Series 1, Episode 2 (S01E02) - Review
Director: Brendan Maher
I usually wait until I watch an episode a couple of times before I write about it, but this one seemed much more immediate and I had to get out what I thought about it straight away. It is quite a jolt and it may catch viewers unprepared.
After the relatively gentle introduction to the series, this episode raises the stakes immediately by going straight into the action with the recap of the lawnmower explosion scene, leading straight into the revelation that Robyn and Lee got caught, only to escape leading to Lee being shot in the pursuit. Robyn gets to show her inner strength by carrying Lee to his parents shop and hiding them both when the soldiers search the shop. They act like real enemy troops and systematically search the building.
It is a bit of a shock that the enemy soldiers are close up in this version as they were only viewed as shadows in the old call back "all combat occurs at night, in the rain and at the intersection of four map segments". James Stewart as Colonel Lee is a good addition to the series as there is not really a well-defined character from the invading force described in the book until number seven in the series. You can already see some of the order of the invading force breaking down with some of them accepting bribes from prisoners.
There is a whole new element to the story added with the interactions of the parents who are imprisoned. In the books they seemed to be far away and the main characters had to rely on themselves. In this version there is already intrigue as there was a decided course of action by the parents, but one of them has already been found out and is keeping the fact from the others.
The part with the phones was an interesting plot point but I won't describe it in detail, Colonel Lee's counter-strategy was a check mate, who would have even thought of that in the chaos of an invasion? Also they reveal Ellie's full name which takes seven books in print.
In the books all the parents end up being split up, but this early they are all still together and trying to help their children survive as they know the stakes.
It is going to be difficult to keep track of the two stories so I will mainly be talking about the main group of characters and referring to the adults when necessary.
Having six hours for the first book is definitely much better as it is allowing for a lot more character development. It also reminds me of sitting down to read the book and finishing it in the one sitting which I have done more than once. You could watch the entire season in a few viewings if you wanted to binge watch it, but I would want to watch some of the episodes more than once and go back to scenes to pick up things I have missed.
You do have to pay attention in this episode in particular due to the introduction of the new elements and the factions already appearing amongst the adults in the camp. These will play out in future elements and if you have not followed them it will be difficult to pick up.
Robyn's character has several moments to shine in this episode when she rescues Lee and also when she has the breakdown. I do not remember her doing so in the books as she was written as having a strong moral compass due to her religion, but she did not get to show her feelings as much.
Ellie does zone out due to the effect seeing the damage the lawnmower bomb had on the soldiers and goes into shock.
It was a reworked section having Homer and Fi go to her house and almost get caught, but it does deal with having the extra character of Chris not knowing the war was on. The rescue of Lee was dealt with well and in a shorter time than the books but with more risk. I did like some of the quotes from the book like the "V" sign from Lee in the truck tray.
Due to the TV adaptation having more drama in the story, there was a particular stakes raising moment at the end of the episode which makes the rest of the story going forward much more dangerous for the characters including the parents who it seems like we have just met.
A much more dramatic episode with even more to come as the gang has gone back to Corrie's house and it is heartbreaking as I know what is about to happen to them there. Even more since the enemy now has a "kill list" and knows where they live.