High Desert Episode 1, 2, and 3 Recap: What Motivates Peggy Newman’s Transformation?

Apple TV+’s ‘High Desert’ is a comedy series that follows Peggy Newman, an addict who has recently lost her mother. Trying to find a fresh start, Peggy becomes a private investigator. She gets embroiled in a mystery surrounding an ex-news anchor turned cultish leader surrounded by crime and secrets. With Patricia Arquette in the lead role, the show spins an entertaining tale with just as much heart as humor. It also delves into the darker parts of its characters, and addiction (not just to drugs) emerges as the central theme. The first three episodes set the stage for what’s to come for Peggy and the people around her. Here’s what it all means. SPOILERS AHEAD

High Desert Episode 1,2,3 Recap

In 2013, Peggy lived with her husband, Denny, in her mother, Roslyn’s house. They are in the middle of a party when the DEA barges in, revealing that Peggy and Denny deal drugs. Because Denny had been the main culprit, he was arrested and sent to jail. It also goes in Peggy’s record, making it tricky to find jobs. Ten years later, her husband is still in prison, and her mother is dead. Peggy works as a can-can girl in a Wild West theme park to sustain herself. Her siblings point out that this is not enough to pay off the mortgage.

Peggy is also in rehab for her addiction, but with her siblings confronting her and the loss of her mother still fresh in her mind, Peggy falls back into it, taking acid and behaving unpredictably. Still, she knows she needs to get a better job. She discovers that her friend and co-worker, trying to get full custody of her children from her abusive husband, was duped by a private investigator in charge of finding something on the husband. Peggy seeks out the PI, Bruce Harvey, but it’s not just about returning her friend’s money.

Due to her observational and deduction skills, Peggy realizes that she would make an excellent investigator. So, she makes Harvey employ her as an intern. He tells her to take the classes to get her license, but Peggy is too impatient to sit through the class taught by a very old man at a snail’s pace. She lets her friend, Carol, sit the class in place of her while she goes about looking for business because she made a deal with Harvey that for every case they solve, she will get a percentage cut.

Peggy doesn’t have to wait too long before a promising case falls into her lap. When her employer is robbed, Peggy discovers that the culprit is Tammy, a co-worker in a relationship with Guru Bob. Peggy can tell that Bob is a fraud, and a quick look into his past reveals that he was a news anchor who lost his cool on air, quit the job, and turned towards spirituality. What interests Peggy about him is that he also seems to be in possession of stolen art.

High Desert Episode 3 Ending

When Tammy reveals that her boyfriend gave her a diamond ring, Peggy points out that it is not a diamond but a moonstone. Later, Tammy sends a video to Peggy, filmed at Bob’s house, to prove that he really is a wealthy man. In the video, Peggy notices the painting in Bob’s place, which was stolen long ago. If this painting is returned to the authorities, she can get a huge finder’s fee, which will take care of most of her troubles. She proposes this to Harvey, who says they must first confirm it is the actual painting and not a fake.

Soon after, Tammy falls in trouble when she steals the money from her employer, which gives Peggy a chance to approach Bob. Once at his place, she establishes herself as someone in connection with a prospective buyer. Before the conversation can go any further, Bob is cornered by a father-daughter crime duo who cut off Bob’s nipple because he hasn’t yet given them the money they are owed. Peggy doesn’t know the specifics yet, but this means that Bob is in trouble, and he needs a lot of money as soon as possible to pay off his debt.

Apart from all this, Peggy also discovers that Bob’s wife, Donatella, mysteriously disappeared years ago, around the same time that he quit his job as a journalist. While there were signs, like Peggy sweeping off the bank account and leaving her vehicle in Mexico, her family wasn’t convinced by the explanation that she’d simply run away. They believed something had happened to her, and a reward of 70k was put up for anyone who could solve the mystery and tell them where their daughter was now.

For Peggy, all of this turns out to be the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows that Bob has at least a couple of paintings hidden away, and if she gets all of them out, it’ll mean a lot of money. Moreover, if she is going to spend all this time around him, she might as well get into the mystery of what happened to Donatella and cash in on the reward money. She doesn’t need to go anywhere else anymore.

Apart from all this, Peggy also grieving her mother, whom she misses very much. She is shocked to come across a woman who looks exactly like her mother. Peggy doesn’t have any delusions about this woman. She knows this is not her mother. However, Carol advises her to write a play and have the woman, who is an actress, play her mother’s part. This way, Peggy can say all the things she wants to say to her mother without it all being weird and deal with her issues.

Another thing that troubles Peggy is her marriage. When Denny went to prison, she tried to get a divorce, but he is intent on staying with her. It’s all right till he is in jail and not meddling in business. However, at the end of the third episode, Peggy comes home to discover that her husband was released early. Because Denny is a criminal, his presence doesn’t bode well for Peggy. She’s trying to become a private investigator, and she’s already kept her criminal record a secret from her employer.

If it is revealed that her husband is a convicted criminal, things will get tougher for her. Moreover, it doesn’t look like all this time in prison has changed Denny for the better. He hasn’t left behind that part of his life, which means that whatever he does next will cause trouble for Peggy.

Read More: Is High Desert Based on a True Story?