I hadn’t read the book that Panic is based off of, so to be honest, I had no idea what I was walking into when reviewing the show. I knew little about the show, because Amazon was good about keeping things under wraps until absolutely necessary.
But that’s part of the beauty of marketing – you give too much and it can devastate a franchise. But part of the beauty of Panic’s marketing has been that they gave you enough to draw you in, but relied on the actors in order to keep interested.
The biggest thing with any YA franchise is that they have to get you invested in the characters so that you will stay. You feel emotions, you find a ship, you love or hate someone, and something unravels. There is a system to these things. And the beginning of that would be – UNDERSTANDING FANDOM.
And if you want to compare the series that have succeeded and the ones that have failed, you will see that the biggest problem has been that they haven’t understood the fandom that they are a catering too.
But what Amazon had on its side for Panic, was that we are living through a pandemic, we’re all bored at home and afraid to assimilate back into the world, and that meant that people who were interested in Panic would become more vocal and spend more time with content. It’s a new world for social media and marketing.
Amazon relied on the actors to sell the story, which was smart, because of all of the accusations surrounding author Lauren Oliver’s company on how authors and employees were treated. But also, no offense to Oliver, they didn’t need her. They had a cast that breathed life into the characters and made you forget it was a book. Instead it was as if you were looking into your own boring life, with its complications and its unknowns, and the reminder that you just can’t Panic.
“Every town has a secret,” says a female voice, in the opening scene. “Ours has a game.”
Panic is a game. It’s like The Hunger Games set in Texas, without The Capital and people are playing willingly. It’s like where the fuck are their parents? What is happening in this small town? Because I am from a small town (well, kinda – during the summers) and let me tell you, everyone is all up in peoples business.
But let us break this shit down.
Episode 1, Panic. Yes, that’s right, my favorite episode was the first episode. The reason? It sucked me in. It is very rare that a show sets up a world so perfectly in the first episode that you feel like you can relate to the characters in the show, but Panic does.
You meet Heather and you’re automatically rooting for her. You know that she’s in a bad situation and she’s doing everything that she can to get out without having to play the game. But even when you have the best laid plans, something gets in the way.
It is rare for me that I become so invested in a show that I develop theories on the characters and the plot line before the first episode finishes. But I wanted to hang in because of Heather and Ray. Both characters were intriguing to me.
Ray was the town asshole, but that to me is always the misunderstood kid. And hey, the try to make you think that it’s Dodge, but watch enough YA movies and you know better.
But seeing how fast that life can go from figured out to chaos, the assumptions that we all make, and how things are not always what they seem.
Yes, episode one pulled me in, but it was the acting of Olivia Welch and Ray Nicholson that kept me watching.
Least Favorite Episode
Episode 10, Joust. I didn’t like the ending.
First of all, we all know that I have an issue with the tiger. I hate that plot device. But what I disliked so much about the ending of the series was that there was this need to wrap things up in a pretty bow. There wasn’t a cliffhanger. There wasn’t a wrap up of all story lines.
There was just – here, let’s make shit happy. And it’s not that I don’t like a happy ending, but this show wasn’t happy. I felt like the writer was like lets bring the ship out to a body of water so that we can have a Twilight like moment, let’s make the best friend sad that he’s leaving the girl he loves, the manipulated boy have to get away from it all, and yes, let’s make sure Heather’s life looks better.
I would have preferred that we didn’t see all that. Hell I would have taken more of the tiger at this point.
The show did its best to set up for season two, and I get it – new class, new game of Panic. But we still could have carried over a storyline. Who shot the Sheriff? We could have skipped seeing Melanie for that.
There just was a lot that felt forced to end and that just felt off to me.
Heather. Can we talk about Olivia Welch? This girl can carry off vulnerability, strength, and power. She can take a range and move and grow with it. Everything from the mannerisms to the facial expressions to the way that Heathers voice would change with her moods – Olivia flawlessly pulled off.
But what I also loved about Heather was that she was relatable, because she felt real. She felt like a person that I could relate to, hell that anyone could relate to. Heather was flawed, she wasn’t perfect, she was was real.
I didn’t like the way that the storyline with her Mom wrapped up. It felt a little dropped and that seemed convenient.
Ray was the biggest asshole at the beginning, but over the episodes you saw him evolve in a way that none of the other characters did. He was a kid that was born into circumstances beyond his control (as we all are) and from the moment he set took his first breathe people judged him as trash.
People are gross.
But what I loved so much about Ray is that his character was like an onion. Layers were peeled back with every episode. You saw that he’s complex, that he’s an underdog, but he wants nothing more than to not be his brother or his father. He wants to be better, to do better, and to be loved.
He may not have the best approach in things, but he’s figuring it out.
Least Favorite Characters
Natalie and Bishop were the worst. THE WORST. And I am not talking about the acting, the actors were great. But these two were liars, manipulators and they just were fake at every turn.
Natalie was just shady as shit. I get it, she was a judge. But I also think that there is a line that you don’t cross in life – and that is betrayal. Not for anything. I am really weird about loyalty – it’s the most important quality a person can have. And Natalie was loyal to no one.
Not to mention she put doubt into my ship – Ray and Heather. Her middle name should be betrayal.
The thing about Bishop is that he was just too all over the place. He didn’t know if he was coming or going half the time. But he also didn’t seem like he knew what he wanted. I didn’t like the fact that Bishop didn’t seem trustworthy, but the story was setting us up to try and think he was.
But I also didn’t like the fact that Bishop stopped being there for Heather when she needed him most, made her come to him versus him coming to her, and that he didn’t know his best friend enough to know when she was lying.
I just felt that these characters were everywhere and the only thing we ever really got out of their personality was that they didn’t know who they were.
Biggest WTF Moment
THE TIGER. Ya, I said it – the Tiger is just weird. Were we trying to be like original and pulled animals out of a hat and were like hmmm, a tiger on a farm in Texas is totally normal? I get it – Texas is a different place. It is truly one of the weirdest things in the story though, a random tiger.
Sure, it made me understand why Anne was in the story – a plot point to get to the tiger. But still, why the tiger? Was it lazy writing? Cause that’s what it feels like. Was it that the writer couldn’t think of something more dangerous for a child? Because that is what it feels like. Was it because there was no other way to get the Sheriff to drive off the road in joust? Cause it is what it feels like.
The tiger all around just felt wrong and out of place in the story. It was as if Anne was like building a zoo and we shouldn’t blink because the elephants, zebras, and lions may come out of nowhere.
Some may like the tiger, but for me, any moment with the tiger felt like a forced moment and took me out of the story. I hated it.
Panic seemed to want to introduce several side stories to keep everything going, but what it does is pull you out of the story. It would have been better to learn more about the kids that we were invested in or bringing in more kids that we meet for season 2 of Panic, if there is one.
Ship We Want To Set Sail
Ray and Heather. Some of you may be mad about that, but these two challenged each other. These two brought the best out of each other. I liked that the two underdogs were rooting for each other, protecting each other, and making sure that they were safe.
Ray was willing to let her go in order to see her happy, but she realized that he made her happy and well I am here for it.
- EPISODE ONE
- EPISODE TWO
- EPISODE THREE
- EPISODE FOUR
- EPISODE FIVE
- EPISODE SIX
- EPISODE SEVEN
- EPISODE EIGHT
- EPISODE NINE
- EPISODE TEN
Overall, Panic was good, but it definitely tried too hard. There were too many side plots that didn’t make sense or seem needed, but they were there.
I will give Amazon this, I appreciated the fact that they reminded everyone that you should not try any of this at home. That everything was done by professionals.
But I will also give them the fact that the did no skimp on production value, actors that could act, and action. Panic was definitely better than a lot of adaptations that are out there and is something that I would watch again.
It did everything – made me laugh, scream, cry, and say wtf quite a lot. The highlight was the actors that were cast. The highlight was the way that you felt for all of the characters – good or bad – but you were drawn into their lives and wanting to see them succeed.
The plot was interesting and the way that it played out – a lot of it I didn’t see coming. But that’s the beauty of good television – it draws you in and keeps you to the very end.
And Panic… well it does just that.