Jennifer Garner plays a woman whose husband has mysteriously disappeared in the Apple TV+ thriller The Last Thing He Told Me.
The miniseries (executive production by Garner and Reese Witherspoon) premieres April 14 and is based on a best-selling novel by Laura Dave (and co-written by Dave and her husband, Oscar-winning Spotlight screenwriter Josh Singer) .
The plot follows Hannah (Garner), an artist and newlywed who has been in what appears to be a great relationship with a widower, Owen (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “Game of Thrones”) for a little over a year – despite his morose teenage Daughter Bailey (Angourie Rice) hasn’t warmed to her new stepmother yet.
When Owen mysteriously disappears following a fraud investigation at his tech startup – “It’s like Enron,” Hannah’s friend Jules (Aisha Tyler) helpfully puts in context – Hannah’s life is turned upside down. She’s blind because Owen never came across as the white-collar criminal type.
She has also tried to take care of Bailey after Owen’s last message to Hannah was a note asking her to protect his daughter. Since Hannah Bailey hasn’t officially adopted and Owen isn’t returning, there’s no guarantee the teen will be able to stay with her stepmother.
At the same time, Hannah tries to unravel the mystery of Owen’s disappearance and why he really disappeared. Her concern mounts when Owen’s colleagues are inundated with the news – with reports that they are being investigated and charged.
What initially seemed like an issue with Owen’s job soon becomes a broader story about how despite his genius (seen in flashbacks), Hannah may never have really known her husband. To complicate matters further, various figures from the woodwork emerge and it’s unclear who to trust – including a man claiming to be a US Marshal (Augusto Aguilera) who says he wants Owen protect and Hannah advises to back off and get a lawyer.
The Last Thing He Told Me attempts to tell two stories at once: the mystery of what’s going on with Owen and a strained relationship drama between a stepmother and stepdaughter who weren’t previously close but now have to rely on each other .
For the most part, it succeeds – although the stepmother-daughter part of the storyline is often stronger. The thriller element has the right amount of suspense but is a bit ho-hum, often with disappointing revelations as the various mysteries unfold.
The visuals are scenic; Hannah lives in a floating home in Sausalito, California. For any Big Little Lies fans craving another mystery/household drama set in expensive homes on the water, this show will satisfy that appetite.
Carrying on from her “Alias” days, Garner is a pro at playing a competent woman who finds herself in hot water. This is her first starring role in a series in several years (since 2018’s HBO series Camping), but many of her recent film roles have been of the compassionate mother type (Love, Simon, The Adam Project). . “The Last Thing He Told Me” is an intriguing twist on this familiar role, in which Hannah struggles with being a stepmother who is overwhelmed but tries to connect with her grumpy teenage stepdaughter.
An actor of Coster-Waldau’s caliber is almost wasted here – given that he doesn’t get much screen time – but he delivers an effortless charm that makes you wonder if there’s something darker lurking beneath the surface… without overdoing it.
“The Last Thing He Told Me” isn’t as sharp and edgy a thriller as “Yellowjackets” or as soapy fun as “You.” But like The Night Agent, it’s a pretty good character-driven thriller supported by a strong cast.