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REVIEW: The first season of ‘Fallout’ is crazy good, with an emphasis on crazy

There’s a lot that this show can cover, and I love the twists and turns of this first season. I want a second season. I want to see how much crazier this show can get.

I know nothing about the video game ‘Fallout,’ which is the basis for the new 8-episode series on Amazon Prime with the same name, created by Graham Wagner and Geneva Robertson-Dworet. Not knowing the source material meant coming in completely blank and was very much pleasantly surprised at what I saw. ‘Fallout’ is a post-apocalyptic satire in a world driven mad by the destruction of the planet. Resources are limited, the powerful exercise authority by strength and fear, while those with available supplies keep it to themselves. The nuclear fallout (probably where the show gets its name) means that the world is irradiated; mutants abound, food is scarce, and no one can be trusted.

The show follows the lives of three main characters: Lucy (Ella Purnell), Maximus (Aaron Moten), and The Ghoul (Walton Goggins). Lucy comes from the vault, a portion of the human race who were able to escape the ravages of the nuclear war that has kept them safe and well fed in the huge underground bunkers prepared way before the war broke out. But the population is thinning and living in the bunker has kept them safe but naive and sheltered. Maximus lives above ground, a trainee who is training to be a squire for one of the knights of The Brotherhood. The knights wear powerful suits of armor and while they are poised to be a sort of protective authority they’ve devolved into bullies. The Ghoul is a bounty hunter, and due to the effects of radiation poisoning (and whatever else), he regenerates quickly and has lived over 200 years.

Brotherhood of Steel and Vertibirds in “Fallout”

Ella Purnell (Lucy) in “Fallout”

The three lead characters are all crazy in their own way and through their lens, we see how satire of ‘Fallout’ plays out in the ways it questions authority, kindness (in a soulless world), hope, and civilization when everything has been torn apart.

Ella Purnell (Lucy) in “Fallout”
Power Suit and Aaron Moten (Maximus) in “Fallout”
Walton Goggins (The Ghoul) in “Fallout”

The show is violent and gory, and it revels in that imagery. It is constantly reminding you that this idea of the world is an ugly one and a brutal one and it is not afraid to show it. Luckily, the film is scarce on gratuitous sex and nudity. When it has (and it’s very few) it used for its full effect and is never seen or felt as objectifying its characters. It’s a welcome change from other shows.

The satire comments on the way the world’s harshness and how one must act to survive in such a world is a mirror to the world we live in today. As the show’s reality is situated with the nuclear disaster happening in the 60s or 70s, it means the technology is from that time – clunky, heavy, analog – which creates interesting visual textures that helps highlight the overall conservative moral values of the people at The Vault (Lucy’s world) and how that counterpoints with the values of the tattered world above the ground. The old school vibe amplifies the way the world has gone bonkers and the low-tech, lo-fi way by which technology is presented gives us a feel that the world has never gone to a level of sophistication that can afford better values. In Maximus’ world, The Brotherhood have metal armor, high powered weapons, and futuristic helicopters, but everyone is aggressive and a bully. There are tradeoffs here and it helps show the rich world building of the show.

Power Armor Suits in “Fallout”

The plot is exciting and thrilling but it’s the world-building of ‘Fallout’ that really hooks you in. You want to see how this world deals with situations. It’s cynical and jadedness that when Lucy brings in her naivety and innocence to a predicament, it really shines bright and how it reflects and bounces off Maximus or The Ghoul. I’d like to see more of this should the show be greenlit for a second season.

Walton Goggins (The Ghoul) in “Fallout”

One of my only gripes is the show is over scored. It likes to violate every scene with a classic song from the 60s (maybe even older) and while it is charming in the first few episodes, by episode 5, it’s overdone. It can get annoying and distracting pretty quickly.

There’s a lot that this show can cover, and I love the twists and turns of this first season. Yes, it’s jaded and cynical, but it surprisingly offers a lot of hope too (as it reaches the finale of the first season). And it has an interesting enough cliff-hanger of an ending that makes me want to see more and more of this world. A world destroyed by nuclear war is nothing new so it may have to rehash certain situations that we may have seen in other platforms and media but the characters it has introduced are engaging and its subversive anti-corporation messages are read loud and clear. 

I want a second season. I want to see how much crazier this show can get.

My Rating:

5 stars - Don't Look Up review

Fallout  is now streaming on Prime Video, watch it here!

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