Friday, November 1, 2019

REVIEW: 'See' - Baba Voss Protects His Community Before Having to Lead Them on a Grand Journey in 'Godflame'

AppleTV+'s See - Episode 1.01 "Godflame"

A journey of survival begins when an army of Witchfinders attacks the village of Alkenny.

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 AppleTV+'s See.

"Godflame" was written by Steven Knight and directed by Francis Lawrence

There is a lot of heavy lifting that needs to be done in order to set up this new fantasy world. The opening text highlights how the world was destroyed by a virus in the 21st century. The two million people who survived emerged completely blind. As such, that has become a core part of life centuries later. Sight no longer feels like something afforded to humanity. The sheer suspicion of having it can lead to death. As such, it's inventive to see how the show imagines a future designed around this core sense being removed. How do people live in a society without the ability to see? It's actually quite impressive. The battle sequence in particular is pretty stunning because it relies on different methods of being able to listen and communicate. That allows the show a certain specificity to it so that it doesn't come across as the latest elaborate fantasy show trying to recreate the success of Game of Thrones. Sure, series lead Jason Momoa also starred on that successful drama during its first season. He is a part of the DC universe as Aquaman as well. Here though, he presents as Baba Voss, the trusted and revered leader of this community. People look to him for coordination as to how to process the news of imminent attack and how to defend themselves from these invaders. He doesn't have all the answers. He is simply the chief doing his best with the tools afforded to him. He doesn't understand the mystery that comes from a heretic claiming to see and probably passing it down to his newborn twins. Instead, this heretic is simply the salvation this tribe needs during their time of need. It's cool and efficient to watch as Baba Voss leads his troops into battle and effectively causes an avalanche of rocks to push back the army. And yet, the Queen's army is fully prepared for the defenses of this community. They have never had any conflicts before. But the sheer presence of these children is enough to enrage the queen. She believes that evil can be passed down onto a baby. She wants them brought to her. She intensifies the search after it all produces no results here. The escape to the capital and the problems it is facing as part of a dam is extremely broad and farcical compared to the intense drama happening elsewhere. Baba Voss is risking the lives of so many in order to prevent them from slaughter. Meanwhile, Queen Kane sits in her position of power believing that some higher power is condemning the world for not having strong enough faith in him and what he can offer. It's a fascinating conflict. One where humanity places extreme faith on the power of belief in order to find solace in times of despair. But those beliefs can become twisted over time as well. Queen Kane doesn't understand the meaning of some of these words as originally written from the previous world. But now, she is the one with power and control. Baba Voss' community is sent traveling to a new land. One where all the messages have been planted to guide them along the way. That too takes a certain amount of faith. Faith that the next clue is just over the horizon. If the people listen closely enough, then they will see the path laid out in front of them. No one knew that this bridge existed that could possibly lead to escape from this world everyone has known for so long. And yet, it also seemed to be created for this precise purpose. Baba Voss may not know that he has a traitor in his midst who is more than willing to sell his people out to the queen's army. He is loyal and refuses to promote or believe in any heresy. But now, there are children who must be protected. Children who are special. Baba Voss found peace being with his wife and children as a family. It's a somewhat false reality but one that he still holds dear. It's a transformational time for all of their lives. They may be able to start anew. But it also feels inevitable that this new settlement will also be attacked by evil forces wishing to tear them apart. That's the core conflict at the moment. It's an effective premiere even though the world building is more successful than the character work.