Review: The Innocents, season 1

Sorcha Groundsell and Percelle Ascott in The Innocents

The Innocents in this tale of tragedy and woe are two teenage lovers, Harry and June. They run away to London to begin new lives away from their unhappy homes. Before they even got there, June suddenly shape shifted into a big hairy Norwegian fella named Steinar. Well, that was a problem.

I’ll back up a bit: Harry (Percelle Ascott) lived with his mom (Nadine Marshall). She was a police officer. His dad Lewis (Philip Wright) was in a strange semi-vegetative state and had been for 3 years. Harry was the one who took the most care of his helpless father.

Three years ago was also when June’s (Sorcha Groundsell) mother left her and her brother Ryan (Arthur Hughes) behind. Since then June’s father (Sam Hazeldine) had kept an oppressive watch over June to the point where she was ready to run away. And she did.

Sorcha Groundsell and Percelle Ascott in The Innocents

Harry and June were deliriously happy that their escape plan worked until they met up with Steinar (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) and discovered June’s ability to shape shift. If you saw her reflection in a mirror you saw June, but if you looked straight at her it was Steinar. Using reflections, June convinced Harry that it was really her.

They had no idea what was going on, but when June shifted back into her own shape they decided to continue on and to try to figure out what had happened as best they could.

Guy Pearce in The Innocents

While this initial set up to the story was playing out, we also went to a beautiful island compound in a fjord where a creepy Dr. Strange character named Halvorson (Guy Pearce) was doing experiments on three women who were shifters like June. Remember in Jessica Jones, when Jessica said of Trish, “A guy with a science hard on happened to her.” That’s what Halvorson is like with these women. He claims he’s helping them, but he has his own purpose.

The women are Runa (Ingunn Beate Øyen), Sigrid (Lise Risom Olsen) and – TA DA – Elena (Laura Birn).

Elena is June’s missing mother. A shape shifter, too.

June soon finds out she has the ability to do more than merely shape shift. She also can access the memories and abilities of the person whose body she’s shifted into. This special ability makes her especially important to Halvorson.

In London Harry and June meet all sorts of people, most importantly Kam (Abigail Hardingham), another shifter. Kam tries to help June, but her dissolute lifestyle scares the innocent younger woman.

June figures out where her mother is and decides to go to the island with Halvorson. Back home her dad and Harry’s mom have figured out where the two of them are. They come looking for them.

When Kam learns where June is going, she warns June about Halvorson. June goes anyway because she wants to see her mother.

About that ending . . .

The entire cast of characters eventually end up in Norway for a series of climactic revelations and confrontations. I was pleased with the way things resolved themselves on the island in the picturesque fjord. But the final Romeo and Juliet resolution with Harry and June flopped big time with me.

I supposed the YA audience this story is targeted for will have many intense discussions about the ending, in the same way that the ending of Romeo and Juliet has intrigued young people for generations. I thought it was tragic and stupid. However, if there is a season 2 it does provide a starting point for the story to move forward. If there’s no season 2, then it stops there as a tragic love story.

Shape shifting stories aren’t that common in sci fi. There was Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried) in Lost Girl. He could shift into a wolf. When he returned to himself he was bare-assed naked. At least in this series, the shifter returns in the other person’s clothing. Shape shifting was a refreshing change from the usual vampires and other supernatural characters in sci fi. It was an effective metaphor in the coming of age story for Harry and June.

June was discovering who she was and whether she was who she wanted to be. Did she want to be someone else? Stay them? Or, could she accept herself as who she was?

Harry’s love was tested again and again as June shifted a number of times. He often asked himself if he was strong enough to cope with what was happening.

The Innocents was produced in the UK.  Quite a bit of it was filmed in Norway. It was in both English and Norwegian. Simon Duric and Hania Elkington created The Innocents.

Have you watched this series? Did you love it or hate it?

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