It’s The End Of The World As We Know It
Episode 1 of Station Eleven begins with a brief glimpse of a post-apocalyptic theatre. Seats are upturned, fauna is all over the place and a lanyard on the ground confirms that this occurred some time after a performance of King Lear.
We then cut back in time 10 days before the world is ravaged by a deadly flu outbreak that wipes everything out. Here, we follow a guy called Javeen in the crowd. He notices the main actor doubling over on stage and he rushes up to help. Arthur ends up having a heart attack.
As the curtain closes on the performance, so too does it close on this man’s life, as he passes away. Now, Javeen’s interjection here is a little suspect, especially when we learn he doesn’t know CPR and he doesn’t know the victim either. He just jumped in because (according to what he tells Kirsten later on anyway, “he’s seen it on ER.”)
For now, the police let him go but when he finds a little girl called Kirsten, he suggests she tag along and let him take her home. Javeen is supposedly a reporter, but a phone call aboard the train seems to suggest something else.
On the train home, Javeen receives a call from his associate, Siya. Someone with extreme fly symptoms has been brought in and that spells bad news for all involved. He’s warned to avoid contact with everyone and to go and find a guy called Frank. He needs to protect himself.
As Javeen leaves the train, breathing heavily over what’s to come, he leads this little girl, Kirsten, home.
With Frank not picking up the phone and Kirsten’s folks not home, Jeevan heads to the convenience store and piles up food into trolleys. Almost $10k worth of food. He obviously knows something we don’t, and his deliberation to the cashier when asked what’s happening, speaks volumes.
At the hospital, things are utterly chaotic. Numerous people are brought in with coughs, as the carpark outside is piled with people wanting to get in and be seen to. It’s but a taste of what’s to befall these people, as we cut back across to Javeen, who makes it to Frank’s apartment.
Wheeling the trolleys in, Kirsten takes a look at the beautiful view outside while Javeen and Frank discuss the flu. They’re interrupted though by a plane crashing out the sky and crash-landing, erupting in a huge inferno.
We then jump forward 80 days later after the apocalypse. Kirsten and Javeen venture out the apartment building where snow blankets the ground. The city is abandoned, with Javeen and Kirsten heading down to the lake.
When they do, we cut randomly to an astronaut hearing their radio broadcast and then ahead through time, which appears to be around 20 or so years later. It’s not clear how long but it’s quite a while, given Kirsten looks like an adult now.
The Episode Review
Random flickers between the post-apocalyptic world and the present timeline are supposed to be artistic and help with the flow of the series. Instead, with no context as to how this outbreak has happened, where we are and random moments where expository text sometimes shows the year and other times it doesn’t it’s pretty distracting.
Now, that’s to say nothing of the contrived nature of bringing Javeen and Kirsten together in the first place. Would a little girl really just willingly follow a stranger back to her house? And no one around her bat an eyelid? It seems a little farfetched, especially for the year we’re living in, but it’s a minor quibble and doesn’t affect the story too much.
Despite some of its editing issues, Station Eleven does have some glimmers of promise, especially with the smart thinking around stockpiling food and hoarding resources. Whether we’ll actually find out what happened leading up to this though, including the constant back and forth flashbacks, remains to be seen. For now, Station Eleven gets off to a bit of a shaky start.
You can read our full season review of Station Eleven here!
2 thoughts on “Station Eleven – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review”
Is the author being purposefully vague here? Siya is Jeevan’s sister and she works at the hospital that is being overrun by a flu strain that is resistant to all known anti-viral drugs. She tells Jeevan to go to his brother Frank’s house, barricade the door and prepare for the end of the world.
I’m pretty sure the lack of attention to Kirsten and Jeevan backstage is a feature rather than a bug. It highlights the self-absorption and disconnection of those around them, and sets Jeevan’s actions in sharp relief. He’s observant, he cares, he’s going to do the right thing even if it means he has to completely upend his night or lie to an eight-year-old.