The Nevers: Touched
April 12, 2021 1:19 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Three years after an inexplicable event suddenly equips them with extraordinary abilities, Amalia True and Penance Adair work to protect their kind from widespread, deepening antipathy. Meanwhile, police inspector Frank Mundi investigates a string of murders at the hands of a reportedly Touched and highly dangerous serial killer named Maladie. [IMDb]

"Who are they? It’s completely unclear. What do they see? Who knows. Welcome to Joss Whedon’s The Nevers, a highly imaginative steampunk sci-fi adventure that’s even more confusing than it is imaginative….Except it’s not Joss Whedon’s show anymore. In November, 18 months after filming started and three months before Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Charisma Carpenter would publicly accuse her old boss of verbal abuse, Whedon stepped down as showrunner."—Amanda Whiting's three-star recap for Vulture

"“The Nevers” has selected Philippa Goslett as its new showrunner and executive producer...[P]roduction on the first season was interrupted by the pandemic, with the first half of the first season completing production in the U.K. in the fall. Goslett will oversee the second half of Season 1, which is currently in pre-production."—Joe Otterson for Variety

"[T]he series' executive producing team which includes "Buffy" veterans Doug Petrie and Jane Espenson...has worked on enough unrelated genre titles to steer the narrative into something more coherent and riveting than the lacy patchwork employed to introduce “The Nevers.”"—Melanie McFarland for Salon

The Nevers is streaming on HBO Max in the US.

Previously on the blue: Joss was the Vampire [this post also has links to lots of previous coverage of Whedon's problematic behavior on set, including his mistreatment of Ray Fisher and Michelle Trachtenberg]
posted by bcwinters (36 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I didn't finish the first episode (I made it about 44 minutes in) but it was a mess. Maybe 10 years ago, this would've worked (and maybe it will get better) but it just felt so obvious, except now people are saying "fuck" a lot and there were some random breasts because ... it's HBO, I guess?

To be fair, this sounded like a disaster before the recent round of Whedon stuff came out. Mostly, I was just bored by the whole thing.
posted by edencosmic at 2:14 PM on April 12, 2021

I'm going to be much happier once this series gets out of Joss territory, but there were parts of the pilot that I really liked. I loved seeing Pip Torrens as Lord Massen - he's one of the absolute best things about Preacher. I didn't even recognize him until I hit up IMDB, it's weird seeing him with hair. And, I liked the reveal of the ship at the end, instead of it being like the episode 8 finale or whatever.

There's a whole lot of bullshit, but there's also a kernel of something interesting. I hope the new showrunner can turn the corner on this thing.
posted by ssmith at 2:51 PM on April 12, 2021 [5 favorites]

I laughed when the random actress exclaimed "I could never leave the theatre!" after Mundi had asked her not to leave this particular theatre. All in all, there's a lot I liked - the set dressing and costuming seem to be on point (love the steampunk lab), there's a nicely mixed bag of characters to play with, and almost every white guy is a dickhead. I'm looking forward to Whedon receding in the rear view mirror and the show finding its own voice.
posted by Mogur at 4:46 PM on April 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Olivia Williams and Dennis O'Hare? I'll give the show a shot. Nice to see Nick Frost playing a non-soft role.

Steampunk? Hell yeah. Though this is more 'Wild Wild West' steampunk rather than, you know, steampunk. I'm ok with the fantasy elements but they're not well explained/ shown.

The production quality isn't bad, they try to dirty things up but its still a little too sterile.

Laura Donnelly (True) and Ann Skelly (Penance) have potential.

The pacing flags hard halfway through, though.
posted by porpoise at 4:51 PM on April 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

I watched this just from seeing a preview and thinking it looked steam punky and fun.
It was a bit hard to follow, though turning on the closed captioning helped a little. It's definitely a Joss Whedon project, just as he did on Agents of SHIELD, he is recycling ideas and characters from his earlier shows. When Amalia jumps down the middle of the fire escape she does the Buffy Pose as she lands. Maladie is Drucilla, crazy sire of Spike, from early seasons of Buffy, her henchman with the Gatling gun arm is Adam, from season 4.
Covid is playing hell with TV.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:21 PM on April 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

>I loved seeing Pip Torrens as Lord Massen - he's one of the absolute best things about Preacher.

I'll give this show a go just to see him in action. Preacher has it's ups and downs, but he stole every single scene he's in.
posted by Catblack at 7:06 PM on April 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Laura Donnelly (True) and Ann Skelly (Penance) have potential.

Agreed. I liked the casting in general (particularly the deep bench of tertiary character actors, which I wasn't expecting) and the two leads were strong. If I were feeling shady I'd say I guess Krysten Ritter and Saorise Ronan weren't interested, though?

he is recycling ideas and characters from his earlier shows.

Right down to drowning the heroine (like Buffy) and having a Giant Girl (like Dawn, in the Buffy comics)!

Overall this was better than I was expecting, since I was expecting fair-to-middling. I'd give it maybe a B? Hard to say if there's a plot planned out for a whole season based on that pilot, or if this was just a bunch of world-building. I had read that the actors signed on for five seasons so that would imply that a story was really pitched to HBO…unless they just picked it up based on the strength of the showrunner's (now tarnished, if not obliterated) reputation.
posted by bcwinters at 7:16 PM on April 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

Doug Petrie and Jane Espenson

So Joss stepped off but the people who enabled him for years stay? Yeah, pass.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:27 PM on April 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

So Joss stepped off but the people who enabled him for years stay? Yeah, pass.

This is a really uncharitable reading of two writers who worked for him. You have no idea if they were enablers. You don't know what they did or didn't know. Surely, it's enough that Whedon has left this job? Other writers that have worked with him before should also leave? That's a few bridges too far, I feel.
posted by crossoverman at 11:43 PM on April 12, 2021 [8 favorites]

I have sooooo many questions.

First, when the Beggar King puts a knife to Amalia's face, he threatens to cut her face and she replies, "This isn't my face." He looks incredibly disturbed/frightened by this. Are we supposed to know what this means? After her fight with Maladie, it appears she fights with some men, who I assume were attempting to assault her, and it takes her some time to turn around when Adair calls to her. Is this a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde situation? I'm so confused or am I reading too much into this?

I'm guessing Maladie's power is she is resistant to all powers hence why she wasn't affected by Mary's song and was able to beat Amalia?

Does Augie have an ability because he got whammied by the pixie dust? Is it talking to birds?

If you got whammied by multiple specks of pixie dust, does that mean you have multiple abilities?
posted by wasabifooting at 1:30 AM on April 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

He looks incredibly disturbed/frightened by this.

I thought it was just a shorthand to show that he's intimidated by True's (period surprising) confidence and nihilism. She all but nuzzled his more-brutal-looking-than-necessary straight razor and took his perceived power away. The allusion to that not being her real face is an audience tease.

The followup where he bullies his henchman with dismemberment acknowledges that he lost the confrontation with True.

Yeah, totally agree - the fantastical elements aren't well played... and I'm cynically pessimistic that they will be.

But! There's a lot of potential to the show, and it looks well funded. But, ... look at 'American Gods.'

I'm ignorant but have been interested for many years in whether there are other (female) literary figures named "True" or allude to true-ness or sound like the word true? It's not Trudy or have anything to do with the name Trudy (or Gertrude, etc.).
posted by porpoise at 2:05 AM on April 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have a theory that True's ability isn't that she sees the future in general. What she sees is how she dies. Then she's able to make another choice. Barging into the bedroom the first time got her killed, so she did it differently and lived. She got cut up when Maladie climbed into that opera box. (In one future)

It enables some of her feats of daring; she can do things like the staircase jump because she already knows Nope, that's not what kills me. This time.

True may be thinking 'that's not (her) face', because 'she' in one sense already experienced her death years ago. And has been doing it again and again, and exists as the cumulative result of some sort of survivorship bias / Schroedinger's 'No, let's have the cat in the other box this time, I quite think'.
What would you be capable of, if you knew it wasn't going to kill you? Not twice, at least.
posted by bartleby at 4:15 AM on April 13, 2021 [7 favorites]

Oh, and not having had any advance knowledge of this show before watching it when it popped up in my feed, then seeing the title card at the end - Written and Directed by Jomp Weeblins* - was anyone else thinking that ooo, someone somewhere just got furious at themselves for enjoying that?

*Xek Swi'Wu? Jiff Wompwomp?
posted by bartleby at 4:28 AM on April 13, 2021

Is [Augie's power] talking to birds?

Oh yeah what was up with the birds? The Irregulars/The Nevers crossover event?

Is Augie's power being all of the white men from every season of AHS? "Denis O'Hare don't tell Ryan Murphy about Tom Riley" challenge.

I'm so confused or am I reading too much into this?

After the "this isn't my face" bit I think maybe someone else was resurrected in True's body after her drowning. I think there are two other notable clues from the pilot that point to this but it's early days.

...Mary's song...

I thought it was interesting to note which characters were in the opera house but weren't shown during the "ooh look who has powers" song sequence (specifically Hugo and the lady he was with, right? Anybody else?). Not to spoil anything specific on Dollhouse but that well was drained dry in the first season.
posted by bcwinters at 6:37 AM on April 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Irregulars/The Nevers crossover event?

I spent the last six months thinking these were the same show! Joss Whedon steampunk Sherlock Holmes, huh?

I haven't watched The Nevers yet because of complicated Joss feels and HBO Maximus not playing well with my laptop, but I did watch and somewhat enjoy The Irregulars and was a little disappointed to not find a Fanfare topic.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 8:07 AM on April 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hey, anybody want to ship Lord Massen and Mrs. True? 'cause I do: their hallway vocab-fight was *absolutely* something out of Jane Austen. Plus we know he's got a softer side from the way he looked at his daughter in the flashback. No? Okay then.

Frenemies by the end of S2, and that's my final offer.
posted by Mogur at 11:47 AM on April 13, 2021

Speaking of all the old white pricks, though, what was that ceremonial thing they were doing with the hourglasses on the table during their executive meeting? At some point in the meeting, more than half of them reached over and turned an hourglass-shaped object over, revealing a red disc on the bottom. Was it maybe a vote?
posted by Mogur at 11:49 AM on April 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

Sorry, last one: it looked to me that, after the ship passed by and (apparently) crashed, everyone forgot about it and carried on with their day as normal. Throughout the episode, there's no reference to it at all in any conversation, with the usual comment being "just suddenly a lot of people were Touched three years ago, nobody knows why". I would have expected Messen, at least, after saying "We must find out who is holding the sword", to add "We should start with where that flying contraption went down." But he didn't.
posted by Mogur at 4:02 PM on April 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

I read that as everyone in London getting amnesia-ized re:the ship's passing. EXCEPT for Maladie; who is now a sort of Cassandra.

Another theory (gosh I've watched too many stories) might be that it's a sort of Fermi Paradox vs Drake Equation 'Great Sorting' deal.
"We pop by the planets of developing species and seed a small portion of them in a major population center with abilities. Most of these cultures end up destroying themselves in response, so good riddance. But the ones that don't, turn out to be really something."
posted by bartleby at 4:31 PM on April 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

I didn't think of it until later, but it's basically the same premise stolen from the George R. R. Martin Wild Cards cooperative anthology book series (without the amnesia). Alien spaceship crashes over New York and gives lots of people superpowers - sometimes they're great - sometimes they're horrible. Was going to be made into a Hulu show, but just got switched over to Peacock.
posted by ssmith at 6:59 PM on April 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

HBO Maximus

Does this have a 30-day trial? Because it sounds decentimus.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:30 PM on April 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

I too almost stopped watching at the 44ish minute point. That opera scene was just terrible, top to bottom. Honestly given what a creep Whedon has been, couldn't they have edited out the 'Eve had a' line?

And then to actually give us that flashback to the alien fish ship... why not at the very beginning of the episode? Why not later in the series? It's as clunky a pilot as I've seen, I think.
posted by Catblack at 4:11 PM on April 14, 2021

I was also not a fan of the opera scene; I find the manic pixie homicidal woman trope to be tiresome and overdone. But the rest of it was entertaining enough that I'm going to keep watching and see where it goes.
posted by confluency at 3:10 AM on April 15, 2021

...somewhat enjoy The Irregulars and...

Glad somebody else brought it up, because I, too, somewhat enjoyed that show.

Moreover, in context of the whole Joss thing I found that I very much appreciated nearly every choice the showrunners made: that they refrained from making a deus ex machina of the more traditional elements of the Holmes mythos, and that they did not pull some obvious narrative levers that might have made for a more compelling, yet less humane and cathartic experience.
posted by The Confessor at 4:11 PM on April 15, 2021

Is 'The Irregulars' worth watching? I was initially intrigued but struggled about halfway through the pilot and zoned out the end and gave up on the feeling that while Holmes is a drug-addled narcissistic and self-aggrandizing jerk, I read that the Irregulars/ Baker Street Boys was an outlet for his deeply repressed nurturing instincts. That he and Watson are straight-up wankers in Irregulars turned me off.
posted by porpoise at 10:11 PM on April 15, 2021

Is 'The Irregulars' worth watching?
I enjoyed it. I thought it was going to be a monster of the week type of show with the Irregulars hiring out their services to anyone, but it became a very different show episodes 5-8, with a focus on Bea and Jessie's past and their relationship with Sherlock and Watson. They're still wankers but you find out more why they're wankers.
posted by wasabifooting at 3:34 AM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's shaky through the entire first season, but if a show gives me something to root for -- a compelling conceit, for example -- I'll make allowances. Second season is when the show really has to put up or shut up.

The first season of The Order, for example, was shakier than that of this series in most respects, yet what it got right -- werewolves as symbiotes, Hamish's mixology, Lilith's whole deal -- was compelling enough to give it a pass... which, it turns out, was good for only about four episodes of Season 2. :-|

My fondness for Irregulars stems in part from its narrative choices -- that it is very constructively progressive in this respect -- and is somewhat personal in nature.
posted by The Confessor at 7:21 AM on April 16, 2021

...somewhat personal...

(By which I only mean that I do not intend to trouble anyone else in these comments with how I feel about my family, and the corresponding narratives in Irregulars are good enough I don't want to spoil them.)
posted by The Confessor at 8:00 AM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm not going to claim The Irregulars is the best thing ever, and there's quite a bit in the first season I could do without (Billy, in general) but I am a sucker for shows about sisters, and found family looking out for each other. Stuff does unfold that reveals characters motivations, and some people progress and change, which is touching. I'm a bit surprised it hasn't caught on more in fannish circles.

The tone can be jarring because it seems like a show for kids a lot of the time, but it is super violent and swear-y. I'd like to see a season two, but I'm not pinning a bunch of hope on it.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 8:46 AM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

We watched the first episode and Mrs. Ber is onboard with me to see where it goes. I agree with many of the criticisms but the two leads and a few other characters are intriguing. Let's see where the second half of the season takes us.

I find it interesting that the general assumption is that only women are Touched when obviously some men are. Maybe even Hugo given the fact that he appears able to be erect in almost any circumstance.

The many Whedon tropes are agree upon except for the drowning. Buffy was drowned, Mrs True was committing suicide.
posted by Ber at 8:07 PM on April 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I would check out the Irregulars but Mrs Ber is a Holmes purist and I don't think she will bother with anything that is not centered on Holmes and Watson. I wish someone would start up another Holmes revival that is more traditional (I'm not going to sign on for another goddamn streaming service just to watch Jeremy Brett).
posted by Ber at 8:11 PM on April 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

@Ber, I'd recommend Miss Sherlock, if you can find it.
posted by Mogur at 3:18 AM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

I was pretty distracted this episode by things without explanations. Sure, I like mystery, but I don't like being confused about "is this a flashback or is this the next day or is this a vision?" But, it was exciting and I enjoyed it quite a bit!
posted by rebent at 5:39 AM on April 20, 2021

I'm sticking with it, but if bartleby's theory doesn't pan out I'm going to be furious. Like that's really good, actually.

I agree that everything looks oddly sterile. They built all those sets but didn't bother to cover them with fake soot?
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:03 PM on April 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Okay, the attempt at using The Event to bookend the episode was a total mess. By the time we get to the flashback at the end of the episode, I had almost completely forgotten most of the context-free opening sequences. After the episode ended, we actually had to rewind and reconstruct how it was supposed to fit together.

They should have just cut the forgettable melancholy opening montage of people that we do not yet know. Once they started the actual story, I thought it was nicely-paced for the most part. The casting seems pretty damn great.
posted by desuetude at 2:54 PM on April 22, 2021

Just watched the first episode, and while it wasn't great I liked it enough to proceed to the next episode. I like the steampunkishness and it has an impressive cast.
posted by orange swan at 8:07 PM on September 6

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