TV Review: ‘See’ Has Trouble Navigating Its Story

In a post-apocalyptic world where survivors of a virus that wiped out the population have lost their sight, a stranded woman pregnant with twins, Maghda (Hera Hilmar) comes upon a village and marries its leader Baba Voss (Jason Momoa). Upon the birth, a boy and a girl, Baba Voss and Maghda discover their children have the gift of sight. Until now, there was only one person in all the world who possessed the gift of sight: the twins’ birth father Jerlamarel (Joshua Henry). Sight is considered witchcraft by Queen Kane, (Sylvia Hoeks) and orders death on anyone with even the possibility of sight. Jerlamarel’s gift is known to Queen Kane and is hunted by the Queen’s witch hunter Tamacti Jun (Christian Camargo). Baba Voss’ family now in danger, he and his wife Maghda must fiercely protect their twins and their secret.

The series starts off with an intense, fast-paced situation as Maghra gives birth while Baba Voss leads the defense from an attack on his village. The witch hunters lead by Tamactic Jun have come for the babies rumored to be Jerlamarel’s children. The villagers escape to safety by a bridge built by Jerlamarel. A promising start to the series, this fast pace is short-lived as the story slows to a near standstill from then on. Too much time is spent on issues that could easily be compressed.

By the second episode, Jerlamarel comes to Baba Voss to give him a key to a mysterious box with instructions not to open it until the Haniwa and Kofun are 12 years old. When opened, Haniwa, the girl, (Nesta Cooper) and Kofun, the boy, (Archie Madekwe) discover a box of books to educate and teach them how to build a new world. By episode three, the twins are 17-years-old and, against their mother’s wishes, read and learn from the books left by their father. Haniwa becomes an expert at the bow and wants to change the world while her twin brother Kofun is scared of the danger his gift of sight puts him in.

Haniwa and Kofun are such central characters to the show but are treated as supporting characters, creating a very off-center feel. This is their story, not the story of a village leader or the story of a mother trying to protect her children. This is the story of two people with a gift no one else has. This is the story of how two teenagers are going to build a new world. Instead of focusing on that, the show focuses on Baba Voss (Momoa) whose character fails to move the story forward. It’s a disappointing direction that distracts from the true premise of the show. The result is a story stubbornly stuck at a standstill for the first two episodes and most of the third.

With great hope for these characters, the acting falls flat. Most actors deliver their lines void of emotion. Not entirely the actors’ fault, creator Steven Knight gave little dimension to each character. While Momoa’s performance was tender and loving just like his character, it’s clearly a missed opportunity to give more to Baba Voss by discussion of his dark past. One actor who shone was Alfre Woodard who stars as Paris, a Scentier who can see without sight. Woodard wasn’t given much to work with but still managed to make her character well-rounded, interesting and opinionated.

Making a show where every character is blind would be a challenge for any show. Such an important part of the premise, the lack of sight was, for the most part, kept in focus and handled with care. While actors took part in “blindness training” to make their performances more realistic, the actor movement was mostly realistic as they made their way across uneven terrain and interacted with each other. As it should be, blindness was kept at the forefront of the story. Some of the cast and crew really have blind or visual disabilities, making this show one of few that carries a large staff with disabilities.

Hera Hilmar as Maghda and Jason Momoa as Baba Voss.

The best and most memorable part of all three episodes is Momoa’s fight scene that lasts a solid four minutes. As Momoa kills men in extremely gruesome ways, it’s important to keep in mind that his character literally fights blind. The fight choreography was structured around sound as Momoa attacked by listening to movement. Not only is it a great fight scene, but it is also interesting to watch as different methods are used to show how a blind warrior could be such an exceptional fighter.

While this show is built on an interesting premise, the execution is disappointing and isn’t recommended to put at the top of your “must-see” list.

“See” premieres on Apple TV+ on Friday, November 1. Three episodes were screened for review.

GRADE: (★)

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