Bitsy Brandenham is the villain of Central Park and she’s always plotting to seize the titular location to turn it into condos and shopping centers and make even more money. However, in the past few weeks, we’ve seen a more vulnerable and human side of Bitsy as she reflects on her complicated relationship with her parents. The previous two episodes have been a nice build up to “The Shadow” where she takes center stage.
A wealthy patron at the Brandenham is robbed of precious jewelry and the M.O. looks eerily similar to a notorious thief from the 60s known as the Shadow. The insurance investigator, Hank Zivansky (Henry Winkler), was a beat cop during the criminal’s original reign of terror and has a hunch that Bitsy isn’t telling everything she knows about famed cat burglar.
This episode of Central Park sheds a lot of light on Bitsy’s character and why she acts the way she does. Being so small and also a woman, she is often overlooked her entire life. Her own parents never showed her any love. You really sympathize with the character and can understand why she’s so toxic and abrasive.
It’s really bittersweet how all she wants is to be noticed and the only person who does, tells her 56 years too late. It’s nice to finally have someone appreciate her but there’s a longing to know what could have been. Winkler as Zivansky serves as a fitting complement to Bitsy and he receives some closure on his case. He brings a loveable loser vibe and he seems to get the heiress so well, you believe in another life the pair could be happy together. Winkler also has some great comedic timing with the small penis line so hysterical.
Since much of “The Shadow” is told in flashback, most of the music has a very classic funky vibe. Central Park turns in-house for the guest writer this week with Daveed Diggs who is responsible for the burglar’s theme song. That song, along with “That Was All Me,” really capture the era and are playful and fun in context. “A Moment Forever Ago” takes a more serious and romantic turn bringing Bitsy and Hank together. The scene is so lovely playing with different angles and containing passionate choreography worthy of a Mandy Moore or Mia Michaels lyrical dance routine.
Following Bitsy’s tale, we receive a Birdie short that is a masterclass in storytelling. Though it contains no dialog, the animation and music stir up so much emotions. We see a day in the life of the busker, which can seem redundant and underappreciated. Though when he can attract a fan, it can mean the world and a certain bond develops. Unfortunately, his admirer isn’t in the best of health and it’s so saddening to learn her history and fate. If you’re not moved in any way watching than you’re probably a robot or dead inside.
Though the comedy and music are still there, “The Shadow” takes a big risk pursuing a more poignant tone. It is executed masterfully distinguishing the episode with moving narratives featuring characters outside the Tillermans.
New episodes of Central Park drop Fridays on Apple TV+.
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