The AMC+ original series gets off to a great start, promising lots of intrigue and mystery. A beautifully realized animation with a stellar voice cast. This looks like a hidden gem in the making.
This recap of the AMC+ series Pantheon season 1, episode 1 contains spoilers.
READ: the review of Pantheon season 1.
There are a lot of streaming services out there nowadays, all vying for your hard-earned time and money. But we only have so much free time to dedicate to new content, and even if we did have all the time in the world, we couldn’t exactly afford to feed this habit anyway. Well, if you are struggling to decide which streaming service to go with, you might need to throw another contender into the mix. Introducing AMC+, home to The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul. Their latest offering is an original animated series called Pantheon that boasts a killer voice cast and a unique look.
Pantheon season 1, episode 1 recap
The premiere focuses on three separate storylines that will eventually converge, starting with Maddie, a bullied school girl, who is also mourning the death of her father. After a rather awful day at school, she receives a message from an unknown sender. The hacker talks only in emojis and refers to themselves as a ghost. Atmospheric music runs alongside the background rumblings of thunder and lightning as she chats with this stranger, but then the messenger is gone. The next day Maddie’s bullies are all hacked and turn against one another. Was our unknown sender to blame?
Maddie messages the ghost, who acknowledges their involvement in the prank. Maddie asks why they would help her and why they know her mother. Maddie’s mother overhears this conversation and enters the room. Ellen Kim (Rosemarie DeWitt) sees Maddie talking with a stranger online and overreacts, demanding to know what is going on. The mother types back to this stranger and the sender replies with a specific line of poetry that instantly unnerves Ellen. She rushes off and phones Dr. Waxman (Ron Livingston), demanding to know what they have done with her husband. Is Maddie’s dad communicating with her from beyond the grave?
The narrative then shifts, turning our attention to another misfit student – Caspian, voiced by Paul Dano, an actor who is actually in his late thirties. This mysterious student is framed as a math genius and supreme computer geek. He spots Maddie asking for help in a chat room and begins a conversation with the confused student. She sends him screenshots of the messages with the ghost, worrying that a company called Logorhythms faked her father’s death and are now holding him hostage. Caspian analyses the chat history, but someone else is secretly overseeing his every move in real-time.
The chat room has descended into full on conspiracy theory territory and this triggers a flashback for Maddie of her father. In the memory, her father David (Daniel Dae Kim) is explaining why you cannot trust conspiracy theories, telling her to always seek out the truth. Then, back in the present, Ellen returns to finish off her argument from earlier. Maddie wants to call the police, but Ellen says her husband is dead, this can’t be undone. In her emotional state she meets up with her latest lover, Gabe, who tries to reassure Ellen that everything will be alright.
A third narrative is then introduced, centering on Chanda. This engineer talks to an unknown CEO about UI (Uploaded intelligence), which he states is about to revolutionize society and forever change mankind. He talks of uploading a human’s brain and mind to the cloud. The CEO offers him an unbelievable salary with perks to join them and Chanda shakes on the deal. As he leaves the meeting, Chanda is kidnapped and drugged.
We then return to Caspian’s story. He is at the dinner table with his parents, Cary (Aaron Eckhart) and Renee (Taylor Schilling). The father belittles his wife over her home cooked meal and then tests Caspian’s intelligence. Both family members fight back and Cary storms off, throwing the dishes against the wall. Caspian hides away in his bedroom, whilst Renee whimpers at the kitchen sink. Interestingly, the parents meet up in the garage after this chaotic meal, implying that the argument was all an act. What are they involved in and why would they pretend to be arguing in front of Caspian?
In the final scenes, the seedy tech company Logorhythms is hacked, with the perpetrator demanding they ‘”let him go”. Is this referring to Maddie’s father? Only time will tell. But what we have here is an intriguing and mysterious opener that hints at a criminal underworld of dangerous science fiction capabilities, leaving many unanswered questions still to be explored. I love the unique animation style and the show’s overall atmospheric tone, this is a promising start indeed.
What did you think of the AMC+ series Pantheon season 1, episode 1? Comment below.