The Crossing Episode 1 Review: Pilot

The Crossing premiere is more concerned with mysteries than its characters.

The Crossing Episode 1

How much mystery do you need to hook an audience? An essential element of any pilot is keeping people in their seats not just for 40 minutes but hopefully a season’s worth of episodes. The pilot has to hook audiences and keep them interested enough to make sure they don’t drop out.  A good mystery can be a solid way to keep audiences interested, which The Crossing does have.

A large group of people wash up on the shore of northwestern town and say they’re from the future. Boom, that’s a great hook to play with.

The problem is that the pilot forgets that another essential element of any pilot is good characters. Without them even the greatest mystery will fail to engage. We’re certainly introduced to a lot of characters but there are nearly as many main players as there are mysteries to go along with them. 

I don’t mean everyone has a motivation that will carry them through the show. I mean nearly all the characters add new wrinkles to the initial hook of the people washed up on the shore. Basically it’s a lot of characters being extremely vague about the future and why they left it instead of letting us know anything about them as people. It’s too much for a pilot. 

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There’s too much happening and it’s tough to tell what the central conflict of the show is. The only one that comes close is the sheriff, Jude, wants to handle the refugees from the future but the government won’t let him. That could have worked but he’s sidelined from the refugee plot for much of the pilot so he ends up being more of a side character than the leader the intro sets him up to be.

The refugee side of things is frustrating because there’s a good idea there about people fleeing from what sounds like a pretty bleak future. It’s an excellent chance for some social commentary but it’s wasted on adding new layers to the mystery that weren’t needed.

There’s actually a seasons worth of revelations about the future within the pilot itself, which again sucks time away from character moments. There’s a side plot that’s only given two scenes between an agent and one of the refugees that attempts to add a human side to it but it has no substance.

The only character I really connected with in the pilot was Jude’s deputy who has a bad sugar habit. It’s the only bit of levity in the pilot and it was much appreciated. The rest of it is the characters looking lost or giving vague exposition.

If the future is such a huge plot point in this show we needed to see at least a little bit of it. I get trying to hold back some big reveals but without getting a visual of the future it becomes a lot of telling and no showing. Whatever’s going on in Future!America sounds more compelling than what’s going on here.

The Crossing is trying to work solely on plot and it thinks throwing character after character and vague hint after hint at you you’ll stick around. It was enough for the first ten minutes or so but after awhile I was struggling to find a reason why anyone was doing anything. It needed emotional hooks.

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Why did these people flee the future besides it not being super great? Why does Jude have such a problem with the government Steve Zahn tries his best as Jude and I wish he’d gotten more human moments to play because the meandering plot gives him so little.

What the pilot needed was to cut the main cast by half and give everyone else a little moment to shine that doesn’t involve them talking about the future. As it is The Crossing pilot is pretty boring. Not even the big mystery it spends so much time on is compelling enough to keep you watching.

Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Follow him on Twitter!  


1 out of 5