Usually I’m reluctant to watch anything with less than 3 seasons, unless it’s something recent and not cancelled. But the summer hiatus, and the notable lack of Walking Dead and Falling Skies drove me to seek more post apocalyptic entertainment. And so, I came across Survivors, which wiped out 90 % of the world’s population not with the aid of zombies or aliens, but a virus. Hooray for diversity.
First of all, the beginning does a great job to capture the atmosphere of a society in denial and the following breakdown of everything. What seems to be a semi-normal flu epidemic turns out to be an unstoppable killer virus and the British government lies and withholds information until it’s impossible to deny that, well, only 1 % of the population is still alive. We meet most of the main characters during these troubled times/days.
First, there’s Abby and frankly I was really glad she seemed to have died from the flu early on. She’s the bubbly soccer mom type who points out her worry about son Peter, 12, every time she opens her mouth. This never changes, and you might have guessed it: She doesn’t die and recovers from the flu to become one of the main protagonists.
Luckily, the rest of the group makes a better first impression and isn’t nearly as annoying.
Tom, for example, doesn’t really see how the world goes to shit. He still has 20 years in prison to go, for “killing some people and robbery”. When the dust settles, only he and one guard are still alive, and said guard decided Tom should still serve the rest of his sentence. And so he dies. Tom is a weird case, because he looks pretty similar to Tom Baldwin (The 4400) and obviously shares the first name. So I have a bit a hard time to see him as a “bad guy”. However, if you can look past that, you must congratulate the writers. I have rarely seen such a good portrayal of a sociopath. Tom isn’t a happy-go-lucky “kill them all” monster. He’s nice, charming and most of the time more than reasonable, but not without keeping you on the edge if he’ll snap and live out his sociopathic tendencies. He doesn’t “barely hide his tics” and doesn’t wear much of a mask around the others, and that’s what makes it so awesome. There isn’t a single moment he lets you forget that he has little regard for others, which can be especially creepy if he’s alone with the kid or one of the girls. But he also never gives off the impression that he might go completely crazy – or that he is surpressing any violent tendencies. He’s very controlled and it more seems like he knows exactly when he can safely unleash the beast within for a moment, and how to put it back in it’s cage. You may have guessed it – Tom is hands down my favorite character.
A close second is Anya, a young doctor. She’s pretty much done with everything and everyone and at first, she keeps her occupation a secret. She happened to save Tom’s life, but he keeps her secret. He probably has a crush on her in some way, but it’s such a subtle thing in the series, I’m not bothered by it. The dynamic of Tom being (borderline over)protective of her actually adds a lot to his creep factor.
Very creepy is a good way to describe Sarah. She was found early on in a supermarket distribution center, where she was more or less held prisoner by her pre-apocalypse obsessed stalker, the supermarket manager. He protected and provided for her in return for “that kind of favor”. And that clearly left a mark on Sarah. When her manager protector gets badly injured, she immediately dismisses him and tries to seduce Greg, who came to their aid. Dismissed by Greg – who seems semi-interested in Abby instead – Sarah tries to make a move on Tom – who is interested in Anya. Sarah is a picture book case of codependancy, probably even in clinical dimensions.
Speaking of Greg – he remains largely a mystery. He is the first person Abby runs into and appears to have some legit survival skills. He also has a plan and a car full of supplies, but alas, he lets Abby talk him into the whole group thing. I might have missed it, but as far as I remember, we don’t learn about his occupation before mankind became an endangered species. He becomes the daddy counterpart to Abby’s mom of the group act, but still has thoughts about trying his luck and solo the apocalypse at some point.
The most dynamic duo in the group, however, has Al and Najid. Al is a richie rich who lived the lifestyle of the rich and the famous (with his dad’s money) and hasn’t done a bit of real work in his life. He’s irresponsible and immature, but for some reason, he cares about Najid, a 13 years old faithful muslim boy. It is very refreshing to see a show where the religious character isn’t some bible quoting man/woman of god. Likewise for the team up with Al in a big brother kind of relationship instead of making Najid a morality pet for Tom. Najid is the more mature one, and Al seems to grow on this relationship, taking responsibility for the first time in his life.
There are a couple of minor characters that appear every now and then, like ex-minister of health Samantha, the last survivor of the government, who tries to rebuild society; a bunch of violent looters lead by a mean looking guy named Dexter and Sami, a scientist who works for the secret corporation behind the virus.
There is one thing that makes zero sense to me – the group meets the looter gang(s) very early. They see that these people are armed with guns and rifles and not afraid to use them. But it takes them about 5 episodes (of 6) to consider getting weapons for themselves. Before that, they don’t even keep knives or baseball bats around, despite being threatened and robbed several times. To be fair, Tom did have a gun – but surprise, surprise, it was actually stolen from him by the first people he met. So at least he should have considered getting a new weapon of some sort, if only to defend himself.
But that is a minor headscratcher. I can also overlook Abby being annoying – it is nowhere near unwatchable and the other characters get equal development and screen time. And that’s why I usually dislike watching things with less than 3 seasons – I like it, and it’s a pity there’s only one more season to watch.