The premise is pretty simple and straight forward. Jim Worth (Tim Roth) is a former British copper and recovering alcoholic from London who has decided to relocate to the scenic Canadian Rocky Mountains with his family.
The whole family is struggling to find their place in the new environment and as new police chief of Little Big Bear, Jim Worth has a hard time finding things to do in this sleepy little town, besides dealing with reports of sporadic bear encounters.
What I like straight away is the sense of being thrown into this quite exotic new world. The show is quite effective when it comes to transporting you as a viewer into this environment and have you experience being a British fish-out-of-water just like the whole Worth family.
Right from the start in a violent "forward flash" we understand that trouble is ahead for the four family members. It's also clear from the very first episode that the main antagonist of the show will be the oil company North Stream Oil that has taken root in the quiet town.
The decision to build an oil refinery is dividing the town into two camps. Some reckon it will be good for business with an influx of workers, while others worry about the environment and the radical changes it will cause. Jim and his daughter are also making their voices heard in the town meetings, and Jim is not too happy about changing the small-town life that he fled to from busy London. A year later, the drastic changes in the town is illustrated by the population numbers being replaced on the "Welcome to Little Big Bear" sign from 1578 to 2152. Workers from South America are flooding the town and the detractors of the company are threatened, persecuted and dying in suspicious ways. The wickedness of North Stream Oil is represented by the head of security of the company, an unpleasant man with a cold demeanor named Gagnon (Christopher Heyerdahl). The fake face presented to the public is represented by the head of PR, a beautiful wolf in sheepskin played by the brilliant Christina Hendricks.
When the area suddenly suffers from a wave of organized crime and Jim's family suffers a shocking tragedy, dark secrets about his past begin to surface. The AA meetings where "chief" is opening up and sharing his childhood memories and his history with alcoholism are great opportunities to get to know this rather complex character. Tim Roth is playing the police chief with an impressive amount of authenticity and naturalness. The use of mirrors in the show also effectively hints at a hidden and darker past of Jim, about to re-emerge.
A local woman strongly opposing the oil company is found dead in her car, with a gun wound to her head. Jim immediately suspects that there's something more sinister to her death. Soon thereafter things begin to take a very dark turn for the family, leading up to the harrowing end (and beginning) of the pilot.
All in all a captivating start of a show with the main ingredients of grief, corruption and consuming revenge.