Saturday, November 9, 2019

REVIEW: 'See' - Baba Voss and His Family Attempt to Escape the Witchfinders Once More in 'The River'

AppleTV+'s See - Episode 1.04 "The River"

An attack on the village leads to sacrifice and new challenges.

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 next episode of AppleTV+'s See.

"The River" was written by Steven Knight & Hadi Nicholas Deeb and directed by Anders Engström

The first time Tamacti Jun and the Witchfinders came to the community of Alkenny the people were faced with a crucial decision. They were divided over what to do. And yet, they had the opportunity for all of them to improbably escape to freedom. Four episodes into the season, that same situation presents itself. It is meaningful and important that the same outcome doesn't occur here. There isn't some magical bridge that can carry everyone to safety across a canyon. But there is an escape route. One that ensures the core family remains safe. They aren't captured by the queen's army just yet. It simply comes with the overwhelming feeling that the show is already repeating itself with the audience not caring any more about the outcome of this decision than the previous one. That is very unfortunate. Baba Voss saw this moment as inevitable. As such, he prepared for it by building a boat. However, that boat can only realistically carry a half dozen people. Even then, it's a tenuous escape. One that has more immediate suffering and lethal consequences than the previous escape plan. It's all played as a surprise as well. No one else thought that they should have this escape route mapped out for when this day arrived. They simply believed that it never would. That was inherently foolish. Of course, the show doesn't delve fully into that either. It's just something the audience has to accept as happening. It props Baba Voss as smart and capable in this world. It mostly feels like stunted drama in order to create tension though. Again, there is no personal investment attached to the majority of Alkenny being slaughtered after the Witchfinders find them once more. It was always inevitable because of the messages being sent out. It took a generation for it to happen. But that too highlights how this conflict is really shallow. Queen Kane's advisers have lost faith in her because she seems like a woman who increasingly only has one thing on her mind. She is desperate to regain the love of Jerlameral. That's a connection she has built up into something special in her head. It has blocked out all other rational thoughts for 20 years. In that time, no one has come close to challenging her leadership. That's depressing and paints this as a society going through the motions instead of one trying to regain a sense of strength and composure. The people may be enjoying their sex parties instead of taking meaningful actions to secure their futures. Again, it may have been inevitable that all of this would be destroyed. But it doesn't mean anything that Queen Kane sentences her entire kingdom to death. It's all about her personal quest for vengeance against Jerlameral. She prioritizes that over the concerns of her citizens. That makes her an awful leader. It also makes her an insanely broad and one-dimensional character. That's boring and lackluster. The show is simply too casual with the loss of life as well. No one seems to have a major reaction to the death of Alkenny citizens except for Bow. Even then, she hasn't really been propped up as a significant character for the season. She doesn't have meaningful relationships with Haniwa and Kofun. And yet, she agrees that they need to keep forging ahead. There has to remain some glimmer of hope that the world can be restored from all of this chaos and destruction. Haniwa needs that reassurance that there is a place for her to belong. That can be a very palpable and understandable motivation for her. It's just lost in the mess that comes from something more mystical being alluding to at the conclusion of the hour. The show wants to be confusing. But that doesn't work if the audience has nothing to latch onto and be entertained by as the story is slowly revealing itself. Right now, it's simply a bunch of actions that keep happening to a group of people who are deemed special while going on a vague quest for some all mighty enlightenment. It's too much without any awareness of how dumb and dire it comes across as.