Between episode 6 review: War

Between concludes its six-episode Netflix run with yet more silliness and illogical plot developments...

This review contains spoilers.

1.6 War

Somewhere in my review notes I wrote down a series of tropes that get rolled out when writers have either lost all interest or run out of actual ideas. To get one of them in a show isn’t good, two is really bad, but War managed to deliver no fewer than four of them!

Those would be:

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  • The hidden tunnel
  • The parental revelation
  • The selfless, but pointless death
  • A person who is dead, who isn’t

On top of that I’d also throw a bad TV bonus score for a character that is only useful in one highly implausible situation being available.

But before we get to that, War starts where End Of The Rope ended, with Adam and his father. I’d give Adam’s father a name, but he doesn’t have one as far as I can see.

What’s mildly confusing is that it starts with Adam unconscious, where he wasn’t previously, and there is no sign of Ellen’s body any longer.

While I was still wondering why this seemed unnecessarily disjointed, the ‘secret tunnel’ trope landed with a thud. What made this even worse was how Adam reacted, like he’d never considered going underground, ever. From the outset we were told Adam was super-smart and going to MIT, whose standards have obviously dropped, because he’s an halfwit for most of Between. So how did he imagine his father got in, by osmosis?

Meanwhile Chuck is burying Amanda and planning revenge using a curled lip he rented for the occasion.

Gord has a short conversation with the girl who turned out to be married to someone else. I’d talk more about the futility of this character, but nothing about her goes anywhere. They then try to build some tension about how Chuck is going to get revenge on the Creekers (is that their surname or where they live, was it ever explained?) while Pat tries to defuse the situation as best he can.

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And then, after nearly a quarter of the episode where not much happens, we get our second trope where Adam’s father tells him that he needs to leave and then promptly dies of the virus, but not before spitting out three episodes’ worth of plot-explaining exposition. Except nothing about this scenario makes any sense. Adam is told that soldiers will come to Pretty Lake to cure people the cure, but they’ll actually be killing them, and they’ll also die within four hours.

That it is a virus makes no sense, because of the death of Ms. Symonds. The human body clock isn’t exact like an atomic chronograph, doesn’t know about leap years, or how premature or not your birth was. And, while we’re popping that balloon, how did Ellen remain alive given she was obviously older than twenty-two? Holes, we got a dozen of them in this very sloppy show.

What enhances the BS level here is that Mr Jones gets symptoms before ‘dying’, where nobody else we’ve seen before has exhibited any. Let’s think that through… he designed a virus and it kills people, and he’s probably seen how it acts, but he fakes some symptoms to a kid who has seen lots of people die without any! The obvious conclusion is that he’s an utter moron.

Mr Jones ‘dies’ and Adam has to make the choice of using the ‘secret’ but clearly visible to anyone tunnel or go back and try to save the population of Pretty Lake. If that scene wasn’t bad enough, we’re then the showdown in the Church where Pat gives himself up and Wiley stops Chuck killing him by using situational distraction.

Her technique is interesting, by taking this opportunity to announce to everyone who the child’s father is. And, it’s that infamous Mr Burns impersonator, Lotts Snr.

That was a pretty creepy revelation, and it got much worse when Wiley later tries to explain to her sister that ‘there was something between us that actually mattered’. Seriously, how no one gags at the idea of them together is beyond me, or even mutters ‘statutory rape’ under their breath. Not sure it tops killing kids to inject tension, but it’s up there with things in Between that weren’t necessary or just rather disturbing.

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While everyone is reassessing Mr Lotts’ sexual prowess, Adam turns up and relays the exposition best he can (not well), so that having been intent on killing each other, the Creekers and the Hockey Team are now a multi-skilled fighting force ready to take down the man. Or just stop him killing all the people in Pretty Lake, if they can. They only have a small number that can do anything, so this would have been a really pointless exercise. But conveniently the virus can do something that no other can and circumvent a hazmat suit, so it’s killing the invaders conveniently.

After much silliness, Adam makes it to the control room of the prison and shuts it down with the help of the one amongst them who has been an inmate, just in time for his father to come back from the dead for yet another dose of exposition.

This one piles the BS on even thicker than before, because he tells Adam that the virus is based on his own DNA! No really, that’s remarkably stupid.

I’m not a pathogen expert, but even I know that if you wanted to create a virus, starting with an organism that wasn’t one (i.e. human) it would take much longer than starting with an actual virus. Mr Jones is a crack-head, or a compulsive liar or both. Adam shoots him thankfully before he goes for a third try, possibly the best thing he’s done in six episodes.

The only thing I accepted that was said here was the population control stuff, because that was obvious much earlier on in the series.

Pat’s seen Butch Cassidy too many times, and if he’d only had a longer conversation with Chuck he’d of lived. Melissa dies in a van wreck that doesn’t even scratch Wiley or baby Jason proving that she was indeed closer to God.

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And then, there is a prologue part which sort of hints at the continuation of the story, astoundingly. After six gruelling episodes peppered with dire dialogue, phone-it-in acting and a premise that the show never actually gets behind it was finally over. Relief doesn’t cover it.

What blows my mind is how this was ever green-lit to begin with, because the pitch must have been that it was Degrassi: The Next Generation meets Under The Dome. Like those ideas go together, somehow. Hey if that works, I could pitch Enid Blyton’s Famous Five Vs The Waffen SS, or The Art of War by Sun Tzu presented by Sesame Street, or a musical version of Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers!

I can’t conceive this will get another run as it has a one-star rating, but someone said ‘Hell, Yes!’ when it was offered to them previously. If by some perverse twist of curious fortune it gets renewed, I’ll be saying ‘Hell, No’ to covering its continuation.

Netflix should give a free month to anyone who sat through all six episodes of this, by way of an apology.

Read Mark’s review of the previous episode, The End Of The Rope, here.