Beyond: “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

Freeform, formerly known as ABC Family, has been around for almost exactly a year. Shadowhunters was the first installment in the programming schedule, and it’s been performing quite well, despite its resounding critical “meh.” Shadowhunters, if you’ll recall, was originally a book found in the “Young Adult” section of your local Barnes & Noble. Hunger Games, The Maze Runner,  and Divergent are all examples of the genre that has found its place instantly and simultaneously in all forms of storytelling. It seems a book can’t be written without a three movie deal carbon-copied beneath the publishing contract. Beyond, though, breaks the mold.

Beyond will be the channel’s second entry in original programming. How original is it? Totally original. This show has not been ported in from some haphazard comic book, nor was it the continuation of a novel series that the young men and women of America could not get enough of. Beyond reminds us that, sometimes, the small screen is more than a stage for poorly written adaptations.

In order to see what more television has to offer, you’ll have to look Beyond.

The Characters

It might surprise you to learn that the original YA novel is Catcher in the Rye, which starred the infamous Holden Caulfield. Our hero in this YA series is none other than Holden Matthews (Burkely Duffield). Coincidence? Probably.

Holden (Matthews, not Caulfield) wakes from a twelve-year coma, with—you guessed it—special powers. Holden has no recollection of the past twelve years.

At home, Holden is welcomed back by Luke (Jonathan Whitesell), his younger brother. Luke has grown from the seven year-old boy that Holden left behind, into the a college student, and possible drug dealer. Aren’t all younger brothers drug dealers or addicts, though?

Representing Holden’s mysterious past, the equally mysterious Willa Frost (Dilan Gwyn) introduces herself while shopping for underwear. Introduce is a strong word; Willa warns Holden not to trust anyone.

The Themes

Harry Potter may be the template for the modern Young Adult novel. A single child becomes the final hope for some secret world or populace by discovering a secret power that makes them special.

The theme, for any one of these books, is that the main character is special. They are the only one that can stop some ancient evil, or nefarious threat. Holden is no different. He has a power that he (or the audience) cannot begin to fathom on his own. This power will come into play when Willa reveals a villain is trying to destroy a world Holden has forgotten.

This theme is popular because the main character is easily relatable in every way besides his supernatural power. Even Harry Potter had girl problems, and he was The Boy that Lived.

The Criticism

I had to pause the first episode to pull up Wikipedia to check what book this was adapted from. I was genuinely surprised to find Beyond was an original work, written for television. This is not a good thing. The CW routinely produces shows that seem like poorly written clones of previous shows or even poorer written adaptations of better shows. This felt like the CW, but with the censorship of ABC Family behind it.

The Conjecture

The season ends with a name and face given to the grave threat hovering over whatever world Holden discovered in his coma.

The Conclusion

The most upsetting part is that Beyond isn’t even a bad show. It’s a slow-paced, predictable show that I refuse to grace with allocation of my time. I would encourage you to consider the same, unless you happen to be a fan of the Mortal Instruments show and wish the directors of that show would have written a book that could be adapted to that same channel.

While the whole season had been released at once, I couldn’t get Beyond episode three.

If you’re interested in the series, Beyond can be found in its entirety on Freeform. If you’d like to see what else Cody is watching, you can check his Trakt page to keep up-to-date with all of his shows.

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