The Innocents

2 out of 5

Created by: Hania Elkington and Simon Duric

This is a valid attempt at recrafting an identity issue drama for the modern age – give it a YA anti-authority vibe; weave in fluid concepts of gender and sexuality – but, despite being mostly well scripted, it doesn’t explore any one of its various facets deeply enough to emerge as more than an average contender, especially as it goes into its end game.

June and Harry and young and in love, trapped in their day-to-day lives, and willing to risk it all to get away and be free…  Their plans to do so are as shortsighted as those of any young lovers, boiling down to a bit of pocket money and a car and a flat in nearby London in which to squat, but screw it, because y’all make me feel them butterflies in my stomach.

Thankfully, creators Hania Elkington and Simon Duric aren’t interested in writing another YA Love Conquers All, and keep Harry and June from spouting too many platitudes or looking at each other longingly for extended periods before tossing a notable wrench into the works: a man named Steiner tries to kidnap June.  He claims he knows her long-absent mother; he also helps expose another side of June’s personality that kicks The Innocents into sci-fi.

The first instance of this is well-handled: the two freak out but mostly navigate through it without hysterics.  Meanwhile, cut away to the duo’s respective families, fraught with worry and piecing together awareness of where their son or daughter might be, giving said parents the needed humanity to again underline that the show won’t just boil down to youths vs. adults.

And hereby our focus problems begin.  Does The Innocents want to explore the moral issues that June’s abilities dance around?  Is it about destiny versus free will in choosing who we want to be?  Or maybe it’s a thriller, in which Steiner continually chases our leads, or a mystery, in which Harry’s cop mother tries to solve a case from several years back.  And then there’s Guy Pearce’s isolated sanctuary of women just like June, with Pearce doing a straight-laced but subtly mad-scientist routine and whose presence, admittedly, was the only reason I was watching.

…Which isn’t to say I was regretting it, because The Innocents had more story and character than the YA drivel I was expecting, and as it went along, it offered further possibility as it got more complex.  But: with X amount of subplots stacked up without much resolve, those focus problems are tossed out in the window in episode 7 in favor of, uh, absolute drivel.  Seeking a clear antagonist, and a twist, and a nice neat bow in which to tie the various plot threads, the show goes down a stupid, simplistic path that betrays any conceptual depth it might have had and, alas, does make it feel like a waste of time.  The final episode completely drives this home, the writers seemingly working backwards from having all of the characters in one room and then figuring out the dumbest ways possible to get them there.

The Innocents vies to move beyond its teen appeal by mixing it up with adult drama and a murder mystery.  Unfortunately, in a rather meta fashion, this is just the show playing dress-up: it’s rather convincing for a while, and offers up concepts that makes you think there might be more than meets the eye, but it can’t hold up the act.  The show devolves into disappointingly forced twists and easy resolutions and tired drama, bumming you out that Guy Pearce’s presence convinced you to watch the thing.

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