Harper's Island

Season 1 Episode 1


Aired Thursday 10:00 PM Apr 09, 2009 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
461 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Abby Mills returns to her childhood home, Harper's Island, for the wedding celebration of her best friend, Henry Dunn, and his fiance Trish Wellington. Abby has not been home in 7 years, since John Wakefield murdered her mother and 5 others.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • A murder mystery turned slasher film in 13 episodes – what a fantastic idea! A promising pilot with lots of characters introduced and an intriguing mystery set up!

    A murder mystery turned slasher film in 13 episodes – what a fantastic idea!

    First off, I loved the premise for this show! As a big horror fan, the idea of the big group being picked off one by one over a multi-episodic story arc really appeals to me – it should allow time to really get to know some of the characters (though unlikely to be all of them, given that there are 25 suspects to be whittled down). The location wedding of Henry (Christopher Gorham) and Trish (Katie Cassidy is the setting of the mystery, as gruesome murders echo events from the eponymous Islands past.

    CBS have managed to offer up a pretty good pilot with their first episode Whap (with each title referring to the sound of the main death in the episode, in this case Uncle Marty), giving glimpses into the murders that occurred 7 years previously on the island, and to the backstories of a few characters. With so many characters to introduce in the first episode, only a few of them were given much depth – I look forward to that changing. The class difference between the bride and groom (and their respective friends) adds an interesting conflict to the wedding, epitomised in the father of the bride, Thomas Wellington (Richard Burghi), whose plot to derail the wedding by bringing back the bride's past lover Hunter Jennings (Victor Webster) is the one part of this pilot that I didn't like. This storyline came across as cheesy and clichéd, though it was redeemed slightly by Trish stating categorically her love for her fiancé, making her more endearing than your typical confused bride.

    At this stage, I have no idea who the killer could be, or why they would be doing it. The constant references to the islands past and the Wakefield killings make it clear that the two events are connected, and this larger mystery is intriguing. With only small flashes of what went on before, it is clear that discovering more about that will give a clearer picture of what is going on now. It is interesting however that it all seems to centre around Abby Mills (Elaine Cassidy), the grooms best friend, whose mother was killed by John Wakefield in the original massacre.

    With at least one death promised every week, it is clear that this show will include brutal and unexpected murders, and the decision to get the first one out of the way before they'd even reached the island was genius, truly giving a sense of how dangerous this killer is. To then take Uncle Marty, played by one of the shows biggest names, Harry Hamlin, and indisputably one of the pilots most interesting characters, and kill him off at the end, was a very bold message to the audience that no-one is safe. Uncle Marty was carrying a gun and a bag of money, flirting with younger women and threatening the man who's putting his nephew's happiness at risk made him easily the most watchable character – I just hope that we get some answers to his behaviour despite his untimely, and gruesome, demise on the bridge, which set the standard high for the climactic deaths to future episodes.

    Finally, my thoughts on some individual characters:

    Abby: The main protagonist of the show, Abby is both tough and likable. I'm still impressed by Elaine Cassidy's American accent, which slipped a little once, but is otherwise flawless! To have her drink beer with the groomsmen, and break up a bar fight easily endears her to the audience, and I look forward to seeing exactly why all the madness seems to centre around her.

    Sidenote: Also want to see more of her friend Nikki from the bar – that girl rocks!

    Sheriff Mills (Jim Beaver): It's a credit to this actor that he probably had the least screen time, yet already sticks out as one of the most interesting characters. Clearly there is a lot we don't know about his relationship with Abby, but the short conversation in the car already makes him a sympathetic character about whom I look forward to learning more.

    Chloe and Cal: Chloe (Cameron Richardson) could easily be just a typical blonde bombshell character – she's girly, flirty and at one point she strips off and runs off into the sea at night. However, her interest in serial killers adds an interesting aspect that could elevate her beyond her stereotype – we'll just have to wait to see if it will. As for Cal (Adam Campbell), the most foppish British stereotype I've seen in a while, his bumbling nature could easily get irritating. His engagement hopes gain him some sympathy, though the look of rage on his face as he dunked Chloe underwater shows there could well be another side to him...

    Madison (Cassandra Sawtell): CREEPY CHILD ALERT!! This girl is freaky. While it would be a bit far-fetched to have her behind it all, I can't help but be suspicious of this girl, who somehow seems more clued in than most about what's going on.

    The groomsmen seem like an interesting bunch of guys, while the bridesmaids remain fairly undeveloped so far.

    The first episode introduced a lot of characters – bring on episode 2 and hopefully some further development! I can't wait!moreless
  • Pilot episode

    In this episode of Harper's Island, the following happens. The main focus of this pilot episode is Abby Mills, who is returning to her childhood home of Harper's Island for the wedding of her best friend, Henry. We quickly learn that Abby's mother was killed on the island by a serial killer, who has since been caught and has been killed. Soon things don't appear as they seem, as we see that someone on the island is still killing, in this one episode alone we see 2 murders. Overall quite an interesting episode, I will keep watching as it was better than I thought it was going to be.moreless
  • A very fun and gory first episode.

    Given the sheer volume of characters, a pretty good job was done of introducing everyone and even focusing on a few, already introducing the sub plots. Right after that is the number of well known names in this. Also noteworthy is that there are two Supernatural actors in here too: Jim Beaver and Katie Cassidy (almost unrecognizable here with dark hair). The murders are suitably shocking and apparently random, but I also really enjoyed the introduction of the previous murders on the island, the few flashbacks have been extremely intriguing and not the usual slasher images, instead the bodies were hung on display in the trees.

    A very impressive beginning, I already know I'm going to watch the rest.moreless
  • i started watching this show after it had been on the air for 2 months. had i known Gina Holden was on it i would have watched it from the beginning.moreless

    i've been a fan of her since she was on blood ties, i even tried watching an episode of the train wreck that was flash gordon on syfy because she was on it. anyway, she's not the star of this show, even though she should be.

    this started out as ok 1st episode that introduced everyone & the cliche storyline that's been done before: poor boy marries rich girl, rich dad not happy. But then the show became awesome! i was not expecting that guy to be killed when the boat left for the island they even showed the blood in the water & as if that wasn't enough they killed uncle marty in the very 1st episode in a really gruesome way. two people dead & the show just started! i can't believe this show is on the air! it's amazing. a horror movie on broadcast television. it's crazy. I can't wait for the next episode.moreless
  • This is the best show in the whole world!

    It has great actors! The casts and characters are great! I love it!

    It began with a boat party with the guests and people aboard the boat. They went to Harper's Island to relax, enjoy, celebrate and...to die. Ben and Uncle Marty died on this episode. I thought it will be the dog owner, Lucy. The actors and actresses are, honestly, great in acting especially Harry Hamlin! They are all great in acting! Watch this show! I recommend it!

    I downloaded all the episodes 1-5 on itunes! I am starting to collect the episodes and I will watch it again if I want.moreless
C.J. Thomason

C.J. Thomason

Jimmy Mance

Guest Star

Victor Webster

Victor Webster

Hunter Jennings

Guest Star

Harry Hamlin

Harry Hamlin

Marty Dunn

Guest Star

Dean Chekvala

Dean Chekvala

J.D. Dunn

Recurring Role

Matt Barr

Matt Barr

Christopher "Sully" Sullivan

Recurring Role

Gina Holden

Gina Holden

Shea Allen

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

    • The boat bringing the wedding party to Harper's Island is the HMNZS Tarapunga. She was a modified Moa class inshore patrol vessel of the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) and was purchased by North American owners after decommissioning.

    • Cousin Ben Wellington, who dies at the beginning of this episode, appears in the internet show Harper's Globe.

    • At the beginning of the episode it is revealed that Harper's Island is 37 miles off the coast of Seattle, Washington and is only accessible by watercraft.

    • The title of this episode, which is Whap, refers to the sound made during Cousin Ben's dismemberment by the ship's propeller.

    • All 13 episode titles refer to sounds made by the deathblows of various weapons used in that episode.

    • Goof: In the opening scene, a taxi pulls up to the dock area with the misspelled lettering on the door saying, "Bay area Taxi, Seattle, Washingtion".

    • DEATHS:
      Cousin Ben Wellington: He was tied to the bottom of the ship and was killed by the propeller
      Uncle Marty Dunn: His body was sliced in half by the killer using a sword.

    • Actors Katie Cassidy, Jim Beaver, Gina Holden and Chris Gauthier have all previously appeared on Supernatural, although the four never appeared together all at once.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Trish Wellington: (looking down on Sully, Danny, and Malcolm) You know what I love about those guys?
      Shea Allen: They bring their own beer?
      Trish Wellington: No. That they love Henry as much as I do.

    • Trish Wellington: (In bed) Was I loud?
      Henry Dunn: What? No!
      Trish Wellington: Oh my God, I was loud.
      Henry Dunn: No!
      Trish Wellington: Oh my God, I was so loud!
      Henry Dunn: It's OK, it makes me look really good.

    • Danny Brooks: Uncle Marty's what, 50? He's not married, no kids, and here he is trying to tap some hot thing half his age. Come on!
      Malcolm Ross: Oh, oh, okay Oprah. So in what world does that make him not a superhero?

    • Chloe Carter: Am I the only one who thinks that men and women can't just be friends?

  • NOTES (4)

    • Additional Credits:
      Visual Effects Provided By: Entity FX
      Post Production Sound: Smart Post Sound
      Main Title Design: The Picture Mill
      Post Production Services: Technicolor, Vancouver; Modern Videofilm, Inc., Los Angeles

    • Although Claudette Mink (Katherine Wellington) appears in this episode, she has no lines.

    • Music:
      1. Love Remains The Same by Gavin Rossdale.
      2. I'm Not Over by Carolina Liar.
      3. Erase Me by Star Ghost Dog.
      4. Transfer by Collide.
      5. Ave Maria by Franz Schubert.

    • Original International Air Dates:
      Norway: Sunday, April 19, 2009 on TV2Zebra
      Australia: Sunday, May 10, 2009 on Ten
      Ireland: Monday, June 8, 2009 on RTE2
      Poland: Sunday, June 14, 2009 on AXN
      Germany: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 on ProSieben
      Finland: Thursday, September 3, 2009 on Nelonen
      Czech Republic: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 on Barrandov
      Slovakia: Sunday, January 8, 2012 on JOJ


    • Cal: (to Chloe after surprising her with a sailing excursion) My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep.

      This quote comes from William Shakespeare's famous star-crossed lovers tale Romeo and Juliet.