In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
In the land of “See,” the new post-apocalyptic adventure on Apple’s streaming service, Apple+, the land of the blind is all that remains.
On paper, the whole premise is absolutely ridiculous. Hundreds of years in the future, mankind was subject to a terrible virus that wiped out the majority of the population. Those that survived were blinded, and passed down that blindness to subsequent generations. The remnants of humanity adapted to this new way of life, creating new cultures that adopted their own versions of what happened and why they lost sight. The very idea of sight is now considered witchcraft, and an ultimate threat to the monarch Queen Kane.
Jason Momoa, never one to turn down a paycheck, stars as Boba Voss, a tribal leader and foster father to a set of twins who are born with the “curse” of sight. His past is often hinted at, but rarely explored to much depth, as he hides in plain sight (no pun intended) as the leader of one of many new tribes that have gathered in what is the remnant of Pennsylvania. Momoa plays a surprisingly calm and somewhat caring character, often expressing more vulnerability than what is expected from his previous roles. He’s constantly reminded that the twins are not his, and will eventually go on to better things than living as frightened sheep without sight.
Still, Voss gets to flex his muscles with some amazing and pretty inventive fight scenes scattered throughout the series. The handful of action sequences are some of the most interesting on television, as they really lean into the idea that every soldier fighting is blind, and has to rely solely upon sound and feeling. The characters utilize new techniques and weapons to battle and are often seen completely missing strikes and parries. There’s a certain fineness in the action sequences, including one in which Momoa’s Voss hunts down slavers to free his son.
“See” is a frustrating show in many ways, however. Clocking in at only eight episodes, the pacing is often too brisk and large swaths of world-building are ditched in favor of basic exposition — often vomited out by Alfre Woodard’s Paris, who seems to serve only the purpose of explaining the world’s rules and character motivations for viewers who must be as blind as the characters they are supposedly watching. Whole episodes come to a grinding halt in order for Paris to explain the stakes and reasoning behind actions.
That world-building also takes a significant hit from the frantic pace of the first three episodes, which cover a span of 18 years in a 150 minutes. Characters outside of Voss and the twins are given little time to develop beyond the basic archetypes in which they’re designed. Queen Kane is a ruthless and insane ruler who wants the twins captured or killed. Voss’ wife, Maghra, is given very little to do beyond the ability to look concerned and object to any decisions made without her approval. The most interesting character outside of the inner family is easily the witch-hunter, Tamacti Jun, who spends 20 years searching the mountains of Pennsylvania looking for the twins. It’s only until the last three episodes that we really get to see his character develop into something more than an evil rogue from an expired “Dungeons and Dragons” book.
The most interesting aspects of “See” are the ones not seen. It would be interesting to see more of how this society functions, even if it almost offensively copies native cultures for its set design and costumes. Very little time is dedicated to the culture before everything is upended for this epic quest. Much of that has to do with how little time the show has to age up the twins in order to get them ready for their adventure.
“See” is still an entertaining show, and a beautiful one at that. The backdrops and environmental shots are absolutely stunning, and the cinematography soaks it all in with pure majesty. Director Frances Lawrence, best known for the “Hunger Games” sequel movies, crafted a very expensive looking show and pulled some great performances out of his cast. The script just needed a little more time in the oven in order to really capture the potential of such an ambitious project. But with eight episodes, “See” is worth a weekend binge, especially as a second season has entered production.
The first season of “See” is available now on Apple+.
Josh Rouse lives in Lawton.