The Ruins – | Review Score – 3/5
The Return – | Review Score – 2.5/5
The Code – | Review Score – 2.5/5
The Fall – | Review Score – 3/5
The Mutiny – | Review Score – 3/5
The Attack – | Review Score – 2/5
The Gate – | Review Score – 3/5
At first glance The Stranded feels very much like the Thai addition of Lost. In many ways its opening few episodes do present themselves this way, with a big mystery and several different characters taking centre stage as the season progresses. Unfortunately, in a bid to try and differentiate itself from the cultural phenomenon, The Stranded falls so far down the rabbit hole, it pulls influences from Dark, The Society, The Rain and a handful of other teen dramas for good measure. The result is a messy and sometimes tonally disparate series that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be until the final few shots of this first season.
The overarching story revolves around a pristine group of Thai students on graduation day, ready to leave the secluded island they find themselves on, inhabited by a single school and not much else in the surrounding area. However, when a tsunami strikes on the eve of their departure, what follows is a story that jumps forward a month as the survivors band together and realize no one is coming to save them. They’re on their own now.
With a strange fog in the jungle, a mystery arrival appearing in the third episode, sonic sound bursts and a strange cave system that may hold the key to everything, The Stranded throws everything, including the kitchen sink, at the main plot line to see what sticks. On the one hand I commend the creativity of a show like this, especially the first ever Thai Netflix Original, but with that enthusiasm comes a lack of consistency that ultimately hurts the integrity of the show.
Visually, The Stranded is absolutely stunning. The Thai island is well designed and the general cinematography of the show is pretty good too. There’s some nice montages here too, as per the usual for Asian shows, and the use of flashbacks throughout the 7 episodes is consistent and much like Lost, is accompanied by a sound effect to showcase this.
The different characters have good enough arcs to see you through to the end but some of the illogical decisions Anan and Arisa in particular take holds this back from being a better series. I won’t divulge too much about what happens but suffice to say, there’s some pretty crazy character turns and some of these feel completely out of left-field. In one episode a certain character is sane and perfectly happy, the next they’ve done a 180 and joined an angry mob. It all feels a little inconsistent and it’s not helped that you’re never really given any answers to the questions raised throughout the series.
This lack of finality or satisfying answers is ultimately what really hurts this season and after shows like Game Of Thrones and Lost, which dropped the ball significantly and failed to nail their endings, a lot of people are pretty reserved about jumping into a show with no answers by the time the credits roll on the finale. It doesn’t help that a lot of the logic here is thrown completely out the window but for spoiler purposes, I’ll reveal more of these in the recap write-ups.
With some spotty CGI and a frustrating lack of answers, The Stranded is a difficult show to recommend. Given the wealth of Asian content I get through every week, this is one show I won’t be jumping back into in a hurry. While the enthusiasm and creativity is here, it’s sporadic and disjointed at best, sprinkled out across 7 episodes that don’t quite know what sort of show it wants to be. The result is a Thai Original that tries to pull multiple influences together but does so with questionable execution. It’s a shame because I was really looking forward to this one but ultimately The Stranded fails to really live up to its promise.