Washed Up Survivors
The Stranded gets off to a mediocre start here and with little characterisation, begins by throwing us right into the deep end with the tsunami. From there, we jump forward with little explanation as to how these kids survived, which ultimately ends up as a recurring theme in this series. Despite some nice visuals, The Stranded’s first episode is surprisingly slow paced too, ending with a big cliffhanger to keep you coming back for more.
We begin on a beautiful tropical island with the students at school preparing to leave by 6pm whilst celebrating their graduation. At the heart of this is Anan who speaks to his friend Kraam and tells him he pulled some strings and managed to keep them on the island for an impromptu sending-off party. Unfortunately things go awry when a massive tsunami arrives during the lunar eclipse, moments after Kraam is handed a dagger from his adoptive Father. Kraam looks up in shock at the monstrous wave and as the questionable CGI engulfs the car, they struggle for air and lose consciousness underwater.
We then cut forward 25 days later to see Kraam has survived and wreckage litters the beach. The school is ruined and the surviving students question whether they’re the only ones left in the world after the tsunami. One of the survivors happens to be Arisa, who tries in vain to get reception from the mainland. Feeding back the bad news to Kraam, Joey tells them his plan has failed and they need to think ahead now.
In the school, the students set up a cafeteria and begin dishing out food. From the looks of it, quite a few of them have survived the wave. Kraam and the others come to blow over phones but Joey calms them down, telling them he misses his parents too. Still holding the dagger his step-dad gave him, Joey asks Kraam about it before they head off together in search of the Village Elder’s Hut. Meanwhile Arisa tries to make the audio player she found work but in doing so, flashes back to a time where she’s standing over a dead body with a knife in her hand.
Despite being stuck on the island for 25 days and experiencing the tsunami firsthand, Joey and Kraam marvel at a shipwreck wedged in the rock, sensing it as a sign that hope may be just round the corner. As they begin to climb to catch a closer look, Joey falls and cracks his head on the ground, prompting him to be brought into the infirmary. Lifting his shirt, we see he’s cracked his ribs badly. Acting as the makeshift nurse, May grabs a syringe in a bid to puncture his lung but it’s too late, Joey is dead.
As the survivors burn his body by the shore, Anan speaks up and tells them they need to band together and cooperate, bringing the boat down in order to survive. Taking control of the situation, he hands the students back their phones who listen to music and relax – the proverbial calm before the storm. After a group photo together, Kraam heads out alone and listens to a voice message from his adoptive Father. He goes on to tell him the truth…but he doesn’t hear the rest of the message as his phone dies. As the ground shakes and birds flutter into the air, the students scream out and clutch their head in pain as a sonic sound wave adds another element of mystery to the show.
Between the different dramatic plot points of the episode, which have a lot of similarities to Lost, The Stranded’s biggest problem comes from its questions that never end up being answered. How did they all survive for 25 days? Are they alone in the world? How far-reaching was the tsunami? And why is there only a single school on this island and nothing else? Aside from a lively opening five minutes, The Stranded is surprisingly slow-paced here too, with an abundance of long shots and far-away looks to the distance.
Still, it’s early days yet but for now, The Stranded fails to conjure up much faith in the overarching plot, even this early in the game.