OUTCASTS Series 1 Episode 1 Review

OUTCASTS episode 1

OUTCASTS Series 1 Episode 1 – Tyger! Tyger! burning bright, In the forests of the night. What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Since Outcasts, the BBC’s new 8-part science fiction series, was described in a press release last year, many have – for better or worse – thought of it as ‘the next Battlestar Galactica‘. And the comparisons to BSG season 3 still stand up in episode 1, with a setting and cast that could easily have been on New Caprica instead of Carpathia. But I’m about to say something that almost amounts to blasphemy in my book:

I think I’m enjoying Outcasts more already.

The first episode introduces us to the main players and themes of the series without spoon feeding us the important parts. Instead, we’re left to pick through the dialogue and piece the premise of the series together ourselves. It seems that the use of nuclear weapons back on earth is what spurred the resettlement on Carpathia, a planet five years travel from earth, habitable but not entirely comfortable. There’s little water, regular sandy whiteouts, and the harsh memories of a disease which struck down the child settlers of Carpathia on their arrival.

Things aren’t exactly comfortable on a personal level, either. Mitchell Hoban, the leader of the expeditionaries (who helped find the supplies that enabled the town to thrive), wants to strike out on his own, away from the clutches of Forthaven and its rigid structure, and his fellow expeditionaries seem to be in on the plan. But President Tate has Mitchell’s own wife spy on him, leading Mitchell to kill her and abduct his son. He’s later killed and his son retrieved safe and well, but is this really the end of Mitchell Hoban?

I ask because for two reasons. Firstly, it seems a bit strange to kill off a character in the first episode before he’s actually had a chance to do anything, other than offer a hint into a possible series antagonist (the people beyond the fence, whose lives Mitchell spared). Secondly, there were multiple mentions of cloning, and if science fiction has taught me anything it’s that any mention of cloning usually becomes a massive plot point.

But, if cloning is involved, how does it tie into the mysterious disease and the aforementioned people Mitchell didn’t execute? What is this secret that Cass is hiding? And what was with Julius Berger’s Evil Smirk of Doom?

In short: episode 1 was tight, both in writing, style and casting. Every scene, however innocuous, seemed to give us necessary information for the future and moved along quickly. The look of Carpathia was beautiful, even the ramshackle Forthaven, thanks to a great colour palette and good use of lighting. The cast was brilliant, not a weak link in the bunch. (Did Liam Cunningham’s President Tate seem like a strange cross of Captain Picard and Sean Connery to anyone else?)

Even shorter: I’m diggin’ Outcasts.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to do some nifty bookending:

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright, In the forests of the night. What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

What did you think of Outcasts episode 1? Let us know in the comments below!

Episode 2 airs TONIGHT, 9pm on BBC One.

Follow me on Twitter @CrossroadsDeal