One of the initial releases from Apple TV+ is a show called See, a futuristic, dystopian drama starring Jason Momoa. See’s premise is this: Sometime during the 21st century, a virus swept the globe, killing all but 2 million people and rendering all the survivors blind. The show takes place “centuries” later, at a time when humans have been blind for so long no one remembers that sight ever existed.
I have seen the first three episodes of See, all of which are now available to watch on Apple TV+. (After the first three, Apple is releasing one episode a week.) What follows are but a handful of the seemingly infinite questions I had while watching those episodes. The questions do involve spoiling some elements of See, but I think if you watch the show, you’ll agree that these questions are truly just the beginning.
When does See take place?
The title card informs us that “centuries” have passed. How many centuries? Like, two centuries or more like five centuries? This question sounds pedantic, but there are important ramifications for what we’re supposed to understand about this world. For instance:
Why are there lots of plastic bottles but few other remnants of the 21st century?
Where are all the crumbling suburbs? Dead iPhones? Bright-green plastic tops of kids’ applesauce pouches? Beer cans? Rusted car skeletons? Laptops? Synthetic fibers? Yoga mats? Where are all the insulated Whole Foods tote bags? Where are the giant McDonald’s signs, their disintegrating but impossibly sunny glowing arches gleaming over the dystopian landscape? Where are all the commemorative cups everyone got from their college reunions? Where are the ice-cube trays?
Everyone speaks English, but there’s an entirely new language that seems to be used mostly for war chants?
I gave this one some good-faith thought; in a situation where no one can see and tribal sparring over territory defines much of life, it might be useful to develop an internal language so you can say things like “Hey, let’s circle the enemies” without their understanding you. That raises all kinds of other questions, like how the logistics of battle play out when everyone is blind, but it also circles back to the “How much time has passed?” question. Because yes, there’s a whole war-chant thing, but after the first episode, no one really uses it. Momoa says “chet-chet” sometimes, but that’s about it. How does this language develop if no one uses it to talk to one another? Wouldn’t the tribe mostly use its own tribal language?
Speaking of battles, there are lots of fight scenes in this show. How do all these people know they’re not stabbing people on their own team?
Maybe there’s some kind of code? That they can feel? In the split-second moments while Momoa’s just grabbing a guy by the hair? They have deliberate facial scarring, which I assume accomplishes that somewhat, but I missed the bits when Momoa feels up everyone’s cheeks before getting on with the stabbing.
So a deadly virus wiped out most of the world’s population, and all the survivors were blind. Why were their children also blind?
I asked some actual scientists about this (my husband, an organic chemist; and my sister, a geneticist). Turns out, this part of the premise is totally plausible! Some viruses are transmitted across the placental barrier or during childbirth, which means that if a mother is infected, her baby will be as well. (Real-world examples include HIV and group-B strep.) In the world of See, if the mysterious blindness virus is maternally transmitted, every mother who has it would likely pass it on to her babies, so all babies born after the plague would get it. So it’s not impossible that after a nonspecific number of centuries, everyone is still blind.
Here’s where things fall apart, though. In See, one baby manages to be born without catching the virus, something that could well happen through sheer random luck. It’s a male baby, though — Jerlamarel, the mysterious lone character with vision. In See’s pilot, we learn that Jerlamarel has children with a blind woman, and his children inherit his ability to see.
This makes zero sense. The best explanation for how everyone could stay blind for centuries is a maternally transmitted virus. If that’s the case, Jerlamarel’s babies would catch it from their mother, regardless of his own genetic contribution. Could they also be the random recipients of a roll of the dice, as Jerlamarel seems to have been? I guess? But one of my two scientist sources, when asked about this possibility, derisively and dismissively responded that this plot development was “very cool.”
Why would you name a very important character Jerlamarel?
No one can pronounce Jerlamarel. No one.
Why is Alfre Woodard in this?
How much is Apple paying her? I really hope it’s a lot.
In one of the early scenes of See’s first episode, some of the warriors are able to … smell really far? And some of them are “presages,” which means they can sense … feelings?
Yet when the Witch Finders arrive to track down witches, the “presages,” I guess, don’t count as witches?
How, exactly, is fashion working?
See is trying to play it cool with the fashion; clearly someone has thought about the fact that everyone’s blind so the clothing is also very textural, which would make sense for a society of blind people. Lots of furs, lots of knobbly knitwear. But despite that level of consideration, there is clearly fashion happening on See, most of which makes zero sense if it’s being worn by a group of people who cannot see their clothing. The Witch Finders, for instance, wear very uniform black clothing. Many of the fabrics appear to be relatively recently made. How would any of the dresses be green or blue, given that the fabric would have to be dyed that way?
We’re supposed to believe this tribe full of people had zero idea there was a bridge over the ravine where they’ve lived for years … because they’re blind? Even though they also have “presages” and magic smellers?
No one ever wandered over to the ravine one day and felt along the edge and thought, Hey, I wonder what these ropes are? No cool teens in the tribe dared each other to lean over the edge of this very noticeable geographic feature and found it one day? No child wandered over there? No magic smeller thought to themselves, Hey, I wonder why it smells like a guy installing a rope bridge over by the ravine?
Speaking of which, where are all the children and teens in this tribe?
The general makeup of this group of people seems to be Alfre Woodard, lots of people in their mid-20s, and exactly two babies. Whither the disillusioned blind teens?
Queen Kane prays by masturbating?
My main question here is why no real-world mainstream religion ever thought of making this a central way to connect to God, because I have to believe it’d become a popular religious practice.
While she, um, prays, she also listens to a Velvet Underground record?
How is … electricity? Still working?? There’s a very brief, offhand mention about water and something something dams, but surely if civilization is so far gone that no McDonald’s signs exist anymore, the power has long since stopped working. As far as I can tell, our current electrical infrastructure cuts out the moment the wind blows too hard, so the idea that somehow Queen Kane is over there beating it to Lou Reed “centuries” in the future is pretty hard to swallow.
How did this show come to be?
The greatest mystery of all.