The Barrier season 1, episode 1, “Another World” is an effective world-builder. Slowly introducing the characters and giving them a perspective of their new world ensures that it’s a firm, exciting pilot.
This recap of Netflix’s The Barrier season 1, episode 1, “Another World” contains significant spoilers.
We will be recapping this weekly — check out the archive.
Well here we go, Netflix has scheduled in a weekly series that for once isn’t in their Korea catalogue. It opens with a young Julia watching a violent commotion outside. The Spanish President is on TV stating that World War III has destroyed their environment, resources have dwindled and the economy has collapsed. He goes on about terrorism and new viruses that have emerged due to the fallout — he declares a state of emergency. Julia’s parents watch the news and seem determined to pack and move. The father Ramón gives his daughters necklaces and then the army knocks on their door.
The mother Emilia returns and Ramón is taken away. Emilia checks on her daughters Julia and Sara. This is an aggressive opening and it is intriguing instantly. Let’s hope the rest of the series maintains a similar pace.
25 years later
The Barrier Episode 1 then takes us to Madrid 25 years later, providing the scenery of a dystopian world. Julia works at an underground sex worker bar. In one of the rooms, she hears a young woman crying. She tries to get the young woman out of the room but then a man walks in and attacks them; he strangles Julia but she stabs him in his side. She gets the woman up again and learns she’s called Sol. Julia then remembers she left her necklace, so goes back to find it. When she returns home, she cleans blood off her and has a slight panic attack.
Her partner Carlos makes her jump and she confesses to killing a soldier and sobs. The explosive start continues and so far this is a well-constructed pilot.
Hugo is on a coach on his way to Madrid with Álex and his daughter Marta. Uncle Álex starts making jokes but a soldier tells the group to be quiet. I think this scene demonstrates how militarised the world has become
Hugo, Álex, and his daughter Marta arrive in Madrid. As they leave the coach, a man clearly has a virus so the soldiers take him away. Marta tells the soldiers that her mother is working but she’ll come soon. They are all disinfected once they have provided ID. What a terrible world this has become. They explore the city and seem happy with what they see. This scene reflects their age — they don’t know what “good” looks like so this version of Madrid is a positive for these characters.
You need to leave
At the underground sex worker bar, the military is investigating the murder of one of their soldiers. Meanwhile, Julia’s partner Carlos tells her she has to leave after she murdered a soldier. He offers to go with her. Julia is worried about her mother but Carlos reminds her that her mother wants her to be alive.
The Barrier season 1, episode 1 eventually brings some of the characters together to finally provide a firm dynamic and a grip on where the story is going to lead.
Meanwhile, Marta sees her grandmother Emilia and gives her a hug. It’s an emotional reunion. Hugo then meets Julia and she’s ecstatic to see him and Marta — the young girl tells Julia she looks just like her mother, bringing the confirmation that Marta’s mother is Sara. Emilia tells the group that it’s important that no-one knows that Sara died of the virus — she also states that there is no cure. After their brief conversation, a curfew starts and all the city’s electricity turns off. The family sits down and has a meal under candlelight.
Hugo explains that due to the last World War, many died and diseases came and the planet does not have a cure yet. Emilia explains it was the government that started the war and removed everyday freedom. Julia claims they will get it back. The family toast to freedom but there’s this strange sense that they don’t really believe it.
Blood tests and interviews
The next day, the family goes to a hospital for blood tests and interviews. The nurses find a test that shows something in one of their blood — it’s Marta. They ask for their family to be interviewed split — they want to interview Marta separately.
Marta is taken
The interviewer keeps asking Hugo why they didn’t come with Marta’s mother Sara. He keeps lying and she believes in the story. The interviewer hands Hugo the papers that don’t include Marta’s. They are taking her away so Hugo and Álex run outside. Hugo clambers on the back of a bus and Marta is inside. She tells him she loves him as Hugo falls off. Hugo keeps running but he’s stopped by the military and beaten to the ground so Álex calms him down. This is one of those scenes where you wonder how the father did not see it coming.
Hugo alerts Emilia of what happened — the block chief Begoña introduces herself. She tells Hugo that they took his daughter to the colony of the unemployed and that she will be looked after and protected. This briefly reassures Hugo but you can tell he isn’t fully convinced. Álex vows that they must fix it but Hugo is now wanting a job immediately so he can have his daughter back.
Emilia meets Luis in a fancy car. She asks Luis for a favor — she wants her granddaughter back. Luis offers to find a job for Hugo as soon as possible in order to resolve the issue — he’s clearly in a position of power. He suggests a job at his place so gives Emilia an address and a pass so Hugo can get through the barrier. As Emilia walks off, it’s clear there’s some history between them both which will be fleshed out in later chapters.
Hugo hops on to a small black bus and he’s taken to a mansion that is presumably on the other side of the fence. It’s noticeably a nicer area with natural wildlife and a greener environment. It doesn’t feel dystopian. Inside the mansion, he’s asked to wash his hands before his job interview. A man named Iván enters the kitchen and tells Hugo that the house is prettier on the outside than the inside.
Rosa takes Hugo to his job interview. Daniela greets him before walking off with her latte — this is all done to set the scene; a fancy cup of coffee seems out of the ordinary. The interviewer tells him he will need to scrub and serve and listen to Rosa. He’s got the job. She asks about his wife and states that they wanted to hire a couple. Hugo says he will arrive tomorrow with his wife. This will clearly be a problem for Hugo whose wife is dead. I wonder if he will ask Julia to pretend to be his wife?
These children are special
Marta is working in a colony run by the same woman who is hiring Hugo — she’s called Alma. She calls the children very special. After she greets the children, she vents her frustration at doctor Thomas, claiming the doses are not high enough. She says these children are their last hope. At this point, we can only assume that these children are offering humanity a chance to rid the virus judging by the blood test earlier.
As the episode ends, the characters are settled in their respective lives ready for the next day; Marta is settling in the colony, Hugo needs to figure out his job, Luis is looking at a photo of a younger Emilia and Julia is ready to flee.
The episode closes with the soldiers finding Sol.
The Barrier season 1, episode 1, “Another World” is an effective world-builder. By slowly introducing the characters and giving them a perspective of their new world ensures that it’s a firm, exciting pilot.
- Sol is still in the same clothes, wandering the city. She finds her grandma who takes her inside.
- Julia’s partner Carlos gives Julia a fake marriage certificate so that they can leave undetected.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.