First announced in 2018, the Victorian-era sci-fi drama series debuted on HBO on April 11. Produced by Joss Whedon, the series stars Laura Donnelly, Olivia Williams, James Norton, Pip Torrens, Nick Frost, and Denis O'Hare. Hollywood loves a period drama and also cannot resist superheroes. Thus why not mix the two? That is what HBO did in its latest series,’ The Nevers’. Set in Victorian-era London, the premise of ‘The Nevers’ is that a freak event has left a category of people, largely ladies, with a variety of supernatural talents. Deemed a danger to their patriarchal society, this group of outcasts, called "the Touched," seeks refuge in an orphanage supported by a wealthy patroness.
Episode one opens with a flashback image introducing the ensemble of – largely however not all – ladies in 1890s London. One repairs a broken pump with a clothespin, another queue for an opera audition, another is sent away to an asylum, whereas another drops volitionally into the Thames. By the end of an hour, we learn that this was the exact moment three years earlier when a mysterious and probably alien spaceship crossed over London trailing shimmery motes that entered some and left them with a supernatural ability.
Amalia and Penance are comparatively well-defined characters; we all know that Penance is spiritual and that Amalia is cross and snarky for a reason. The remainder feels narrowly drawn, particularly the collection of Nevers that inhabit the orphanage. It appears like it’s being established in a nineteenth-century Avengers, however, we don’t know how much patience we have until we find out more about the Nevers apart from their powers.
There’s a plot involving Swan and gruff police officer Frank Mundi (Ben Chaplin), where he finds Nevers for Swan. What will Swan wish with them? It was obliquely documented within the initial episode, and we’re unsure how well that story will be developed before the primary season is over.
Then there’s the whole matter of how these Nevers got their powers. When we return from three years previously, we see a spaceship of different types unfold spores everywhere in London, and that they absorb into the various folks we recognize who have powers — and a few that we didn’t know had them. Does that mean there are many more out there? perhaps a lot of Nevers than “normals”? It seems like Whedon has established a complicated story for himself, one that we’re unsure he’ll have the time to explore the way it should be explored.
The unwieldy components would deteriorate if not for the performances of Donnelly and Skelly, certainly the most compelling components of The Nevers; Donnelly’s command of both True’s embarrassed wit and ever-looming trauma give the show a much-needed anchor, whereas Skelly’s bemused, unassumingly askew humor injects refreshing levity to the overweening plot. Their banter and airtight bond are eminently compelling.
There’s a genuinely fascinating anchor in their friendship, and in True’s grappling with her intrusive past. Whether or not The Nevers cares to favor its characters over enormousness in its later episodes remains to be seen.
Final Score – [6.9/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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