Roar – Season 1 Episode 1 “The Woman Who Disappeared” Recap & Review

The Woman Who Disappeared

Episode 1 of Roar starts with Wanda touching down at the airport in LA. She’s a bestselling author and meets Blake, who has actually changed his name from Ugandan. Apparently no one knows how to pronounce this properly in the US, so he changed it to make things easier. US readers is this true? Can people really not pronounce names from Uganda?

Anyway, Wanda has been given a $15 million condo while she’s working, with a breath-taking view and her career on the cusp of making it into the bigtime. Her memoir is about to be adapted into a movie, and after namedropping several other prolific titles, Wanda’s friend essentially claims they’re all terrible compared to Wanda’s.

When Wanda heads to the office, she finds Blake who spews some exposition about the different workers in the building. Sitting down to meet them, we learn that Wanda’s father passed away and that’s what encouraged her to write her memoir.

The meeting soon takes a turn for the worst when Aaron Fishman, who happens to be part of the VR team, wants to turn her book into a VR reality experience instead. This is something that would allow people to “walk a day in her shoes” and understand what it’s like to live as a black woman.

Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worst when Wanda realizes that she’s inexplicably turned into a ghost. Or at least is starting to. No one sees her at clothing stores, the work lobby is a hazard zone while she’s almost hit by a car crossing the street; things don’t look good for Wanda.

Wanda heads up to the VR party all the same, where the other workers don their headsets and begins to get immersed in the experience. Wanda too grabs a headset and in doing so, finds herself experiencing old memories from her childhood.

The moment in question depicts her crossing the road with her father. However, a couple of police cars arrive and the officers tackle him to the ground, taking him away. For Wanda, she’s knocked out and ends up having a big panic attack and passes out.

After this, Wanda is “seen” again by her peers and after a bit of a pep talk with Blake outside, heads in to the party to confront the others.

The Episode Review

Roar could be an interesting anthology but like many screenwriters in the west, the recent trend of pointing out that something’s bad and not spinning that into something interesting or thought provoking has been well-worn and it’s low hanging fruit by now.

There’s no clever allegoric writing here, it’s simply “racism=bad.” Yes, we know racism is bad and it’s abhorrent how different members of our society have been made to feel this way. But Roar doesn’t do anything to actually address that issue. It does nothing original, clever or interesting beyond actually pointing out the obvious.

The writing and dialogue has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer smashing into a cake, which is a shame because there are some nice ideas here.

Wanda is a big-shot artist who has absolutely made it to the upper-echelons of society. She’s convinced publishers to get her memoir adapted and the general public have embraced her. She’s made a boat-load of money and is about to become a hotshot in Hollywood with these producers intending on making a VR experience so more people can see what Wanda has been through. Maybe it could have been more effective had the producers of this game decided to “spice up” the experience and distort her past for the different investors, that may have been a nice angle to work with.

It doesn’t help either that the episode just stops, right in the middle of this whole storyline with no triumphant speech or twist at the end to make for a satisfying character arc. Hopefully the other episodes in this anthology are better as this one feels like it’s in desperate need of a rewrite.

Next Episode

You can read our full season review of Roar here!


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7 thoughts on “Roar – Season 1 Episode 1 “The Woman Who Disappeared” Recap & Review”

  1. I actually didn’t think this episode was about racism at all. I felt the disappearing act of the main character was a visible demonstration of how people of color disappear their color-ness out of fear. That theme was seen in Blake and underpinned by all the minor references to being seen (photo in the lobby, the billboard). The point is not to condemn racism (or at least not only that) but to encourage people to stand boldly in their differences not feeling less no matter how much others may see you as less. With that theme in mind, I found the episode to be much deeper and thought-provoking than indicated in the review.

  2. The series started off nice but they gave us an incomplete ending . The show just stopped like they ran out of tape or couldn’t pay another second of overtime. A bad ending would have been better than what they gave us with no ending at all. I really like Issa Rae and Nick Kroll so what a waste of both .

  3. This episode was so bad I doubt if I will subject myself to another. The time I lost watching this was time I cannot get back. What a shame. I actually enjoyed the first half. Too bad they forgot to write an ending.

  4. Yes, as a teacher of many African students from immigrant families many have “American names” that are easier for English-speakers to pronounce. I see this with my Asian students too. They have American preferred names, it’s rare for my students to use their traditional names.

  5. Hey Naz, you’re absolutely right. Apologies for the confusion, the sentence structure did make it seem like I called him “Ugandan” as an actual name rather than referencing it as part of the discussion.

    I’ve just gone in and corrected that now for clarity.

    Thanks so much for commenting!

    -Greg W

  6. His name isn’t Ugandan the word it is of Ugandan origin and he didn’t actually say what it was

  7. Agree 100%. I honestly felt like there was about 5 minutes missing from the end. I hope the series is better than this episode.

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