The Terminal List – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review

Call To Action

Episode 1 of The Terminal List starts with a funeral. As guns are aimed at the sky and fired, we cut back 2 weeks earlier to a big operation, 5km from the Syrian Coast. Lieutenant Commander James Reece leads this mission, something that sees a squadron of troops on the verge of a covert operation.

Their entry point is a sewer, where they intend to take out a dangerous arms dealer. However, the place is wired up with tripwires, Semtex and a thin layer of murky water. As they creep through, the squadron suddenly have contact and come under fire from enemy soldiers.

12 Navy Seals are KIA, triggered partly by one of the men rushing forward and knocking the tripwire, causing an explosion. James Reece survives along with a rabble of others, but it’s a disastrous outcome.

The mission is a complete bust, James Reece is forced to abort and scramble to safety. When he makes it back to base, James is questioned about what happened, but the audio recording from that event appears to be different from what he remembered went down.

Reece is checked out by the doctor too, who asks him about memory loss and tells him to lay off the alcohol. So naturally, the next scene we see him at the bar drinking!

James Reece does eventually make it back home, where he’s picked up by his friend, Bed Edwards. There, James tells him that the whole event was an ambush and it would appear that the audio files his superiors have – the ones played earlier on – could well be deepfakes. Ben agrees to look into this for him.

James returns home to his family, where we see he’s married to his wife, Lauren, and their kid Lucy. After tucking his daughter into bed, she shows a drawing of them together – but James doesn’t remember her drawing it. Now, whether this is just a result of the PTSD and concussion or another example of him forgetting crucial details from the mission is left up for debate.

In the morning, James receives an urgent call. Ernest “Boozer” Vickers has shot himself in his apartment with the team’s gun. Reece is confused and angry, pointing out they were drinking in the bar together the day before. And besides, Boozer has always been adamant that he hated this pistol.

However, Reece begins to spiral when he learns that he’s actually been dead for two days not one. It’s another twist in this tale, something that sees James head straight back to base to try and get answers. James Reece is convinced that the audio files have been tampered with and the intel he was given was bad from the start and they walked into a trap.

Reece feels alone in his theory, prompting him to message Katie Buranek. She’s a reporter who believes that there’s a conspiracy going on, having met him earlier on in the bar with Boozer. Back then, he shrugged off her ideas. Now though, he emails and she shows up at his place.

Katie is convinced that there’s something going on here, but not a conspiracy. Their group have had less downtime than anyone else and as a result, it could well have caused over-exhaustion.

When Katie leaves, James admits to his wife he thinks he needs to see a doctor to get checked out. While in the MRI machine, he flashes back to memories of the op, and when he awakens there’s something wrong.

James is suddenly attacked by several assassins who break in to the room and attack him. James Reece grabs the pistol from one of the men and shoots him dead. The other manages to get away, although Reece does manage to see his face. When he examines the pistol though, he realizes the guy is holding his own pistol – the one he stashed away back home.

Realizing his house could be compromised, James scrambles back home again. The worst outcome becomes a reality. His wife and daughter have been killed.

The Episode Review

Based on the book of the same name, The Terminal List gets off to a pretty good start here, with an op gone bad, a protagonist suffering from memory loss and psychological issues, along with a potential conspiracy at the heart of all this. It’s not a particularly original concept, but the first episode has a decent amount of action and the pace is quite good, although it does sag a little in the middle.

With James’ wife and daughter dead, it’s clear he’s going to go after those responsible but it would appear that this goes all the way up the chain of command.

So far the show has done a pretty good job setting the scene for what should be a very dramatic and lively season to come.

Next Episode

You can read our full season review for The Terminal List Season 1 here!

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