Amazing Stories Season 1, Episode 1, “The Cellar” is a great opener for the Apple TV+ series, giving audiences an enticing time-travelling love story
This recap of Amazing Stories season 1, episode 1, “The Cellar” contains spoilers. From executive producers Steven Spielberg and Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz, this reimagining of the classic anthology series transports everyday characters into worlds of wonder, possibility, and imagination.
Did you cry? I nearly did. “The Cellar” is emotional.
It opens up with Sam and his brother Jake checking out a house and looking at how it could be restored for their client — when they check out the cellar, they feel it looks like a time capsule with so much history — Sam notices an old barometer.
Sam is soon distracted, meeting a woman named Francesca from Tinder and he is also late — this scene was demonstrated to understand how charming he can be; he was late, but still managed to turn it around.
The next day, Sam and Jake start work on the house — Jake is mithering Sam about changing the name of their partnership to Taylor Brothers Construction.
Sam is set back by something in the next scene of Episode 1, “The Cellar”. He finds an old box with matches and a photo of a woman in a bride’s dress with the note “cabbage”. Sirens suddenly go off — there’s a bad storm heading their way so they prepare. While Sam is in the basement, the barometer starts screeching and Sam covers his ears. When he goes upstairs, the house looks completely different — Amazing Stories Season 1, Episode 1 has taken a turn.
Sam looks around the house and is shocked — he sees a woman playing the piano. The woman is startled, and then he realizes that she’s the woman from the photo. She gets out a shotgun and screams for him to leave before her mother gets home.
The woman is called Evelyn, and when her mother arrives, we learn that Evelyn is engaged to be married in an arranged scenario with a man named William. But more importantly, Sam has realized he’s gone back in time and he’s living in a very Western-looking neighborhood.
Evelyn’s mother is strict and she insists that Evelyn marries William and demands Evelyn stops listening to her perverse taste in music while in the basement. A confident Sam heads down into the basement and says the records are his. Evelyn thinks of a cover and says Sam is a doctor. The mother invites Sam to Evelyns’s engagement party. When the mother walks off, Sam hands back the records and she thanks him. Sam tries telling Evelyn that he is from the future and shows her a photo of Evelyn in a wedding dress as proof. Sam wants to speak to her grandfather as he built the house.
What I loved about this scene is how Evelyn was bemused because she’s not had a photograph taken of her “yet” — the very thought of a photograph was so organized back in the days.
Sam attends the engagement party and is introduced to Evelyn’s Grandad Warren. He immediately launches into questions about the cellar, making himself look like a mad man — in the distance, William and Evelyn dance and William tells her about the photographer he has hired.
William approaches Sam, seemingly jealous, and thanks him for dancing with his daughter. Evelyn is starting to believe Sam after the photograph conversation. She asks Sam if he’d like to go for a walk — she asks Sam about the future and she likes the sound of it.
The night is young at the midway point of Amazing Stories Season 1, Episode 1, “The Cellar” so they head to a secret speakeasy — Sam knows the password from the message in the box in the future, “cabbage”. The man at the store lets them both into the speakeasy. Sam tries playing in dollar notes at the bar, but that doesn’t work — Evelyn pays with coins.
It’s clear in this scene that Sam is enjoying Evelyn’s company, proceeding to dance with her, but then feelings deepen…
Sam convinces Evelyn to get up to sing and she does; she sings her heart out and Sam is falling for her. When they leave the speakeasy, Sam tells Evelyn she should sing for a living. Evelyn tells Sam that she was looking at him the whole time while she was singing; Evelyn’s mother finds them both and intervenes, explaining that Evelyn is an engaged woman.
The next day, Sam meets Warren again and asks about the low pressure in the basement — Warren shows him a barometer and talks about the rare storm that occurs irregularly. Sam asks if can borrow the barometer and in return, he will fix the barn doors.
Sam’s attention is still on Evelyn who is packing her bags — she’s upset and wants to run away. Sam tells Evelyn that he has found a way to go back to 2019. He tells Evelyn that she doesn’t belong here — “Maybe you were always meant to come back with me”. Evelyn kisses him; her wedding is in 19 days so they need this rare storm to arrive by then — Sam and Evelyn get to work on organizing the cellar.
With time passing life carries on; one day, Evelyn has her photo taken in her wedding dress. William makes a comment about remembering her as a strong, beautiful woman, indicating the time they live in where men see women as their property. And then the storm starts; Evelyn and Sam run off to the basement, but William and his men show up and take Evelyn away — they knew of the affair and leave Sam in the basement. The screeching starts again and he returns to 2019 on his own — an upset and agitated Sam tries to explain what happened to his brother but Jake thinks he imagined it all.
Sam wants to stay in the house and get back to Evelyn — he starts researching history and finds out that Evelyn got married in a section of a newspaper; he then learns that the next storm of that type will hit in the next 10-15 years — they’ve become irregular due to global warming but Sam refuses to believe that is true.
I’m not sure how Sam figures it all out but a storm arrives sooner than 10 years, and the sirens go off again and he heads into the basement — the high-pitched sound begins. This time he arrives at a time where the house looks very modern and 5th birthday celebrations have evidently happened. He sees a portrait of Evelyn singing. He goes upstairs to see Evelyn putting a boy to sleep. She says “good night Sam” to the boy. Realizing what the future looks like, Sam goes into the basement and sees Jake has changed the layout, hiding the barometer. Sam tells Jake that he believes he had a family with Evelyn — Jake promises to help out with the basement as long as he goes to see a doctor.
When Jake helps, Sam fools his brother and locks himself in the basement and goes into the past again — he grabs Evelyn and they head to the basement which is flooding. A beam falls on him and he’s trapped and cannot get up. In a rather emotional moment, he tells Evelyn about her future and that she has a son — “Tell my brother I love him”. Eventually, despite many hesitations, she lets go of him and heads into the future, leaving Sam to drown.
Evelyn is now in the future and immediately sees Jake. He brings her a change of clothes and she responds with, “He said there’d be music in every room”. Jake tells Evelyn how much Sam loved her and her singing. Jake and Evelyn find a hidden letter from Sam. He survived the flooding and he’s stuck in 1919 — he was desperate to return but the rare storm never came: “As much as you belong in the future, maybe this is where I belong”. Sam states he has a life at last and that he came from a place with too many choices and she had none.
Amazing Stories Season 1, Episode 1, “The Cellar”, ends with Sam leaving a letter for his brother as well, telling him to build his own house. He ends his letter to Evelyn with “your life is waiting, go out and get it”. The last scene shows Evelyn putting her child to bed and he asks, “Mummy, is someone there?” She quickly checks and sees no-one. The love is still there.
Ultimately, this is a story about true sacrifice.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.