‘See’ lacks vision
There’s a moment in “See” that is meant to be terrifying. Being chased by a ravenous and violent army, the Alkenny villagers are running for their lives. Paris (Alfre Woodard, “The Lion King”), the village midwife, comes upon a bridge that crosses a dangerous ravine. She’s not even sure it’s there. She can’t see it — she’s blind, as is everyone else in Apple’s post-apocalyptic series.
After a virus wiped out much of humanity, the remaining 2,000,000 humans emerged from the carnage blind. After centuries, they’ve adapted to blindness, so much so that the idea of vision is heresy. After two twins are born with sight, the Witch Hunters — a savage royal raiding party that hunts down heretics, such as those who practice witchcraft or speak of vision — come for them. The leader of the Alkenny village, Baba Voss (Jason Momoa, “Game of Thrones”) attempts to lead his people to a new promised land.
The aforementioned scene is not terrifying at all, which is the main problem with “See.” When the characters comes upon a bridge and wonder what it is, if it’s there or if it’s safe, the suspense is ruined because we can obviously see the bridge. The show has an overly-capable cast. Jason Momoa does a great job at playing another grisly, grunting Jason Momoa character. Other characters excel as believably blind villagers in a sightless, post-apocalyptic forest, if that makes any sense. It’s clear from the way actors deliver their lines where the tension lies, even if the mythology of the show isn’t always clear.
The mythology is, perhaps, the next biggest problem. That, and the show‘s confounded dedication to its own aesthetic. Visually, “See” is stunning. The tall, evergreen forests of British Columbia make a beautiful backdrop for the show’s collection of atavistic characters. Even the fur-clad villagers are beautiful (if only they could see themselves). Yet, the show goes to great lengths to assert its aesthetic, which is a mash up between “Vikings” and “10,000 BC.” This loyalty to its look comes at the expense of storytelling technique. The mythology makes the show all muddled. In the first episode, at least, the idea of vision being heresy is not sold very well, aside from a title card at the beginning of the show. It doesn’t even make sense why the Witch Hunters are after the villagers until much later, which makes the first half unusually confusing.
“See” unfortunately crumbles because of its lack of vision. There’s nothing about the show that is extraordinary or groundbreaking. It’s very normal. This makes it difficult to relate to a cast that is completely blind. There are obviously sensory talents in certain characters, such as Ilun (Sharon Taylor, “Smallville”) who can count distance in heartbeats. This makes me wonder if “See” couldn’t include these sensory enhancements in the show. By making sound louder, describing smell, messing with the way we understand the show visually, the story could become enhanced. Viewers could be more deeply drawn into a show that is more experimental with how it tells its story.
The true blindness of “See” is the fact that Apple failed to realize that there’s more to TV than a few good actors and a somewhat fresh story. There are hundreds of shows for viewers to choose from. As a visual form, television is not just about the story, but the way that story’s told.