Sky One’s latest political sci-fi drama COBRA begins with an ominous warning. The first episode does well to set the scene too, with plenty of tension built nicely throughout the 45 minutes and leading to a big cliffhanger at the end.
Episode 1 of COBRA begins with a plane losing control as it swoops low over the motorway and appears to crash. We then cut back 24 hours to the University Of Liverpool where we see the Prime Minister greeting his daughter and telling her to enjoy herself after graduating. In the distance, someone shouts for him to resign. Soon after, Anna arrives home but is faced with a man named Edin waiting for her; someone from her past she’d rather keep hidden. She tells him to leave and refuses to listen and admits to ignoring his letters.
We then cut to the Cabinet Office Briefing Room where officials look over various screens, eventually phoning Anna and telling her they’ve had to raise the threat level. She then relays this message to the Prime Minister who advises to hold a COBRA meeting. Anna arrives at Downing Street in the morning and berates one of her colleagues Dominic, which the Prime Minister then joins in with, and leads to his resignation.
Soon after, Sutherland heads into COBRA but not before being berated by Archie who questions him over Dom’s sacking. Inside the meeting they learn there’s a significant threat from the sun in the face of a solar strike. The potential consequences of this strike include a widespread power outage that could last months. They’ll only know how severe this storm actually is 30 minutes before it hits Earth, sending worried looks and concerned glances around the room.
After the meeting, Home Secretary Archie tells Dom on the phone that he won’t leave this unresolved and as he leaves, Anna and Sutherland discuss navigating the murky political landscape. Before they can continue, COBRA is called back in as the solar flare is en-route to Earth. In the midst of some post-Brexit jokes, Sutherland makes the call and decides to keep flights operational despite the serious threat this poses.
Police officers are briefed on the civil emergencies guidelines while Anna walks with her friend and we learn a little more about Edin. While they talk, at COBRA the team learn that there’s a rogue plane and this is where we catch up with the opening scene of the series. The plane crashes and slides across the motorway causing serious damage. Chief Constable Collier gets out of his car and phones through to headquarters, informing them of the major incident and looking out at the devastation on the road.
The officer opens the hatch to the plane and checks on the passengers, finding a screaming baby. As he hands it back to the distraught Mother, Anna returns home and finds a present left for her on the front steps and a note, asking her to go to a Hotel. She heads in and tells her kids she needs to wait for the “fake news” to end but before she can continue, she’s informed of the plane crash. For now, the rest of the planes will be grounded, despite the sun flares affecting the planes currently in the air.
Sutherland’s daughter Ellie phones her Mum and tells her she’s been doing drugs and her friend Georgia isn’t waking up. It’s the worst timing and something that could spell disaster for him politically and socially too. Unfortunately it’s made worse by the MET office forcing COBRA to reconvene as the solar storm is moving faster than they expected.
The next day Collier learns the current fatality count is over 25 and they expect it to rise too. With plenty of personal issues spilling over in government, Anna is threatened by Archie before they all head in and learn the true severity of the storm, given the information from the L1 satellite. They can expect a massive geo-storm in the next few hours and the threat level is raised to Critical too. As the episode draws to a close, the blackout hits.
With a good level of tension and some nice building to the final scenes, COBRA does a decent job here introducing its characters and throwing them into a politically charged situation. Seeing behind the scenes during a crisis like this is interesting and although the show feels a little basic with its character set-ups, not to mention Brexit jokes, there’s enough here to make for an intriguing watch nonetheless.
There’s plenty of scope for this one to progress from here too and with lots of unanswered questions, the door is left wide open for the rest of the season.
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