- This is ridiculously campy. The actors on the plane are caricatures. While the actual events are scary, their poorly-acted reactions minimize the fear.
- These airport authorities are idiots. Do we really “got ourselves a dead airplane” because the airplane is cold and the window blinds are down? The blinds are threatening, yes, but airplanes are equipped with de-icing fluid because it can get icy up there, in the air. Is it such an impossibility that the airplane would be cold, “like a dead body,” when it lands?
- Why does Corey Stoll have hair? Is his hair (or will it become) critical to the storyline? Because I’m sure we could accept him (and better recognize him) without his hair–unless he was playing Hemingway.
As the episode progressed
As the first episode to what intends to be a complex series, its main focus was on setting everything up. So what’s going on here? A plane from Berlin lands at JFK. It flew in off the radar, all the window blinds are shut, and, upon further inspection, most passengers appear dead due to a viral outbreak. The “dead” are sent for autopsies and the “living” are kept under quarantine. Meanwhile, the CDC’s Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and Dr. Nora Martinez (Mía Maestro) try to figure out what exactly happened.
The episode opens as many horror movies do: A scary action sequence involving characters we don’t (and don’t need to) care about. There’s a creature in the cargo compartment who escapes, and that’s enough to pull us in. As a viewer, I cared so little about these empty characters that I was eagerly awaiting a deeper character to latch onto. Good job, writers, because the next character we meet is Dr. Goodweather, or Eph as he prefers to be called. He’s a dad in the midst of a divorce who’s having trouble keeping up with his personal life (ie. attending counselling) because of his busy career. Now, with this deadly, inexplicable virus on the loose, we can probably mark his family life as DOA, but one he’ll weakly try to resuscitate through the series.
We’re also quickly pulled into David Bradley’s character, Professor Abraham Setrakian, an old pawnshop owner and Holocaust survivor who seems to be the only guy in-the-know about what’s really going on (he survived an earlier outbreak). We meet him in a struggle against some thugs who are trying to rob his shop and the frail old man easily scares away two young, aggressive and armed men. After this scene, Setrakian catches news of the mysterious plane on TV. “I don’t know if I have the strength to do it all over again,” he says to himself and heads off to inform the CDC. Here begins the man of faith and man of science conflict (sorry, I’m a Lostie).
Overall, the episode doesn’t present itself as much more than a procedural drama with a few gross-out scenes. There are some interesting characters and backstories being set up, but so far, they aren’t anything we haven’t seen before. That said, there’s so little we know in the first episode that there’s a lot of opportunity to change that.
Notable quote: “Ready to go through the looking glass?” Jim Kent (Sean Astin) asks Eph and Dr. Martinez as they head into the plane on the tarmac. It’s a Through the Looking Glass reference at first, but with Carton Cuse on board, it’s definitely a reference to Lost first and its episode “Through the Looking Glass,” an episode written by Cuse and Damon Lindelof, or the duo known as Darlton. It probably doesn’t mean much except a nod to Lostie viewers.
Grossest moment: When the creature (or the Master, as we will later learn) smashes in a detective’s head after draining his blood. It was unexpected and explicit–isn’t that how gore is best served?
Scariest moment: The creature in the cargo compartment at the beginning. The flight attendants stand above the cargo compartment and listen to the shuffling below. We don’t know what’s down there but we do know that nothing should be down there, and that’s the scariest moment of all. What is it? What does it look like? How do they contain it, considering they’re isolated in an air vessel thousands of miles up in the air and unarmed?
The GDT touch: The coffin. It’s intricate, old and mythological. This is clearly del Toro’s work.
The Carlton Cuse touch: “Sweet Caroline” playing at the morgue while the pathologist encounters the virus, literally, at hand. We’ve seen this many times in Lost, a classic song set to a simple sequence. This time, it’s overlayed with a much darker tone.