'See' Review for Apple TV+: Off to a great start with a few stumbles along the way

Jason Momoa as Baba Voss in the Apple TV+ series See
(Image: © Apple)

Apple TV+ is very much in its infancy as a streaming service, with limited shows currently available (most of which only have a few episodes). It's easy to be curious about just how this service will fair in an already crowded media streaming space. If Apple TV+ is going to have any chance of making it, Apple will have to provide a good product.

See is a high-fantasy drama set in a post-apocalyptic future where the most of the remaining people on earth are blind and those that do see, are hunted as heretics. Here's a little dive into the first three episodes, streaming right now on Apple TV+, and how I think the show has been so far.

Spoiler Warning: Beyond this point, I will provide some details of the show's first three episodes. Although I will attempt to avoid any significant spoilers as best as I can, there will be certain plot points and surprises that I talk about. Tread forward with that in mind.

The basic premise

Right, I have always been interested in the premise of See. While post-apocalyptic shows are a dime-a-dozen, taking away one of the five senses from most of your cast right at the start is certainly an interesting experiment.

The basic premise is quickly summed up with some text at the beginning of the first episode, which states that sometime in the 21st century, there was a deadly virus that wiped out most people on earth, leaving only a mere two million people left. Unfortunately, those who survived were blinded, and now centuries later, the sense of sight is considered a myth. It's heresy to even speak about sight, and if you are even thought of to have the gift of sight, you are supposed to burn.

The story follows a bunch of different people — more on that later — but you start off by mostly follow Baba Voss (Jason Momoa), the leader of the Alkenny tribe, and his pregnant wife, Maghra (Hera Hilmar). At the very beginning of the first episode, Paris (Alfre Woodward) is tending to Maghra as she's in labor, while Voss is defending their home from invading attackers. The story unfolds from here.

An immersive storytelling experience with complex characters

The Alkenny tribe marching down the river (Image credit: Apple)

The first episode — title Godflame — throws you immediately in a very tense situation with the Alkenny tribe preparing for a battle in the dangerous wooden and mountainous terrain, immediately puts you on the edge of your seat. i found myself questioning all the ways that blind people may be able to fight each other, and watching the tribe communicate and prepare for battle is a highlight.

"See does a truly amazing job of building a world that is filled with clever little surprises at every turn."

The battle itself is also spectacular as you see the Alkenny tribe feel their way around the battlefield listening for a very subtle cue — the light tapping of a rock by Baba Voss — and the tension it creates is nothing short of awesome, which brings me to the best part about the series so far, the world-building.

Very few shows have had me as intrigued in the history, traditions, and the way of life of its central characters. See does a truly amazing job of building a world that is filled with clever little surprises at every turn. Certain tribe members have a keen sense of smell called "Scentiers," and the tribe relies on them to detect people, animals, blood, and other things. There are a whole group of individuals, called "Presages," that have the uncanny ability to detect people's emotions, almost like a sixth sense. Festivals of dancing are a way for tribes to come together and find mates, so their bloodlines don't become stale. These are just a few of the unique and cool details that make the world of See come alive across the first few episodes, and I can't' wait to see what the show does with it all.

"Sylvia Hoeks' portrayal of Queen Kane is uncomfortable and captivating every time she's on-screen."

On top of that, I have been very surprised at some of the performances. Although Baba Voss isn't a far stretch from other characters Jason Momoa has played in his career, he handles the unique complexities of the role quite well despite the issues the script sometime provides. Although in the first three episodes you don't see a lot of Queen Kane, Sylvia Hoeks is certainly captivating in a very uncomfortable way, making her scenes really pop on screen.

Lackluster second episode sets the stage for jumbled exposition

Alkenny tribe crossing a rope bridge (Image credit: Apple)

So far, the worst part across the first three episodes has been the inconsistent pacing. The show seems to struggle with what exactly it is at times. Drama at all times, but super action-filled one second and then onto a scene that's a bit dull and muted. Plus, as a more serious offense, almost the entire second episode is exposition. I thought the show did a fantastic job in the first episode of throwing you into this strange world, leaving you with a sense of confusion that slowly gets lifted as the story progressed.

Unfortunately, the second episode threw that away and started to explain away every little detail, even at times, having characters spell out their motivations point-blank. It was a stark contrast to the pilot episode, and luckily, episode three returned to a better style of storytelling that was more nuanced.

While there is something awesome about how ambitious See can be at times, the structure and the bouncing around between different characters and scenes does cause things to become a tad jumbled. Other shows have had fragmented storytelling structures like See, but unfortunately, the script is a little lacking in some areas to hold it together at all times. There's a lot of vision and artistry in the show, and I hope that the later episodes we get to see that reined in a little more.

My final thoughts on the season so far

I'm looking forward to more episodes of See, which come out every Friday for the next five weeks. I see a huge potential in the story going forward as some of the new additions of the story become more fleshed-out characters. The show's writer, Steven Knight, and director, Francis Lawrence, do a good job of building a world I can believe in. Seasoned actors like Jason Momoa and Sylvia Hoeks command your attention with their performance.

However, with the murky and overly simplified second episode threw up red flags for me that the entire telling of this story may end up weakened by too much exposition. With five episodes to go, we'll have to see what Knight does for the new characters coming into the fold.

I'm on board, though. See has a lot to offer. It's refreshing in this day and age to see a high-fantasy, post-apocalyptic show that isn't based on any source material. See is new and exciting even if it's a little rough around the edges.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.