It is said that places change people. Just like the place someone belongs to shapes up their worldview and psyche, similarly, the ability to adapt to a place that subscribes to unfavorable characteristics, or lack thereof, can affect people differently. Epix’s mystery horror series “From” examines that as the setting of the narrative itself plays the role of a character that oppresses its inhabitants to their breaking point—to such an extent that, bereft of hope, the prospect of escaping seems as fantastical to some as the fear of change, even from a nightmarish existence, grasps others. The series definitely takes elements from the popular supernatural survival series of yesteryear, “Lost” and probably as a nod to that, Harold Perinneau, who played the role of Michael Dawson in “Lost,” also plays the lead role of Sheriff Boyd Stevens in “From.” As the second season of the series is about to release within a couple of days, it’d be best to jog our memories by discussing the first season of “From” and important plot points that might be integral to the next season.
A Town Of The Damned
As the series begins, the viewers are introduced to a rundown town somewhere in middle America, whose inhabitants seem rather gloomy and low-spirited. The town sheriff, Boyd Stevens, sets off on his daily patrol duty of alerting the inhabitants about getting inside their house before the daylight recedes, and talismans with archaic markings are seen beside their closed doors. As the sheriff enters the police station, a reminder about more than three months of respite from nighttime incidents can be seen. Residents of the town close the doors and windows with an almost practiced rush.
Soon, the reason for the sheriff’s alert and the inhabitants’ rush will make sense. A young girl named Meagan lets an elderly woman, claiming to be her grandmother, enter their house through the window during the night. An action that results in a horrific disaster as the woman turns out to be a humanoid monster who brutally mangles and dismembers the girl and her mother, Lauren, to death. We get to know that the town is a spatial paradox, where people who once get trapped can never escape. And obviously, to make matters worse, the night gets infested with humanoid, monstrous creatures who take pleasure in torturing any hapless victim to death who mistakenly roams outside. The only known deterrent is the talisman hanging close to the doors. People from across the country have ended up in the town while driving, following a situation where the road was blocked by a fallen tree, which made them take a detour and see a murder of crows. Means of communication with the outside world are also denied in the town, making people forever stuck in this hellhole for years. We are also introduced to a bunch of characters who have appeared in the town at various points in time: Sheriff Boyd and his son Ellis, with whom he shares an estranged relationship; Fatima, Ellis’s girlfriend; deputy sheriff Kenny Liu and his parents; an elderly tough cookie named Donna; town pastor Father Khatri; the medico named Kristi; and sibling duo Nathan and Sara. There is also Victor, a mysterious individual who has survived in the town the longest, right since his childhood.
The town is separated into two distinct factions: the main township, under the service of Sheriff Boyd, Deputy Kenny, and Father Khatri, operating within traditional democratic regulation, and the free-spirited people residing in the Colony House located in the upland, under the charge of Donna. There is also a ritualistic procedure for the selection of residing places in either of the mentioned factions that newcomers have to partake in.
The Matthews, a family of four consisting of the parents Jim and Tabitha, their teenage daughter Julie, and their young son Ethan, are going on a road trip in their RV when the family witnesses the same fallen tree and the hovering crows. The family moves through the town and stops to ask for directions right at the moment when the funeral of Lauren and Meagan is being held. Sheriff Boyd directs him to a route, knowing full well that the family will be stuck in a loop for a while. However, after traversing the same road over and over again, the family gets into an accident as the RV crashes into the woods while dodging another oncoming vehicle from the opposite side. The injured driver of the car, Tobey, arrives at the town asking for help, and Kristi, Khatri, Boyd, and Kenny arrive at the spot to rescue the two parties. Another passenger in the car, Tobey’s friend Jade, is rescued along with the three members of the Matthews family. However, Ethan has gotten his leg pierced by a wooden shaft that can’t be removed without surgery, and Jim decides to stay the night at the RV with Boyd and Kristi to aid his son.
The rest of the bunch, consisting of Jade, Tabitha, Julie, Kenny, and Khatri, race against time to enter a secure location before the nocturnal monsters catch up to them, and they enter the colony house. The Matthews are brought up to speed about the occurrences in the town, and despite their initial disbelief, they gradually realize the grim situation they are in. During their house-choosing ceremony, Julie chooses to stay in Colony House with Ellis and Fatima, contrary to her parents wishes to stay in the main township.
Deaths, Clues, And Shared Grief
Meanwhile, Sara hears voices, presumably those of the monsters who ask her to kill Tobey and allow their entry into the hospital. To convince Sara, the voices have previously predicted the appearance of two parties of newcomers and threatened that if she doesn’t obey their commands, her brother Nathan will die. Sara is unable to defy their command and ends up killing Tobey, also letting the monsters enter the hospital, and butchering Kenny’s dementia-afflicted father. Sara vaguely mentions the situation to her brother Nathan, who gets concerned about her predicament.
Ethan spots a boy of his same age dressed in white and later mentions that to Victor. Victor takes him to the wilderness to locate him and shows him a faraway tree that can teleport objects sent inside to random locations. Sara once again hears the command of the voices who ask her to kill Ethan in exchange for the freedom of the townsfolk from this existence, and morally conflicted, she asks Kristi whether one bad decision justifies a greater good. Kristi, unaware of her motivations, gives a verbal affirmation. A concerned Nathan informs Father Khatri about his sister’s connection with the monsters, and the duo rushes to find her. Nathan catches her sister as she is about to kill Ethan, but in the struggle, Sarah ends up killing Nathan. Father Khatri chases Sarah into the wilderness and holds her in the basement of the church for questioning, but she falsifies to the townsfolk, stating she went missing.
Meanwhile, Jade, an eccentric genius, comes up with a plan to send radio transmissions to the outer world by going over the treetop canopy of the region. He asks for Jim’s help to fix the means but starts getting flashes of colonial-era terrors and flees off. Among other visions, Jade sees a particular symbol, which he shows to Kenny’s mother, Mrs. Liu, who shows him a book containing a similar symbol from her inventory.
A Bolt Out Of Blue And The Last Stand
As members of the township try to come up with an escape plan in their own way, tragedy strikes once again in the most unexpected way. As the colony house celebrates Fatima’s one-year anniversary of being stranded in the town, one of the monsters manages to trick a resident into giving access to the building, which initiates a panic and bloodbath. Julie manages to escape with Victor’s help, who sends her inside a faraway tree, which teleports her to a house in the township. Fatima and Ellise managed to stay alive by affixing a talisman inside a room with two closed doors. Father Khatri loses his life in the monster attack, but not before letting Boyd know about the situation regarding Sara.
After losing fourteen lives in the Country House massacre, even the oldest members of the town, like Donna, get frustrated and anxious, considering any possibility of an escape to be a false hope. Jim and Jade manage to get permission to affix a tower atop the colony house, and Boyd reconciles with his son one last time before setting off further inside the forest to find out about a possible escape route by seeking Sara’s assistance. In the meantime, Tabitha and her children manage to dig a deep hole in the basement of their house after learning that the power cables supplying electricity in the township are out of wires.
In a flashback sequence, we are shown the period when Boyd and his family had first arrived in the township and helped Father Khatri and Donna organize supplies, install a proper chain of command, and help the township live, not just survive. However, Boyd’s wife, Abby, was gradually losing her sanity thanks to the relentless hopelessness projected by the place. One night, Boyd ventured further into the forest and spent a night there after discovering the mystical talismans that dissuaded the monsters from attacking. Meanwhile, Abby had lost her sanity by then, and the next morning she started shooting people all over the township, convinced by the thought that they were in an inescapable dream. Boyd arrives and tries to calm her down, but this aggravates the situation as Abby considers that there could have been no way Boyd made it through the night in the wilderness, and her suspicion about dreams gets even more confirmed to her. Boyd ended up shooting her to death after seeing her aim for their son, Ellis. This resulted in an estranged relationship between the father and son since then, which was finally resolved before Boyd started his journey to the forest.
As Boyd and Sara managed to find a seaside watchtower at the far end of the forest, Sara informed them that venturing into the forest would result in dire consequences in the future. Jade and Jim manage to construct the tower and transmit a signal to the other side, but they receive a threat from the other side about his wife Tabitha, whom we see trapped further inside a collapsing basement. Victor arrives, escorts Tabitha out of the place, and remarks that the underground is the resting place of the monsters. Seeing the imminent threat of receding daylight, Sara pushes Boyd inside a faraway tree under the command of the boy in white, and Boyd gets stuck inside a narrow cellar. As the first season of the series ends, we see a bus full of people arriving at the township.
What Can Be Expected From Season 2 Of ‘From’?
The plot progression of the first season of the series hinted at a “Stranger Things”-“Dungeons and Dragons” kind of narrative device, as a significant amount of the plot was related to the childish sketches of Victor and the quest motif. It should come as no surprise if the second season reveals the connection between the story of “The Flight of Cromenockle,” a book Ethan loves and mentions time and time again. Are the people stuck inside a story that is being written and controlled by uncontrollable forces, or have they entered a pocket dimension that is governed by a sadist authority like in the movie “Cabin in the Woods”? Another connection shared by the key characters of the denizens of the township is trauma or longing for human connection, something that has been overlooked in the series but can also be highlighted in the next season. The absence of the Bible, the holy book, from the town, as mentioned by Father Khatri, once again hints at a conventionally ominous connection with otherworldly forces, and Sara’s ability to communicate with deceased people might shed light on that.