Dead Boy Detectives episode 1 recap: An infectious start to this quirky new universe

After helping a teen psychic overcome a demonic possession, Edwin and Charles try to find a missing girl scout in America alongside their new ally.
DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. (L to R) George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne, Kassius Nelson as Crystal Palace and Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland in episode 1 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. David Bukach/Netflix © 2023
DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. (L to R) George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne, Kassius Nelson as Crystal Palace and Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland in episode 1 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. David Bukach/Netflix © 2023 /

For fans of The Sandman universe, the wait for new episodes of the show has been a lengthy one, but Netflix aims to tide viewers over for a while with the introduction of new series Dead Boy Detectives, based on the comic series of the same name by Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner.

Netflix Life will be recapping the entire first season of Dead Boy Detectives, so bookmark this page and feel free to follow along, or just skip immediately to the episode recap you'd like to read with the table of contents below.

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Spoilers ahead for Dead Boy Detectives episode 1

A quirky mixture of Nancy Drew, Riverdale, and The Umbrella Academy, Dead Boy Detectives feels a little like a show that would have fit in perfectly on The CW during its prime, and I mean that in a complimentary way. It's funny, eccentric, dark, and a little gross, with a very compelling central trio in actors George Rexstrew, Jayden Revri, and Kassius Nelson, who form our titular dead boy detectives Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland, plus their newfound human friend, a psychic girl named Crystal Palace.

The series premiere does a great job of easing us all into this strange new world beginning in London, England and jumping right into the case of a museum haunting involving a ghost from World War I with a cursed gas mask superimposed to his face.

DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death in episode 1 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023 /

Once the boys manage to free the ghost from the gas mask, he is finally able to move on, with a little help from Death (Kirby), yes the very same Death from The Sandman. Dead Boy Detectives doesn't waste any time nodding to its Netflix companion and establishing itself as part of the larger Gaiman universe.

There are a lot of little peculiarities to get used to in the world of Dead Boy Detectives, including talking cats, ghostly mailmen, traveling through mirror portals, and the fact no one can see Edwin and Charles unless they're supernatural themselves or have had a brush with death. That makes it very awkward for their new friend and colleague Crystal, who often finds herself in the boys' company, appearing crazy to onlookers who can only see her talking to herself.

Edwin and Charles first meet Crystal after learning she's been possessed by a demon we later learn is her ex-boyfriend, David. The ghostly duo exorcises David from Crystal, but not without leaving her with amnesia. While she recovers, Charles invites Crystal to stay with him and Edwin, much to Edwin's annoyance. Edwin is very much the strict rule-follower, or "the brains" of the operation, while Charles considers himself "the brawn."

DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Jenn Lyon as Esther Finch in episode 1 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. David Bukach/Netflix © 2023 /

Crystal soon proves she's a handy person to have around. Thanks to her psychic abilities, Charles and Edwin track down a missing girl scout named Becky Aspen all the way in America. Little Becky was kidnapped by Esther Finch, a fiendish witch with a giant pet snake who likes stealing youth from young girls—played by a deliciously hammy Jenn Lyon.

Our resourceful trio saves Becky, only for Esther to snatch Crystal instead, forcing Edwin to possess the witch to free his new friend, which is a big no-no in the world of ghostly politics. Edwin's decision rings all kinds of alarm bells in the afterlife and the episode ends with a peek into the afterlife's "Lost & Found Department" where a stern-faced woman, the Night Nurse (played by Ruth Connell reprising her role from Doom Patrol) happily notes that she's now found Charles and Edwin, as that little bout of possession worked like a tracking device pinging their location.

Dead Boy Detectives episode 1. B-. The Case of Crystal Palace. A delightfully fun opening romp into a dark and quirky new world of supernatural beings with a few kinks to iron out when it comes to balancing the comedy and drama.. Dead Boy Detectives

Odds & Ends

  • Crystal books a room at a butcher shop where the landlord is by Jenny the Butcher (Briana Cuoco), on the same floor lives a girl named Niko (Yuyu Kitamura) whose walls are adorned with hot men and anime.
  • Despite being exorcised, David the Demon is sticking like glue to Crystal because he's fiending for her special powers. He continues to torment her, holding her memories hostage though she refuses to let him possess her again (this world, demons need permission to possess a host).
  • Via flashback to Edwardian era London in the early 1900s, we learn that Edwin died after a group of boys at his boarding school literally sacrificed him to a demon who then took him straight to Hell where he spent 70 years due to what was deemed a "clerical error."

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