Gilbert Speaks on ‘Black Bird’

I don’t have Apple TV, but a family member does, and I spent the weekend binging on a crime drama that is based on the true story of a serial killer. This has got to be the best crime series that I’ve seen this year.

Black Bird

Black Bird is an American crime drama miniseries developed by Dennis Lehane and based on the autobiography In With The Devil: A Fallen Hero, A Serial Killer and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption by James Keene and Hillel Levin. What this means is that the series is based on true and frightening events that took place in the ‘90s. The six-episode series stars Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Sepideh Moafi, Greg Kinnear, and Ray Liotta. Ray Liotta died soon after filming Cocaine Bear and Black Bird.

The series begins with Jimmy Keene (Taron Egerton) the son of a retired police officer (Ray Liotta) getting arrested for his drug deals. He makes a plea deal for five years but is shocked when he gets ten years because of the number of illegal firearms found at his home. There is no chance for parole. Jimmy going to jail causes his father to have a serious stroke. While Jimmy is getting accustomed to prison life, a police detective from Wabash, Brian Miller (Greg Kinnear) is investigating the connection between Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser) and missing girls.

After finding the body of one of the girls, they bring in Larry who is a bit slow and prone to confessing to crimes and then immediately recanting the confessions. Brian believes in his heart that Larry isn’t as slow as he pretends to be, but his hands are tied because they have no proof. Eventually, Larry Hall is arrested and charged for two of the fourteen murders that he has committed, but he refuses to tell the detective where the bodies are buried. With Larry Hill now working on an appeal for his case, the FBI has a big problem . There is no way that they can allow this dangerous serial killer out of the facility for the criminally insane.

FBI agent Lauren McCauley (Sepideh Moafi) and Edmund Beaumont (Robert Wisdom) approach Jimmy with an offer…get Larry to tell him where the bodies are buried and get out of jail after only serving seven months into his ten-year sentence. Jimmy takes the offer, but how will he get Larry to talk?

Larry Hall

Paul Walter Hauser is one heck of a believable actor. His portrayal of Larry Hall will send chills down your spine. I am not exaggerating about this. Hauser’s Larry is a twin. Larry’s brother Gary (Jake McLaughlin) is a normal, hardworking guy, but Larry is another whole ball game. He tells people that his brother Gary sucked up his share of amniotic fluid causing Larry’s slowness. I’d never heard of this condition and looked it up. TTTS is a rare and serious condition where one twin gets more nutrients than the other. Hauser’s Larry is both likeable and scary at the same time…sort of like a Trailer Park Boys version of Hannibal.

After Jimmy is transferred to the facility, he begins the slow process of befriending Larry. The viewers learn more about Jimmy’s and Larry’s childhoods: neither of the men had the best upbringing. It is the shared abusive childhood that brings about a friendship between Jimmy and Larry…but Jimmy has to watch his back. There is a corrupt guard (Joe Williamson) who knows that Jimmy is the son of a cop and who is blackmailing Jimmy for money.


I have seen my share of crime series that are based on true stories. It is horrifying to know just how many serial killers there are in this world. The storyline is tight and riveting and the acting is top notch, especially from Ray Liotta and Taron Egerton, but it is Paul Walter Hauser who captures every scene. Hauser’s ability to make us pity Larry Hall even knowing what he did to those poor girls is an acting skill that I haven’t seen in a while. Hauser’s Larry can be funny, childlike, and likeable one minute, but when his eyes go blank….it will make you want to check the locks on your windows and doors. I don’t know if you have an Apple TV. I don’t, but if you do…watch Black Bird and tell me what you think.

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