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The Nevers

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medium13
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The Nevers

Post by medium13 » 13 Apr 2021, 00:04

The series premiere of “The Nevers” aired on HBO Max last night and it’s pretty good. I had some reservations watching, given the allegations against Joss Whedon of creating a hostile work environment and abuse that seem to be supported by the talent across multiple projects, however I decided to watch anyway since he’s been removed from the show and the rest of production shouldn’t be cancelled.


Spoilers abound as I review the pilot episode below. You’ve been warned.

The show opens in London in 1899 where an orphanage exists for women led by Amalia True who possesses the ability to see vivid and sudden glimpses of the future (as well as sporting some severe marital arts skills) and her companion, Penance who seems to be a creator ala Forge, later explaining she can see, talk to and control electrical currents that guide her ingenuity. They, among other women – and some men – are “touched”. Gifted with superpowers after an incident within the last three years.

True and Penance travel to meet a young girl who is speaking in multiple languages and arrive just in time to prevent her from being kidnapped. They are able to prevent the kidnapping combining their powers and escaping what has to be one of the scariest masked faces in recent TV history.
A group of men – I think politicians are seen debating the events that led to the development of the Touched. The give us a clue that although it is mostly women who have been touched, it is not exclusive. However, there is an alarming rate of Touched individuals who are marginalized in the Victorian society and of lower socio-economic status. This was an exciting development for me, since it really draws a line we don’t often get to see in terms of these types of premises and creates a pointed moment of why the literal empowerment of the lower class causes panic amongst the higher.

Upon arrival at the Orphanage, we get a glimpse that the isolated life of the Touched isn’t all super heroics, as it is also isolating and lonely especially for Primrose, who is a giant girl. Penance sets her up with the girl the rescued and it seems like a friendship may develop. True receives treatment for a nasty cut on her side and wants increased security at the orphanage. True also instructs the staff to make a meeting with The Beggar King (not Viserys Taraguyen) as he has provided the orphanage with protection and given them clues as to finding more touched individuals. She has concerns he may be providing information to others as well. Her companions caution against it, but she is determined.

Meanwhile, HBO gives us our titillating sex scene, with the introduction of Hugo Swann post threesome at the Ferryman’s Club. We get some ab-exposition around a charity developed by Livinia, who supports the Touched – and funds the orphanage. Livinia is hosting an opera event and has invited Mrs. True and Penance. Hugo doesn’t wish to attend the opera, but Augie who has a dislike and uneasiness for the Touched, asks Hugo to join him. He agrees, but only if Augie will join at the next sex club meeting. Not a bad deal, if you ask me. Hugo reveals that he has an ulterior motive for bringing Augie to the next Ferryman’s Club party – most likely to cast him down from his reputation as moral and above reproach.
The Opera tonight is “Faust” which always invokes a bargain with the devil. Livinia supplies True and Penance with some fine gowns, but True can’t hide her anxiety around the event. Their carriage is intercepted by The Beggar King. True informs him they were attacked today and provides a drawing of the attackers. The Beggar King is offended by True and tries to intimidate the pair but True is after information and tells him to name his price. Penance offers to provide him a motorized carriage in addition to payment. Satisfied, but annoyed, the Beggar King holds a knife to True’s face and threatens he will cut her face. “This isn’t my face,” she says moving her cheek to the blade. Weird and good stuff. Inside the opera, we meet the wheelchair bound Livinia, a sharp witted revolutionary of sorts who I wonder is meant to echo Professor X. She’s also revealed to be Augie’s sister. True manages to hold her own in philosophical debate and she and Penance reveal their abilities to Lord Massen, a hardened politician and former soldier.

During the production, we see that True taps her fingers to help ground herself as she sees quick visions. As the devil rises from below stage, Maladie kills the “devil” and attempts to kidnap a redhead, Hugo eyed earlier. She’s not alone as her companion bounces fire between her hands and another has a machine gun arm. Maladie doesn’t make any sense, but I can’t help but wonder if these are words that will ring true in the future. “Are these words from the future?” or is it more Joss Whedon insane woman troupes? Maladie seems to believe that God gifted her with her powers, and the rest of humanity turned their backs on the gift. Machine Gun arms opens fire into the crowd who tries to escape. Before they can inflict more damage, the red headed performer lets loose her voice and a bright light shines from her chest seemingly immobilizing the Touched and revealing them to each other, including Augie. Maladie kidnaps her, and True moves in to intercept. True and Maladie get into a gruesome fight, and Maladie’s eyes glow an eerie orange as she wins the fight. Maladie’s companions surprisingly don’t interfere until it’s time to make their exit, hurling a huge fireball. Hugo is revealed to be working with Dr. Frank, but to what end I’m not sure.

And near the conclusion of the episode, we see Dr. Hague conducting a gruesome lobotomy on a living patient to determine where the individual was touched. Penance and True reunite after being separated at the opera. True is visibly upset she lost the girl and the fight, but Penance consoles her describing the feeling she had from the girl’s powers, Mary. Penance thinks Mary’s power will help them locate and bring all the touched to safety.
In a flashback, we see True jumping into a body of water as a spaceship descends on London. As it flies across the city, it drops brilliant lights on the populace revealing to some extent how the Touched obtained powers, including Lord Massen’s daughter who falls to the ground. True, appears dead but rises from the water. Maladie sees the ship from outside what’s probably an asylum but the rest of London go about their business as if nothing happened.

Well, I’m intrigued. As someone who’s watched a couple of these X-Adaptions, I like that these characters are fundamental X-men prototypes. They are unique and maintain a semblance of an anchor in reality despite this being an alternate history for a steampunk London. The performances were quite good and I think there are a few stand out characters already, but we’ll see who develops into a fan favorite. While True wasn’t my favorite performance, I am intrigued by her power(s) and her identity issue. I don’t feel compelled to Maladie, and I’m not going to be a fan of the crazy bad guy who has somehow amassed powerful followers, but I’m willing to give it time. This metaphor certainly isn’t hidden, it certainly breathes something into this series that feels fresh even though it could be compared to Downton Abby or Sherlock. A final thought, why is this called “The Nevers” and not “The Touched”.

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Anna Raven
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Re: The Nevers

Post by Anna Raven » 13 Apr 2021, 23:27

I liked it as well. I think there's a ton of questions that will need to be answered though for it to pay off, and that's a worry since they replaced Whedon will they give satisfactory answers to all those questions. I think the Nevers refers to something different than the Touched, but that's one example of a mysterious question is t it.

I also can't help but wonder, since the ship that dropped the "terrigen mists" on London seemed to affect people haphazardly and randomly (those who actually had a particle fall on them) then why is the Touched population so skewed toward women and outsiders? Why is there not "one man of stature" (although Augie seems to break that rule somewhat) who gets a particle on him? I feel like there needs to be an explanation to this better than, well that's just how the particles happened to fall.

But anyway we'll see how it goes. I did like it, even with a lot of obvious "Whedon-isms". It only took me about 2 minutes to realize Penance = Simmons/Kaylee/Shadowcat. He certainly has a type doesn't he? True is a bit more fleshed out at least, she's not JUST River/Buffy/Echo, although you know... she's also that. I saw a girl growing veggies in the garden in one of the shots and instantly thought of Klara Prast from his version of Runaways. He just can't help recycling female characters...

But yes, otherwise, good episode, worth a watch, interested to see where it goes.
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Re: The Nevers

Post by sambadaemon » 14 Apr 2021, 14:06

I enjoyed it, and thought the mysteries are well started. I think the particles and who they chose was more directed than we got from that little snippet. Also, was Maladie the only one to remember seeing the ship, or is everyone else just pretending it didn't happen?

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Re: The Nevers

Post by medium13 » 14 Apr 2021, 15:59

The distribution of the "terrigan mists" are probably one of the interesting parts to me. Is the distribution guided "divinely" either by an alien force or whatever we attribute the UFO to. I am curious if as the plot develops there is some other guideline that accounts for the main exceptions to receipt of the touch, like with Augie. I'm also unclear if Maladie was the only person who remembers seeing the ships, but I suggest with the attention paid to her eyes, she might have some gift for seeing the touched as opposed to Mary who made them feel each other and their place in the universe or whatever.

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Re: The Nevers

Post by sambadaemon » 14 Apr 2021, 20:38

medium13 wrote:
14 Apr 2021, 15:59
The distribution of the "terrigan mists" are probably one of the interesting parts to me. Is the distribution guided "divinely" either by an alien force or whatever we attribute the UFO to. I am curious if as the plot develops there is some other guideline that accounts for the main exceptions to receipt of the touch, like with Augie. I'm also unclear if Maladie was the only person who remembers seeing the ships, but I suggest with the attention paid to her eyes, she might have some gift for seeing the touched as opposed to Mary who made them feel each other and their place in the universe or whatever.
That's an interesting theory about Maladie being able to see the Touched. Maybe that's how she chooses her victims. And the mists had to have been guided by something, they were too selective to not be. That's probably going to be one of the central mysteries of the show.


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Re: The Nevers

Post by medium13 » 19 Apr 2021, 23:44

That swag bag is impressive! I swear, HBO must have massive budgets for it’s shows and the effects in Episode Two, “Exposure” prove it. Also, “The Mare of Easttown” immediately following this was exceptional and I may have to write about that too.

Spoilers Beyond!


I’m not watching and writing concurrently, so I am going to use a news article guide and add pieces I remember. Following the events at the Opera, the city is in mourning and we meet Miss Cassini, an immigrant worker at a local store. Her boss lectures her and engages in some work place harassment since her pristine gloves are starting to show wear and tear – possibly from the use of her powers. Miss Cassini is touched, and has the ability to make objects levitate in the air and accidentally activates her power while assisting a patron find a hat. She is forced to flee, levitating objects to help her escape persecution including an imposing polar bear. In a heartbreaking scene, she reveals to her coworker and friend, that upon exposure her mother spit on her before kicking her out. Her friend rats her out to authorities and Cassini is on the run again. She flees to a safe house on a flyer that I presume is coded language for the orphanage, only for us to discover that It is actually the workspace of Dr. Hague, who is going to commit horrible surgical atrocities against this poor woman.

True protects the orphanage workshop when police try to execute a warrant, pointing out why it’s insufficient for the police to enter after they’ve pillaged the living quarters of the orphanage. Livinia enters to assist her in showing the police force the door but also requests that a small group of the touched come to a party she’s hosting to entertain the guests and make them more relatable, or so it seems. True continues her quest to find Mary, the hopeful songbird from the opera who is still missing with Maladie. Utilizing Desiree, a newcomer to the orphanage who True also suspects to be a plant, has the ability to make people speak the truth or reveal hidden thoughts , or something similar I’m not quite sure. She is able to help True reveal that Mundi, the face of the police force on this show, reveal that he loves Mary. True is able to divine her location based on photographs she observes at the station and off she goes to fight Maladie again, seeing that someone’s giving Malady the beat down.

Over at crazytown congress, Mary is fending off a gross Touched wannabe, who has cut off her toes as an offering to obtain gifts but only received infection as a result. We also get to see a man – who I think is “the Colonel” who can make people believe they see what he says, when he offers Mary a leg of chicken but it’s actually a dead rat. Poor Mary, this is gross. She’s protected by Bonfire Annie who reveals that Malady has instructed them not to hurt Mary, for now. There is conflict between Annie and Malady, the former stating she can follow along with crazy but not stupid when Malady’s plans seem insufficient. Ok, Annie. Maladie and Mary have a fun scene where it appears Maladie is asking big existential questions, but really Maladie just wants to know how Mary ended up on stage. It’s well done and gives me a smile as well as a moment to catch my breath.
Back the party, Penance brings her tiger, Primrose and some of the other young ladies from the orphanage to meet the locals. Livinia has commanded they wear blue ribbons in order to identify themselves as Touched, and the tension is building. Augie and Penance have some quality time and Augie reveals he can change into birds and fly (I think). They are connecting, but Livinia privately scolds Augie that rumors of a relationship with a Touched would be just as unthinkable of an actual relationship. Augie complies with Livinia’s directive and tries to hurt penance to help her. She leaves the party alone and is kidnapped.

At the Ferryman’s Club, where Augie is in attendance, Hugo shows him the delights the Touched can bring in a more biblical sense. Augie seems more at ease than I expected but the inference here is clear, the Touched will be used and exploited by the general populace. I forgot to mention that early in the episode, Hugo and Lord Massem came to blows and while Hugo performed physically well (suspiciously better than expected I dare say), Massem is able to land some harsh emotional blows. Massem reveals a close relationship with Hugo’s father and taunts Hugo about the death of his sibling. He unceremoniously informs Hugo its evident everyone would have preferred if Hugo were the one to die. Hugo is visibly shaken and this conflict will continue to brew since it developed around the opening of the Ferryman’s Club Touched parties.
Back at Maladie’s lair, True enters and is guided through the building with assists from firewalls from Annie. She finds Maladie and beats her up but Maladie is unharmed. In fact, she may even be kind of like Sebastian Shaw and just get stronger and more durable with every punch. Now things get weird – Maladie reveals a history with True but they don’t recognize each other physically, but do recognize each other as Molly and Sarah. There is a lot of hinting here that these two exist in multiple forms over time, but not all is revealed. Maladie has set up an elaborate trap for True, forcing her to kill either Mary or Penance to save the other. True decides to turn the gun on herself (and then Maladie haha), but it is the arrival of the police force and Annie who cause the conflict to come to an end.

Back at the doctor’s torture office, Livinia is revealed to be responsible for Hague’s rounding up the Touched and using them as labor to uncover or maintain a giant glowing orb.

Some additional thoughts. I like this development with True and Maladie, although I think it could easily veer into something too complex or too expansive for the three year period we’ve been working with. I’d like this story to stay as concise as possible, and already there are a ton of characters with a ton of different motivations and I’m not entirely sure I know what’s going on in many scenes. For example, I was really enjoying True’s suspicion that Desiree is some type of plant or double agent, but that turned on it’s head rather quickly. Some of the write-ups talk about Lord Massem having to deal with his daughter, but I was relatively sure she died in the first episode. I need reviews to help me identify the characters. Maybe I’m the problem.

I am a fan that there are multiple factions and responses to the Touched event already. The Ferryman’s Club, Livinia and the orphanage, the citizens of London, the groupies… the writing has cast a large net instead of breaking up the antagonists season by season and I can respect that and get on board despite my complaints above. Again, maybe I’m the problem.
I don’t find this super engaging and interesting yet, especially as more and more characters develop powers that maybe we’ve seen elsewhere. I suppose that can’t be helped so much, but I would like some other type of identity grafted onto the character aside from a power that matches some heroic supertype. That might be too critical and perhaps a critique that is without some substance, since I’m not responsible to come up with unique and interesting powers that haven’t been seen before.

I’m still confused over who has knowledge of the ship that rained down the touch on the populace. Maladie remembers for sure – in fact here she’s led Mary to believe that she is the only one to remember, but I suspect True does as well. And, given we’ve seen these two interact in two consecutive episodes, I would find it harder to believe they don’t recognize each other on a soul level sooner. Like, these two both seem to have superior knowledge than all of London, even if Maladie is portrayed as crazy.

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Re: The Nevers

Post by Blackcyclops » 26 Apr 2021, 04:20

Damn that was a good episode...

Gotta say, The Nevers is elevating the superpowered fight game...a fight on the surface of water and below it? Pretty comic-booky and I frigging love it...

I wasn’t too into the Inspector but now seeing his motivations and owns secrets, he’s way more interesting. Now I just need a focus on Dr. DeMarcus and we’re all good!
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Re: The Nevers

Post by sambadaemon » 26 Apr 2021, 13:12

I haven't seen this week's episode yet, but a few thoughts on last week's (and Medium's write-up): Massem's daughter collapsed when she was Touched, but they didn't specify whether she actually died. I think there's more to Mary's power than we've seen, and that's part of the reason she and Maladie don't recognize each other. Maladie kept calling her "the woman who sheds her skin" in the first episode. That might be more literal than we thought. And I don't think Augie changes into birds, he possesses them. Like Bran from GoT.

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Re: The Nevers

Post by Blackcyclops » 26 Apr 2021, 13:21

You need to see this week’s episode because I think it addresses 1 of your points.
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Re: The Nevers

Post by sambadaemon » 27 Apr 2021, 13:05

Blackcyclops wrote:
26 Apr 2021, 13:21
You need to see this week’s episode because I think it addresses 1 of your points.
I see what you mean, but I think we're supposed to at least suspect that she's not dead, and it's her not dogs in that locked basement room.

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Re: The Nevers

Post by Blackcyclops » 27 Apr 2021, 13:07

sambadaemon wrote:
27 Apr 2021, 13:05
Blackcyclops wrote:
26 Apr 2021, 13:21
You need to see this week’s episode because I think it addresses 1 of your points.
I see what you mean, but I think we're supposed to at least suspect that she's not dead, and it's her not dogs in that locked basement room.
Oh I was saying that the episode showed that she isn’t dead and that is her in that room...that her Turn made her into a beast girl.
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Re: The Nevers

Post by sambadaemon » 27 Apr 2021, 14:49

Blackcyclops wrote:
27 Apr 2021, 13:07
sambadaemon wrote:
27 Apr 2021, 13:05
Blackcyclops wrote:
26 Apr 2021, 13:21
You need to see this week’s episode because I think it addresses 1 of your points.
I see what you mean, but I think we're supposed to at least suspect that she's not dead, and it's her not dogs in that locked basement room.
Oh I was saying that the episode showed that she isn’t dead and that is her in that room...that her Turn made her into a beast girl.
Ah, okay. Yeah, that's the impression I got, too. I thought you meant she was dead because they showed her gravestone.

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Re: The Nevers

Post by Anna Raven » 03 May 2021, 15:44

My friends are driving me crazy praising Shadow and Bone. Meanwhile I feel like The Nevers is probing much of the same ground and it's so much better.
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Re: The Nevers

Post by Blackcyclops » 03 May 2021, 15:50

The Nevers has less of a YA energy to it (and the bad energy at that).

There seems to be more completeness to the world and Idk thr “Touched” place in society feel more connected to reality than the Grisha in Shadow and Bone.
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Re: The Nevers

Post by Blackcyclops » 04 May 2021, 01:22

So I’m starting to think that maybe you’re right and Amalia is an alien or at least she’s not from Britain.
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Re: The Nevers

Post by sambadaemon » 04 May 2021, 12:44

Blackcyclops wrote:
04 May 2021, 01:22
So I’m starting to think that maybe you’re right and Amalia is an alien or at least she’s not from Britain.
Yeah, that's what I got from this episode. She's from the ship, and I guess fell off or something? Whatever happened, she thought they left her, so she has been acclimating these last 3 years. My theory on the Touched as a whole right now is that it was an accident. The ship was damaged and leaking something that caused the turns.

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Re: The Nevers

Post by sambadaemon » 10 May 2021, 18:51

This was a really good episode, but I think the time-skip was a mistake. We have no explanation of
Spoiler: show
what the Galanthi are, or Augie's acceptance, or True and the doctor's new/revived relationship. They're just there, which is confusing.

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