Preliminary Note: I’ve decided to try Terry Nation’s post-apocalyptic drama Survivors (1975-1977). For the background and history of the show check out the Wikipedia entry. Terry Nation might be best known as the creator of the Daleks in Dr. Who and Blake’s 7 (1978-1981).
You are welcome to watch along with me (episode 3 is on YouTube). I cannot promise how many episodes I’ll get through or at what rate I’ll watch the show.
This will not be a formal review but rather an informal/brief collection of ruminations.
Previously on Survivors (episode 2)…
In the second episode “Genesis” (full review), the narrative followed three main characters–Jenny, Abby, and Greg—and the events leading up to their meeting. After Abby’s disturbing encounter with Wormley, one of many armed survivors with visions of power and conquest, she decides that she cannot cast in her lot with a potential amoral/violent individual, but rather create her own community. Greg, initially in the orbit of the elitist Anne with her desperate claims to blood right, decides that her company isn’t enough–a more equitable society based on equality should be created in the wreckage of England. He meets up with Jenny, desperate for any individual that will survive with her. The triumphant music hits as all three meet at a church! What will be the result of their meeting? Stay tuned.
Take-away line/thematic thread we’ll keep an eye on in episode 3:
Companionship isn’t enough in the wreckage of the world. On what morals and relationships should a new society be formed?
Season 1, Episode 3: “Gone Away”
Tom, a scavenger whom Jenny encountered earlier in the series, continues his wanderings. He kills chickens. Eats eggs raw. Ransacks kitchens. His path will soon cross that of our main characters–Abby, Greg, and Jenny. The three set out to create a new community at their church base. Abby continues to be the ideologue of the group: “We’ll have to grow food and things.” Greg and Jenny seem to take her message to heart—and at least momentarily, a unity of purpose emerges.
The three head-off to look for supplies. And in the midst of a grocery story they encounter a grisly sign of Wormley’s minions, the hanging body of a looter with a sign around his neck. Against the warning of Greg, Abby and Jenny decide to take supplies anyway. And Wormley’s followers appear with guns in hand… Abby confronts the shotgun wielding men: “We have as much right to these things as you have!” Of course, they justified their own violent actions as righteous—“it’s a matter of conserving […] We’re representatives of the emergency administration […]. Somebody’s got to take control.”
As the three are forced to unload the goods from their car, Jenny and Abby takes the initiative and seize the shotguns from the goons. They escape with their supplies leaving Wormley’s crew raging in their key-less vehicle.
Back at the church they encounter Tom eating their supplies. He proclaims his willingness to join their community. And, tells Abby that he’s seen a kid which could be her son…. When they go off searching for him they find his corpse—but it’s not Richard. Heading back to the church they discover Wormley’s team has taken it over. One of Wormley’s sympathetic followers manages to warn them in time. Supplies destroyed, car disabled, and nascent dreams dashed, Abby promises to continue her search for her son.
In “Gone Away” three distinct ideologies of survival emerge. 1) The scavenger Tom is a situational chameleon, shifting his tune whenever he needs to, focused entirely on himself. When he sees power (Wormley’s minions) or is put in a compromising position (sleeping in Abbey’s church) he attempts to conform in order to preserve himself. He does not look to the future. He looks to satisfy his immediate needs. 2) Wormley and his followers latch onto the past—the last gasp declaration of martial law before the disaster destroyed the last shreds of centralized government–in order to justify their claim to authority. Wormley uses this rhetoric to distinguish himself and his violent form of “justice” from the actions of other similar armed gangs. 3) Abbey, Greg, and Jenny form a third category: despite struggling with their immediate traumas and desires (Abbey wants to find her son, Jenny wants company), they imagine a better future, a future built on voluntary community rather than force.
The first two ideologies are based on consuming and doling out the supplies that remain. The third suggests that a new society will have to relearn the basics in order to thrive past the point where pre-disaster technology and supplies disappear. If a central authority emerges, it will be an organic process where smaller communities choose to join together.
The conversations of Abbey and Jenny about purpose and leadership were the highlights of the episode. Survivors passes the Bechdel test with ease. Greg, at least at this point in the show, sees Abby as the leader the group needs.
I have some pet peeves. 1) Farm animals are running around! Catch them before they die! I’d become the rabbit/chicken man. Supply people with eggs, meat, fertilizer, and skin. haha. 2). Imagine infuriating the local armed loser brigade. Would you light a fire that night? Would you refuse to leave someone on watch? A lot of the survival choices leave me scratching my head.
That said, I look forward to episode 4.
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