We have ourselves a whodunnit, y'all.
The premiere episode of Ten Days in the Valley had one silver lining in its premiere episode — Lake Sadler-Greene is still alive. Otherwise, things are looking very bleak for this family. The seven year-old daughter of Jane Sadler (Kyra Sedgwick) and Pete Greene (Kick Gurry) was abducted from her home midway through the first episode, kicking off a 10-part series that will leave no rock unturned as her parents and the police try to uncover who took her, all the while pointing the fingers at each other.
The premiere set Pete as the initial first suspect in Lake's disappearance. He's the scorned recovering addict dad with limited custody and motive because he hates his self-righteous wife who is not so deftly hiding an addiction problem of her own. They are both keeping secrets, both from each other and the police, while Lake's life hangs in the balance.
The first episode set up an intricate character study of the main players while also making sure viewers realize that nothing is as it seems at first glance in this series. TV Guide talked to creator Tassie Cameron about setting up a twisty-ride, Season 2 plans and how much we can actually trust Pete.
Right now, Pete is looking like the number one suspect. How should we lean into that or the trope that the first suspect is never the right guess?
Tassie Cameron: You can play the game with yourself over and over again where it's like, "He looks so obvious that he couldn't be the person who did it but therefore maybe he is the person who did it." You can twist yourself up in circles with this whole thing. I will say that there are many, many, many characters that you meet in this first episode and you get to know many of them much better in the coming up episodes. He's an important character in this season. I'll leave it at that.
Jane makes a big deal about his addiction problems, but we find out she has an addiction of her own. How is that going to going to complicate things as it comes to light?
Cameron: That's exactly the dilemma that she's grappling with in this first episode. She's the kind of righteous mother who is fighting with her ex about custody and seeming like the "good mother." When you realize that she's got her own dealings and dubious ways of dealing with stress, that's going to compromise her identity, her relationship with her ex, the custody of her child and that's her big secret in this first episode. That was a really interesting way to start our main character.
Jane is taking her time in opening up to the police. Even when she realizes that Pete maybe doesn't have Lake, she still doesn't want to tell the cops everything. How long do you want to draw that out?
Cameron: We don't draw it out that much longer. At a certain point it has to come clear what that night was. In the shock of this first happening I think people sometimes make very strange decisions to protect themselves and protect custody and make themselves look good. That actually makes them look more suspicious. No, we don't draw it out too much longer.
We get to see Lake alive at the end of the episode, which alleviates that rule that if a child is missing for more than 24 hours don't expect them to come back alive. Why did it feel important to tell the audience that she was okay at the end of this first episode?
Cameron: For me, as a parent of a seven-year-old girl, I would be hard pressed to watch a show about a missing child if I felt there was a strong possibility that kid was not going to come home. I just would find it torturous. I didn't want that. I think there's enough excitement, mystery, danger without the viewers all stressing that the kid is in dire danger or in a horrific situation. It was very conscious. For me, as a writer, I wanted to know that she was okay in the space of that first episode. We sort of track Lake throughout the season. We follow her storyline a little bit and it's very confusing and mysterious and probably traumatic in its own way. I wanted to be able to relax into the mystery and the character work.
Jane still seems pretty capable of using work as a crutch to distract her from what's really going on. When she accepts how serious this is, what is it going to be like for her when she realizes she can't delve into work as a distraction?
Cameron: You'll see as it goes on that we maintain a workplace as a source of character drama. It even becomes part of the mystery, her workplace. Of course, when you discover [the kidnapping] is completely for real and serious, her focus changes completely. I think we've found an interesting way to keep that cop show and that work environment in play throughout where it matters to the story.
Is taking Lake the main crime? It seems like there are a lot of other nefarious activities going on. Are we going to find out that her kidnapping is just the tip of the iceberg?
Cameron: I think you're going to find out that her kidnapping is the tip of the iceberg. That's a good question. This series dives into politics and police corruption and the drug world, all sorts of different areas...I think it's going to go into a lot of different directions. I know it is!
Ten Days in the Valley continues Sundays at 10/9c on ABC.