Before we even get a chance to learn everyone's name, Sydney is dead. Yeah, that Sydney. From the original show. If you didn't watch the original show (neither did I), she's one of the old faces making way for the new ones. She makes a lot of room when she ends up face down in the apartment pool. This freaks everyone out to have all seen their landlord taken away in a body bag, but not enough to derail these new characters from returning to their own problems so we can get to know them. Convenient.
The only character of the lot who really seems troubled by Sydney's murder is David, supposed illegitimate son of Dr. Michael Mancini from the original series. The grief might be because David happened to be the last person to see her alive. He had a thing going on with Sydney and was the only one to respond to a distress call the night of her death. He's detained as a possible suspect until his friend Ella bails him out with a fake alibi, saying he was with her all night. A flashback tells us that Sydney was planning to evict Ella because she told David that Sydney was sleeping with his father. Motive? Maybe.
Then, there's the cutesy couple, Jonah and Riley, highlighted mainly by Jonah's man-child antics. He's a filmmaker who uses his iMovie tricks to propose to Riley who is hesitant to accept because of the aforementioned immaturity. The proposal is also conveniently interrupted by a scream upon the discovery of Sydney's dead body, allowing it to become a story arc. See how that works, melodrama writers? It takes the rejection of a $100,000 offer from Thomas Sterling -- another throwback character -- after Jonah accidentally catches him on film cheating on his wife to get Riley to say yes to Jonah. She's so easy.
We also have a struggling doctor, Lauren, who can't afford to go to medical school and sinks to accepting an indecent proposal from a patient's son after wrestling with the moral dilemma of sex for money. Come on. Could there ever be any doubt she would accept the offer? Where's the predictable, sordid plot twists we've come to expect from a show bearing the name Melrose Place. Oh. Never mind.
Then we have the characters that are touched on lightly, which you know means they are hiding something. There's Auggie the cook. Ashlee Simpson-Wentz's character Violet is the new girl in the complex and happens to be the one to stumble upon Sydney's corpse. Her words of wisdom (you know there's a problem when Ashlee Simpson-Wentz's character is the one doling out wisdom) lead Lauren to mull over her hooker potential. That looks like the start of a beautiful friendship right there.
Everything becomes a jumbled mess at the end as the episode tries to connect everyone. There's some sort of odd, makeshift memorial held for Sydney with all the new characters in attendance, which only consists of a brief toast. It becomes quite clear that Ella has a thing for Jonah when she reacts in disgust at the announcement of Riley's acceptance of his proposal. David tries to mack on her and gets shot down. He goes and does some cat burglary instead to cool off. Ella goes out and gets freaky with some random woman while being tailed by police. Violet asks out Auggie, but he blows her off to go dispose of some bloody clothes. And... wait, what?! It's always the characters you don't develop.
Welcome to the new old Melrose Place where everything is still sleazy, but covered with the glaze of 2009.
We open with quick zoom cuts through a jumping nightclub. A lot of beautiful people doing dimly-lit beautiful things. As the camera provocatively cuts through the club trying to make things seem way edgier than they are, we end up in a cramped corridor where there's some heavy making out going on between two blondes. A guy and a girl. We're starting off simple, people. That is, until the guy's iPhone goes off with a text. Make-Out Girl tells him not to even think about it, but he sneaks a glance after telling her of course he won't. Wow, the lying has already begun. We're not even five minutes in. The text reads: "In serious trouble. Come. Now!" Let's ignore that choice of punctuation for now.
Cut to an attractive blonde having a cocktail conversation with two hipster-type guys about their client who has gone "from Inside the Actors Studio to outside of Coco De Ville doing blow with somebody else's boyfriend." Sounds fun. Hipster #1 points out that they're agents, the hipsters are, not baby-sitters. Attractive blonde responds that their client needs a new publicist. They need her. Make-Out Guy from before interrupts to tell Attractive Blonde, "Ella, Sydney's in trouble." Now, all of this paragraph happens in roughly 2.5 seconds. Without a DVR, you'd miss Ella's name and profession right out of the gate. We'll see if that really matters in the long-run. Make-Out Guy tells Ella that he has to go despite her protestation that he's her ride. He hands her a $100 bill and tells her to "cab it." Gotta love the attempt at hip dialogue there. Exit Make-Out Guy who still has no real name. Ella looks at the money, turns to Hipsters #1 and #2 and asks if they want another shot. I wish I was a hipster still.
In the club's kitchen, things are busy and they're cooking up lobster. Mmm. Make-Out-Guy-Without-A-Name-Still walks up to the cook with the lobster, who we find out is named Auggie, and asks him to come back to the penthouse with him because Sydney was totally trashed earlier. We haven't met Sydney yet (or have we?), but I already like her. "You're the only one who knows how to deal with her when she gets like this," he tells Auggie, but Auggie can't leave because they're swamped in the kitchen. He tells... jeez why doesn't he have a name yet (?) that if Sydney is really in trouble when he gets there, to call him and he'll try to get out of the kitchen. The guy that isn't Auggie walks away.
Jarring cut to a hospital from a rolling stretcher medical drama point-of-view where a young female doctor is comforting an older woman who is being carted along with that stretcher cam. She meets up with her supervising physician and gives him the rundown of the patient before her phone rings. It's nameless guy on the other end asking the doctor -- whose name is Lauren -- when she gets off if she can meet him at the penthouse. He says she's in pretty bad shape as if it's assumed that there can be only one person they could be talking about. Lauren says she can't get out because she's working the graveyard shift, but stops to give some advice. "Listen to me, David," (his name is David!) "If you can't wake her up, or if her eyes don't dilate, don't waste time calling me, OK? You gotta call 9-1-1." Yeah, David. Don't bother me with your potential life or death situation when I'm a health professional. Ass.