Major spoilers below for the first episode of HBO's new series The Nevers, so be warned.
While Kate Winslet's acclaimed new drama Mare of Easttown falls on the realistic side of the fictional spectrum, HBO's other new female-fronted series The Nevers tells a much more fantastical story. Centering on an orphanage filled with ability-laden characters dubbed the "Touched," The Nevers is something of a Victorian superhero story, which speaks to it being the creation of MCU and DCEU vet Joss Whedon (for better or worse), who left the series mid-production. Instead of keeping audiences in the dark about the origins behind the Touched characters' turns, The Nevers dropped a doozy of a reveal on viewers at the end of its very first episode.
One of TV's most noteworthy April premieres, The Nevers' series opener introduced a massive ensemble cast led by Laura Donnelly and Ann Skelly as Amalia True and Penance Adair, respectively, with so many of the main characters boasting strange afflictions that make them a controversial social issue. Those who don't appear to have any powers, from Ben Chaplin's huffy-gruffy Detective Frank Mundi to Pip Torrens' staunch official Lord Massen, are caught up in a series of gruesome crimes that link back to several of the less morally grounded within the Touched. And as viewers learned in the final minutes of the episode, all of the events were set in stone years earlier by a multi-colored spaceship that snowed down lifechanging sparkles that affected everyone they touched.
It was quite the mind-boggling reveal, especially considering Episode 2 didn't do much to clarify what the ship was or where it came from. CinemaBlend recently joined other outlets to interview multiple cast members for The Nevers, and I asked quite a few of the stars to share their thoughts about that big premiere reveal. Pip Torrens, whose character has a daughter that was negatively impacted by the ship's arrival over London, had only positive things to say about the early reveal:
I think it's a wonderful thing. I think it's wonderful to introduce it that early. . . . Yes, we see a spaceship. And certainly I, as a viewer, saw the spaceship and thought, 'Right, that is clear. This has been a visitation.' And yet, it's the time shift. It's the fact that this has been happening for a long time, and it's just not as simple as [that]. Even the spaceship has a backstory, you know? It's fantastic. You realize with the powers, it's not just a question of something flying past and leaving a trail. It's something, it's with us and it's, to an extent, in all of us, in all parts of society. Literally, it's an underground influence, and yet, it has more zones of influence even than I think we know of when we first [see it]. That's very roundabout way of saying I think it was a good decision.
Everything Pip Torrens said there makes a lot of sense. Even though The Nevers delivered an official explanation for why the Touched are as they are, there's a widespread lack of context for how things got from the spaceship's appearance to the narrative's most current timeline. We know it's had a massive influence on all tiers of society, but we aren't yet aware how much the characters know about the ship or their own physiology.
To that end, one might not be out of line for thinking that even the cast members are being kept in the dark about what it all means. Take this thought from Olivia Williams, whose regal Lavinia Bidlow runs St. Romaulda's Orphanage:
It is certainly a case of where, as an actor, when you sign up for a five-to-seven year contract with a long-running TV show, there is such a leap of faith. You just have to trust that you're in safe hands, that somebody knows what's going on.
Actress Viola Prettejohn, whose Touched affliction is tied to language and communication, also spoke to the idea that the cast may not been 100% clued in on every detail fueling The Nevers' storytelling. In her words:
So I think it's interesting, because we're obviously given that little snippet in the first episode, but throughout the series, the characters are kept in the dark about a lot of the plot. And we as actors are kind of kept in the dark a little as well, which kind of adds to the way we interpret our characters. So I think it's great, because the audience can make their own theories. When you get that, and you're given that little piece of information, your mind can just go crazy and you can run wild with whatever theories you have. I mean, I know that's what I did. [Laughs.] So yeah, I think it's fun, and just keeps you interested. You want to know what it is.
At this point in The Nevers' run, it's somewhat difficult to pull together fully coherent theories about what the spaceship could be, since its very existence is seemingly the only clue we have about it. I also don't have any concrete theories on why Mary's high-pitched singing is both maddening and intoxicating, but I presume it's what the spaceship's engine room sounds like.
Denis O'Hare, who portrays The Nevers' dastardly mad scientist Dr. Edmund Hague, sounds like he's 100% on board with whatever direction replacement showrunner Philippa Goslett wants to take things. Here's what he thought about the premiere's mysterious ending:
Well I think it's really cool that you are given up front that the the sort of like myth, the origin story, which is that 'One day there appeared in the sky this magical, beautiful Victorian ship, and it dispersed floating snowflakes that touched people and affected them and made them touched.' There! You got it, you know? And I love that. It's a measure of confidence in the storytelling that we're not going to hide that. This is what happened, you know? I love that.
When one lays it all out there like that, The Nevers big reveal definitely sounds like a bonkers way to explain a city's citizens gaining superpowers. But I guess it's no more unlikely than people gaining powers from mutated genes.
Co-star Zackary Momoh, who plays the healer Dr. Horatio Cousens, followed up on Denis O'Hare's sentiments, saying:
It's also like, there's an element of it that's a big piece of information, but you still don't know what else is happening. We still don't know what's happening, and I think that reading it first let me know that, 'Okay, we're in good hands. All right, let's see what's going on.' And then watching it as like, 'Okay let's go. This is this something that is going to fulfill you in many ways but still leave you hungry for more.' I think like Denis said, the writing's been there for us.
While not a lot of TV shows end on magical, glimmering spaceships, The Nevers did successfully find various ways to convince audiences to keep tuning in from week to week. From Amy Manson's monstrous and endlessly watchable villain Maladie to the unexpected fight sequences to Penance's steampunk inventions, there are tons of elements that are worth revisiting, and that ship is certainly a big one.