Episode 1 of Pantheon starts with our focus on Maddie, a girl at school who’s bullied by her peers. She’s an outsider and part of that stems from her becoming a recluse. Two years back her father passed away, and since then, it’s caused an enormous amount of stress in her life. It’s a tough pill for Maddie to swallow, given the pair had a good relationship. The same can’t be said for Maddie and her mother, Ellen. They’re estranged and both have very different interests.
That night, Maddie’s computer blinks on with a strange message from an unknown sender. They send emojis to one another until Maddie asks exactly who this person is. They simply send a ghost emoji back. It’s a strange and enticing mystery that’s starting to build.
At school the next day, things change. There’s drama between Samara and the other girls who are bullying her. They begin turning on one another after their phones are hacked, which also means Maddie is in the clear from bullying. It would appear the culprit is this mysterious emoji sender.
Naturally, Maddie’s mother Ellen shows up and immediately interferes when she sees her daughter contacting someone on her computer. Ellen demands to know who she’s talking to.
When “Emo” (Maddie’s name for the mysterious sender) drops a text full of emojis from a poem Ellen recognizes, she gets spooked and hurries out the room. Maddie naturally follows and listens as Ellen phones someone demanding to know why David – her husband – has been sending messages to her. But is this really true? Or is there more to this story?
Well, the focus shifts across to a kid called Caspian before we get our answers. He’s a genius and disinterested in school, answering equations and formula with ease. He also finds himself interested in conspiracy theories too. Funnily enough, he gets talking to Maddie online, who screenshots the emoji chat and sends it over, asking for help. Caspain dives into its origins and appears to hit a breakthrough, but we’ll have to wait and see!
Another new character we meet this episode is Chandra, He heads out for a business meeting, where he tells the other men in attendance that the “singularity is near.” What he’s referencing here is Uploaded Intelligence; the idea of placing one’s consciousness into the computer. Chandra is just an engineer. A brilliant engineer, but still just an engineer all the same. He believes UIs will revolutionize the industry, with humanity able to kick back and relax while these digital consciousnesses do all of the work. Unfortunately, he seems to know too much and after the meeting, he’s snatched up in a van and taken away.
News of this spreads across the net and, specifically, to Caspian who realizes how strange this is. Now, it turns out Caspian has an estranged relationship with his father, Cary. Cary sees Caspian’s brilliance first-hand that night he challenges his son to solving an algorithmic problem round the dinner table. The thing is, the disagreement and fall-out between Caspian’s parents, not to mention the estranged bonds between them, all appear to be staged…but why? To what end?
As for Maddie, the emoji sender is back and claims to be her friend. The sender also promises to bring back her father. Maddie grows spooked and hurries out of class. Unfortunately, Samara follows and believes Maddie is responsible for hacking her phone. Thankfully, Ellen shows up and interferes, stopping Samara and promising to hurt her if she comes near Maddie. Sighing, Ellen admits there’s something she’s been keeping from Maddie.
The Episode Review
The first episode of Pantheon gets off to a deliciously mysterious start, with plenty to whet the appetite and lots of interesting titbits.
The animation looks great and the transition between those three characters – Chandra, Maddie and Caspian – is elegantly handled and helps with the flow of the episode.
The characters themselves are equally as appealing, and I’d imagine we’ll see a bit more of Chandra in the future, especially if he’s the one who has figured out what’s going on. This singularity event looks to be the big threat that’s going to encapsulate the plot, and it could well be that whoever Maddie is speaking to online, they’re actually part of this UI.
As for Caspian, he’s clearly a genius and it would appear his parents aren’t actually his real parents, especially if their fake argument is anything to go by. They could well be grooming him to be part of this big project and that algorithmic problem is a big hint toward that. Still, we’ll have to wait and see as there could be more to this than meets the eye.
Either way though, this first episode gets off to a great start and this certainly looks to be one of AMC’s most promising projects this year.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|