Joss Whedon's new Victorian/Steampunk offering for HBO has finally (almost) arrived. After three years of speculating and analyzing every morsel of information we could get our hands-on, the wait is finally over.
The Nevers centers around the series protagonist Amalia True (Laura Donnelly), who's taken on the responsibility of protecting those who have experienced a turn (known as the Touched) and now find themselves at odds with society. With her friend Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) and Lavinia Bidlow (Olivia Williams), they shelter those who would otherwise find themselves in danger from those with nefarious intent.
We had high expectations for The Nevers, and the first episode did not disappoint. 'Touched' is a whimsical, fast-paced and intelligent opener for the series.
The first episode takes place in London, 1899, three years after an event leaves a portion (primarily women, but also men) of the population with different powers and abilities. Amalia and Penance work to protect their kind from ever-expanding hatred. Meanwhile, police inspector Frank Mundi (Ben Chaplin) continues his investigation into a string of murders at the hands of Maladie (Amy Manson), a serial killer and one of the Touched.
Joss has always excelled at character development and creating found families. Amalia True and Penance Adair are instantly engaging and are as charming as they are fierce. Their friendship is beautiful and strong, and their shorthand with one another is endearing. They quickly draw you in with their heart-warming chemistry and wit. Though this is the first time we're introduced to these characters, their kinship and solidarity are instantly felt.
Other notable personalities in the first episode include Lord Gilbert Massen (Pip Torrens) as one of the antagonists of the series, the intriguingly unhinged Maladie, the cocksure playboy Hugo Swann (James Norton), sprightly Myrtle Haplisch (Viola Prettejohn) and the no-nonsense Lucy Best (Elizabeth Berrington).
Tone-wise, The Nevers is dark while also having a light-hearted touch. The subject matter, such as Dr. Edmund Hague's experimentation on the Touched and Maladies brutality, is particularly unsettling. Simultaneously, Joss' humour is present, and Penance, Myrtle, Primrose (Anna Devlin) and Harriet's (Kiran Sonia Sawar) upbeat personalities help break up the serious mood and keep it from being too dark.
The Nevers is a beautifully shot show. Seamus McGarvey handled the DoP duties for the first two episodes. Mark Isham is the composer for the series, and he does a great job capturing the sense of whimsy and emotion present throughout the episode.
What makes The Nevers resonate most with me is the conversation that it's having with its audience about bigotry and hate. It's a tale that's as old as time, and The Nevers is set to tackle it head-on. I look forward to seeing how the show plays this out.
'Touched' is fun, emotional and ripe for internet discussion. From its multifaceted and captivating characters to the thrilling powers of the Touched, the light-hearted score and an eye for detail, The Nevers is as enchanting as it is compelling. I can't wait to let it take me into its version of the 19th century!
The first half of The Nevers season one premieres April 11th on HBO and HBO Max.