SAINT X is the latest in streaming thrillers based off of a bestselling novel. However, the series struggles to make the central mystery as captivating as such predecessors as BIG LITTLE LIES and THE UNDOING. Episodes feel too drawn out… so much so I found myself zoning in and out of the (at times) confusing plot that time jumps so often it will give you whiplash. It almost feels like the series would have been best served as a film or shorter miniseries as opposed to a full-blown eight episode season.
Utilizing flashbacks through the POV of multiple characters, SAINT X explores the mysterious death of Alison (West Duchovny) during a vacation with her family in the Caribbean. Her death not only affects her parents and sister Emily (Alycia Debnam-Carey), but also impacts many of the people that worked at the island resort and were questioned about the incident. Years after Alison’s death, Emily is trying to make a new life for herself in New York City, but when she is confronted with a specter from her past, she takes it upon herself to discover once and for all what happened to her sister.
The script does try to cover a range of timely social issues, such as racial bias, culture clashes, socioeconomic disparity/white privilege, and the media’s unbalanced coverage of white women’s disappearances/murders aka missing white woman syndrome. However, instead of a meaningful exploration on any of these issues, it feels more like the writers threw a bunch of ideas at a wall to see what stuck… and the only one that really did was how Alison’s death impacted each socioeconomic group differently, due largely to prejudice and societal pressures.
The choice to turn SAINT X into a series instead of a film must have been an attempt to give more time to delve into and develop each character. However, trying to focus on so many characters across multiple time periods inevitably makes each one’s development lacking. The flashbacks are discombobulating, particularly in the beginning as the audience is trying to orient to the series, and the overly long episodes lead to issues with pacing and the series feeling unnecessarily long. On top of that, despite so many episodes, the series still doesn’t give enough backstory on Alison and her relationship with the other characters in the story, which would allow the audience to really sympathize with the all-consuming quest to find out what happened to her. The main light in the series is Alycia Debnam-Carey, whose performance and character’s storyline are high points. She does the best she can with a script that has clumsy dialogue and a multi-focused narrative, but I wish she was given more to sink her teeth into.
With all of the awesome titles on streaming services right now, the overly bloated SAINT X does not need to be anywhere close to the top of your queue. There are some flashes of an interesting storyline, but those small glimmers do not make for a series worthy of your time.
My Review: C-