The Society season 1 premiere recap: What Happened


The Society is Lord of the Flies meets the CW’s Riverdale.

There’s not a lot happening in the premiere of The Society but “What Happened” has a lot of characters to introduce in this hour. For fans of Under the Dome or The 100, the basic premise of the show is pretty familiar. The teens of West Ham are all alone now that everyone else has mysteriously vanished. Not only that, but the town itself seems to have been transported to an entirely different location, now completely surrounded by woods at every exit.

To kick things off, the high school is in the middle of a theater production that seemingly the entire town is attending. The Society introduces us to Kelly (Kristine Froseth) and her boyfriend Harry (Alex Fitzalan) who are outside making out. However, a weird smell distracts them long enough for Cassandra (Rachel Keller) to come storming out to grab Harry. Turns out he’s her co-lead and fierce rival at school. We only get to see a short scene of the play about flipping a coin before the production is over.

Before the disappearance happens, The Society uses the post-play to show viewers some of the high school dynamics. Harry is wealthy, popular, and kind of a jerk who is still upset about losing class president to Cassandra. Considering he only invites the popular kids to parties and doesn’t seem to have an interest in doing anything other than hanging out, it’s no surprise people didn’t vote for him. Kelly seems to be sweet, since she immediately extends an invitation out to anyone, but also bends to Harry’s will.

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Then we have Cassandra’s younger sister, Allie (Kathryn Newton), who happily sits in the shadow of her sister. Newton is a star in the making, and it’s no surprise that she stands out immediately among a pretty large ensemble cast. Allie has a big crush on her best friend Will (Jacques Colimon), a foster kid from the outskirts of town, but he actually has a thing for Kelly.  Basically, this high school has a lot of drama.

Cut to the next day, apparently, the entire school is heading on a field trip to the mountains. This is really the only time we get to see the parents in the pilot episode, which makes their disappearance feel a little hollow. Harry’s mom seems to be in charge of the town and she’s worried about the return of the weird smell. She also has a business meeting with an ominous looking guy who will undoubtedly be important in the future. Two more of the popular kids, Luke (Alexander MacNicoll) and Grizz (Jack Mulhern) see some graffiti on the church which seems to forewarn of some trouble.

It’s a bit funny to hear the two talk about how rare graffiti is in the town and how they’ve never seen it but the town sign is literally tagged to say “West Sham”. Do they never leave town? Nevertheless, The Society has a quick montage of the entire school getting onto five buses to head on their field trip. This is just nitpicking but seriously how does the school fit into only five buses? Not to mention, they’re going on an overnight trip from a wealthy town in regular school buses?

Shockingly, the kids are woken up in the middle of the night to learn they’ve all returned to West Ham because of a mudslide. No one questions the bus drivers, who all promptly drive away without another word. The kids are a little shocked to find their parents aren’t there to pick them up but return home anyway.

Cassandra rallies all of the teens back into town to try and comfort them with any reasonable explanation. She thinks West Ham could’ve been evacuated for the smell and offers to let anyone who’s scared to stay at her house with Allie. Harry doesn’t think so, and he gathers his friends for a giant party at the church. Even more drama ensues there since Harry is drunkenly flirting with another girl so Kelly dumps him. Meanwhile, Grizz notices the graffiti is gone but his friends couldn’t care less. Allie finally works up the drunken courage to kiss Will but he’s not at all receptive of that.

Sam (Sean Berdy) is enjoying himself but wants to speak with Becca (Gideon Adlon) who doesn’t have an interest in the party but just videotaping it. His brother, Campbell (Toby Wallace), quickly earns the status of “main villain” after treating his brother terribly and making an aggressive pass at Elle (Olivia DeJonge). He tries to play it off as her being a “cold ballerina” but grabs her arm when she tries to leave.

At home, Gordie (Jose Julian) and Bean (Salena Qureshi) discover that their data is gone as well as any satellite connection. Apparently, the cellphones work for calling or texting the kids who are in West Ham but no one outside of it. Harry, Luke, Grizz, Clark (Spencer House) decide to go on a road trip to find a way out of town. The road trip cements that Grizz is actually the only one of the guys who seems to know anything, especially when Clark refers to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as “The Boyle dude”. They’re all shocked to learn the roads out of town lead nowhere and West Ham is surrounded by woods.

The main cast of The Society gathers on the bridge to discuss their options. Luke’s girlfriend, Helena (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), thinks there’s a reason that they’ve all survived. Harry thinks it’s all some kind of elaborate game. Nevertheless, Luke and Grizz volunteer to go trek through the woods with some other people. Apparently, Luke wants to help anyone they can find and Grizz is an adventure expert.

Everyone else descends into chaos when Campbell sends a text revealing the situation. Again, he just seems to be in it for all the mayhem, not to try and help people. At the grocery store, Will and Allie call a truce to get food. Honestly, for her best friend he comes across as a bit rude. He doesn’t have to be into her, but he could easily just be honest about that rather than hide his crush on Kelly and give Allie the silent treatment. At the grocery store, Allie confronts Elle after she started hoarding all of the carrots. It feels very on-the-nose since Allie gives a speech about how she’s not the protagonist but her sister is. Sorry Allie, but you’re very clearly the protagonist.

Cassandra does have a breakdown though, realizing that she can’t find her pills (not sure for what though) and fear that she’ll die from her pacemaker. Gordie serves as a support system, promising to learn how to take care of her if they don’t find a way out. It’s a touching moment, and definitely cements him as someone we’d like to have by our side in this situation. Luckily, Allie had her pills all along out of fear Cassandra would forget them. She also tells her sister to pull it together because she’s depending on her to pull through this.

A meeting is called at the church again, and Cassandra stands up to take charge. She points out that they need to lead through democracy and lay down some simple rules. Mainly, don’t steal and don’t hurt each other. Most people seem to be onboard except for the wealthy kids who don’t want to share, including Harry. Sadly, Campbell steps in with a gun and threatens Cassandra only driving her point home about chaos. She’s more than happy to die and even tells him to shoot her while she pushes Allie behind her defensively. Campbell laughs it off since he doesn’t have an interest in actually killing her. But he does announce the meeting is over and takes his own rebel group on the way out.

However, before everyone can leave, Luke and Grizz arrive holding one of the girls who went with them on the hike. She was bitten by a snake and died from the venom. With no way out, limited food supplies, and unknown dangers in the woods, it looks like life got a lot worse in only one day.

Also, Kelly breaks up with Harry just long enough for Will to tell her how he feels before she returns to Harry. While she might have feelings for Will, the truth is Harry is the person who is more likely to keep her alive. However, it doesn’t seem like she’ll stick with Campbell’s group for long given the fact that she does seem like a genuinely nice person.

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The Society definitely has the makings to be a good show. “What Happened” does feel very reminiscent of The 100‘s pilot, which wound up being much more thought-provoking than viewers could’ve guessed after that first episode. However, the large cast does make a lot of the guys just feel like generic jocks versus sensitive nice guys. Hopefully, they get fleshed out more in the episodes to come. Also, it’s confusing to figure out everyone’s ages on the show. Cassandra is a senior but looks and dresses like someone already in their twenties but Allie is her younger sister who seems to also be a senior?

Speaking of Allie, Netflix releasing this show now is a smart marketing move on their part. Detective Pikachu drops today which Kathryn Newton is the female lead of. Newton has been a rising star since last year, standing out in supporting role on Big Little Lies and leading the Wayward Sisters pilot which was eventually passed over by the CW.

What did you think of the premiere of The Society? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!