Between First Season Ends: Renewal?

Still from Between
Between, the Canadian series which was essentially a riff on the old New Zealand kid’s TV show The Tribe, has finished, the first season ended after it’s “ordered” six episodes and there is no news of renewal…yet. Starring Jennette McCurdy, Jesse Carere, Ryan Allen and Justin Kelly, the show follows the trials of under-22s in Pretty Lake who have survived a viral attack killing off everyone over the age of 21.

The town is broken down into the rich kid, the poor ones and the in-betweens, which includes the smarter-than-smart MIT accepted wunderkind Adam (Carere) and the teen mom, Wiley (McCurdy). The series started with a bit of a whimper. Although it has to be said that the deaths of the “grown-ups” impressed. A sudden coughing attack and then thick blood drooling from the mouth and…death. Quick, disturbing and set up in such a way that one knew the younger denizens of the town were completely freaked out by the sight and suddenness of their parents, teachers, and so on expiring so fast and inexplicably.

The first episode of Between had McCurdy’s character acting like another variation of Ellen Page’s Juno in the film of the same name, but that soon changed after it was revealed that Wiley’s “baby father” was the rich guy who owns most of the town and whose son, Chuck steps up to take charge after all the older citizens die.

The Creekers, born on the wrong side of the tracks and who are still living there, fight Chuck every step of the way and provide a lot of conflict for the rich kid who is trying to keep things together. There were some things about the show that grated.

For instance, the seemingly obligatory “mentally challenged” sibling, who is doomed to die, the drug addict brother who wants to be good, even if he does almost rape a girl, and the crazy smart teen prodigy who helps to figure things out. The entire plot does make one think of cult favorite The Tribe but the setting and the characters are wildly different. The change of locale along with the increased sophistication of the kids in the show made the whole thing refreshing although woefully slow.

For a season which was only going to consist of six episodes the very fact that things do not really “take off” till episode five shows either complete faith that there will be a season two, or that the show’s producers were not aware that the pacing was snail paced and annoying. Netflix does not have the problem of most networks, their rating system does not dictate whether they cancel a series or not, at least it certainly appears that way.

The show suffered a bit from clunky acting and storylines that were a little predictable. There were issues of events that were illogical and potholes that one could drive a lorry through…

But…

The pickup of action in episode five and six; the series finale, and the improvement in the performances made the show feel like it was finally sailing instead of tacking. This illusion of smoothness, versus fighting the tide, makes the short six episode season seem unfair and a tad annoying.

There is no word, not that this reviewer can find, on whether the show will be renewed or not. Entertainment review site Rotten Tomatoes slaughtered the series and on IMDb the rating of Between is a paltry 5.5.

Followers on Twitter, @betweenseries numbers 2858 and the show’s Facebook page has under 6,300 likes. The series may well vanish without a trace with fan numbers this low. If Between does hang on for another season, it will be a miracle as well as very annoying when one compares it to other, vastly superior, Canadian export The Lottery where Marley Shelton tried to save an infertile world inspire of a corrupt and evil government.

The six season series can still be seen on Netflix.

Between: War (recap and review)

Jennette McCurdy in Between as Wiley
Last week’s episode, End of the Rope raised the stakes and really put things on the boil for the characters of Between and this week in War, they continue to show just how bad things can get in the beleaguered community of young survivors.

Adam’s father wakes him up in the prison to take him to safety. Pat is eaten up with guilt over killing Amanda and Chuck arms his lads with the intent of arresting the Creekers for his sister’s death. Gord tells Hannah she should have let him know she was married and the Mennonite girl returns to her community. Wiley wants to talk to Chuck and Pat’s sister tells her it is a very bad idea.

Chuck and his police force head to the Creeker residence and the family is not there. They find the car, that Pat struck Amanda with. Frances talks Gord into taking the milk into town for Melissa and the kids she looks after.

Adam’s father tries to take him to the tunnel that he used to get into Pretty Lake. The boy learns that not only is there no cure but that his dad worked on the virus. His father tells Adam that he is not immune and that there is no protection against it. Samantha tells Chuck that she knows the Creekers were responsible for Amanda’s death and tells the boy that Pat is there having confessed.

Adam and his continue to talk. Soldiers arrive and Adam’s dad says that they are early and that the military will kill the kids to prevent the spread of the virus. The soldiers, he says, do not know that their masks will not protect them and they believe they are inoculating the children to save them, not kill them. He coughs up blood and dies. Afterward, Adam stands by a door and looks ready to leave Pretty Lake.

Ronnie, Wiley and baby Jason, along with Tracey show up to save Pat. As things spiral out of control, Chuck takes aim at the elder Creeker to shoot him, Wiley jumps in the way demanding that she be killed for Amanda’s death as well. Gord and Melissa show up and big sister forces Wiley to tell Chuck who Jason’s father is and it is revealed that Chuck’s dad is the father. Jason is his brother.

The soldiers rush to “round up a 1,000 kids” and give them the injections. The group at the church; Chuck and the rest, begin to break up when Adam arrives. He tells them that the soldiers outside are there to kill them all. Chuck argues that it cannot be true and Adam points out the lack of communication with the outside world, no television, land-lines or cell phone signals. He also reminds them of the plane being shot down. The government, Adam says, are cleaning up their mess.

After striking Adam, the soldiers are overpowered and Wiley says that if Adam is wrong, “We’re all screwed.” All the kids are being taken to the prison of their shots and Wiley learns that Adam came back to save the kids. Gord and Adam dress up in the soldiers uniforms to escort the group to the prison and stop the soldiers from injecting the kids and wait for them to die. Mark says he can help them get to the control room at the prison as he was an inmate.

While Gord and his group head for the prison, Melissa and Wiley clear the air about the baby and their relationship. Two more soldiers appear and take them to the prison. The plan seems to be working as Gord and the guys follow Mark to the control room. Meanwhile the soldiers are injecting the smaller children.

As Wiley and Melissa are being transported, the soldier driving begins to choke and he dies. The van crashes. The guys are caught out by two other soldiers and the group split up after overpowering the duo. Adam makes it to the control room and as he begins to lock the prison down, his father turns up, not dead after all.

When questioned about it, Adam’s father explains that they are the only two who are immune to the virus as he used his own DNA to make the stuff. It was never meant to be used but Art Carey “went rogue” and infected the town of Pretty Lake. Adam has to shoot his father to save the remaining kids.

The rest of the show is a race between soldiers dying and kids being murdered and a huge dose of irony.

By the end of Between the price of survival has been dear. Two main characters die and there are a couple of heart-stopping moments when it looks like Frances will be killed as well. Rather interestingly, the whole idea behind the virus is population control, similar to the back story behind another Canadian series, The Lottery.

Adam learns that not only can father’s lie, but that governments do as well. Dad may have come back to get the boy, but at the price of killing the rest of the kids in Pretty Lake and the government knows this is happening. The cell phones come back on so the prime minister can tell the kids about the injections. Like the short lived Canadian series The Lottery, the underlying message of Between is that government’s lie and that we are all expendable for the greater good.

The episode War continues to show just how bad things can get in the contaminated area. This Netflix series has turned the corner from a slow uninteresting start to a show that should not be missed. Jennette McCurdy has grown into her character, Jesse Carere has made Adam believable and the rest of the cast are rocking their roles out of the park. Between should be re-named Unmissable.