Don’t let the mansion overlooking the ocean, the glamorous wardrobe and the yachts fool you into thinking that the mega- rich Clios clan have perfect lives. Behind the US$15 million artworks, sports cars and luxury brands lies a sea full of secrets that are threatening to sink this filthy rich family into the depths in ritzy “lives of the 1%” drama, Rivera.
It’s been 3 years since the S1 finale aired in 2017. The last time we saw widowed art curator Georgina Clios (Julia Stiles), she was stabbing her obsessive stepson, Adam (Iwan Rheon), to death and dumping his corpse in the sea after he tried to rape her. Just before their explosive argument, he revealed that he’d killed her husband, his billionaire father, Constantine (Anthony LaPaglia).
Going into S2, Georgina will be handling her deadly secret very differently to how Adam hid his own guilt. She still has a functioning conscience. Georgina killed in self-defence, but the murder is going to eat her from the inside and leave her living in fear.
Our advice? Georgina should wipe her tears, suck it up and create a mask of such beauty and artifice that it could be sold at a high-society auction if she’d like to stay alive. Adam’s overprotective mother, Irina (Lena Olin), who’s always wanted Georgina out of the picture, might not be as forgiving if she discovers that the woman who replaced her also killed her eldest son.
Quoth the crow… I know!
The new season immediately picks up from the evening that Georgina killed Adam. She’s still dishevelled, and she has a million thoughts racing through her head. She walks into the house. Grabs a beer from the table and walks into her bedroom to clear her mind, but she’s met with a surprise, or rather, a gift. It’s a crow in a cage with a message attached to the claw. It reads: “I know what you did.” The person behind the mysterious note could be anyone. Well, anyone with the budget to send elaborate bespoke threats. What style! Georgina should be flattered; middle-class heroines just get an threatening SMS.
Smoke and mirrors
Irina’s motherly instincts also soon kick in, and she begins to have a bad feeling about Adam. He sometimes takes off but this time doesn’t feel right. She enlists a team to search for him, and at the back of her mind, she’s certain that Georgina is behind his disappearance as they were growing close last season. Irina is also keeping a close eye on her other spoilt, entitled son, Christos (Dimitri Leonidas), the heir to the family empire whose bad rep has turned investors against him. And Irina has triple problem-child trouble trying to protect her daughter, Adriana (Roxane Duran), who always finds herself in some sort of trouble. It barely leaves her with the time to swan about in fabulous outfits, but somehow Irina manages.
Who are these terrrrrible people?
Even as an outsider, Georgina must know by now that there’s no such thing as secret on the French Riviera. There’s someone always watching you and cutting you down to size. It’s a rich people thing. And speaking of the rich and gossipy, Georgina is about to meet a new feral pack of faded aristocrats, the old-money Eltham family. They’re newcomers to Riviera high society but are seemingly interested in getting to know her. Like the new rich Clios clan, they’re serving family goals in their designer outfits and boats, but they too have skeletons in the closet.
Georgina meets rich, overindulged entrepreneur Raafi Al-Qadar (Alex Lanipekun) -- a man with surprising integrity -- and his fearless socialite wife, Daphne (Poppy Delevingne), who’re on honeymoon in the first episode when they rescue her from her shipwreck during a storm. They instantly hit it off and moments later, reserved Georgina is firm friends with privileged busybody and bohemian style queen Daphne.
Daphne’s controlling, chilly mother, Lady Cassandra Eltham (Juliet Stevenson), oversees her family’s (severely debt-ridden) affairs and Daphne’s reserved, brooding, glamorous twin brother, Nico (Jack Fox), soon becomes Georgina’s new love interest. They have a common interest in art, with Nico working as a valuation expert at auction house Sotheby’s.
But from Daphne’s sudden interest in Georgina, the art collector should be wary because it might be her new bestie behind the cryptic message that was attached to the bird. “Everyone knows everything about everyone, no secrets are safe. It turns out that most of the characters have secrets which leads to surprises, murder and mayhem,” teases Julia.
Riviera S2 starts on Sunday, 28 June on BBC First (DStv 119) at 20:00
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