Good news, guys: Netflix’s new apocalyptic drama answers the age-old question: what happens to the rain on Danes? (Answer: it really messes with their brains). Horrific punning aside, if you have been waiting ten years for an updated (and less ridiculous) version of The Happening, it’s finally… happened.
Directed by Kenneth Kainz and Natasha Arthy, The Rain follows the adventures of siblings, Simone and Rasmus Andersen (Alba August and Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen), who survive a deadly rainfall that has decimated Denmark’s population. Anyone hit by these raindrops suffers from convulsions before keeling over dead in a matter of moments. Hiding underground in a mysterious bunker that their father deposited them in before leaving for unspecified reasons, the sister and brother remain there safely for six years before they encounter a group of young people scavenging for food in what has become a post-apocalyptic wasteland. After forging an uneasy alliance, Simone agrees to help the team’s leader, Martin (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, A Royal Affair), search for food. Meanwhile, she and her brother attempt to find their father, who they believe may be part of a mission to solve the crisis.
As much as this summation is to take in, this is in fact only episode one. And while the remaining seven episodes aren’t quite so choc-a-block, things continue to zip along. This is a welcome change from the endless narrative shuffling found in The Walking Dead. However, while this quick pace does enough to keep the viewer’s interest, it also does detriment to the show’s world building.
In particular, the gap of six years feels like a stretch when it comes to our band of young people. This isn’t the case for the lead protagonists. The Andersen siblings have visibly matured over the course of their bunker stay. Rasmus is played by child actor Bertil De Lorenzi as a ten-year-old boy and we see his evolution into man. Meanwhile, Simone during her time in the bunker fashioned herself a grown-up bob which works well. However, in contrast, the rest of the youngsters (as seen in Lost-esque flashbacks) don’t really appear to have aged. Moreover, little explanation is given as to how most of them have survived in all that time. While some of them have had traumatic experiences and endured hardships, it feels ultimately like six months have passed rather than six years.
Back stories aside, however, the adventures the group find themselves on are suitably scary and intriguing. Simone, after being tasked by her father in typically vague prophetic fashion to take special care of her brother who might just be special for some reason or another, spends a lot of time trying to protect Rasmus from the various dangers they encounter. This includes the Strangers, a shady force that steals supplies, kills and kidnaps hapless survivors, and appears to be policing the Danish countryside, as well as other outlandish end-of-the-world survivalists. In doing so, The Rain places its protagonists in some genuinely tricky moral dilemmas regarding survival, sacrifice, and alliances.
The series does fall down somewhat when it comes to the group’s interpersonal relationships. While there are genuinely touching moments between the siblings and their friends, the love triangles wouldn’t feel out of place in a high school drama and often take the wind out of the sails of an otherwise momentum-filled episode. Furthermore, due to the age discrepancies (at least between the actors, if not specified in-show) at times the on-screen romance can make for uncomfortable viewing.
These romance plots also suggest that the intended age group may indeed be a teenage one: this is highlighted by the show’s sustained ogling of Tønnesen’s Rasmus. Bunker-bound until the age of sixteen, we learn that Rasmus has spent this time pumping iron and the camera regularly focuses on his often scantily-clad torso. This raises many questions (such as why he skipped leg days) but mainly made me wonder what the viewer is meant to get out of this. Perhaps that’s just my pre-apocalyptic prudishness showing.
Overall, The Rain is at its most interesting when exploring the nefarious goings-on which may be behind the deadly precipitation, and the good news is it picks up steam along the way. The series concludes with indications that its second series will continue in this vein. While at times it comes across as a strange mix of naivety and brutality which doesn’t always work, and you will be sick of the word “bunker” in any language by episode eight, The Rain’s first season holds plenty of promise which will hopefully be delivered on.