As Queen Kane (Slyvia Hoeks) tries to salvage the wreckage of her shattered monarchy, warrior Baba Voss (Jason Momoa) sets out to recover Haniwa (Nesta Cooper), recently abducted by his brother, Edo Voss (Dave Bautista). But Haniwa is simply a pawn in Edo’s all-consuming search for vengeance.
Streaming on: Apple TV+
Episodes viewed: 3 of 8
Despite featuring a sightless Jason Momoa beating up a bear, 2019’s See got off to a bumpy start. Arriving in the vanguard of Apple’s assault on streaming, creator Steven Knight’s chimera of high fantasy, post-apocalyptic sci-fi and sensory exploration married the highest of concepts — a virus ravages the Earth, leaving survivors and all subsequent generations blind — with a quirky sensibility that bordered on the absurd. With only three episodes available to critics, reactions were harsh: the show’s slow start leaving viewers cold and bamboozled by its odd nomenclature (Baba Voss, Tamacti Jun, Bow Lion) and gonzo mythology (masturbating to commune with God being one sure way to boost church attendance).
But for those who persevered, See proved richly rewarding, Knight painting a vivid picture of a society completely recalibrated for four senses instead of five. But in the world of the blind, it transpired, the sighted aren’t so much kings as hunted down and killed for witches, and the re-emergence of sight to a sightless world formed the spine of a first season narrative that picked up speed as it went.
Bold and batshit in equal measure.
This second-year builds on that foundation, passing showrunner duties to Jonathan Tropper, whose credentials for bone-crunching action were well-established by Banshee and Warrior. With laborious exposition out of the way, Tropper focuses on expanding See’s world, introducing the aggressive, martial society of Trivantes. Here we discover what a thriving city for the sightless might resemble: streets lined with guide wires to aid navigation, scent-artists painting pictures with smell, and citizens distinguished through a tactile combination of knotted IDs and scarification. Not to mention buskers warbling mournful Rolling Stones covers for tips.
In the heart of Trivantes, we meet a growling Dave Bautista as Baba’s estranged younger brother, Edo. Making the conflict more personal than that against last year’s witchfinders, Tropper zeroes in on character, building out Baba’s shady backstory through his hulking, rage-fuelled sibling. Baba’s children are also given more to do, Haniwa striking up a relationship with Edo’s (secretly) sighted Lieutenant, while son Kufun (Archie Madekwe) forms an unlikely alliance with a sympathetic witchfinder, played by Hoon Lee. Meanwhile, Queen Kane’s penchant for wank-praying is alive and well, the psychotic ruler having installed herself in a new capital, pushing the Big Lie that it was the Trivantian army, rather than her own hand, that brought her former seat to ruin.
Bold and batshit in equal measure, See might not be the most accessible of shows, and its penchant for the bizarre is occasionally goofy, but the series boasts a rich tapestry of world-building and an expanding story with real emotional punch. All of which is framed by innovatively choreographed action that showcases See’s ‘blindfighting’ to spectacular effect. Already renewed for a third season, Knight’s unorthodox series has grown into one of the most interesting and original works of speculative fiction on television, one that deserves to be ‘seen’ by a good deal more people than it has.
Awash with bloody, brutal violence, set against a meticulously crafted world, this is a storming continuation of one of TV’s most underappreciated shows.