Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
There have been a lot of time travel stories over the years, tapping into that niggling question of “What If.” What if you could go back and stop someone from dying? What if you could choose a different path in life? And what if you were forced to relive the same day again and again for eternity. All of these questions have been explored in different forms of media, across various different mediums. Whether it be in book form like The Time Machine by H.G. Wells or small screen wonders like Twelve Monkeys, each of these have taken the concept of time travel and time loops and added their own spin to the formula.
The Lazarus Project then is an interesting series in that respect because it doesn’t really reinvent the wheel. Instead, it polishes what’s already there, borrowing from numerous different influences; the repeating of a time loop at a single point seen in 11.22.63; the morally grey areas of changing time in Twelve Monkeys; trying to save a deceased love one in The Time Machine; trying to do things differently each loop in Russian Doll. And so on and so forth.
These moments are wrapped up into an action-packed 8 episode series that starts with a bang and ends with an even bigger explosion in terms of excitement and shocks. The story itself revolves around a man called George, who finds himself experiencing life in the heart of a deadly pandemic.
Right off the back of COVID, Mers-22 is spreading, causing the whole world to spiral out of control. There seems to be no hope… until George suddenly finds himself jumping back six months to 1st July. When George is approached by a woman called Archie, he’s recruited to join the Lazarus Project after being told he has a special “mutant gene.” This is incredibly rare and allows him to naturally experience these jumps without the aid of a special serum that the others are taking.
This organization happen to be in charge of stopping global-level extinction events, and do so by resetting time to the latest “checkpoint. These “checkpoints” always occur on the 1st July every year, and through a simple video game analogy, each successful year of stopping threats allows this checkpoint to move forward a year before restarting the cycle again. Fail to stop the world from ending? Well, we’re back to the 1st July again. The explanation I’ve given may seem a little complicated and difficult to follow but suffice to say, a few episodes into The Lazarus Project and everything becomes much clearer. That’s partly thanks to the way this show has nailed the “show don’t tell” mechanics of seeing these constant loops and different mechanics at work for ourselves.
What’s particularly interesting here though his how the show plays with the idea of morality. We learn very early on that the latest threat revolves around a nuclear warhead nicknamed Big Boy. This is scheduled to go off in the near future (hence the current time loops George experiences) and Dennis Rebrov, a rogue agent, seems to be the orchestrator. As we soon come to learn though, he’s not quite the evil mastermind we came to expect.
This is where The Lazarus Project excels. The exploration of character is why the show works so well and across the story, we see each of the different characters and learn how they’ve come to be part of – or working against – the Lazarus group.
In essence, the show plays with two different storylines. The first is spread out across the entire run-time, revolving around this Big Boy missile and stopping a nuclear war. At the same time, each individual episode focuses on a different character through flashbacks and what they’ve experienced leading to this time loop. We see the trials and tribulations each of them have been through, including both the physical and mental toll these jumps can have. I won’t spoil the twists here, but honestly some of these jumps are absolutely horrific to witness.
Visually, the show looks great although late on, some of the scenes are really poorly lit. I’m not going to spoil much but there’s a whole episode set in Romania and the night scenes make it almost impossible to see what’s happening in detail. On the same subject, some of the editing is a little sloppy, mostly in episode 4 during some chase sequences. It’s a minor blip though in what’s otherwise a pretty well-constructed show.
Thankfully the soundtrack is great and the eerie main theme works so well to reinforce the themes being played with in this one. It’s rare to find a well written show like this in the west and The Lazarus Project certainly fits the bill. With lots of twists and turns, a simple but effective time loop mechanic and plenty of moral shades of grey, this is one show you should definitely find the time to watch.
Verdict - 8.5/10