Ragdoll episode 1 begins with the trial for Cremation Killer Mark Hooper, a case that thoroughly ravaged DI Nathan Rose’s (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) mental health and reputation. The Cremation Killer would burn his victims alive, one of which Rose watched die, helpless to do anything to save them.
Rose was convinced that Hooper was the killer, to the point he tampered with evidence and witness statements to ensure he’d be convicted. His plans backfired, and Rose’s obsessive behavior caused his fellow detectives to worry about his health. DI Chambers even wrote a letter vilifying Rose’s actions. The press somehow got their hands on the letter and published it.
This combination of events led to Hooper going free. During the episode’s opening scenes, we see the trial play out, and the judge announces Hooper is innocent. Rose immediately becomes unhinged, launching himself at Hooper and beating him to a bloody pulp with the intent to kill him. The only reason he doesn’t kill Hooper is that Chambers and a security guard intervene in time.
Ragdoll episode 1 recap: Discovering the “Ragdoll”
Two years later, Rose returns to work after a stint in a psychiatric facility. He’s back on the force, and one of his first significant new cases is the Ragdoll killer. Rose gets a call to come to check out a body that happens to have been found in a flat directly across the street from his own.
This “body” is unlike anything the police have seen before. Sewn together from body parts taken from six different murder victims to form one grotesque figure, the “Ragdoll,” is suspended from the flat’s ceiling like a disturbing art installation. And that’s not all. The only immediately recognizable body part is the head, which looks suspiciously like Mark Hooper’s head.
Also, one of the Ragdoll’s frozen arms points straight toward Rose’s flat across the road. That can’t be a coincidence, can it?
But how can the head belong to Hooper? He’s in prison, notes American ingenue DC Lake Edmunds (Lucy Hale).
Yes, we find out that Rose had been right about Hooper’s identity as the Cremation Killer all along. Shortly after being found innocent, Hooper struck again. Rose saw it happen via news report while he was in the hospital and lost his mind, going on a rampage in the rec room and destroying everything in sight.
So, yeah, it seems strange that someone could have killed Hooper if he was in prison. Edmunds and Rose’s partner, DI Emily Baxter (Thalissa Teixeira), go to the prison to verify Hooper’s death.
Ragdoll episode 1 recap: Is that Mark Hooper’s head?
Hooper is confirmed dead. The autopsy report shows that someone slipped tetrodotoxin, a naturally-occurring neurotoxin most commonly found in blowfish, into his prison food. Hooper had become the only vegan in the facility, meaning his food was specially prepared off-site. Either someone on the premises there poisoned his food, or it was poisoned in transit to the prison.
Back at the precinct, several flower bouquets are delivered to Baxter as a thank-you for a case she solved recently alongside Chambers. It appears the locals are thankful she stopped a serial killer. Keep that in mind for later.
Regarding the toxin, the only clue Edmunds finds so far is a blurry photo of a man’s silhouette leaving the place where they made Hooper’s food. As for the other unidentified body parts, the only significant hint they have so far is a Pomeranian tattoo on one of the arms.
Ragdoll episode 1 recap: Who is on the killer’s hit list?
During the first official press release, we meet Andrea (Natasha Little), a razor-sharp and unscrupulous journalist who published Chambers’ letter about Rose back in the day. She and Rose have obviously slept together before creating a rift between her and Baxter but also because Andrea is the type of woman who will do anything to get a good story. She’s practically salivating over the Ragdoll story already.
Waiting for the team on Rose’s desk is a hit list courtesy of the Ragdoll killer naming six more victims, including Mayor Ray Turnbull, Nick Hooper, Eric Turner, Matthew Wingate, Andrew Daly, and last, but certainly not least, Nathan Rose himself. If the numerical order of the list is of any importance (and in the book it is), the priority is to protect Mayor Turnbull (Phil Davis), the first name on the list and likely the first victim scheduled to die.
Ragdoll episode 1 recap: Can the team save Mayor Turnbull from the killer?
Turnbull isn’t thrilled about having to spend a day on lockdown inside the police headquarters. From Rose forcing him to walk up 11 flights of stairs (Turnbull previously called him a fascist on live television) to the abundance of flowers everywhere triggering his asthma, his hand is constantly on his inhaler.
Face-to-face, Rose confronts Turnbull about the way he handled the Hooper case. Days after Rose assaulted Hooper in the courtroom, Turnbull was photographed shaking Hooper’s hand from his hospital bed to condemn Rose’s act of brutality. However, he notes that after Hooper’s arrest, he wouldn’t have minded if Hooper died “mysteriously” in his cell.
“If I’d done an Epstein, hanged him with his pajamas?” “You’d be DCI.”
Across town, Edmunds and Baxter get to chatting about tattoos, and the conversation leads to Baxter’s celebratory flowers. Baxter is uncomfortable with the gifts because she doesn’t want praise for doing her job. Not to mention the fact Baxter didn’t catch the killer on her own, Chambers assisted. She visits one of the victim’s family members and asks him to refrain from sending anymore, only for him to say that he never sent her any flowers, which means someone else did…
Baxter immediately realizes something hinky about her bouquets and tries to get in touch with Rose. But it’s too late. At the precinct, Turnbull lights a cigarette and suddenly bursts into flame. The killer deliberately sent the pollen-loaded flowers so Turnbull, who has asthma and probably allergens, would use his inhaler, which was likely laced with an accelerant that caused Turnbull to incinerate from the inside out. Ouch.
Rose is helpless to stop the mayor from burning to a crisp, paralyzed by the similarities between his death and the death of the Cremation Killer victim we saw via flashback in the episode’s opening scene. Turnbull dies. That’s one name off the list!
Ragdoll episode 1 recap: What is Rose’s relation to the Ragdoll killer?
Baxter makes a point to tell Rose that the Ragdoll pointing to his flat is likely just a coincidence, but is that true? During his court-mandated therapy sessions, we learn more about what happened to Rose during his stay in the psychiatric facility.
While there, he befriended a paranoid schizophrenic named Joel. Why is Rose thinking about Joel today of all days, the day he found out Hooper died?
In a flashback sequence to Rose’s time in the hospital, Joel tells him about a Faustian killer. A Faustian bargain is, in essence, a deal with the devil. According to Joel, if you call a secret phone number, you connect to a killer who will do your dirty work for you. But the deal is, he’ll kill you too once all is said and done.
Realizing there might be a link between the Faust and the Ragdoll killer, Rose tries to visit Joel at the hospital. Too late. Joel is dead, and I’m guessing it’s not a coincidence he called the Faust killer to eliminate his sister’s murderer.
Rose relays all of this information to his therapist. “An eye for an eye. A wild justice. Does that appeal to you? Do you believe the Faust is real? Is that why you called me tonight?”
Apparently so, since the flashback shows that during his hospital stay, Rose was so desperate to make Hooper pay that he called the Faust killer using the number Joel wrote on a piece of bible paper and asked him to kill Mark Hooper.
In short, Rose set the killer loose. He’s the reason the Ragdoll was made! But what do the other victims have to do with it?
The next episode of Ragdoll premieres Thursday, November 18 exclusively on AMC+.