Safe Harbour season 1, episode 1 premiere recap


Hulu’s latest series, Safe Harbour, asks viewers what they would do.

Safe Harbour is a mystery at heart but the story will still leave viewers wondering what they would do in a similar situation. The Gallagher family and two friends are out at sea for vacation when they come across a boat full of asylum seekers. This is the entire catalyst for the season, and the premiere spends time a majority of the time letting the audience guess what happened to cause so much pain.

Episode one starts off with Ryan Gallagher (Ewen Leslie)  joking around with his friend Helen (Jacqueline McKenzie) and his wife Bree (Leeanna Walsman) while his younger sister Liv (The Originals‘ Phoebe Tonkin) gives her boyfriend Damien (Joel Jackson) a passionate speech about environmental awareness. Everyone is having a good time on their vacation, and there’s an easy laidback energy from the group. That is until Liv notices a boat off in the distance where a lot of people are screaming for help.

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Damien and Ryan take the dinghy over and discover this is a group of asylum seekers fleeing Indonesia. They’re hoping to make it to Australia but unfortunately, their engine has completely blown out leaving them stranded. The only English speaker on the boat is Ismail Al-Biyati (Hazeem Shamas) who immediately doubts the Gallaghers will help them.

Ryan and Damien make their way back to the yacht where they discuss options with the group. No one has heard their calls for help on the radio and discontent is growing. Ryan suggests they take the refugees onboard or tow them, both ideas which Damien shoots down. Helen suggests they sail back to Australia waters so they can get in touch with the authorities for help. Damien backs her up or suggests setting off an emergency beacon so Indonesian rescue can deal with them, or basically just send them right back to the place they’re trying to escape.

Liv and Bree are the quietest throughout the conversation with both barely handing out suggestions. The former is worried about supplies but thinks her brother could try fixing their engine. Meanwhile, Bree is more concerned about helping them, their engines frying from the extra weight, and never being able to see her kids again. Ultimately, Ryan puts it to a vote which ends with a 4-1 victory for helping the refugees.

Safe Harbour flashes forward five years later where the vacation group has all become quite successful. Ryan’s and Bree’s business has taken off so they’re settled comfortably with their two kids. Liv still works for her brother, so she also has a decent amount of wealth. Helen is a celebrated attorney, whose close to becoming a judge and has become sober. Damien is nowhere to be found, his disappearance a minor mystery to the group.

However, everything changes when Ismail picks up Ryan in a taxi and the two agree to have a barbecue at the Gallagher house. There it’s revealed that the group never actually towed the asylum seekers to safety. The rope had been cut in the middle of the night which led to seven people dying. Of those seven people, one was Ismail’s young daughter, a tragedy which his entire family lives with. His wife Zahra angrily confronts the family she holds responsible, while their teenage son Assad takes a minor interested in the elder Gallagher daughter, Maddie.

Who cut the rope is the main mystery on Safe Harbour. Bree protests that the refugees were the one who did it after they realized the yacht had turned around to seek safety in Indonesia from a storm. Considering the dinghy and the life jackets were stolen, she thinks this is an open and shut case. Liv is once again extremely quiet, while Helen thinks Damien did it. He’s a bit too obvious, but at least she’s the only one ready to admit someone on their group could’ve done it.

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Everyone definitely has secrets on Safe Harbour and of course, someone is responsible for the deaths of seven people. Damien also resurfaces by the end after an email from Bree, meaning she’s the only one who’s secretly been in contact with him. The premiere is certainly interesting, and the cast is strong across the board. For now, Bree is certainly the biggest suspect if only because she’s the one who’s been the most secretive.

The series is definitely timely as many countries examine their immigration policies when it comes to refugees and asylum seekers. Safe Harbour will at least open a dialogue amongst viewers and shine a lot on how easy it is to shut off one’s empathy when it involves someone else.

Did you enjoy Safe Harbour? Who do you think cut the rope? Tell us in the comments below!