“The Ruins” is dangerously patient with its familiar setup, leaving the rest of the season with much to do if the Thai answer to Lost is going to hit the same highs as its inspiration.
This recap of The Stranded Season 1, Episode 1, “The Ruins”, contains spoilers. You can check out our full season review by clicking these words.
Thailand’s answer to Lost lacks its inspiration’s masterful immediacy in “The Ruins”, a patient pilot that hopes to get away with its glacial pace on the strength of a last-minute cliffhanger. But no such luck.
A tropical knees-up opens The Stranded Episode 1, and a sudden tsunami sends it belly-up, rendered in unconvincing CGI. 25 days later the students in attendance are living among the ruined school, hauling fish from the wreckage-strewn beach. Kraam (Papangkorn Lerkchaleampote) is the point-of-view character in these early portions, which are sprinkled with handsome long shots of the landscape.
There is no reception from the mainland. Hopes of rescue are dwindling. Tensions are flaring among the students, many of whom survived. Kraam – possessed of a knife given to him by a stepfather – partners with Joey (Oabnithi Wiwattanawarang) while Arisa (Chaleeda Gilbert) tries to tinker with technology. Telling who-are-these-people-really flashbacks begin in earnest.
Tragedy strikes early in The Stranded Episode 1. Joey falls off a Cliffside and stoves his ribs in. May (Chayanit Chansangavej) can’t save him. One down. His body is burned and brings together the students, under the vague stewardship of Kraam, who adopts the Ralph role (Lord of the Flies is always a clear influence in trapped-on-an-island tales.) Gradually dying phones make a nice metaphor for the disconnection of this lot from the modern world; their hurtling towards a primitivism they’re unlikely to be able to handle. A group photo is the last of their old life, cut short by a dead battery. Kraam, with no signal and 1% charge, attempts to listen to a phone message from his step-father which promises to reveal something important about who he is. But that’s for later. The phone dies.
But the lack of technology is the least of the problems in “The Ruins”. The Stranded Season 1, Episode 1 ends with an earth-rumbling quake and a crippling, high-pitched whine. Let the mysteries begin. After a slow-paced and overly contemplative opener much too reliant on unanswered questions that perhaps would have been better dealt with early on, The Stranded needs them.