Plot: A virus has decimated humankind. Those who survived emerged blind. Jason Momoa stars as the father of twins born centuries later with the mythic ability to see—who must protect his tribe against a threatened queen.
Review: Of all the series premiering on Apple TV+, See if by far the most ambitious. Reportedly costing $15 million an episode (on par with what HBO spent on Game of Thrones), the series is the lone genre offering from the new streaming platform and rests on the star-power of lead Jason Momoa. Couple that with a very high concept story about post-apocalyptic warriors who are blind and you have a series that could make or break Apple's new service right out of the gate. Luckily, See is actually good and awash with violent action scenes and an engaging plot.
The eight episode first season (of which the first three were made available for review) was entirely written by Steven Knight (LOCKE, SERENITY) and directed by Francis Lawrence (THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, RED SPARROW). Set hundreds of years in the future, much of See is reminiscent of THE ROAD where the vestiges of human civilization are in ruins and a distant memory to the survivors. Sight is looked at as witchcraft by the less than two million people left alive who have returned to tribal societies. Some tribes survive in the last standing buildings while the rest live in tents and makeshift communities. All fear the Sun and call it the Godflame and anyone who deviates from custom is banished.
Jason Momoa plays Baba Voss, leader of the Alkenny tribe, who take in a pregnant woman, Maghra (MORTAL ENGINES' Hera Hilmar). Taking her as a wife, Baba Voss follows the guidance of tribal witch Paris (Alfre Woodard) who delivers infant twins who have the ability to see. The children, fathered by Jerlamarel (Joshua Henry), become the central focus of Baba Voss' protection while being hunted by the maniacal Queen Kane (BLADE RUNNER 2049's Sylvia Hoeks) and her witchfinder general Tamacti Jun (Christian Camargo). As tribal factions clash, the world at large comes into focus and requires a lot of attention to understand all of the nuances of these cultures and how they function. Names, customs, and more populate this story and will take some getting used to but the broad strokes of this tale are easy enough to follow.
See is certainly the most ambitious of the first wave of Apple TV+ offerings. The production values are all visible on screen with the location filming in British Columbia making this feel like a realistic portrayal of North America being reclaimed by nature. Over the first three episodes, the series spans almost two decades of time but I found myself wanting to spend more time exploring some of the customs and smaller narratives of the story rather than getting to twins Kofun (Archie Madekwe) and Haniwa (Nesta Cooper) reaching maturity. But while there is a coming of age element to this story, it is first and foremost a bleak exploration of survival and hope.
Francis Lawrence has had a career that has featured very different views of post-apocalyptic America from I AM LEGEND to THE HUNGER GAMES, but he does his best cinematic work here. See often reminded me of THE REVENANT as the natural landscape is used expertly and adds to the tangible and realistic nature of the show. This helps because believing that society could exist without sight is hard to imagine. But, each of the episodes I saw had well executed action sequences ranging from a mid-scale battle scene, a showdown with a bear, and a well-choreographed fight sequence that takes blindness out of the equation thanks to the heightened sensitivity of other senses. Think of the fights in Netflix's Daredevil but where no one can see and you have an idea of what is on display here.
Bear McCreary's haunting score accents the incredibly visual nature of a show about blindness. Well, See is not exactly about blindness purely from a visual sense but also how blind we can be in our beliefs and fear of change. Steven Knight sometimes wallows in the hopelessness of this future where we see frequent sequences of death, execution, torture, and even the least sexual depiction of masturbation ever put on screen. See is a worthwhile watch and a show that has potential but requires a great deal of patience. You will be rewarded each episode with some exciting and well filmed scenes and a solid performance from Jason Momoa, but you need to go in knowing that this is not the action-packed thrill ride the trailers make it out to be,
See premieres November 1st on Apple TV+.