Panic season 1, episode 1 recap – the opening chapter explained

By Daniel Hart
Published: May 28, 2021 (Last updated: 4 weeks ago)
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Amazon original Panic season 1, episode 1


Episode 1 is a surprisingly mature start to the YA series — introducing the world of Carp, Texas and its infamous game, the chapter brings a tense ending that’s well-deserved

This recap of Amazon original Panic season 1, episode 1, “Panic,” contains major spoilers. 

Last week Solosthis week Panic — Amazon is getting busier with releases, and this is the same month we got The Underground Railroad. So let’s begin our recapping of this series created and written by Lauren Oliver based on her 2014 novel of the same name.

The opening scene narrates how this town has a secret — a game — the losers stay, the winners get out. Carp, Texas is worth leaving. The game is not meant to kill you if you follow one rule — “don’t panic”. The series then shows some of the challenges the students have to undertake in the game. Every year there are new players, new judges, new challenges. Every year there are victims of the game.

Graduation and the after party 

We are at a pivotal moment in these students lives — graduation.

Panic season 1, episode 1, then flits to a graduation ceremony. Heather (played by Olivia Welch) looks a bit of an outcast as her sister and mother turn up — she’s surprised her mother has shown up to hint at a broken family. And then, her mother asks Heather for twenty dollars. Next, Heather meets up with her friends, and they declare, “I am so done with this place,” and then it flits to a post-graduation party. Ray (played by Ray Nicholson) walks around the party asking for money — he tells Bishop (played by Camron Jones) that he has to play this summer, but Heather tells Ray to leave him alone.

A job loss for Heather

It appears life is mounting on Heather’s shoulders — she clearly wants to avoid the game and wants to get out of Carp sensibly.

The next day, Heather gets ready for work and arranges her finances. When she heads into work, her manager Danny tells her that there are not enough spots on the schedule. Heather pleads, saying she needs the job, but Danny tells her he cannot keep her on. She meets up with Bishop afterwards, who offers words of comfort. Heather needs 6,000 dollars to follow her prospects — she was on track to get that money before orientation. She’s hopeful that she will figure something out.

Dodge wants to play 

Heather heads to a cafe, and she tells a new guy (Dodge Mason) in town that nothing happens in Carp, Texas. However, Dodge asks how Panic works and — he wants to play. She warns him that the cops try and stop the game, and you can get in trouble by watching it. Suddenly, Sheriff Jimmy walks in and sits next to Heather. Meanwhile, while Ray and his crew chill, paper falls on them — there’s a sign on the paper. Ray tells them that the game is starting.

The games begin

And then Panic season 1, episode 1 brings the audience to the games — we are surprised they held it off for this long.

Heather returns home and offers her mother the bad news that she has tried to secure a job everywhere, but with no luck. Natalie rings Heather and tells her the game Panic has started. She asks her if she’s coming, but Heather does not desire to watch. Natalie tells her she wants to win, but Heather does not want her to play. As fireworks go off in the distance, the police try and look for the game; however, the fireworks are coming from everywhere.

The “Jump”

At the start of the games, phones are collected at the entrance. There’s a buzz amongst the young people who have settled near the lake. Diggins is the host, and he explains the grand prize is fifty thousand dollars. The first challenge is the “jump”. Natalie goes to get her number, and she’s given a flare. Dodge also gets his number.

Ray is the first to do the challenge — you have to jump off a hill edge and into the lake water without hitting the rocks.

Heather’s mother steals the money

At home, Heather sees that most of her money is gone, and she is worried. She confronts her mother about it and accuses her of stealing it. Her mother says her car needs a new transmission. Heather explains that the money was for school, but her mother explains that she never has a dollar to spare. It turns into an intense argument, and her mother dares her to walk out of the house door to see how “easy it is”. Heather grabs a bag, packs and grabs the car keys and drives away.

Taking the high point

Natalie heads up to the hill edge for the “jump”, and she’s nervous as she looks down. But, she successfully makes the jump. Next, Dodge takes a higher point, and he jumps in without even thinking about it. Heather finds the event, and she strips down — she needs the money, she’s desperate, she’s here to enter the games. Heather tells Natalie that she’s participating because it’s her only option — the girls argue as Natalie says it was meant to be her that plays the game for the both of them. Natalie points out that Heather doesn’t even dare smoke weed. Heather gives herself a number and a flare and heads up to the hill.

The ending

Heather takes her time when she reaches the hill — she takes a deep breath, and then she sees fireflies, and her eyes well up. Then, finally, she decides to take the higher point, and she relights her flare. She goes to the Devil’s Drop. There’s worry amongst the teenagers, and Diggins tells her it isn’t too late for her to turn around. Heather states her name, takes another deep breath and jumps off the edge.

Panic season 1, episode 1 is a surprisingly mature start to the YA series — introducing the world of Carp, Texas and its infamous game, the chapter brings a tense ending that’s well-deserved

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