‘Aftermath’ pilot review
By Lauren Paulsen, Multimedia Editor
Post-apocalyptic stories in television, movies, and novels are not uncommon. They generally follow the main characters’ struggle to survive after civilization falls. Usually there is a specific reason why the apocalypse has happened, be it a zombie virus, a nuclear holocaust, or even God’s retribution. Aftermath might have the typical post-apocalyptic survival theme, but the reason for the apocalypse isn’t so clear cut.
Aftermath is Syfy’s new post-apocalyptic television series about a family trying to survive the aftermath of the apocalypse, through enormous storms raining fish and snakes, earthquakes where there are no fault lines, meteor strikes, a plague that causes insanity, and the appearance of a body-possessing supernatural creature.
It’s hard to really determine through just the pilot how well this series will fare. Nothing is properly explained (except that the body-possessing spirits might be skinwalkers) leaving the audience to wonder what exactly is going on. All that can really be determined is that the world is ending, possibly through an act of God, and that the story will follow this family of five.
Strangely, the family seems to take things much more calmly than one would imagine. The mother (Anne Heche) used to work in the Air Force, so she’s portrayed as being a badass who scary situations can’t unnerve, but the extent to which she and her family take things in stride is somewhat unbelievable. However, outside this strange calmness, the acting isn’t bad, and both twin girls do have some believable panic attacks.
The Feverhead angle sounds similar to a zombie plague, but manages to put a fresh twist to the trope. Infected people (we don’t yet know how they become infected) act irrationally and violently. There is some cannibalism, but it’s not clear whether the Feverheads or the possessed people (who are also extremely violent) are the ones eating other people’s faces. The more refreshing angle is that the Feverheads are definitely insane, but it’s interesting to see how they try to rationalize what they are doing. It is much scarier that way.
There is some humour dotted throughout, such as the fact that the mother keeps a gun behind the Bible that the scholarly father (James Tupper) has no idea they own. Most of it is quite dark, though, so you’ll need a macabre sense of humour to enjoy it.
The pilot is suspenseful enough to keep the viewer watching, but the complete lack of explanation might become frustrating, especially because by the end we still feel that nothing is explained. It is obviously meant to string the viewer along to watch the next episode, but this can leave them feeling unsatisfied by the end of the hour.
It’s difficult to completely judge a whole series based on its pilot, and that is certainly true for Aftermath. Through the lack of explanation in the first episode, the plotline could really take off in any direction. It’s hard to say at this point whether that will prove to be a boon, or a bane, for this show.