The First season 1, episode 1 premiere recap: ‘Separation’


The series premiere of Hulu’s The First fails to liftoff in more ways than one.

The First, starring Sean Penn and written by House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, is off to an interesting, slow, unexpected start. The series introduces Sean Penn’s character, Tom, right away and throughout the episode, we put bits and pieces together to learn he was once the commander of the first mission to Mars.

It appears something has happened and he is no longer leading the mission, but what resulted in him stepping away was not revealed in the series premiere. We only know that he told Vista CEO Laz Ingram (Natascha McElhone) not to do something followed by saying he’ll tell the crew. Again, no idea but it’s likely to be revealed in coming episodes.

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The episode spends most of the first half showing the preparation behind the first human mission to Mars via Providence 1. It will take 2.5 years to complete the mission and it will have 5 astronauts participating. The background score sets the tone for the episode as the hustle bustle of the space station takes over.

It’s quite the exciting atmosphere as the crew members head towards the ship to board and get buckled up for their space adventure. I can appreciate that this aspect of the episode was a bit slow given that they were obviously building up to something, but I have to be honest, what happens next I predicted pretty early on.

As family and friends of the crew members took over the bleachers to see their loved ones be sent off into space, we get glimpses of Tom watching the launch coverage as he decides to give the crew a call and wish them good luck. There is clearly a bond here that we have yet to learn more about and we hope that we do!

The countdown to liftoff begins and as the rocket begins to separate from the rest of the launching apparatus, something awful happens. The entire ship and everything around it blows up into smithereens taking with it the 5 astronauts on board. During the course of the episode, there wasn’t yet an explanation as to what happened or what went wrong. It seems like everyone is pretty confused, as are we.

One thing to point out is that this show is taking place sometime in the future which you can decipher from the technology and cars they have in it. So, perhaps future technology is not exactly reliable and may be the reason for the explosion.

Tom rushes to the space center to console all the families since he knows all of them and shared a bond with their loved ones who have now perished in the explosion. Laz tries to speak with the employees and if you think she is struggling to speak here, her speaking with the family members was a whole other mess.

It seems like she wasn’t even planning on speaking with the families until Tom convinced her to, and as soon as she tried she was ambushed by angry family members. This all seems to impact her very negatively, and why wouldn’t it? In one scene it appears that she is trying to commit suicide via futuristic car but it doesn’t quite work out.

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After learning about the explosion, Tom’s daughter shows up at his house–high as a kite. There is a lot to unload about their relationship which seems conflicted and distant but its obvious things are not okay between the two of them.

What is the deal with Tom? What was his connection to the mission? Why did he leave? And will we get to see more scenes in space on this season of The First? Stay tuned to find out more!