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Fallout TV series Season 1, Episode 1 review — Explosive introduction

We all know that video games moving into another medium can have… hiccups. Halo has its helmet and armor issues (and entirely too much nudity for the Master Chief), Resident Evil quickly became a popcorn flick, and so on. Finding the happy middle, where the fans of the game are satiated and you have the opportunity to make something fresh is tough, but with Jonathan Nolan (Westworld, The Dark Knight, Interstellar, The Prestige) – IMDB) attached to Fallout, you just knew it would be done right. After watching this first episode of the Fallout TV series, Amazon has a hit on its hands, because war has both never changed and changed in the best possible way.

*Disclaimer: Slight spoilers for the first episode may be present. If you don’t want to know ANYTHING, stop here.*

The opening to the show is a perfect recreation of Fallout 3. If you’re familiar with Fallout, the world becomes a wasteland due to the Cold War getting hot… and by hot I mean nuclear warfare. All of this starts during a well-to-do family’s birthday party, where people are trying to tune out the doom and gloom with some cake and festivities. The scene paints the perfect picture of what that moment would entail, highlighting the fight or flight response from parents and staff alike as all run from the mushroom clouds rising from the cityscape behind them. I have to give huge kudos to the audio team, as cutting the sound effects in these moments added to the harrowing event’s impact.

Fallout TV show - Interview w/ Ella Purnell (Lucy) and Aaron Clifton Moten (Maximus)

Fast forward two hundred years and change, and here we are in Vault 33. I’m really impressed with the perfectly recreated setpieces, because they’ve nailed the aesthetic. Everyone is in their blue jumpsuits, serving their community, and getting along with an innocent joy that feels almost inhuman. The representation of blissfully unaware citizens living in a hidey-hole is exactly what you’d expect from people who’ve been absent from the terrors of a harsh world for years on end. They’re growing their own crops, undergoing regular health checks (especially for radiation), and filling their places in the society they’re supposed to foster in hopes of rebuilding the world outside one day. There’s even a 3D projector up top giving them counterfeit rolling green hills across the Vault walls. It’s a sham, but they’re all happy in their self-delusion.

From here, we’re introduced to our main character and eventual wanderer, Lucy (Ella Purcell). Parnell expertly plays this role, exuding the dewey-eyed and innocent vault dweller, and watching her step into the world is going to be a treat. Speaking of family, Kyle MacLachlan is enchanting as Overseer Hank, carrying his fatherly mantle both familially and in office. I grinned with joy especially when he referred to Lucy as his “sugar bomb”, a delightful reference to the in-world/game cereal. While Fallout does largely take itself seriously, there are happy and comedic moments that slip in, which works wonderfully for the show.

Lucy is ready to find a mate in a place with an entirely-too-small selection pool. Makes sense, as you are going to have a lot of family here. A trade is made with the adjacent Vault 32, and a wedding ensues. This is something new, as I don’t remember two Vaults existing side-by-side like this (being connected like a hotel room so as to not require truly leaving the Vault). Another nice touch was the wedding dress, something passed down not only from generations but between them. This was conveyed with each bride having signed and dated the dress, with Lucy joining them.

Of course, nothing good can last, and everything ends up going wrong in the midst of what should be the happiest day of Lucy’s life. These scenes are a violent romp, with over the top gore in a fight that fit Fallout’s brutality to perfection, all set to depressing 50s era crooner music. Things during all of this transpire which dictate Lucy’s desire to leave the Vault, and despite calls for her to stay, she takes to the surface. This is another instance where you feel what Bethesda accomplished in Fallout 3 – the overwhelming brightness of the opening of the Vault. As Lucy makes her way through the ruins of the building that surrounded the Vault and rounds the corner, the ocean crashing against the shore and the decrepit Santa Monica Pier with rusted Ferris wheel lingers in the distance, a poetic stamp on the end of Lucy’s emergence in this episode.

Also mixed into this episode is the secondary antagonist (or possibly protagonist – the world of Fallout is never quite so black and white), Brotherhood of Steel recruit Maximus (played by Aaron Moten). His story is one of an entry-level cadet, but also hints at him being an outcast. Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t completely understand why he was being treated this way, but it could simply be that everyone is in his position. Even so, it’s framed that he’s been here a while, but I don’t want to say more for fear of ruining it.

While there are great moments in this storyline, I didn’t connect with Maximus as much. There is more of his story left to tell, and this leads to some of the events feeling a bit hollow. I know he was rescued as a child by the Brotherhood from someone who hurt him, but I don’t know who that is. That means I’m not completely sure of his motivations, and given the characters around him aren’t ever delved into, I don’t know why they’re such douchebags either. I hope future episodes will develop him much further, because he’s not as interesting yet. That said, he’s more of a blank canvas at this juncture with which a renowned artist like Nolan can paint a masterpiece.

I do understand the Brotherhood’s motivations, however. This is something well defined, with Maximus attending a class at this “academy” and their constant exposition (which works in this instance). The Brotherhood are looking to protect the world – in an almost religious way – and to do that they’re seeking out relics; otherwise known as pre-war tech. They even namedrop the Enclave and Commonwealth, which has me salivating over the upcoming possibilities this sets up. Establishing them is arguably more important in this first episode than Maximus, and I’m glad they went this direction.

JoJo Whilden/Prime Video ©Amazon Content Services LLC

The coolest part of this side of the story is of course, the Knights. If you’ve played the game or only seen the trailers, you know that Brotherhood of Steel armor is not only iconic, but amazingly dope. The power it projects is obvious, and the one time we hear one speak it’s intense. These cadets want nothing more than to be able to serve, and rising the ranks is certainly envied among them. Knowing that these armors are practical effects makes it all the more impactful.

Episode 1 ends with a bang, and by that, bringing Walton Goggins’ Ghoul to the stage. It’s simply exceptional television, tying together different strands while also showcasing his character’s savagery. He’s not human anymore, and even in the short seven minutes we get with him, everything you want to see is on display. Goggin seems born to play this role, and I can’t wait to get more.

To finish up, rest assured that the soundtrack behind the episode is phenomenal. Fallout has long been associated with its 40s & 50s era music, and the TV show follows suit. Songs like “So Doggone Lonesome” by Johnny Cash, and Perry Como’s “Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes” slot in exquisitely, lending to the tone the showrunners are setting. Of course, this isn’t the only music you’ll hear, with an incredible orchestral soundtrack behind moments that drive home every scene.

You can read our review for Episode 2 here.

Lead Video Game Editor | [email protected]

David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.

95

Excellent

Fallout TV series

Review Guidelines

Fallout’s first episode is explosive and exceptional. All of the teams behind the curtain should be applauded, with each department delivering excellence in set, costume, story, audio, and music design and more. The cast do a great job conveying their parts, and even if Maximus isn’t as interesting of a character yet, I fully believe I’ll be invested in him further in. Amazon has a hit on their hands with the Fallout TV series.

David Burdette

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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