Episode 1 of The Republic of Sarah begins with Sarah Cooper heading to college. She’s a teacher, as it turns out, but immediately bad mouths a student before cleverly using pop references to teach history.
However, all of this is overshadowed by returning businessman Danny Cooper. He works for Lydon Industries and he’s got big news. The company have found a sizable amount of coltan, which involves a big project to renovate this small town.
This means there will be improvements city-wide, including new roads and buildings. However, it also means that landowners will need to give up their homes temporarily while they do the mining.
Sarah is not happy when she realizes this entails uprooting various residents. She believes this is Danny’s way of exacting revenge, accentuated by the fact they haven’t spoken in years. Danny however, is very obviously the bad guy here and promises to fight Sarah for every square inch of town.
As day turns to night, Sarah plays cards with Grover. There’s some serious angst between them though, given Sarah likes Grover but doesn’t want to ruin what they have with romance. The pair are best friends, although there’s obviously chemistry between them.
Sarah soon makes a stand, quite literally, by blocking the diggers and standing in front of them. Now, I get the connotations with Tiananmen Square but it feels a little weak in truth.
Anyway, Sarah soon witnesses the mining company begin to bulldoze, and she heads out to question them. There, she meets Marilyn Hill, who’s the very evil official in charge. Lydon now have rights to the land, and as such there’s nothing they can do about it.
Sarah decides they should fight back though, and sets to work trying to find a solution. Well, this comes in the form of a cartography loophole. Basically, Greylock sits in the middle of United States and Canada. As Sarah goes over the specifics, she briefs the townsfolk and believes they should declare Independence and stop Lydon in their tracks.
Marilyn Hill notices what they’re up to and chooses to fight fire with fire, digging into Sarah’s past. She’s blackmailed over her Mother’s alcoholism too, prompting Sarah to immediately confront Danny whom she believes is the one who revealed the truth.
Well, Sarah’s Mother immediately heads onto the news and blows the case wide open. She apologizes to everyone and decides to face this head-on. Sarah decides to go all-in with the independence claim and start a country. The vote goes in their favour too, with the Mayor deciding to step down on the back of this. In his absence, all the residents vote on Sarah Cooper being the Mayor in charge.
She’s immediately arrested by the FBI though, who claim she’s trying to overthrow American authority. As she’s taken away, everything is left wide open for the next episode.
The Episode Review
While admirable, the entire premise around The Republic of Sarah is rather silly. The idea that someone can just come along and declare a country is independent because of some cartography loophole doesn’t quite work.
It also begs the question as to exactly how this would work. How will they join the United Nations? What currency will they use? Will other countries recognize their independent claim? Who will this new country trade with if Sarah is declared a criminal to the United States? How will exports and imports work? Will there be borders set up outside Greylock? Will these people need visas now to travel?
Declaring independence is not a straightforward process and even now, there’s a lot of unrecognized states that have gone for many decades without recognition of sovereignty.
Now, don’t get me wrong the idea is actually quite intriguing and the characters are likable enough but this show has so many flaws from the off that it’s difficult to look past them – especially on the back of opposing a mining company that’s promised extra infrastructure and lucrative compensation for those residents forced to move.
Grover and Sarah’s budding romance looks like it could be a highlight of this show though, while the sibling rivalry is a nice – albeit overused – trope that could be fleshed out nicely in the coming episodes.
For now though, The Republic of Sarah gets off to a rather tepid start. We’ll have to wait and see what the rest of these episodes have in store for us, as CW’s latest drama promises lots of melodramatic beats to come.