By Dave B.
The Innocents (Netflix) is an eight episode young adult, science-fiction, romance, mystery starring Sorcha Groundsell as June and Percelle Ascott as Harry. After her mother left the family three years prior, June’s stepfather, John, forces her to live under seemingly unreasonable restrictions on where she could go and what she could do. He also drugs her with sedatives on a daily basis. After John unilaterally decides to move June and her agoraphobic older brother to a remote Scottish Island, June chooses to run away from the small town in which she lives to London, with her secret boyfriend Harry, on the eve of her sixteenth birthday. Unbeknownst to the young couple, however, June possesses a dangerous ability and is a threat to everyone around her. As the mysteries of her power and her mother’s disappearance unfold, the bond between June and Harry is tested to it’s breaking point.
Revealing too much of the plot of The Innocents would be a huge disservice to viewers. The mysteries that are revealed are integral to how the plot develops and any enjoyment you derive from watching it depends upon not having too much foreknowledge. But the strengths and weaknesses of The Innocents are easily discussed without providing spoilers.
Without a doubt, the biggest flaw with The Innocents is the pacing. It starts with a strong first episode, boringly plods through the next four, and then ends extremely strong. While watching episodes two through six, I was ready to pan this show as another failed Netflix sci-fi offering, but after completing the entire season, I can at least appreciate what the showrunners were trying to accomplish with the slow buildup to the end. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t bored out of my mind at times, but ultimately the slow pace in the middle of the season adds to the impact of the finale.
That said, in a lot of ways, The Innocents contains what one would expect from a show about teen romance: terrible decision-making, agonized feelings over bullshit, and too much damn talking. But the bond between June and Harry feels real, her abilities are amazing (and horrifying), and the payoff from the underlying mystery of June’s mother’s disappearance is interesting, to say the least. Best of all, the soundtrack of the show is pretty amazing. It single-handedly got me through most of the more mind-numbing scenes.
I’m going to recommend The Innocents. Yes, it has its flaws but in the end, its strengths (slightly) outweigh its weaknesses. It’s interesting, some performances were great (although most were merely acceptable), and I’m a romantic at heart, so I’m kind of a sucker for stories that are fundamentally about true love. And that’s the show’s biggest strength: it plausibly shows both the positive and negative aspects of completely loving someone, even though they are most certainly an abomination in every conceivable sense of the word. Don’t expect The Innocents to be a masterpiece, but trust that the final act will make the journey worth your time.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.