Nobody asked for See, save apparently for at least one confused and perhaps mischievous executive at Apple TV+, the one whose mandate it was to conjure a roster of streaming content for Apple’s big push to challenge Netflix’s hegemony. Other than this person, nary a soul on planet Earth, no matter how bizarre, has been dreaming of finally answering the age-old question of how credibly Jason Momoa could portray a blind man—and not just any blind man, but one who kicks a ton of ass and lives in a bleak quasi-neolithic future in which sight has been lost to humanity for centuries. The counterpoint is of course that, if the so-called Golden Age of Television has taught us anything, it is that people will watch (or binge, which is sort of like watching, but sadder) literally any damn thing if it looks like it was shot on professional cameras and it features people bonking each other with swords, or things that at least look like swords. The hope here, obviously, is to convince people (suckers) that See can fill the void that Game of Thrones left behind, going so far as to cast Jason Momoa, who plays a character that can be described fairly accurately as “Khal Drogo, but less problematic, and now he knows English, but don’t worry, he still grunts, chants, and hisses quite a bit.” Because I care about you, I don’t necessarily want you to watch See, but I don’t want you to be ignorant of the danger that is See, either. Everything is confusing—the plot, the point, why it happened in the first place, who is responsible, how we should retaliate, etc.—so I’ve decided to anticipate all your questions and answer them accordingly. You’re very welcome.
OK, so what is See?
See is a brand-new post-apocalyptic television show created by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) and directed by Francis Lawrence (at least one or two of the Hunger Games movies). It stars Jason Momoa, the friendly neighborhood hunk of your dreams.
What’s the elevator pitch?
INT. OFFICE BUILDING.
Two men enter an elevator at the same time. They smile politely to one another, but say nothing for seven or eight floors. One of the men is STEVEN KNIGHT, the other is THE PRESIDENT OF APPLE TV+.
STEVEN KNIGHT: Hey. You are looking healthy today. Well fed.
PRESIDENT OF APPLE TV+: I beg your pardon?
KNIGHT: Will you buy my show set in the future but it’s also sort of the past because people have swords and teepees again, and nobody can see? Literally nobody, except two kids. And Jason Momoa is their sweet but violent stepdad and his name is Baba Voss?
PRESIDENT OF APPLE TV+ falls to his knees, tears in his eyes, and hands STEVEN KNIGHT a bag with a big dollar sign on it.
PRESIDENT: Here is $150 million. Go out there and make the best show about a world in which nobody can see and Jason Momoa is their stepdad and his name is Baba Voss. Baba Voss. Baba Voss. Baba Voss.
What’s the non-elevator pitch?
See takes place a few centuries after a mysterious virus wipes out nearly all of humanity, leaving only 2 million or so people, all of whom go blind. The lack of sight becomes a genetic trait, and being blind becomes the name of the game. And yes, of course society adapts, though the mass blindness seems to have sent humanity into a sort of hunter-gatherer dark age, in which people either chill in the Payan Kingdom (the Kinzua Dam of Pennsylvania) under the purview of a horny, paranoid, evil, and very obviously depressed leader named Queen Kane (Sylvia Hoeks) ... or they take their chances not being around a horrible tyrant with Red Sonja vibes and just live their lives out in the forest. But most importantly, and you must not forget this: everyone is blind.
So nobody can see in See?
Well, OK, sorry, yes: some people can see, notably the oft-mentioned but only rarely present Jerlamarel. His biological children and Baba Voss’s adopted twins Haniwa and Kofun—who are newborns in Episode 1, infants in Episode 2, 12 years old halfway through Episode 2, and about 17 by Episode 3—can see. They can hella see. But, of course, this heretofore extinct sense isn’t a good thing.
For one thing, people have been doing OK without seeing. Some people can smell really well now. (They’re called Scentiers, can you guess why?) Some folks can hear super good. Jason Momoa obviously has some rudimentary knowledge of jujitsu. And society, though a bit primitive, functions. The people build huts. Nobody accidentally walks into fire. They’ve developed a writing system. Nobody ever bumps into anyone. But the biggest reason you don’t wanna be known as some fool who has the curse of sight, is the Witch Finders.
Whoa, Witch Finders? They don’t sound chill.
No, the Witch Finders are not chill. They are sort of medieval Mad Max cosplayers who just ride around in circles for decades looking for people to burn. Or stab. Or be extremely condescending and rude to. They are led by Tamacti Jun, who as far as sadistic zealots go, seems pretty cool. No, I’m kidding; they try to imply that Tamacti Jun has pathos, but he and the rest of the Witch Finders are just leather-jerkin wearing jagoffs. They are extra.
Are these Witch Finders the main antagonists? I’m just obsessed with antagonists, so this is a normal question.
Yes, it is a normal question, but no—the main antagonist is probably Queen Kane, who lives in a dam (really), likes to cry while she pleasures herself (really really), and has unresolved issues with Jerlamarel, the magical man who can see and owns books. But also, perhaps the real villains are the various lions and bears we keep hearing about. They are everywhere, apparently. They get brought up in every other conversation. Everyone lives in constant fear of lions and bears, which I guess makes sense because, well, it makes sense to live in constant fear of lions and bears. You just think they’d mention it less often. However, the blind humans of the future don’t seem to know anything about tigers, though. Imagine not knowing about tigers. Imagine that emptiness.
How do I watch See?
You sign up for Apple TV+ and you find the thumbnail of Jason Momoa looking sort of like Khal Drogo:
Then you click on it and then you watch it.
Should I watch See?
I don’t know. That depends on what kind of person you are. I mean, what is your tolerance for pain? Do you find emotionless acting “cool” or do you find that it “sucks”? Do you get home from work and say to your spouse, “Hello honey, yes, I promise you we can talk about our finances later, but right now I want to watch something dreary and unfun and slow and narratively muddled, is that fine with you?” I guess if that is your thing, then yes, totally.
So See is not the next Game of Thrones?
It’s not even the next Vikings Season 5.
I absolutely adore the novel Blindness by Portuguese writer José Saramago, which has similar themes of everyone being blind and such—do you think I’d enjoy this show?
But how does Jason Momoa do?
He is fine! This role is pretty solidly in his sweet spot, which is “cuddly tough guy who grunts in a made-up language and accumulates quite a body count.” He plays our protagonist, Baba Voss, a warrior and chieftain of the Alkenny Tribe. Good guy, dark past sort of dude. You never get the explanation you crave about why he is named Baba Voss, which is a silly name to hear roughly 1,000 times in the first three episodes. He also loves his wife a lot. He’s a sensitive family man (who from time to time kills, like, nine dudes).
Cool, how much does he love his wife?
Man, he loves his wife (Hera Hilmar) a lot. Baba Voss, the prototypical male badass warrior guy, meets this mysterious woman that is already pregnant via some other loser who abandoned her (Jerlamarel), and yet still lovingly raises her children as his own, like it ain’t no thing at all, which it’s not of course, to you and I, but one wouldn’t expect that progressive attitude from a member of a society that seems mostly concerned with rooting out witches and talking shit about lions and bears. And she loves him, in spite of the fact that she can’t see what a delicious snack he is. Lot of love in that teepee, but more importantly, mutual respect. Thank you for asking the question about how much he loves his wife.
Can you make an honest claim that this is prestige television?
Yes, because each episode cost about $15 million, and nobody would spend that kind of money on un-prestige television. Secondly, and more importantly, this show features some low-level incest, and as we all know, besides brooding male antiheroes, the main thing that distinguishes prestige television from normie television is the amount of incest. Game of Thrones, Twin Peaks, Boardwalk Empire, Rome, Dexter, The Borgias, and yes, even John From Cincinnati, the weird surfer show everyone hated that immediately followed the last episode of The Sopranos all those years ago, all had incest.
Wow, cool, who does the incest in See?
That’s a spoiler, but since you asked: it’s a clumsy and almost sort of sweetly aggressive, mutually aggrieved Aunt on Nephew Frenching. The actress who engages in the said low-level incest is portrayed by Marilee Talkington, who is legally blind. The show, to its credit, hired a “blindness consultant,” and certain visually impaired actors. The majority of the cast are pretending, though.
What is the best exchange of dialogue?
I like it when one guy walks up to Tamacti Jun and says, “Tamacti Jun?” and then Tamacti Jun dramatically pauses for a bit and is like, “Yes, it is I … Tamacti Jun.” Or when Baba Voss innocently says, “What is … America?”
But my favorite line is from one of the few characters who can actually see. Haniwa (Nesta Cooper) is given a trove of books from the past, all in English, and she learns to read, and in this random pile of books she learns all about genetics, the sun (these dopes call it the God Flame), the city of Pittsburgh’s main exports, and most importantly, that there used to be better weapons back in the day; weapons that could, and she delivers this line super seriously, “kill a hundred turkeys in an hour.” To this, Jason Momoa laughs and says he doesn’t really like to eat turkey, because it makes him sleepy! Then he walks off into the forest.
How mad were you when Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” started playing in the middle of the first episode?
Not that mad. Not impressed, but not that mad. People living in a crazy, post-apocalyptic Clan of the Cave Bear–ass future deserve pleasant, if overplayed, tunes too.
I heard something about a “Shadow”—could you explain that?
No. I have no explanation for this unsettling and creepy scene from the Episode 2.
Frankly, I’m shook.
But were there any standout performances?
Honestly, Alfre Woodard is pretty good. She plays Paris, a spiritual leader/midwife/buddy. She goes for it in a way many of the other actors don’t. If you are contractually obligated to declaim incredibly stupid lines, you might as well add some vigor or verve. You might as well mean it.
What was your favorite scene?
The big rock wall battle in the first episode is pretty cool. Also, any scene where someone yells “Baba Voss!” is good because that is a funny name and I enjoy hearing people say it. But I really liked the scene in which someone throws a message-in-a-bottle thing into a river and it takes 12 years for someone to find it. It taught me a lot about patience and dignity and how I never have the guts to throw bottles into rivers and expect good things to happen.
Will you keep watching?
Yes. I will never succumb to the war that I fight in my heart. I watched six seasons of One Tree Hill because I had a crush on a girl that looked sort of like Sophia Bush, so I think I can manage the next two seasons of See, the show about Jason Momoa being blind and loving his nice wife.
Alex Siquig lives in Baltimore, drinks MD 20/20, and writes about things like Game of Thrones, the Willennium, and the life of Doug Funnie.