Six promising college seniors celebrate their bright futures at a carefree beach party — ensuring something horrible will happen to them. And in Apple TV+’s Spanish- and English-language thriller, “Now and Then,” it does.
Set in Miami, this eight-episode bilingual thriller is a one part murder mystery, one part melancholy drama about the perils of growing old, and growing apart, with regrets, secrets and a murder (or two) under your belt.
The first three episodes, which premiere Friday, are twisty and captivating, but also brooding and dense. Each hourlong installment requires a viewer’s full attention, no matter one’s native language, because there’s a lot of history and backstory to keep track of. Is it worth it? Yes, if you liked Netflix’s Mexican mystery thriller “Who Killed Sara?” Like that 2021 streaming series, “Now and Then” is a compelling soap mixed with well-crafted drama and an even better cast (more on that below). The plot is similar too: Someone gets killed and all the central characters make astoundingly bad decisions. Class matters. Sex, lies and videotape abound.
“Now and Then” moves between the present day and the year 2000, when “the incident” that changed everyone’s trajectory occurred. It follows the friends from their wide-eyed youth to their guilt-ridden adulthood, when the group’s disparate members are reunited by an anonymous blackmailer who threatens to tell all if they don’t pay up. That’s when the detectives who investigated the original, unsolved homicide, played by Rosie Perez and Željko Ivanek, are called in for a new murder among the former classmates.
The best thing about this series is the performances by an impressive ensemble cast that includes Marina de Tavira (“Roma”), José María Yazpik (“Narcos Mexico”), Maribel Verdú, Manolo Cardona, Soledad Villamil, Jorge López, Alicia Jaziz, Dario Yazbek Bernal, Alicia Sanz, Jack Duarte and Miranda de la Serna.
The series can become too heavy in spots, and often that happens because the series casts the characters’ pasts in such a halcyon light. The secrets keep piling up, and the truth is so elusive, it can feel claustrophobic. Crushing anxiety is the driver of “Now and Then,” where the past catches up with the present and threatens everyone’s carefully constructed adult personas.
‘Now and Then’
Where: Apple TV+
When: Any time, starting Friday
Rating: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 17)