open. Apparently what he discovers is the same bloody murder scene Dirk’s been called to investigate. Two detectives, Zimmerfield (Richard Schiff) and Estevez (Neil Brown Jr.), believe the murders are tied to a missing person’s case. Inside the penthouse, the room is a complete mess with huge blood splatters, broken furniture, and a crushed piano. There are burn marks all over the suite, one victim was bitten in half, and one had his arm torn off. Plus, there are bite marks on the ceiling. Yes, the ceiling!
Todd is questioned by the detectives because he was first on the scene and because he lost the master key prior to these murders. There’s only a short surveillance video that’s usable showing outside the penthouse and it appears a man in a gorilla mask used a key to get into the room. Todd can’t figure out the right answer when asked if he saw anything weird that morning, and he’s warned not to leave town. As the detectives are about to take off, Todd asks if there’s security footage from the 18th floor which makes the two detectives even more suspicious.
The hotel manager says the police think the murders have something to do with an animal. And to top off what’s already an extraordinarily horrible day, Todd is fired and his check won’t be available because it’s a “same day termination,” which makes zero sense to Todd.
Dejected, Todd rides the bus home, alone, and once again he spots the lonely Corgi wandering the streets. When he finally makes it back to his apartment, Dirk is in the process of coming in through his window. They tussle (neither of them is very good at actually fighting) and Todd slaps him in the face. Dirk acts like he can do karate but he sucks, and finally Todd asks him how he got in – even though he saw him at the window. Todd threatens to call the police while Dirk says he’s just trying to figure out if he’s a clue, an accomplice, or an assistant. Dirk asks him if he’s noticed any weird events in his life that seem unconnected, but are each bizarre. Dirk, whose thoughts and words come out like a stream of consciousness without any filter, says he now lives at Todd’s and is ready to sleep on the couch. He’s decided Todd’s an assistant, but Todd tosses him out and wants no part of this madness.
Two men – Colonel Scott Riggins (Miguel Sandoval) and Corporal Hugo Friedkin (Dustin Milligan) – are watching Dirk and Todd from a car on the street, and Scott has a shot and asks if he can take it. He’s told absolutely not but does so anyway, with the bullet ricocheting around Dirk’s apartment and ultimately ending up in Todd’s upstairs neighbor’s place where a woman is tied up to the bed. Her attacker takes the bullet and dies.
Riggins and Friedkin follow Dirk and detectives Zimmerfield and Estevez are completely confused. Are they tailing a guy who just met up with another guy who was being tailed by other people?
Upstairs, the bound woman tries to get loose while downstairs Todd talks to his sister on the phone. She’s feeling horrible but knows from her family history that there will be good days and bad days. Whatever she’s suffering from Todd suffers from, too. Even though he’s had one of the suckiest days ever, he tells his sister he’s fine.
Now we’re introduced to a bald man with tattoos and a guy who’s an expert at rigging some sort of something. A disheveled woman named Bart Curlish (Fiona Dourif) drives up and before the bald guy can do anything to protect himself, she kills him, viciously attacking him with a machete and stabbing him over and over again. She then chases after the guy who was rigging something and the chase slows to a snail’s pace as they tire themselves out. Turns out she’s chasing the wrong guy because this dude is definitely not Dirk Gently. In fact, he’s never heard of him. She tries to blame this whole homicidal sprint on him because he didn’t tell her he wasn’t Dirk Gently, but the guy’s understandably confused since he doesn’t know anyone by that name.
And now we’re back with the actual Dirk Gently who has spent the night outside Todd’s apartment. Todd tries to leave but Dirk just keeps talking, asking him questions about the hotel he was just fired from and the murder scene he discovered. This relationship is not off to a good start as Dirk just won’t let up and Todd’s so exasperated and out of options that he finally accepts a ride to his sister’s house. Plus, the decision was hastened by the appearance of Todd’s hammer-wielding landlord demanding rent.
At the police station, the detectives are still trying to link the murders to the missing person’s case of Lydia Spring. While trying to trace gorilla man’s path throughout the hotel, they spot the Corgi running through the lobby by himself.
Dirk’s a crazy driver, keeping up a running commentary of what they have in common including eating, breathing, and walking. Dirk takes his hands off the wheel, grabs a piece of pizza, and announces he’s a holistic detective and not with the CIA anymore. A holistic detective doesn’t use actual physical clues but instead relies on the connections between causes and effects.
The machete murderer is happy the guy she mistakenly chased decided to come with her. He reminds her she said she’d kill him if he didn’t, but she’s still happy for the company. She stops for gas she doesn’t need and the clerk has been killed, with the murderer now taking aim at her head. She easily turns the tables, kills that guy, and grabs some munchies. She explains to her passenger – who is now completely freaked out – that she’s a holistic assassin who kills whoever she feels like killing all day. If they die, then they were her target. It’s all about the connection between cause and effect. “Everything is chaos, but it’s synchronized.” Her passenger gently says that sounds like a murder spree, but she insists she’s never killed the wrong person.
Todd gases up Dirk’s car, and Dirk’s pleased Todd is already acting like an assistant. Dirk tries again to explain his methods, saying it’s mostly interconnectedness and coincidence. He wasn’t actually at Todd’s apartment because of Todd, but was checking out something else in that building. But, Dirk found a compelling piece of evidence at Todd’s place: nothing.
Dirk promised to stay in the car but didn’t, sneaking up on Todd as he knocks on his sister’s front door. He won’t go back to the car and Todd’s forced to introduce him to his sister. Dirk tries to lie that they’re very good friends and Todd punches him while Todd forces himself past Amanda (Hannah Marks).
Amanda needs Todd’s help because she can’t do anything; she has a nerve disease that causes her brain to misinterpret certain inputs. She has hallucinations that feel real. Todd further explains water can feel like fire and breathing can feel like drowning. Todd had it but got better, and Amanda thinks she just needs to take her meds. Dirk wonders why she has to stay in the house, if the disease is inside her. It shouldn’t matter at this point where she actually physically is, which leaves Amanda a bit confused.
Todd and Dirk argue over who’s the crazier of the two, and Dirk calls Todd his assistant/best friend. Todd completely disagrees.
Meanwhile outside, Riggins and Friedkin are once again on surveillance duty and Friedkin still has his sniper rifle. He’s chided once again to not use the weapon and in fact he shouldn’t even have it aimed at the house. The goal is actually to observe and protect the primary, not to kill anyone. Friedkin says he understands but then just as quickly says he’s got a shot. Riggins slaps him upside his head.
Back inside Amanda’s house, Amanda and Todd jam while Dirk smiles and pictures himself playing along. It’s going well until Amanda thinks her drumstick is a knife.
On the drive back to his apartment, Todd confesses he doesn’t have any money after giving Amanda his last $300. He wants to pay for Amanda’s pills because their parents used all of their money to cure Todd of the same disease. They have nothing left for Amanda.
Back at the apartment above Todd’s, the woman is still struggling to free herself.
Todd thinks Dirk’s just dropping him off back at his apartment but no, Dirk claims he now lives there too. Dirk won’t go away, telling Todd he needs them to work together to figure out the death of Patrick Spring. Patrick was one of the murder victims at the hotel, and before he was killed he hired Dirk for more than his usual rate to investigate the murder. Dirk was hired to investigate Patrick’s death six weeks before Patrick actually died. Todd is involved because he was there that day and the murderer used his key. Todd, completely confused, asks Dirk if he’s ever solved a case and Dirk finally confesses he’s solved a few. Dirk tells him money won’t be a problem since Todd’s working the case and somehow he’ll be compensated.
Out on the street, the detectives are in one car watching the apartment and Zimmerfield and Estevez are in another car. Both see a graffiti-covered van pull over to park, actually hitting Todd’s car as they pull to the curb. Inside the apartment Dirk panics and tries to hide under Todd’s bed as men get out of the van, howling. Dirk says they’re the Rowdy Three, and Todd says there are four men. They trash things as they enter the apartment building and Dirk refuses to leave Todd’s apartment. Todd tries to push Dirk out the door but then pulls him back in when the men with baseball bats are in the hallway. They trash Todd’s apartment, smashing everything and destroying all of Todd’s possessions. Todd’s landlord is not happy about this development, whips out a gun, and heads into the apartment building. The detectives on the street call for backup while the other surveillance team determine their primary objective is in danger and grab their guns.
Inside Todd’s apartment, the four thugs seem to suck up energy (a bright light emanates from Dirk’s body on the floor). They stop once they spot Todd watching them and exit via the window. Todd is devastated because everything is destroyed and just then the landlord rushes in, demanding his rent and demanding to know who those men were that trashed the building. The landlord is having a breakdown and he decides to shoot Todd. Instead, the bullet ricochets around the room and winds up hitting the landlord in the forehead.
The FBI and the police are outside, and they all have weapons on each other. It’s a standoff of sorts while up in the apartment Todd is so pissed he trashes his own guitar.
Todd’s handcuffed at the station, but then the two detectives set him free. It’s determined Todd’s landlord shot himself. Plus, the FBI was surveilling the landlord’s house because he was a drug dealer. Todd’s told he’s a person of interest permanently because he’s now connected to four dead bodies. He’s reminded he can’t leave town.
Two weird bald guys with tattoos ask the hotel manager if he found a kitten in the penthouse. When he says no, he’s killed.
Todd sees Lydia’s missing person flyer after being let go, and Dirk’s also just been freed by the police. Todd admits he stole the rent money from his landlord and that’s why he wouldn’t let it go. Dirk tells him that seems practical, and Todd says now he’s homeless and a suspect in multiple murders. Dirk says they still have a case to solve and Todd screams he’s not Dirk’s sidekick. Dirk tells him to take control of his life and interesting things will happen. Todd’s done with it and gets back on the bus where he once again spots the Corgi outside. This time he leaps off the bus and picks up the Corgi. Together they walk to the house on the dog’s tag. There’s something odd about the people who live there, but they take the Corgi and close the door.
Dirk opens his bag in an apartment and in it are the black kitten and the gorilla mask.
Todd stops in front of a store with a TV in the window. The lottery ticket he picked up in the hotel’s hall is a $10,000 winner.