the society

9 Lingering Questions About The Society’s Bonkers First Season

Photo: Seacia Pavao/Netflix

Netflix’s latest YA drama The Society is a healthy mix of Lord of Flies, Lost, and teens being teens. It tells the story of the teenagers of West Ham, Connecticut, a town where a mysterious smell once thought gone has returned. And as ridiculous as that sentence is, things only get more insane from there.

The teens are sent off on a field trip, only for inclement weather to turn them immediately back. When they get off those buses, they’re in a place that seems just like the West Ham they know and love, but there are some differences: The smell is gone, and so is everyone else. Those 200-plus teenagers are all alone, and can’t leave. They have no idea where they are, how they got there, or if they can ever get back home. After some obvious debauchery, the kids have to figure out how to survive. There are love triangles and high-school rivalries and allusions to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. There’s prom drama and discussions on the principles of a functioning democracy. There are psychopaths and man-buns and a military coup.

All of which is to say, The Society is bingeably bonkers, and with a premise like this, it’s only natural to emerge from the haze of mainlining season one with some lingering questions. As we await news of a season two, here are some of the most pressing — naturally, spoilers for season one lie ahead.

Where the hell are these teens?
The teens themselves offer up several theories as to how they got on a bus and ended up back in a town that is very much like the West Ham they know, but without pesky parents: They’re dead. Or in purgatory. Or it’s a parallel universe. They know for sure they aren’t in the original West Ham: Resident scientist Gordie figures out that all of the stars are just a smidge off from where they’re supposed to be, plus there was a total eclipse that, according to an almanac, wasn’t supposed to happen until 2024. The audience also knows this for sure because in the final episode, we see the people of West Ham still alive and mourning the loss of all those teens. An alternate-universe theory seems possible, but that means the only thing that exists in this alternate universe is this new version of West Ham. It also doesn’t explain how it’s been nine months and electricity, running water, and cell-phone service hasn’t been a problem. Many clues point to the kids being taken and placed in this “New Ham” either as punishment given to the parents or, a much darker theory, as a payment the parents made. Every possible answer just leads to more questions! Gah!

No one is asking where the five bus drivers went? Seriously?
By the end of the season, Kelly notices a bus driver creeping in the background of photos from the beginning of their ill-fated field trip and quickly recognizes him as the same man having that intense meeting with Harry’s city-official mom back in episode one. Thanks to some emails Sam found, they are able to piece together that this is Pfeiffer, the man tasked with getting rid of the smell and was then denied his $1.5 million payment. All of that is cool, and this man is definitely linked to the greater mystery of how the teens ended up where they are, but my concern is more that not one person has been like, “Hey, five adult humans were driving the buses that dropped us off in this freaking place of which there is no way out and now they have completely disappeared; we should follow up on that, right?”

What’s up with the dog?
Charlie the dog first appears in episode three, right before Cassandra is murdered. He then shows up again and is taken in by Elle. One day Elle wakes up, realizes Charlie is missing, and watches as Campbell cleans what looks like blood off his hands while talking about being happy it’s just him and Elle again. The show definitely wants you to think Campbell killed that dog. But then, in the final episode, we find Charlie alive and well getting a nice scratch from Allie and Cassandra’s mom. The dog is back in the original West Ham! Was the Campbell thing a red herring? Is this the same dog? Can he travel between the original West Ham and New Ham? Or are there two Charlies? Is this dog the key to everything?! That’s a lot of pressure to put on a dog.

Who is Becca’s baby daddy?
Sorry, Becca, but nobody’s buying that the father is just some random guy nobody knows — and the reveal is sure to provide some good ol’ fashioned teen angst. Campbell seems like the obvious choice here, since his brother Sam has pledged to not let his best friend go through this alone — Campbell and Sam are bound to face off at some point, and Sam trying to protect his little family might be a good reason to go there. Still, is that too obvious? What about Harry? If Harry and Becca had sex nine months ago, that means he cheated on Kelly. See? Angst! It would also give Harry a path to redemption: Nothing like finding out you’re a father to make you get your act together! Really, any of our Male Characters With Names are in play (except Sam), so bring on the baby-daddy drama.

Should doctors be mad that a teenager read a book and was able to successfully set up IVs and deliver a baby?
I mean, probably, right?

Lexie’s critical-thinking skills are questionable, but would she really join forces with the Guard and Campbell?
Lexie’s choice to skip the voting part of the election and join forces with Harry at the request of Campbell and the Guard is, well, wackadoodle. First of all, Lexie was definitely going to win the election, and she knows it. Second, her entire reason for running was because she was angry with how Allie brushed off the Guard’s dehumanizing interrogation tactics — why would she suddenly align herself with the guys who degraded her? And, sure, not everyone knows Campbell is a diagnosed psychopath, but everyone knows he’s trouble. Lexie’s character development has been perplexing: She went from spiritual guru to paranoid shut-in to improv team leader to power-hungry rage monster in the span of nine months, but still, I find this last move in which she willingly takes part in a coup staged by the people she hates the most baffling.

Why wouldn’t they use the jail for a jail?
There’s so much talk about what to do with prisoners, yet we know there is some sort of police building within the town since they use a police car during their big game of fugitive. Even if the building or the cells inside were locked, they could almost certainly find a way to get in. It just seems like keeping people in Luke’s parents’ very nice wine cellar or chained to radiators isn’t a great long-term solution. Maybe spend less time in improv class and more time nailing down details of how your society is going to function, kids!

What will they run out of first, booze or condoms?
I guess we should just be happy that even in an end-of-the-world type of situation these teens are practicing safe sex, but someone should really check the inventory on this because people are getting after it.

Is Grizz too precious for this world and also the parallel world he is maybe, possibly in?
Technically this isn’t a “lingering” question because the answer is a definitive yes. Grizz is a true treasure, what with the “’90s teen idol” haircut and the reading Walden and the growing crops and the quoting Arthur Conan Doyle and the Very Good Man-bun. He attempts to learn sign language to flirt with the boy he is crushing on. His love story with Sam is far and away the best one on the show. It’s all too much! I fear the rest of these teens will crush his perfect spirit. Just let season two be Grizz and Sam moving into the woods and catching turkeys forever, okay?

Lingering Questions About The Society’s Bonkers First Season