Friday, April 26, 2019

REVIEW: 'Chambers' - Sasha's Life Changes Dramatically One Night with Her Boyfriend in 'Into the Void'

Netflix's Chambers - Episode 1.01 "Into the Void"

Sasha's night of teenage fun with her boyfriend leads to a near-death experience - and the opportunity of a lifetime from a wealthy, grieving couple.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Netflix's Chambers.

"Into the Void" was written by Leah Rachel and directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Organ transplants are miraculous. As Sasha's uncle Frank notes here, so many things had to come together for four hours in order for Sasha to survive a heart attack by getting a new organ. She doesn't feel lucky though. Instead, she feels guilty and grief-stricken by how life-changing this whole experience will be for her. The parents of the girl who gave her the heart are also wallowing at the moment and trying to find the best way to honor her memory. Of course, the show is also going for an unsettling tone in which it takes the idea of organ transplants into an out-of-body experience. It's a part of another person that has been transplanted into Sasha. She is being haunted in her dreams by Becky. More importantly though, she sees herself blending in and out of Becky's life. There is absolutely a pull for her to replace Becky in the Lefevre family. Ben and Nancy want Sasha to be the first recipient of the scholarship they have put together in honor of their daughter. They welcome her into their home and show off just how rich they are. It didn't save them from this tragedy. Plus, it's clear that there is more going on underneath the surface with all of these characters. This premiere mostly wants to make the audience uncomfortable. It highlights the scar that now exists on Sasha's chest. It tells story beats in tight close-ups to show just how personal and claustrophobic all of this can be for the two families coming together. But it's also a little unclear what exactly the show is going for with its storytelling. Do Ben and Nancy simply want to create a reality in which Sasha replaces Becky as their daughter? Is Sasha being teased into seeing herself as a member of this family instead of the proud heritage that she comes from? The world is signaling that it's evil for this heart to now be in her body. Sasha just wants to worry about losing her virginity. That's the most important thing before she has her heart attack. Plus, people rightfully question how a 17-year-old has a heart attack in the first place. Sasha explains that it was an undiagnosed condition that led to a nearly fatal shutdown of the organ. Meanwhile, she is curious about Becky's own tragic accident. The explanation given here only creates more questions though. Sasha's best friend Yvonne points out that someone who is electrocuted to death probably couldn't donate their organs to someone else. Sure, there may be some explanation in the future for how Sasha appears to be the only recipient and the heart was the only organ removed from Becky. But that's still a crucial organ for Sasha. It saved her life. She is now being given all of these new opportunities. She finally has sex with her boyfriend, TJ. She gets to transfer to a prestigious high school that is absolutely insane with the facilities it offers its privileged students. All of this has the potential to only further alienate her from her life. And yet, she really didn't have a core identity that she must hold onto throughout these transformational experiences. That too is relatable because teenagers rarely know who they are. It's mostly just important that Sasha is terrified by these constant visions of Becky. She knows they mean something sinister. But that overwhelming mood is really the only consistent note of interest throughout this premiere. By its conclusion, the show is still mostly just setting up its ongoing stories and introducing the main characters. It certainly makes good use out of its New Mexican setting though. Those landscapes create some beautiful and scary imagery.