Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story opens not on the titular serial killer but on his neighbor Glenda Cleveland (Niecy Nash), who is unable to enjoy her nightly TV ritual due to the incessant drilling and banging occurring in the apartment next door. Her exasperated expression suggests this issue is not a new one.
From there, we cut to Dahmer’s one-bedroom unit, where he is at the tail end of a post-dismemberment cleanup. We get fleeting glimpses of his murderous workshop (bleach, drill, gloves, creepy aquarium, etc.) before following him out the door and into the communal hallway, where he is briefly confronted by Nash’s character. It’s then that we, for the first time, see Dahmer’s face (and that of his portrayer, Evan Peters, in full dead-in-the-eyes mode).
The next faces we see are affixed to myriad missing persons posters dotting the neighborhood, which intimates that the 10-episode limited series begins near the end of Dahmer’s murderous timeline.
The premiere then shifts to Dahmer picking up his potential next victim, a Black man by the name of Tracy Edwards (Shaun J. Brown), at a local gay bar before bringing him back to his death chamber and terrorizing him for what feels like eternity. Much of the episode is, in fact, devoted to their tense cat-and-mouse interplay, during which Edwards connects enough dots to realize he needs flee, but quick.
After getting drugged, threatened with a knife and being forced to watch highlights from The Exorcist 3, Edwards manages to overpower his tormentor and escape. Dahmer’s subsequent arrest closes out the episode, but any relief one might feel is quickly replaced by fury when we are reminded that it was not for a series of systematic police failures, fueled by racism and homophobia, Dahmer would’ve — and could’ve — been captured much sooner.
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