Surface Season 1 Review – A mediocre, meandering mass of meh

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7
Episode 8

We’ve seen it a number of times before; an amnesia-stricken victim has a dark past and needs to uncover what happened to him/her. Surface then is the next in a long line of shows to pedal this idea, and it does so in the most meandering and mediocre way one could expect. With irredeemable characters, a thin hook and a poor ending to book, Surface has a lot of potential but it’s squandered through a litany of problems right the way through.

Set in high-end San Francisco, the story follows Sophie, a woman who has suffered a traumatic head injury following an incident on a boat. Plagued with extreme memory loss, she’s told by everyone around her that this was as a result of a suicide… but was it really?

Sophie is not so sure and as a result, sets out to try and piece together her life and figure out what happened. From her shifty husband James to best friend Caroline, it seems everyone has a secret they’re keeping from her.

Dubbed a “sexy, elevated thriller”, after watching all 8 episodes it’s fair to say this show is neither sexy nor particularly elevating. The plot meanders its way through 8 overlong chapters, with the middle episodes in particular sagging under the weight of this paper-thin story that needed at least half the run-time to tell its story. There’s so much padding here and even during the finale, when we get some much needed answers, it takes a solid 18 minutes before we even get to the crux of the issue.

This padding is something a lot of shows have suffered from but Surface is particularly egregious in that respect because none of the characters really grow and evolve. There are faint whiffs of arcs materializing with our central quartet (Sophie, James, Caroline and Baden) but it never happens. By the end, every character is in the exact same position they were before, albeit with the plot having moved forward a little and more answers coming to the forefront.

To be fair, Surface does attempt to thematically construct the idea over whether our reality is something pre-programmed or shaped by our own experiences, but the characters just aren’t particularly likable to make that a pleasant journey. Sophie in particular never learns from her mistakes, while James doesn’t fare much better either. It also doesn’t help that the dialogue throughout is pretty poor too.

Although this show presents itself as a whodunit, this is very much an introspective character breakdown but as mentioned above, the people in this show just aren’t likable, making it a pretty pointless endeavour.

Sure the visuals look good and the usual array of Apple merch is on display (I see what you’re doing here Apple and it’s not subtle!) but despite some star power from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, this one’s dead in the water (no pun intended). There’s just not enough here for Surface to stand out, and armed with both a cliched script and a meandering pace, this one drowns up the weight of its own expectations.

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  • Verdict - 3.5/10

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