I Wanna Live Forever
Ad Vitam is the latest French Netflix sci-fi series that raises a lot of questions around death and humanity. Set in a futuristic world where death has been cured and people can now live forever, Ad Vitam explores this bleak, thought-provoking world through the eyes of its two lead protagonists; Darius and Christa.
With a breakthrough medicine called “regeneration” acting as the latest craze across the world, the episode begins with the oldest person on Earth celebrating her 169th birthday. We then meet our protagonist, policeman Darius Asram, who is 119 years old himself but looks to be in his 40’s. That night he needs to regenerate and heads into a store where that service is provided.
After the procedure, he receives a phone call that takes him to a potential crime scene. Seven teenagers have been found dead, having committed a mass suicide. As the police investigate the victims, they discover that one of them had a specific tattoo they recognise as belonging to a pro-suicide group. That group was involved in another mass suicide that happened 10 years ago in a stadium.
Realizing he needs to dive deeper into this, Darius visits one of the victims’ Mother and as the police search his bedroom, they come across some pills which they trace back to a dealer called Kenji. After tracking him down, Kenji explains that he provides the pills to people who need to forget because having to live longer means more memories to cope with and while that’s not always a good thing, some want to forget.
After Darius comes back home to his wife, he also seeks help from teenager Christa, a survivor from the last mass suicide in the stadium. She currently resides in a Psychiatric Centre thanks to what happened to her. He wants to see if she will be able to contact the pro-suicide group and help them prevent any more tragedies.
Darius and Leski make her drink some chemicals which will allow them to hear her and keep track of her whereabouts. After agreeing to help, she starts her search and come across an abandoned place, which leads her to a secret sanctuary. An old woman welcomes her and explains that she never had any regeneration done to her so this is actually her natural age. She also invites Christa to come back the next day to attend a ceremony.
Christa is allowed to stay at her parents’ that night and they give her a gift – a vial. They tell her that they had her tested and are excited that it was positive meaning she will be able to get access to the regeneration process too.
The next day, as she attends the aforementioned ceremony, Christa realizes that it is for the passing of one of the members. Outside, she gets beaten up by some of the members as they blame her and her suicidal friends for the way the world is now. After leaving her in a heap on the floor, Darius arrives and rushes her to the hospital. As she’s driven then, Christa receives a text saying: “We can help you”, signed with the same tattoo evident on the pro-suicide group.
While the first episode of Ad Vitam feels a little slow at times, it remains interesting and engaging throughout, raising many important questions as it goes along. Would we be happy to live forever? And if we could, should we pursue this? Because of all the progress with science and medicine, humans are now living longer and longer so it makes us wonder if, one day, we would cure death like Ad Vitam shows. What about the ever-growing population? The show offers a thought provoking look at a bleak world and while it may not be the best sci-fi series this year, it has enough going for it to make it worth checking out.
Quite where this sci-fi drama will go from here, given the wealth of questions and ideas it flaunts, remains to be seen but so far it certainly makes for an engaging and tense watch.