Episode 1 of The Lazarus Project starts with George getting ready to go about his day. He works as an app designer, and he’s en-route to try and get a loan for his revolutionary new tech. This seems to work as some sort of predictor for big events, called ‘Hazard Lights’. However, it doesn’t predict that his partner, Sarah, is actually pregnant, which he finds out later that day after being granted his loan.
Fast forward through time and George marries his beloved sweetheart. However, this is overshadowed by a deadly virus spreading called Mers-22. This pandemic looks to be far more dangerous than the one we’ve just tackled. In fact, as we reach Christmas time, George and his wife both start coughing. The hospital is full of patients, each coughing uncontrollably and it seems like the end of the world… or is it?
It’s Groundhog Day as George wakes up back on the 1st July, ready to give his big pitch at the bank. This whole sequence of events plays out just like before, including a guy bumping into him out in the street. Only, George has knowledge of all of this. This time though, he speaks to the investor and tells him they’ve had this conversation before. He’s convinced that he’s reliving this day over and over again – but this time George doesn’t get the loan.
In this alternate version of events, George tries to encourage Sarah to take a pregnancy test but she refuses to do so, believing this is a bad time. This only gets George scrambling for more answers, searching online and discovering the Mers-22 is starting to spread. He goes full-on survivalist, complete with a hazmat suit and supplies.
Sarah leaves to go and stay with her folks for a while, concerned for George’s wellbeing. When he heads outside to chase her, he bumps into a woman called Archie. She apparently has answers to his problems and encourages him to head straight to an address “if it happens again.” She somehow knows about his time jumps but quite how or why, remains a mystery.
Anyway, another time loop ensues just as before but this time George is all-in with his love for Sarah. He immediately bolts, heading straight to the aforementioned address – but with a vastly different outcome. Archie is there, and she confirms that he’s a mutant.
“Not like f*cking Wolverine.” She quips. It turns out he’s experienced 20 time jumps but he’s only remembered the last 2. This is all part of The Lazarus Project, a top-secret, multi-national organization dedicated to preventing or undoing mass-extinction events. The world has ended in numerous different timelines but each time, they’ve stopped all of these through time travel after exhausting all other methods.
Archie takes George inside this room, where he’s told they can only jump back to the 1st July as this serves as a sort of checkpoint. George is encouraged to come and join them, properly, after mentioning how they’ve stopped the Cold War and COVID with this too. And that second time jump, and George getting involved, has seemingly helped stop this Mers-22 from wiping everyone out.
George soon jumps into working at the Lazarus Project, where he’s introduced to all the other players here, including Shiv, the “resident mutant”. There’s also Elizabeth Wesley (Wes) who happens to be overseeing everything. So as a result, we get a little montage of George saving the world and working on the Lazarus Project.
The latest big threat here comes from a nuclear warhead that seems to have gone missing. It’s being sold on the black market under the name of “Big Boy.” The big threat here stems from a guy called Dennis Rebrov. Charismatic and deadly, he was one of the Project’s best agents before he went rogue. He’s public enemy number 1 to these people and seemingly the one behind Big Boy’s distribution.
As part of this big plan, George jets off across to Paris and pops his proverbial cherry when it comes to field ops. Whilst there, Archie is knocked out by Rebrov, who takes off on a bike. George gives chase but there’s a problem. Rebrov decides to detonate, sending a huge nuclear explosion across Paris… and jumping back in time to the new checkpoint, which happens to be George and Sarah having sex.
Archie rings, telling him to take a few days off. The thing is, Rebrov is aware of the time loops and as George heads back to the office… tragedy strikes. Earlier in the episode we saw George save Sarah from an approaching truck…but no such luck here. He’s not there this time to stop it, sending his world tumbling upside down.
The Episode Review
The Lazarus Project gets off to a compelling start here, with a hook that feels very similar to Russian Doll and Groundhog Day, with a touch of Travelers for good measure. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, and aside from the little quip about COVID, the rest of the episode does well to set things up and prepare for an enticing series ahead.
Time travel shows like this are notoriously difficult to get right but so far it seems The Lazarus Project is keeping things simple. But now that George has lost Sarah, will this compromise his ability to stop Rebrov and make it through to the next checkpoint? The foreshadowing for this death is definitely one of the better parts of the show, and the ending certainly hints that there’s lots more tight writing like this to come in the future.