At the beginning of the 1st episode of Apple Tree Yard, we see Yvonne Carmichael (Emily Watson) handcuffed and being transported somewhere. We jump back and see Yvonne giving a lecture about DNA. After a successful speech, Yvonne heads to the lobby and grabs a drink. She is completely ignored by a young man. Seconds later, a stranger introduces himself. The man, Mark (Ben Chaplin), offers to take Yvonne to see the Chapel in the Crypt. She quickly agrees. Moments later, the couple tours the building. They head downstairs and Yvonne enters a small room. Once the door is closed, she finds a memorial to Emily Wilding Davison.
Seconds later, Mark makes his move and kisses Yvonne. She doesn’t resist and seems to enjoy herself. After it is all over, Yvonne confesses she has never done anything like that before. Moments later, Yvonne returns home. She stares at herself in the mirror and rethinks her decision. She grabs her tablet and begins looking for an STD clinic in her area. Her husband, Gary (Mark Bonnar), enters and interrupts. The couple shares a meal together. Throughout the meal, Yvonne continues thinking about her new friend. Later that night, Yvonne climbs out of bed and turns on her computer. She writes a letter starting with “Dear X”. She writes that having sex with the stranger is like being eaten by a wolf. The next day, Yvonne speaks with Liz (Franc Ashman) about Kat’s maternity leave.
Yvonne admits she doesn’t want to cover for the woman. Liz agrees to find someone else. Next, Yvonne goes on the hunt for the stranger. She pretends to have lost her scarf. She is unable to track down the man. She heads to the Regency Café and sits down. The stranger strolls by and spots Yvonne inside. Mark joins her seconds later. They speak about his job, which he refers to as civil service. Both admit they’re married, but neither seems interested in letting that come between them. Later, Yvonne speaks with her friend, Susannah (Susan Lynch). Susan complains about her sex life. Susan quickly realizes that something is up with her friend. Yvonne doesn’t tell her about her new friend. On the way home, Yvonne calls her new friend and tells him that they should end their relationship.
Later that night, Yvonne and Gary are disturbed by a noise outside. They rush outside and find Rosa (Laure Stockley). The woman is a bloody mess and has dropped bottles everywhere. Gary agrees to transport the woman to her destination. Yvonne seems suspicious of her husband’s relationship with Rosa. The next day, Yvonne gets a visit from her daughter, Carrie (Olivia Vinall), and her significant other, Sathnam (Assad Zaman). Gary enters seconds later and Yvonne mentions their encounter with Rosa. During lunch, Carrie reveals that she is pregnant. Yvonne seems concerned, but Gary is thrilled by the news. Yvonne speaks with Carrie about her job. The girl insists she will return after her maternity leave is over.
After the couple leaves, Yvonne and her husband speak about Rosa. Gary admits Rosa made an advance on him, but insists he shut her down. Yvonne takes out the trash. It is clear that she is upset with her husband and concerned with his relationship with Rosa. She meets up with the stranger once again. When asked what changed her mind, she simples states that he is irresistible. Yvonne gives him a lecture about DNA, before they head to the bathroom and have intercourse. Yvonne writes more on the computer later that night. She comments about Mark’s secrets. Later, the man gives Yvonne a prepaid cellphone.
Next, Yvonne sits down with Liz and George (Steven Elder). A young man takes to the stage and speaks about a new type of cancer treatment. Yvonne receives a message from Mark. Yvonne leaves at the same time as George. She checks her phone after telling him goodbye. As Yvonne turns the corner, she is stopped by the guy on stage. He tells her he has been stalking her. The boy tells Yvonne he would like to consult with her about her research. He gives her a card and comments that he is very discreet. Yvonne walks away with a big smile on her face. She tells Gary about the counter at home. Gary reveals that Adam came by. He explains that Adam picked up a piece of equipment for a friend’s upcoming gig. After the conversation, Yvonne visits her son’s room and relaxes on his bed.
The next day, Yvonne receives a call from her friend. He asks what her husband would think should he find the phone. She insists he won’t and also comments that he isn’t the jealous type. Later that night, she receives a dirty text message from him. Mark and Yvonne meet up the following day. He takes her to an alleyway and gives her a kiss. The couple nearly gets caught by someone passing by. Mark tells Yvonne about the nearby camera, which is pointing in the opposite direction. They speak about Mark’s obsession with having intercourse in private places. He admits he thought Yvonne liked it too. She denies it. Instead, she insists it is Mark who turns her on. Yvonne quickly flips out and insists Mark isn’t interested in her. She complains about her body. Again, Yvonne tries to end the relationship.
Yvonne tries to continue on with her work. Later one night, she receives a phone call and the caller hangs up. A few nights later, Gary is forced to leave town. Yvonne gets dressed up and decides to head out. She heads to a bar and drinks with Mark. Mark manages to convince Yvonne to take off her panties in the bathroom. She tries to encourage him to get a motel room, but he refuses. The couple leaves the pub and walks the streets. They stop at a nearby alleyway and get naughty. Yvonne stops a sign, which reads Apple Tree Yard SW1. She makes a comment before spotting a security camera. Mark looks at the camera and insists it a dummy cam. Yvonne quickly forms the belief that she is having sex with a spook.
Yvonne heads to her work party. She drinks with George and Liz. During the event, Yvonne receives a message from Mark inviting her back to Apple Tree Yard. George interrupts with more alcohol. Near the end of the event, George offers to get a cab with Yvonne. They return to George’s office to get his stuff. When the door is shut, George attacks Yvonne and admits he knows about her relationship. He hits her several more times and rapes her brutally. In the present, we see Yvonne being led into the courtroom.
Apple Tree Yard Review
I am not familiar with the novel, so my opinion may be different from someone who has read the book. The acting in Apple Tree Yard is great. Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin and Mark Bonnar are all fantastic. The premiere episode was a good way to setup the series, despite being a tad bit too slow. Yvonne Carmichael is an ordinary woman, who has become bored and suspicious of her husband. Her new friend, Mark, arrived at the perfect time.
Mark remains somewhat of a mystery. While the first episode could’ve been sped up substantially, I understand the need to deliver an episode ending shocker. Now that the party is over, it is all downhill from here. The premiere deserves a 6.5 out of 10.