The Passage series premiere recap: Pilot


The pilot of the Fox series The Passage aired Monday night. It may have started slow but picked up as the show moved forward.

“The hunt for the most important girl in the world” began Monday night with the series premiere of The Passage.

Based on the popular trilogy by Justin Cronin, The Passage stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell!) as Federal Agent Brad Wolgast and in her first starring television role, Saniyya Sidney as Amy Bellafonte.

I’ve heard grumblings that this show is Fox’s answer to The Walking Dead. Well, I’m too much of a scaredy cat to watch that show, so I have no opinion on the matter and can judge honestly and unbiased.

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The show centers around a medical facility called Project NOAH, where scientists work on finding a cure for all diseases by working with a dangerous virus. So basically, something that could save all of humanity can also destroy it.

The Passage begins with the voice of Amy, introducing herself, and saying she never believed in monsters before, but she does now.

And then we see the two friends who wanted to “change the world,” Dr. Jonas Lear (Henry Ian Cusick – you may know him as Desmond on Lost) and Dr. Tim Fanning (Jamie McShane). These two guys are the ones in charge of Project NOAH.

It’s 2015 in Bolivia. Along with Clark Richards (Vincent Piazza from Boardwalk Empire) and a team of soldiers, the doctors/scientists search for a cave that houses a 250-year-old man.

They find the cave and inside a young man is feeding what looks like a very old man. It turns out, it’s a vampire, and Fanning just unleashed the thing from its cage. The vampire clasps onto Fanning’s neck.

Lear thought his friend was dead. But he barely had a bruise on his neck back at the hospital. He said he felt “amazing.”

Then, suddenly, he starts bleeding from his mouth, and his teeth fall out. Gross.

Three years later in Texas

We catch our first glimpse of Agent Wolgast and Agent Phil Doyle (Zach Appelman), who is “wooing” a prisoner, Anthony Carter (McKinley Belcher III), to join Project NOAH as part of a drug trial. Carter is about to be executed, and this is his opportunity to join the trial and live.

THE PASSAGE: Caroline Chikezie (C) in THE PASSAGE premiering Monday, Jan. 14 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX Broadcasting. CR: Eliza Morse / FOX

It turns out, Project NOAH is taking prisoners on death row and inflicting them with the same “condition” that Fanning has. He’s “Patient Zero.” With each prisoner, their “I feel amazing” time stretches a little longer; however, they still end up being blood-sucking monsters.

They refuse to call them vampires.

Dr. Major Nichole Sykes (Caroline Chikezie) tells Lear, Clark and the other doctor scientists about a new pandemic sweeping the world and that they need a solution quickly.

Dr. Daniel Pet offers the solution, to use a child as a subject because it seems that the younger the patients are, the longer they stay healthy before they turn into a vampire.

And when I say “healthy,” I mean they don’t contact any diseases – Ebola, HIV, measles. The youngest subject, Shauna Babcock (Brianne Howey) took 28 days to turn into a vampire, yet her features are still human.

Sykes has doubts. She thinks using a child is morally wrong and hideous but knows that it’s what they need to do. Richards ensures her that he will find a child who has no parents and would leave no paper trail.

Enter who I assume will be our heroine.

She’s the girl from nowhere. No one will miss her. Her name is Amy Bellefonte, and she’s going to tell us how the world ends.

THE PASSAGE: L-R: Saniyya Sidney and Mark-Paul Gosselaar in THE PASSAGE premiering Monday, Jan. 14 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX Broadcasting. CR: Eliza Morse / FOX

After bringing Anthony to Project NOAH, Clark hands Brad and Phil their next assignment. It’s to pick up Amy from a foster home. They explain that her mother, who died from an overdose three days prior, was exposed to a virus and a doctor wanted to check her out. But she not only runs away, but she also gets in a scuffle with Phil, who hits her. The encounter happens right next to a playground, and there are tons of witnesses.

Brad wants to abort the mission, but Clark reminds him that they don’t want to cross the people they work for. They might be bad, but Brad isn’t.

After slamming Phil’s head into the dashboard for hitting Amy, he gently makes sure she’s OK.

Later, Amy gets carsick and Brad, again is very attentive, almost like a father-figure to her. She asks why she’s being “kidnapped.” But he reassured her that they are just taking her to see the doctor to make sure she’s OK.

When they happen upon a carnival, Brad decides to stop there for Amy, much to Phil’s dismay.

Brad receives a call from his ex-wife, Lila (Emmanuelle Chriqui from Entourage fame), who tells him she’s getting married and wants to have another baby. But also, she’ll give it all up if he just comes back to her.

They had a daughter, but she must have died, which must have destroyed their marriage. But she tells him it wasn’t his fault, which she must have said a million times because she offers to keep telling him as much as he needs to hear it. But he denies her. I’m sure we’ll find out more about Brad’s past. But I will say, the reason he’s so great with Amy is that he had a daughter and maybe she reminds him of her.

Something switches in Brad, and he decides to change the plan. He’s not taking Amy to Colorado anymore. He puts Phil in a sleeper hold in the bathroom and ditches him. I’m sure this serves as the main storyline for the season.

Back at the lab, we hear one of my personal favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, “The Chain.” It’s not just playing over the scene. Lear is playing it for Fanning because he hopes his friend is somewhere in there. But the creature formally known as Fanning just stares at him.

A worker approaches Lear and tells him that he believes Fanning is still in there because he comes to him in his dreams. He says Fanning wants to go home. Lear brushes it off as cabin fever, but I think he has the nightmares, too.

Dr. Pet also gives us some more info about our former death row subjects, and how they each have a particular tick. Shauna’s is staring at Clark. As she drinks her lunch and stares some more at him, the music intensifies.

THE PASSAGE: Jamie McShane in THE PASSAGE premiering Monday, Jan. 14 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX Broadcasting. CR: Eliza Morse / FOX

The whole sequence reminds me of a similar story made into a television event. The Stand, by Stephen King, begins with Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” as it eerily plays over scenes of dead bodies caused by a virus.

Scared the absolute crap out of me as a kid – I may not sleep well tonight, or any Monday night for that matter.

Anyway, after Clark and Dr. Nichole get it on (because they’re a secret item), Clark has a nightmare about Shauna. So, maybe the random lab worker doesn’t have cabin fever. Maybe these blood-suckers are in all of their heads!

Unfortunately, Clark and Nichole find out that Brad has gone rogue and the people they work for are not happy. Although Clark and Brad have a history, having served three tours in the military together, Clark seems to have no loyalty to him and vows he’ll do what he needs to do.

Brad calls Lila to, I don’t know, check-in maybe? That’s not clear. But Clark is there with a bunch of henchmen. Thanks to Lila’s quick-thinking (pretending it was a patient of hers on the phone), he assures her that he’s doing everything for the right reasons. He also admits he loves her and never stopped.

Just when Brad decides to turn himself in, figuring if Amy gets on TV, they can’t hurt her, Clark and his posse show up and screw everything up.

It turns out Brad is some super-human army guy and can fight all these guys on his own. After a brief confrontation with Clark, they escape, but not before Clark shoots him.

And that’s basically the end of the episode.

THE PASSAGE: L-R: Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Saniyya Sidney in THE PASSAGE premiering Monday, Jan. 14 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX Broadcasting. CR: Eliza Morse / FOX

My opinion

The Passage has potential. It was slow-moving, but they put in a ton of back story. If I were writing the show, I would have started with Brad and Phil picking up Amy and slowly unfold the bit about Project NOAH and the scientists and the vampires, etc. I think that’s what a premium channel would have done with it.

I mean, shows can’t all be Lost and knock our socks off from the word “go.”

I will say, I love the soundtrack. I’m a big classic rock fan, and their use of songs in key scenes was appreciated.

Next. Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere date announced. dark

I also like seeing Mark-Paul Gosselaar in an action-hero role. And Saniyya Sidney is a star!

The Passage is worth tuning into for another week to see where it goes, especially since the suspense didn’t inaugurate until the end.

Did you watch The Passage? What did you think?