Between is the product of a collaboration between Canada’s City network and Netflix. As far as series premieres go, it lacked a little of the luster that I’ve come to expect with Netflix’s other original programming, but it was still a very solid start and has a storyline that pulls you in from the beginning.
The first episode, titled “School’s Out” opens with text stating that on Day 10 in Pretty Lake, the death toll is at 3,412. We then see a teenager creeping through the woods in a beanie to come upon a fence being patrolled by armed guards. As soon as he clears the woodline, the spotlights turn on him and everyone yells, “Freeze!”
Day 1 – Death Toll 0
Before the virus outbreak we get glimpses of the various players in this story. In the interest of saving space, I am going to do a quick breakdown of the characters. I felt like the dialogue was very establishment heavy, purposefully written to explain details about the characters, and it felt a little clunky. Once the episode got past these initial introductions, it settled much better into the dialogue and plot.
Wiley – a pregnant teenager roaming the halls of her high school, chowing down on a burger for breakfast. She is sarcastic and witty and refuses to tell anyone who fathered her baby. She says it adds to her intrigue, but it is obvious she is hiding this information for a reason.
Adam – a friend and potential ex-lover of Wiley’s. He is very smart and technologically gifted and has been accepted early to MIT. Adam is very emo and for the first half of the episode wanders around talking in a very monotone and bored voice while complaining about living in a small town and itching to get out.
Chuck – a quintessential spoiled rich teenager. We first meet him recklessly driving his shiny red Mustang down a back road and nearly taking out two brothers, but instead clipping their rearview mirror when they jumped out of the way. He later lies to his parents and tells them the parked truck clipped him and they prove to also be snobby assholes – so he at least gets it honestly.
Ronnie – our small-town drug dealer aspiring to becoming a big-time drug dealer. It’s good to have goals. He is the younger brother of Pat and seems to be like any other small-town bad boy.
Pat – Ronnie’s older brother, he knows how to change a tire. He tracks down the red Mustang that nearly killed them, and confronts Chuck’s parents. When the asshole dad tries to step to him, he doesn’t back down, but the confrontation gets interrupted by his wife’s death, so we don’t know how tough he really is as of yet.
Gord – we first see Gord leaving the army recruitment office having just enlisted. His little sister, Frances, asks if he’s just trying to piss off their dad and is concerned for him. He assures her that he probably won’t see combat and despite her dearth of research, he won’t come home bitter and broken.
Kevin – an inmate in the Lake District Federal Prison. I can only assume he got arrested for his beautiful eyes. We honestly know absolutely nothing about Kevin, and I shall refer to him henceforth as Pretty Eyes.
In the minutes leading up to the outbreak of the virus/plague/unexplained-death-creator, Wiley is cleaning out the wilted flowers from all of the vases in the church. Her sister, Melissa, comes in to tell her dinner is ready and Wiley claims she’s already eaten. She gets a text about a party and throws out a quip to her sister about her preggo thong and says she’s not joining them for dinner. Her sister heads out of the sanctuary and we hear her yell “Dad!” from the next room. Wiley rushes in to find her father dead on the floor with blood coming out of his mouth.
Meanwhile, Pat tracks down the red Mustang that nearly killed Ronnie and him to Chuck’s house. He confronts Mr. and Mrs. Lott about their son and dad gets up like I assume all rich assholes do and threatens to press charges against Pat, because his son is a lying liar who lies and he told them the truck clipped him and not the other way around. As Pat gears up to argue, the Mrs. starts leaking blood from the mouth and just up and dies. I found an inordinate amount of pleasure in that she leaked blood all over her pristine white suit.
Gord is on his family’s farm delivering a calf as his grandfather watches on. Grandpa offers to call the vet, but Gord tells him not to because his father cannot afford it. This comes as a surprise to grandpa, and then he starts grimacing before also oozing blood from his mouth hole and slumping down on the ground as Gord jumps out of the cow pen with placenta covered hands to try and help his grandfather.
Day 4 – Death Toll 47
A panic has started to set in with the residents of Pretty Lake. We see the technology chatter of texts, tweets, hashtags, et cetera while everyone is glued to their phones. This is exactly how I imagine a real-life pandemic would look in today’s modern age.
In the city, Ronnie meets with some shady dude under a bridge to buy two handguns. He gives the guy a load of cash and dumps the guns in his camouflage backpack before heading on his way. No offense, but it’s hard to look tough when you’re slinging a backpack over your shoulder. Especially a camo backpack.
Back in Pretty Lake, at the medical center, Adam pays a visit to his uncle who is looking at some of the blood ooze in a petri dish. I’m no scientist, but I am pretty sure that is not how you cure diseases. At least use a microscope… and a mask for God’s sake. Adam asks if he’s heard anything from the Minister and his uncle inquires how Adam knew he’s been in contact with the Minister. Adam tells him he’s been monitoring his email and phone calls since the outbreak in a tone that is much more suitable to, “I brought you a turkey sandwich for dinner,” than the news that you’ve been spying on an adult.
After being urged by his uncle to get out of town, Adam returns home and frantically starts packing a bag, telling his mom to get her shit, ‘cause they gots to go. His mom calls him a conspiracy nut, tells him they aren’t going anywhere, and reminds him that he ain’t grown. But moments later she starts oozing blood out of her mouth, slumps on to the floor in a perfect sitting position and dies. I kept imagining Key and Peele yelling “Kilt!” from their Game of Thrones sketch each time someone slumped over dead.
Day 5 – Death Toll 329… 330… 331… 332
Dead. People. Everywhere. We’ve got a dude slumped over on his lawnmower (dude, there is a plague, fuck the grass), and a man dead on a park bench. Basically people are just dying left and right, and evidently no one is moving their corpses from their grotesque resting places.
Back at the parsonage, Melissa sits on the floor cradling her dead mother’s head while Wiley looks on uninterested. Melissa asks her to please pray with her before it’s too late and Wiley has a what-the-fuck-is-that-supposed-to-mean look on her face. Melissa tells her sister she needs to pray for forgiveness before she faces eternal damnation. Ugh, damnation. Wiley ain’t about that life and tells her she doesn’t want Melissa’s God to forgive her.
The government has decided it is having none of this town’s shit and is putting them under mandatory military quarantine. This is announced via television by Minister Miller (of Magic?). It took me a while to figure out that since this show is shot in Canada and written by Canadians that maybe they have Ministers instead of Governors or Mayors? Any Canadians out there care to clarify? ‘Merica. The town understandly and unsurprisingly erupts in anger at being left to die.
Evidently the military doesn’t fuck around when it comes to setting up a quarantine zone because before the meeting has let out, the entire town is fenced in and forcibly guarded by armed men wearing gas masks. Canada is fucking efficient, y’all. Moments later, Ronnie returns from the big city with his backpack of guns and is stopped at the QZ by gun-toting soldiers. They check his bag, find his guns, and immediately arrest him.
At the medical center, we learn they don’t know shit about this virus/plague/death-bomb, but it’s probably not a virus since there are no symptoms, you basically just up and die. And ooze blood. From your mouth hole.
Wiley meets with a lawyer to sign an unexplained contract. He reminds her she cannot tell anyone about the baby’s father, which she agrees to. He gives her a wad of cash and tells her the balance will be paid once the child is safely with the family. Hold up, did she sell her baby?
We return to Inmate Pretty Eyes in prison who is still getting picked on by Tatted Up Inmate. The guards decide to let them fight it out and get it over with, but Pretty Eyes straight stabs Tatted Up and then gets a pretty severe baton beatdown from the guard.
Rich Asshole Dad has set up in the living room of his house and is watching the surveillance feed of his many stores on the big screen with Chuck and his daughter Amanda, who has Down’s Syndrome. His tween daughter comes in wearing some glasses she stole from Sally Jesse Raphael circa 1992 and tells him that he’s a greedy prick and who cares about his stuff when people are dead everywhere. She then storms off after scaring Amanda by saying they are all going to die.
Elsewhere Pat searches for Ronnie who is currently tied up at the QZ checkpoint and Gord comes home to find his sister crying because their Dad has died. Kilt! Adam spends his time hacking the Lake District Authority Deparment of Health database and discovering that no one aged 21 and under has died. Then he takes notes on the quarantine barricade and the patrols manning the fence.
Day 10 – Death Toll 2,803. 2,804. 2,805… 2,810
Adam explores the medical center and there are dead bodies littering every surface. He finds his uncle dead on the floor. He goes to find Wiley and tells her that he doesn’t think anyone under 22 will die. Despite this, he has devised an escape plan and wants to take her with him. She hedges at first until he assures her that he can get them both out, then she agrees to meet him later that night.
At the barricade, the soldiers give Ronnie back his guns and tell him to get out of their hut and into the quarantine zone. At his confusion, they reveal the plan is to leave the citizens of Pretty Lake in the QZ until they are all dead to stop the virus from spreading. Ronnie doesn’t really care, he just wants to get the hell out of there.
In the prison, the female prison guard checks on Pretty Eyes. He asks when they will be transferred away from the disease infested prison and she tells him that her orders are to keep the still living in their cells. He makes a comment about following orders and “Heil Hitler.” At first I thought they were trying to imply he’s a skinhead, but I think he was just implying that blindly following orders leads to genocide. I could be wrong.
Ronnie comes home to find Pat before convincing his brother that they should go wreak havoc on the town since they are locked in and no one cares about them. They immediately go steal a truck from the dealership, which unfortunately belongs to Asshole Dad who has been watching his surveillance footage like it’s the Super Bowl. Things start to happen quickly at this point.
As Ronnie and Pat take a joyride in their stolen truck, Asshole Dad and Asshole Son (Chuck) grab their tracking tablet and follow the stolen truck. Wiley packs to leave town with Adam and her water breaks. Gord drags his Dad’s corpse out to the backyard to bury him. In the prison, the male guard gives his keys to Tatted Inmate and tells him to go find Pretty Eyes because he quits.
Asshole Dad and Asshole Son set up a diversion to stop the brothers in the stolen truck. As they stop to help what they thought was a broken down SUV, the two Assholes come out from behind it with shotguns and tell them to put their hands up. Asshole Dad instructs them to take off their clothes so he can make an example of them, and Chuck starts to get a little weirded out. Dad tells Chuck to get the bucket of tar out once Ronnie and Pat are down to their skivvies.
Gord hears Asshole Dad’s warning shot while he’s burying his Dad, so he grabs his own rifle and heads toward the noise. He comes around the back of the SUV and tells Asshole Dad to drop his gun and go home. Asshole Dad says that the law is on his side, but Gord retorts, “The last time I checked, you’re just a rich guy.” At this point, I fell a little in love with Gord. He takes Ronnie and Pat down to the police station to turn them in.
Wiley has progressed into full-blown labor and poor Melissa is doing her best to help, but as soon as she Googles how to deliver a baby at home, Wiley tells her to go find help. Wiley is convinced she will die without it and Melissa leaves in search of someone. She finds Gord at the police station about to march the brothers inside and begs him to come help. Gord is about to get real close with Wiley.
Back at home, Wiley is screaming and acting a fool, she panics when she sees blood on the table, and Gord comes in, comforts her, and delivers that baby like a motherfucking drill sergeant yelling at her to push. The baby comes out, healthy and male, no one dies. Teenage girls being overdramatic as usual, amiright?
Tatted Inmate is still wandering loose around the prison, but now he’s found a dead guard’s gun. He finds Pretty Eyes in his cell and lets him out, holding the gun to his head and telling him to say his last words. The female guard comes around the corner at the perfect time, tells Tatted Inmate to drop the gun and kick it to her and then shoots him twice in the chest once he complies. Then she locks Pretty Eyes back in his cell and carries on like this is normal everyday behavior all around.
In the woods, we have the continuation of the opening scene. Adam creeps through the woods, looking for the vulnerable spot he found in the border fence. As soon as he leaves the woodline, every single spotlight in a mile’s vicinity and every single guard turn on him and start yelling to get back. I assume he shits his pants, drops the bolt cutters and tucks tail and runs back toward the treeline, but he gets mowed down by the gunfire they shoot at his back. The credits roll after we see his body lying on the forest floor.
The premise of Between is great and the plot looks promising. Unfortunately, some of the acting falls short, which is preventing it from being a top-notch premiere. Jennette McCurdy (of iCarly fame) does an excellent job of playing a sarcastic and bitter teenager. If Adam’s character is truly dead, I won’t miss his overly emo acting. I hope in future episodes they do a lot less explanation through dialogue because it isn’t being written as well as it could. Once they got past those parts of the premiere, the episode improved. All-in-all, I look forward to next week’s episode.