The Society Recap: Teenage Freedom

By Daniel Hart
Published: May 10, 2019 (Last updated: last month)
The Society Season 1 Episode 1 Recap - What Happened - Netflix Series


The Society Episode 1, “What Happened”, is clunky, with plenty of character introductions and seeds planted while the town figures out the disappearances.

This recap of The Society Episode 1, “What Happened”, contains spoilers. You can read the review of Season 1 by clicking these words.

The Society Episode 1, “What Happened” is meant to rattle our brains about what the characters are experiencing. In the town of West Ham, there is a strange smell lingering, and it’s prominent in the community, so much so that the town hall meeting discusses it like an episode of Gilmore Girls.

The group of teenagers, who are the main characters in The Society (there’re a lot of them), have a brief break from the smell because they embark on a camp trip. While they all sleep, the coach driver makes them aware that they have had to turn around in the middle of the night and now they are back in the town of West Ham.

From the murmurings when they get off the school buses I got the sense that the smell had gone, but “What Happened” then gets to the crux of the problem; the wealthy town is empty, prompting some concerns amongst the group. Gwen (Olivia Nikkanen) highlights a point that her mother never leaves the house.

In true teen drama fashion, instead of panicking, the characters decide to hold a party to enjoy their parents’ absence, which mostly demonstrated how ridiculously horny these teenagers are. While the party continues, Grizz (Jack Mulhern) notices some writing on a wall has disappeared, which I believed was some biblical terminology that will probably become important later. Gwen also realizes that they are entirely cut off from the outside world; no signal, no data, no 911.

The next day, Harry (Alex Fitzalan) attempts to venture on the road and realize that all exits are blocked. It’s like the entire town is surrounded by woodlands, somewhat randomly. Grizz decides to form a search party, while Harry and Cassandra (Rachel Keller) clash over plans. Campbell (Sean Berdy) foolishly alerts the whole town that they are trapped, prompting everyone to go into panic mode; it’s straight to the supermarket folks!

The Society Episode 1 Recap - What Happened - Netflix Series

While the town is going into apocalypse mode, The Society throws possible crucial plot points that will surface later. Cassandra’s lips go blue, and she reveals she has a congenital heart defect, and although Gordie (José Julián) tries reassuring her that they will “undoubtedly” get her a medicine refresh, she is understandably not convinced. Harry finds out his mother may have been sleeping with someone six months after his father died after finding Skyn condoms. Harry seems to be slightly off the rails; he reeks of a sensitive wealthy boy.

The search team was a disaster in “What Happened” because Emily (Chloë Levine) is randomly bitten by a snake to make matters worse. One of the group makes a marked observation that cobras do not exist in West Ham. Emily begins to suffocate, and in a moment of panicked faces and failed attempts to resuscitate her, she dies.

Cassandra’s sister Allie (Kathryn Newton) turns up at the house with her medicine, much to her relief. Allie makes a plea for Cassandra to lead the town in the hour of need. Allie is a small sister requiring her big sister to step up – The Society props Cassandra as the leader, like Jack in Lost. 

There’s a sweet moment before the dramatic ending, where Will (Jacques Colimon) and Kelly (Kristine Froseth) clearly show that they have some history. She makes a feeble statement wondering why she is so special to him, to which he responds, “We’re all orphans now”. I don’t think I’ll ever have a moment in life where I get to say that to anyone.

Anyway, the finale of The Society Episode 1 ends with Cassandra attempting to do an impassioned speech to the community. She’s no Barack Obama yet though, as she bearly musters any excitement. She makes it known that they need to survive on food, but no-one seems to muster up the common sense to agree with her, apart from her sister Allie. Harry gets up and questions her new leadership so Cassandra does a strange game of heads and tails. Tails keeps on landing, getting everyone in hysterics, wondering what is happening until finally heads lands. Thrilling TV…

Campbell then fires a gun to end the commotion and threatens to shoot Cassandra before lowering his weapon, stating he just wanted everyone’s attention. While he tries to form his own team, the other group return with the deceased Emily. They reveal that there is nothing out there, just endless woodlands.

You can read the recap of Episode 2 by clicking these words.

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