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Black Bird (miniseries)

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Black Bird
Based on
In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption
  • James Keene
  • Hillel Levin
Developed byDennis Lehane
Music byMogwai
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes6
Executive producers
CinematographyNatalie Kingston
  • Rob Bonz
  • Jonathan Alberts
Running time54–60 minutes
Production companies
  • EMJAG Productions
  • Imperative Entertainment
  • Eden Productions
  • Crime Story
  • Hans Bubby
Original release
NetworkApple TV+
ReleaseJuly 8 (2022-07-08) –
August 5, 2022 (2022-08-05)

Black Bird is an American true crime drama miniseries developed by Dennis Lehane, based on the 2010 autobiographical novel In with the Devil: a Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption by James Keene with Hillel Levin.[1] The six-episode miniseries premiered on July 8, 2022, on Apple TV+.[2][3] The series received critical acclaim with particular praise toward Jimmy Keene's original story and its cast.


James "Jimmy" Keene has turned to a life of crime until he is arrested as part of a wider sting called Operation Snowplow. Once a promising young football star who was offered several college football scholarships; instead he decided to stay in the Chicago area to be close to his thriving business. He accepted a plea deal he believed to be five years, released with parole after four years. But in the conspiracy he was enhanced with possession of a number of illegally held firearms and was sentenced to ten years without parole.

Given Jimmy's natural charming and charismatic personality and gift for talking, he was offered an opportunity for a fully commuted sentence with a clean record and no conditions by federal authorities. This is the story of the dangerous deal he was offered and what happened next.[4]





No.TitleDirected byTeleplay byOriginal release date [5]
1"Pilot"Michaël R. RoskamDennis LehaneJuly 8, 2022 (2022-07-08)
In 1993, Wabash resident Larry Hall is brought in for questioning as a suspect in the murder of an underage girl. Local police describe him as a harmless serial confessor, but detective Brian Miller manages to coax out of him that he has dreams about murdering women. In 1996, charming drug and arms dealer James "Jimmy" Keene, is arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison without parole. Seven months into his sentence, he is approached by FBI agent Lauren McCauley and offered a deal for a clean start with lesser sentence and completely clean record: he will transfer into a facility for the criminally insane in Springfield, befriend Larry, and convince him to admit to killing fourteen women, having only been convicted of two murders, which he is trying to get overturned. Jimmy initially rejects the deal, but after his father James has a stroke caused by the stress of his son's incarceration, he starts studying Larry's case file in hopes of being the inmate selected to befriend him.
2"We Are Coming, Father Abraham"Michaël R. RoskamDennis LehaneJuly 8, 2022 (2022-07-08)
Miller gets Larry to confess to a murder, but during the trial, Larry claims that Miller manipulated him and coaxed a false confession, leading to the case going to appellate court. McCauley convinces Jimmy to talk about his troubled childhood and advises him to tap into it when talking to Larry, confirming that he has been approved for the role. He almost backs out moments before he is transferred into the facility, but goes through with it and spends his first day looking for Larry, only to learn that they are in cells right across from each other. McCauley contacts Miller to inform him of her plan against Larry.
3"Hand to Mouth"Michaël R. RoskamRiccardo DiLoreto & Sean K. SmithJuly 15, 2022 (2022-07-15)
Jimmy struggles to converse with Larry until he beats up a man who changes the TV from a program Larry was watching, earning his respect. The two talk about sex, where Larry reveals that he does not care about the woman's consent and alludes to having killed victims who threatened to report on him. At the same time, a guard realizes Jimmy is James' son when he visits and threatens to expose his identity if he does not come up with $10,000. Jimmy asks James to retrieve a brick of cocaine from one of his houses, but learns that his friend Danny stole it. When McCauley visits Jimmy and offers to pull him out to save him from the guard, he refuses to leave, disturbed by his conversation with Larry and now determined to catch him.
4"WhatsHerName"Jim McKayTeleplay by : Dennis Lehane
Story by : Steve Harris & Dennis Lehane
July 22, 2022 (2022-07-22)
As a child, Larry's gravedigger father would take him to rob graves in the middle of the night, a habit he carried over into adulthood. In the present, Jimmy searches Larry's cell and discovers several disturbing drawings inside pornographic magazines. A violent prison riot sticks them together on cleanup duty, where Larry convinces Jimmy to tell him a story from his childhood, where he attempted to beat up his mother's abusive boyfriend because he believed that was what she wanted and failed miserably. Larry admits that he would subdue women with a rag soaked in starting fluid to get them to stop fighting back against him, and his brother visits to inform him that the police are anticipating his release.
5"The Place I Lie"Joe ChappelleDennis LehaneJuly 29, 2022 (2022-07-29)
The guard cuts off Jimmy's phone calls, preventing him from getting the money, and Jimmy notices the guard telling prisoners what his true "identity" is Terrified that he may soon be killed, he coaxes Larry into admitting he abducted, raped and murdered an underage girl. At the same time, Larry makes foreboding comments towards his therapist, which she summarizes as him trying to project Jimmy's more confident attitude. McCauley and Miller search for the body of the girl Larry confessed to Jimmy that he murdered, and find that he gave the victim's mountain bike to another underage girl he was attracted to.
6"You Promised"Joe ChappelleDennis LehaneAugust 5, 2022 (2022-08-05)
While Larry draws a map of where all the bodies of his victims are buried, Jimmy snaps and reveals to him that he was sent to get him to confess, causing Larry to have a violent reaction. Larry's therapist has Jimmy put in solitary for upsetting him, where he is forced to try and recreate the map with his own blood after being denied a writing utensil. His FBI contact eventually realizes what is happening and that Jimmy has gotten new evidence to secure Larry Hall's conviction and frees Jimmy, and Larry Hall is denied his appeal. Jimmy is freed and completely cleared and he meets Miller, who personally thanks him. Larry's brother, disturbed after talking to McCauley and Miller, urges his brother to confess to his crimes. Closing titles reveal that Larry confessed to fifteen murders but later recanted, James died of a heart attack five years after Jimmy's release, and Jimmy went on to have a successful business career while still helping law enforcement profile serial killers.


The series was announced in January 2021, with Taron Egerton and Paul Walter Hauser cast to star.[6][7] Ray Liotta would be added to the cast in March,[8] with Greg Kinnear and Sepideh Moafi joining the next month.[9] The six-episode limited series premiered on July 8, 2022, on Apple TV+.[2][3]

Production for the series began in New Orleans in April 2021.[7]


Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 98% approval rating with an average rating of 8.2/10, based on 80 critic reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "Dennis Lehane's penchant for authentic grit is on full display in Black Bird, an absorbing prison drama distinguished by its moral complexity and elevated by an outstanding ensemble."[10] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 80 out of 100 based on 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[11]

Mike Hale of The New York Times stated, "Despite that imbalance in the dramatic weight, Black Bird is mostly engaging — Hauser is onscreen a lot, and the production has a hushed quality, with occasional expressionistic touches, that is reminiscent of David Fincher’s crime stories. It’s at its best in the fourth episode, directed by Jim McKay (“Our Song"): Egerton is more relaxed, and Hauser even sharper than usual, and their scenes together have an almost sexual charge. And McKay's depictions of a prison riot and the subsequent cleanup, meticulously supervised by Hall, are among the show's best moments."[12]

Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com gave the series three and a half stars out of four, commenting, "Its release in the era of a national obsession with true crime could lead people to dismiss Black Bird, but this show is worth your time even if you don’t usually buy into the genre. It reminded me more of rich, character-driven material like The Night Of than so many of the 'ripped from the headlines' mini-series of late. It has the weight of some of Lehane’s best fiction, even though it’s all so disturbingly true."[13]

Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Black Bird gains a tremendous amount of gravity from one of Liotta’s last screen appearances. Liotta’s death brings additional poignancy to a character who, through failing health and visits to his incarcerated son, is dealing with his own mortality and legacy... Black Bird is methodical (though not as methodical as Mindhunter) in a way that gains power as the show goes along... There’s enough good drama here to make that worthwhile."[14]


Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref.
2022 30th EnergaCAMERIMAGE International Film Festival TV Series Competition Black Bird Nominated [15]
2023 28th Critics' Choice Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television Paul Walter Hauser Won [16]
Ray Liotta Nominated
80th Golden Globe Awards Best Limited or Anthology Series or Television Film Black Bird Nominated [17]
Best Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Taron Egerton Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Paul Walter Hauser Won
29th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series Taron Egerton Nominated [18]
Paul Walter Hauser Nominated
39th TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials Black Bird Nominated [19]
75th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Natalie Kingston (for "Hand to Mouth") Won [20]
75th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Taron Egerton Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Paul Walter Hauser Won
Ray Liotta Nominated


  1. ^ "Black Bird (TV Series) (2022)". FilmAffinity. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Apple releases trailer for suspenseful limited drama series "Black Bird," from executive producer Dennis Lehane, ahead of Friday, July 8, 2022 global debut on Apple TV+". Apple TV+ Press (Press release). June 8, 2022. Retrieved July 5, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Urban, Sasha; Chapman, Wilson (March 31, 2022). "Apple Reveals Premiere Date for Taron Egerton Limited Series 'Black Bird' (TV News Roundup)". Variety. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  4. ^ Fraser, Emma (July 7, 2022). "Black Bird: Limited Series Review". IGN. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  5. ^ "Shows A-Z – Black Bird on Apple TV+". The Futon Critic. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  6. ^ Otterson, Joe (January 25, 2021). "Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser to Star in Apple Series Adaptation of 'In With the Devil'". Variety. Retrieved March 26, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Film and TV Projects Going Into Production – In with the Devil". Variety Insight. Archived from the original on March 26, 2021. Retrieved March 26, 2021.
  8. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 5, 2021). "Ray Liotta Joins Taron Egerton & Paul Walter Hauser In Apple Limited Series 'In With The Devil'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  9. ^ Petski, Denise (April 29, 2021). "Greg Kinnear & Sepideh Moafi Join Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser & Ray Liotta In Apple's 'In With The Devil' Limited Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  10. ^ "Black Bird: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 26, 2022.
  11. ^ "Black Bird: Season 1". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved July 20, 2022.
  12. ^ Hale, Mike (July 7, 2022). "'Black Bird' Review: Making Friends With a May-Be Killer". The New York Times. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  13. ^ Tallerico, Brian (July 8, 2022). "Black Bird". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  14. ^ Fienberg, Daniel (July 7, 2022). "Apple TV+'s 'Black Bird': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  15. ^ "EnergaCAMERIMAGE 2022 TV Series Competition Line-up!". EnergaCAMERIMAGE. October 19, 2022. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  16. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (January 15, 2023). "Critics Choice Awards: Full List of Winners". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 16, 2023. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  17. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (January 10, 2023). "Golden Globes: Full List of Winners". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 11, 2023. Retrieved January 11, 2023.
  18. ^ Lang, Brent; Shafer, Ellise (February 26, 2023). "SAG Awards 2023: Everything Everywhere All at Once Dominates, Abbott Elementary and The White Lotus Win Top TV Prizes". Variety. Archived from the original on February 27, 2023. Retrieved February 27, 2023.
  19. ^ Hailu, Selome (June 30, 2023). "TCA Award Nominations: 'The Bear,' 'Succession,' 'The Last of Us' Lead With Five Nominations Each". Variety. Retrieved March 6, 2024.
  20. ^ Moreau, Jordan; Schneider, Michael (July 12, 2023). "Emmys 2023: The Complete Nominations List". Variety. Retrieved July 13, 2023.

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