We begin episode 1 of The Nevers in London 1899 with a montage of our different characters, setting to work and heading out the front door.
Our two leads here are Amalia True and Penance Adair, who are on a mission to find a girl called Myrtle Haplisch. However, London has a black cloud hanging over it in the form of a serial murderer. With whispers of a maniac called Maladie lurking about, her reign of terror looks poised to eclipse that of the Ripper.
Amalia and Penance find Myrtle chained up to the bed by her parents. Apparently Lucifer speaks through her and Myrtle’s parents are afraid. It turns out she’s actually speaking a variety of different languages including Chinese and Turkish.
However, the girls are immediately interrupted by a group of thugs showing up and trying to grab Myrtle. Using a mix of trinkets and wits, the girls wrestle the different foes off Myrtle and save her from being snatched up. A chase through London ensues, eventually leading to the girls flicking a switch and setting off with a motorized car.
As they speed down the cobbled streets, Amalia experiences a strange vision of the opera, which is their first port of call. Before that, they show up at Doctor Horatio’s place, a man known for his swearing.
Anyway, one of the girls here is called Primrose and she towers over them all like a giant. After the attack earlier on, Amalia and Penance decide to tighten up security in the place. This happens to be Lavinia’s orphanage, a place where the Touched can come together and find like-minded individuals. Inside, Doctor Horatio has the power to heal wounds, which he uses with Amalia to help her.
This exhilarating opening gets us caught up to scratch on the powers some of these Touched possess. The government ministers however, are concerned.
They talk about the 100s of different people affected by this anomaly. Maladie’s first murder just so happens to coincide with 1896 – the moment when these Touched first appeared. These stuffy old men want to keep the established order in place as much as possible – and that means finding whose hand is on the blade – and who’s the ringleader in all this.
Detective Frank Mundi heads off to a mine where he finds a dead body with numerous stab wounds and an ominous message written in blood. “Behold my works for I am the Angle of Death” No that’s not a typo, it literally says Angle.
Well, Mundi notices the body has been moved and the blood on the wall? It’s pig’s blood. Someone has set all of this up. Frank is not happy and questions the man, desperate to know exactly who and why this has happened.
Well, everything is set up for the opera that night. Doctor Horatio is not so sure this is a good idea, believing it could be linked to trouble. Amalia and Penance heed his advice though and head out nonetheless, where they’re joined in the carriage by Declan Orrun – the Beggar King.
He’s not happy about being summoned but they update him about the Touched and the chase earlier in the episode. He believes they’ve just led the men right to his doorstop. This is quite the bargaining chip as it turns out, but Amalia promises to help get what he wants.
In exchange, Declan will help them track down who’s hunting the Touched. He does, however, warn that if they try to double-cross him, he’ll cut their face off.
At the opera, all our characters we’ve met across the episode so far convene together. The stuffy Lord Massen is there, talking about employees and flexing his intelligence. Only, Amalia True appears and immediately shows that she can more than hold her own.
Midway through talking though, they’re interrupted by Hugo and Augustus, two young men – with the latter Lavinia’s son.
As the show begins, everyone is interrupted by Maladie showing up and killing a man dressed as the devil. She’s not alone though. A man with a gun-arm (no not Barrett from Final Fantasy 7) and another who sports flame powers, stand on stage behind her. Maladie dances around the stage, claiming she’s there to kill an angel.
Suddenly gunshots rain down, followed by a controlled burst of flame. This trio are immediately interrupted by a woman stepping out on stage with Siren abilities. Glowing, she manages to entrance Maladie and the others in attendance with the Calling.
Yet another chase ensues, as Amalia races after Maladie and her stooges. She charges down the stairs and fights our serial murderer, demanding she hand over the girl. This, of course, is in reference to our Siren, Mary. Unfortunately Maladie is too much and after a blast of fire, they high-tail it out while Amalia curses her luck.
In the aftermath of the attack, Amalia blames herself. Penance shows up and greets her though, encouraging the girl not to give up. They’re going to get Mary and bring her back.
As we cut back in time, we see the moments leading to the first instances of these special abilities. A strange spaceship burst through the skyline, descending a whole cascade of shimmering spots to different people. Among those happens to be Lord Massen’s daughter, who collapses on the ground.
The Episode Review
The Nevers gets off to a decent start here, with a solid story, some well written dialogue and some good worldbuilding too.
I do appreciate there are a lot of issues surrounding Joss Whedon at the moment, especially regarding different actors and actresses he’s worked with in the past.
It would be very easy to go into this and completely trash the show, especially given its similarities to many other series Whedon has produced in the past. However, it’s worth going into this with a level-head because there’s definitely some promising signs of what’s to come.
The first episode introduces several different subplots that are woven together in the wake of this big event that’s changed Victorian London forever. Most of the characters sporting the Touch are female, although it’s worth noting that it’s still early days and we haven’t seen everything yet.
There’s a clear patriarchal line here, especially the contrasting scenes to the vibrant girls and their quirky dialogue with the ministers all sitting around and discussing the Touched.
In a way, there are almost echoes of His Dark Materials here (with the Magisterium determined to keep order) while the group of girls leans into the group dynamic shows like Angel and Buffy nailed perfectly. Regardless of its familiarity, there’s definitely a lot to like with this one.
The world-building is pretty good too and the show definitely has some promise, even this early on. Whether that promise can translate into an enthralling story however, remains to be seen. It is also worth bearing in mind that we’re not getting the full season this year.
In fact, much like some anime that split their run-time across two distinct parts, The Nevers is dropping 6 episodes now and another some time next year. Regardless of what you think of the show, we’re not going to get a full picture of how this one plays out properly until 2022.
Despite all that, The Nevers does set things off with a promising episode that looks set to ignite the rest of the season.