Anthracite: Secrets of the Sect episode 1 recap: A disappearance sheds light on an old cold case

An intrepid young woman named Ida follows her dad to a small town in the Alps after believing he might in danger.
Anthracite: Secrets of the Sect. Thibault Grabherr/Netflix
Anthracite: Secrets of the Sect. Thibault Grabherr/Netflix /

Netflix's latest addictive mystery series is a French drama titled Anthracite: Secrets of the Sect, and the new series has pretty much everything one could want in a crime drama including a sketchy cult, a cold case connecting to a modern-day murder, intrepid young sleuths, and more.

Beginning in 1994, Anthracite starts off strong with a flashback to the events that set the series in motion. Previously in the alpine village of Lévionna there dwelled a large cult led by leader Caleb Johansson. The cult, known as the Écrins Cult, ended in a mass suicide with Caleb emerging as the sole survivor. As if that wasn't bad enough, the cult was also linked to the murder of a 17-year-old girl named Roxane Vial who was stoned to death and found with anthracite (a type of hard black coal) smeared across her face.

We pivot to 2024 where we meet a young woman named Ida and her father Solal Heilman. Solal is on the phone with Idea when he's suddenly kidnapped and Ida is on the other line helpless to stop it from happening. It turns out that Solal was investigating the cult and Roxane's murder 30 years ago and returned to Lévionna just recently. That's when he got kidnapped.

Good thing is daughter is a highly proficient web sleuth. Ida has created her own website called iData, which is basically an in-depth online database for armchair detectives. Her arsenal on internet minions helps Ida get information she shouldn't have, such as details on a guy named Jaro Gota, a med student who took a bad turn and got tangled up in a drug ring and is now on parole working at a ski shop in Lévionna.

Jaro's picture was in one of her father's files, seemingly connecting him to this overarching mystery. But Jaro isn't keen on helping Ida despite her pushiness. He brushes her off when she confronts him at his ski shop.

Unfortunately for Jaro, he's more entangled in this mess than he realizes and that soon becomes apparent when another girl, Emma Marçais, goes missing shortly after being spotted with him. Because of Jaro's background and the fact Emma's disappearance occurred just days after he moved to town with to live with his Uncle Claude, the local police lieutenant Gio believes Jaro could be a suspect. It gets even worse for him when Emma's body is discovered beneath a sheet of ice in a lake and she's found with anthracite on her face.

Later, idea returns and provides Jaro with an alibi, though Gio isn't really convinced, it gives Ida a chance to spring Jaro from the department and drag him along to the asylum where Caleb Jacobsson is being held. The night before, Ida received an ominous phone call from Caleb who had instructed Solal to "bring the boy," meaning Jaro.

The asylum provides us with some more insight into Jaro's past, as Caleb starts rambling about a fire and a flashback shows us what happened to Jaro's mother when he was a kid. She set their house on fire to commit suicide.

Gio has already been nursing a theory that the disappearances in the region are somehow connected to Roxane's homicide, a theory that has earned her some scorn from her colleagues who think she's making a mountain out of a mole hill. A previous incident led police to waste valuable resources a man who had just left his wife and Gio has been trying to reclaim her credibility ever since.

But as a frequent viewer of this sort of crime television, we obviously know that Gio is onto something. Her initial search for Emma uses a canine squad that takes her to the opening of an old mine. While searching, she feels an explosion she mistakes for an earthquake. One of her colleagues informs Gio that it wasn't an earthquake but an old part of the mine has been granted permission to reopen so they started using explosives to clear out the debris and rock.

Elsewhere, Jaro goes off with his friend Romeo to a house party, which happens to be held at the former cult headquarters where the mass suicide took place. The partygoers even put anthracite on their faces to mark the occasion. Grim. Jaro does drugs at the party and soon realizes he shouldn't be there. Caleb's lamentations and chilling words haunt him until he gets sick and takes a breather, looking at phots ofhis daughter on his phone. His ex is planning to file for sole custody because she fears Jaro will go to prison. Jaro realizes getting high at a party while on parole definitely isn't in Jaro's best interest.

In between shots of Jaro at the party, we check in with Ida again and learn the truth about her illness. We already saw her have a nosebleed and reveal she's wearing a wig. A call from her doctor confirms she has cancer and is foregoing her treatment even though the physician says chemo could prolong her life by seven months to a year.

Opting to leave the party, Jaro makes for the door, only to get intercepted by some drunk guy who blames him for murdering Emma. A fight breaks out and Jaro and his friend quickly leave. Realizing he's going to end up at the center of this unfolding murder investigation, Jaro finally turns to Ida for help by showing up at her apartment. Well, since we last saw Ida, she found a key to her father's old storage unit and inside was a treasure trove of VHS tapes from the original investigation in 1994.

One of the tapes has a name on it, Juliette C. and it turns out to be footage of Jaro's mother, who....was best friends with Roxane Vial! Ida shows the tape to Jaro and they both listen to her discussing the murder. Juliette thought Caleb was actually innocent of killing Roxane and we hear Ida's father Solal agree with her off-camera. Ida thinks that her dad found a new lead or information, perhaps even the identity of Roxane's real murderer if Caleb is truly innocent. That's why he returned to the alpine village and subsequently got kidnapped.

As for Jaro's mother, Ida questions if he's sure about she really committed suicide. What if someone else killed Juliette? Before they can further discuss that hypothesis, someone throws a molotov cocktail or bomb of some kind into Ida's apartment, triggering a huge explosion. Ida and Jaro attempt to make it out of the wreckage alive.

Next. Anthracite: Secrets of the Sect: Meet the cast . Anthracite: Secrets of the Sect: Meet the cast . dark