Grand Army season 1, episode 1 recap – the premiere explained

By Daniel Hart
Published: October 16, 2020 (Last updated: February 10, 2024)
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Grand Army Netflix
Grand Army Promotional Image Courtesy of Netflix


Grand Army season 1, episode 1 is a little bumpy but it strongly introduces themes and sets a base for the rest of the series. This is not a light teenage drama.

This recap of Netflix’s Grand Army season 1, episode 1, “Brooklyn, 2020” contains significant spoilers.

We recapped the entire series — check out the archive.

The opening

In the changing rooms at school, Joey checks out Gracie who is upset in the toilets. She’s in a lot of pain and Joey pulls something out of her vagina. Gracie then pulls a condom out and they both laugh and embrace. Joey suggests she may be pregnant and she starts getting anxious.

Yes, that’s the opening to Grand Army — this will not be a light teen drama.

Bullied in another language

Episode 1 is a character-setter if anything — the next scene presents Leila…

Student Leila presents in class about the Chinese dynasty. A couple of Chinese girls in the class speak to her in Mandarin and insult her. She doesn’t speak the language so they are bullying her.

An explosion and complete shock

Grand Army gives an early turning point, a trigger for the rest of the story.

While Jay is out with his friend Owen celebrating their music auditions, he notices a man nearby who seems to be anxious but he brushes it off and carries on walking with his friend. They then head into the school and suddenly, they hear a large explosion. A mandatory emergency lockdown is initiated. Students are in shock. They are not allowed to leave the premises. Jay tells Dominique and Sonia that he is sure he saw the bomber and wants to make a bet on it.

I used to be stronger

Episode 1 introduces another character but also gives an insight to what’s going on in Leila’s mind.

When Siddhartha walks down the hallway to see if his sister is okay, he sees Leila sobbing and he speaks to her. She talks about how she used to be stronger. He sits with her and talks. Leila gets upset that Joey Del Marco threw a condom at her for no reason today. Sid says he feels similar to her sadness. You can feel his underlying sadness.

A teacher has a real issue

During the lockdown, a female teacher tells Joey to cover her legs and she questions why she’s always showing her body — it’s an embarrassing moment for Joey who had no choice but to be in the clothes she is in because she didn’t have time to get changed. Joey states she is annoyed that two boys (Jay and Owen) stole Dom’s wallet as a joke, a bomb has gone off and this issue is that her legs are out. Afterward, Tim shows Joey that she’s been named as “Bomb p***y” on the Grand Army Instagram page. Leila is also on the Instagram page and is named a “Jap p***y”. Leila is happy because they want to f*ck her.

This scene shows how women are treated differently when it comes to what they wear. It also shows the mindset of Leila, who is more interested in being popular and wanting to be fancied.

Where is John?

Dom is told by her friend that John Ellis has not been seen since he ditched the premises after the bomb. The news has confirmed the dead and the injured. On the PA, the school has been granted evacuation.

The Chinese don’t treat me like I’m Chinese

Episode 1 delves into Leila’s issues more after she was spoken to in Mandarin earlier.

At home, Leila asks her parents why she wasn’t sent into Hebrew school — she brings up that Chinese girls at school don’t treat her like she’s Chinese. Leila then asks if she can go to the party as it will be “healing” for her after the day’s events.

This was quite a manipulative moment from Leila to get permission to go to a party but to be fair, we’d have all done the same at this age.

Party time

After dance class, Joey and her friends talk about whether John Ellis is dead. Before the party, they see Leila come to the party and laugh. The party is in full swing with promiscuous teenagers, drinking, and sex. Sid is in one of the bedrooms and his girlfriend Flora asks if they’ll ever have sex. Sid talks about how he is downbeat that the bomber was Muslim because he looks like them and leaves the room.

It’s easy to feel sorry for Sid — there’s something conflicting in his mind.

Joey gets restless at the party and leaves with Tim. Luke seems bothered by how close they both are and gives a rallying speech at the party. Anna tells him to get down. Someone throws a drink over Leila and she reacts which throws Luke off the banister — the teens celebrate when Luke gets up.

The ending

Tim and Joey run to the subway and hold on to the back of a sub as it moves — they clearly want a thrill. Joey seems emotional about it all but happy to be by Tim’s side. They both scream as they enter the tunnels. Tears flow from Joey’s eyes.

The episode ends with a document that is getting typed that says “I’m going to teach you things you’ll never forget”.

Grand Army season 1, episode 1 is a little bumpy but it strongly introduces themes and sets a base for the rest of the series. This is not a light teenage drama.

Faculty archives
  • The male swim team has a list of students they want to have sex with. They try and put Sid’s sister on the list but Sid tells them to put Leila on instead.
  • At the party, Tamika video calls Dom and Owen and Jay apologizes for dropping her wallet and losing all her money.
  • Jay and Owen head to a music store to sell some records. The store owner gives them advice on what they should sell and pays them money for a few of the records. Eli shows up and gives them a spliff each.

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