Back in the early days of the Internet, I remember following some SF/F newsgroups and being utterly baffled by how so many grown women—authors, no less!—would spend a lot of time discussing a show with a really silly name. Why are these adults fans of what sounds like a cheesy show for, at best, teenagers, I wondered. So did Elio, when I told him.
Then I happened to catch part of an episode of said show, being rerun during the day. Something caught my attention and I felt like maybe we should try watching it, but it took a while before I suggested it to Elio. After all, we’d laughed about how silly it must be. But eventually we swallowed our pride and gave it a go.
That show was Buffy the Vampire Slayer and ever since then we’ve been huge fans of Joss Whedon. So when we first heard of The Nevers we were thrilled that there’d be a new Whedon show.
We weren’t wrong to have high expectations. The first six episodes of The Nevers were fantastic, with a great balance between an engaging story and well-rounded, interesting characters. I particularly liked that they did not play too coy with the big questions; even from the first episode I was saying that by the end of this season, the shape of the story will have changed radically. The big reveal of the sixth episode was not something that they tried to completely hide from the viewers, but instead cleverly laid a trail towards. In fact, I think the Maladie swap and her staging her own execution was a bigger surprise than Amalia turning out to be a consciousness from the future placed in the body of a woman of the period.
The final episode of the “mini season” gave us flashbacks to Epitaph One and Epitaph Two, the brilliant epilogues from Dollhouse. Some people have been bothered by similar story elements appearing in both shows, but I really don’t see a problem with that. Many writers like to explore the same themes in different stories and while Whedon managed to finish Dollhouse beautifully thanks to the two wrap-up episodes, it was a show that came to an end too soon and probably left unexplored elements on the table.
Unfortunately, The Nevers could easily meet a similar fate. Or rather, in one sense it already has. The fact that Whedon is no longer helming the show almost made me decide against watching it at all since I am dreading the idea of something like this being finished by another creator. How good would Babylon 5 have been if JMS had left after a season, even if he’d left plans and notes behind? But, the previews were so tempting that I couldn’t keep from watching. I am glad I did, but I am very concerned about the show’s future. Will it even continue? And if so, will we be getting the true story from someone else or will it be like The Wheel of Time after Jordan’s death? Or The Secret World without Ragnar Törnqvist? Some of the interviews with the actors following the sixth episode have not been encouraging in this regard, as they have spoken of not being sure if things they had learned about their characters still would come into play under the new showrunner.
Ultimately, it is a damn shame we’ll not see this finished as intended. If HBO had any sense they would bring Whedon back. The uproar about him has been senseless. He’s not a criminal of any kind. He may have been something of an asshole towards some people on projects 20 years ago (I am not counting the Justice League movie, it seems clear everyone was on unhappy from the start of the reshoots), but if people are fine with working with him, as the cast and crew of The Nevers clearly seem to have been, what’s the issue? None at all, as far as I am concerned, in case you were wondering.