‘Will’ Episode 1×01 Review: “The Play’s The Thing”

One show you will hear us talk a lot about is Will on TNT. The show, which debuted last night on TNT, was a 2 part premiere, but in this review, we’re only covering the first part. See, there is so much to be said about each episode, we felt that we were doing a injustice to the show if we combined the review of two episodes into one.

Especially because right now, we need to get to learn the characters. So lets start there. Here’s who you need to know.

One thing we love – official bios.


24 years old and from the wrong side of the social and political tracks, Will is a young man with a dream. Risking everything, he plunges into the sexy, dangerous, live-fast-die-young world of Elizabethan theatre, where he faces a daily struggle not only to succeed as a writer but also to survive in a world where joy and sorrow, ecstasy and despair all jostle to claim the soul of this troubled genius. Will finds a kindred spirit in the beautiful, talented and rebellious Alice (Olivia DeJonge), but their star-crossed love threatens to destroy both their worlds.


Talented and beautiful, Alice is a strong-willed rebel who tests the limits of her male-dominated world with a witty charm that masks an underlying frustration. Although she is the daughter of impresario James Burbage, society forbids her to pursue a career in the theatre, but she strives to defy convention and is confident she is meant for something greater. Attracted to Will’s naïve genius, an explosive, star-crossed passion quickly develops between the two. Alice ultimately makes a decision that rocks Will to his core and threatens to tear The Theatre apart.


Brilliant, young, arrogant, glamorous and outrageously provocative, Marlowe is London’s superstar playwright. A lover of espionage, intrigue and danger in all its forms, Marlowe lives on the “slicing edge” of life. Will is drawn into his orbit, but Marlowe’s allegiances are as mercurial as his personality.


Impossibly good-looking, incredibly charming and James Burbage’s son, Richard is one of life’s fortunate few. Although innately talented, he is a little too much in love with himself and prone to overact. Through personal tragedy and Will’s influence, Richard eventually realizes that there is more to being an actor than the crowd’s adoration, and he and Will go on to form the greatest actor-writer partnership the world has ever seen.


James Burbage is a carpenter who had a vision to build the first theatre in London since Roman times: a 3,000-seat auditorium that will go on to become so famous, it will simply be called “The Theatre.” Actor, producer and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants entrepreneur, James must battle the authorities, rival theatres and a fickle, sometimes riotous public to keep himself and his company of talented misfits afloat.


Topcliffe clothes his sadistic nature with pious charm. A notorious torturer and Queen Elizabeth’s chief pursuer and persecutor of Catholics, Topcliffe is the most feared man in London. Desperate to track down the fugitive traitor Southwell (secretly Will’s cousin), Topcliffe and Will develop a complex and dangerous relationship that pushes the young playwright to his breaking point.


Skinny and charmingly ruthless, 12-year-old street rat Presto has only one goal in life: to rescue his sister, Apelina, from the brothel in which she has become ensnared. When Presto robs Will, he sets off a chain of events that brings Will toward mortal danger.

Now that you have an idea of who all the characters are – lets break down the first episode. Here’s the synopsis –

It’s 1589, a time of religious turmoil in Protestant England when to be Catholic could be a death sentence – Will Shakespeare (Laurie Davidson) arrives from the small town of Stratford to the wild streets of London with little more than a dream and a treacherous letter…

Shit’s going down.


Who would have known that Will leaves behind 3 children and a wife. We wouldn’t have if we didn’t see it on Will. I guess that one always needs to follow their dreams, even if it takes you away from family.

Then again – leaving family and the place that you are is sometimes what is needed.

Will leaves home to head to London, where playwrights are rockstars and actors are everything. He has a dream and is entranced. But it’s that entrancement with the city and the surroundings that makes something else happen – he ends up getting robbed by Pesto. Only Will isn’t about to just take it. He gives chase to the child, because what he has stolen can get Will in a lot of trouble. A rosary and a letter to Will’s cousin – who is one of the most wanted men in England. Why? Because he’s Catholic.

Will catches Pesto, but not before Pesto cuts Will’s hand.

For such a young boy, Pesto is pretty damn smart. He knows that the letter he’s stolen that is supposed to go to Will’s cousin is leverage. He thinks that he can use it to rescue his sister, who works in a brothel. I feel for Pesto, that kid has it hard and even though he’s doing the wrong things, he really just wants to do what is right.


So Will, makes his way to the theater, and to put it bluntly, the play is shit. The audience is going crazy, yelling and screaming. A riot ensues – basically. James is not about to let his theater get torn down in the craziness and tells the audience that if they come back the next day they will be treated to a free play written by Christopher Marlowe.

Only there is no play by Christopher Marlowe. See Christopher was hired to write one, but he never did.

So Will, after the play goes to the stage door when the show is over, and it’s closed in his face. But he see’s someone in a window, and thinks it’s a dude. Only it’s not. It’s Alice. She tells him to start reading his play and he does.

She disappears from the window and lets him in to see her father. She believes in him. Instantly you see the connection between these two.

They are perfect.

So, because they are so desperate for a play, the company takes on Shakespeare’s play. He’s estatic. Hell we would be too, if it was that simple for someone to take on what we wrote.

That night after rehearsal, Richard, some other dude, and Will go out drinking. Alice shows up at the bar, dressed like a dude. We applaud her fearless attitude.

One of the other playwrights decides to make fun of Will because of what he decided to do to fix a scene. Birds. Ya, I have a phobia of them – so it creeped me out too, but like hey – not my play.

Now, I wasn’t aware that they had poetry battles way back in 1569, but hey I was wrong. And though it takes Will a minute to catch his words, he gets there. He’s pretty damn good. I was like cheering him on and then laughing.

As with anyone who wins something, Will is on a high. He’s estatic. So the group is in the streets, celebrating, when all of the sudden the police or some shiz starts after them. Will and Alice take off one direction, while Richard and the other dude, in the other.

Let me just say it – Richard, you are a crap brother – you don’t know Will. For all you know he’s a murderer.

But as Will and Alice jump a wall and end up laying on top of each other on the ground, and yup – they start making out. Now guys, this made me mad.


Cause Will is married. And it takes him quite a few seconds before he opens up to it. Look dude, don’t put a ring on someones finger and have kids with them if you can’t be committed.

Alice is upset when he tells her – as anyone should be. There is an instant distance between the two of them, and as sad as I am about it – I am kinda okay, cause it’s like – dude, keep your pecker in your pants.


So the posters for the play go up and Marlowe shows up at the theater. Which, we’re not gonna blame him for being pissed about this. Cause like, using someones name is just really shitty. But, he asks to meet Will and we’re cringing. Why? Because he will see the fact that Will has a cut hand.

See, you remember when Pesto stole the letter? Wills cousin is one of the most sought after men in England, because he’s Catholic. Being a Catholic was a bad thing then. Pesto told Topcliffe (crazy dude) that he had sliced the hand of the Catholic he stole the letter from.

Marlowe promised to deliver the Catholic. He was set on it too, even paying someone to fetch Topcliffe, after he see’s the gash in Will’s hand.

But just as we think that Marlowe couldn’t get any crazier, he decides that he is going to save Will. He takes the crazy bad playwright and slices his hand, effectively signing his death warrant.


Richard, oh Richard – you of pretty face and amazing body, we’re a little confused by your acting technique. Yelling at the top of your lungs seems a little strange.

Will see’s it and he knows that if Richard keeps at it – the play isn’t going to be as good as it could be. So Will decides to come on stage to help it along.

Thank fucking God, Richard got the clue. The audience loved the play.

What surprised us is that Marlowe came on the stage and gave Will credit. He could have secured his douchey-ness and taken credit.

But after giving the other playwright over to Topcliffe, he tells Will that he saved his life. Sure, Will doesn’t know why. But he’s in a debt that he doesn’t seem to get.


  1. I could have done with a warning at the beginning. I was trying to eat, and that organ pulling scene – yup, nope.
  2. I am hoping that we’re going to get more of Jamie Campbell Bower.
  3. I am surprised how much they are teetering here on the edge for cable tv, but I am loving this show.
  4. I’d like to thank the Lord for Laurie Davidson’s jaw porn.
  5. Jamie Campbell Bower, you are perfection.

Will airs Monday’s on TNT.

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