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Melodrama is a genre with a unique kind of emotional payoff. Things like family tragedies and childhood trauma are used to provoke catharsis in the audience, and Prime Video’s newest series does just that. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart 1×01 through 1×03 are compelling episodes, establishing interesting characters and raising intriguing questions about their interactions.
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is based on Holly Ringland’s 2018 novel of the same name. It’s set in Australia and Alice is 9 years old when the story begins. However, this is not a kid’s story. The themes are mature and the subject matter often gets quite dark. Out of the cast, Sigourney Weaver is the most recognizable name but there is other good work being put in here, particularly from the child actor playing young Alice, Alyla Browne.
The imagery of native flowers is an effective motif and the first episodes of this series establish it well. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart 1×01 through 1×03 also commences the unpleasant plot in an emotional way.
“Black Fire Orchid”
As little Alice talks with her parents Clem (Charlie Vickers) and Anges (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) about the new baby on the way, Agnes’ hesitant smile is the first sign something is wrong. Sure enough, Clem reveals his evil almost immediately.
He abuses his wife and child. Even when Alice meets librarian Sally (Asher Keddie) by chance and Sally reports the girl’s bruises to her cop husband John (Alexander England), Clem manages to make the usual excuses.
Of course, a situation like this was bound to come to a head. While alone at home, Alice accidentally starts a fire in Clem’s work shed. The expected physical retaliation is kept from the audience, but we do see a fire start in the house as well. It kills Clem and Agnes, but Alice and her unborn brother survive.
The truth about what happened will be kept from us until much later, I suspect. But Clem’s mother June (Weaver), who Alice has never met, decides she wants her granddaughter. However, Agnes left a will that surprises everyone. She has named June and Sally co-guardians of Alice. That raises only the first of many questions for the viewer.
June takes Alice to live with her and her wife at Thornfield flower farm. (Jane Eyre reference?) June has created a refuge there for battered women, and you get a clear sense she did it because of the way her son was. It hasn’t been revealed yet but Clem obviously left a bad mark on the place before turning his back on it. As Alice stays silent due to the trauma she’s suffered, she starts school.
June also deftly deals with an abusive husband who comes around for one of the women at Thornfield. You know exactly why Weaver was cast as June when you see her provoke the asshole into assaulting her so he’s no longer a problem. Her Australian accent is sketchy but physical confrontation is something Weaver can pull off. Always has been.
Meanwhile, Sally decides to fight for custody of Alice. She and John lost their own daughter Gemma to illness recently, so you understand why she is clinging so hard to this chance to be a mother again. John is persistent about wanting to know why Agnes named Sally as guardian. Finally, she tells him the truth: Gemma was Clem’s and Agnes knew. It’s a WTF revelation, even if a melodramatic one.
This heightened drama does not stop in the next episode. Sally and John’s marriage is in serious jeopardy but she can’t resist going all in to try to see Alice. June relents and lets her visit, explaining her mission with the flower farm and how Sally is putting that at risk.
Sally is one of the most relatable characters here and Keddie is good at fleshing out her emotional journey. At the same time, Alice is not emotionally stable after what she’s been through. She finally begins talking again but you wonder what her past will mean for her future.
Another plot surprise also pops up, one that promises to have long-term repercussions. June learns that Clem and Agnes’ unborn son has actually survived in intensive care, against all odds.
The audience is left until the next episode to find out what decision she’s made about this. Her obvious fear that Clem’s son will inherit his darkness is understandable. If The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart has an underlying concern so far, episodes 1×01 through 1×03 show it to be the shadow evil can cast even after it’s gone.
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is streaming on Prime Video.