It’s the end of the world as we know it. But in post-apocalypse Denmark, the end did not come in the form of a zombie plague or a hellish natural catastrophe, it came down through the rain, and whoever got caught outside without their umbrella was afflicted with instant agony and a swift death.
Those who didn’t die but were infected? Those guys ran for shelter and quickly infected others through their vomit or mere touch. Talk about some bad weather.
Two things we like about The Rain: how gorgeous the production design is of post-apocalypse Scandinavia and the shifting filial dynamic between brother and sister protagonists Simone (Alba August) and Rasmus (Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen).
In the first, the cinematography lends itself well to the arc of the story. Flashes of brilliance are apparent in the cutting edge sci-fi design of the bunkers, the contrast with the peaceful countryside whose silence is brutally interrupted by occasional para-military patrols, and the crowning glory of the first season is a desolate Copenhagen sparsely populated by roving bands of hungry, exceedingly desperate survivors.
The second is due mainly to the setup and pacing of the story as we are given nothing but a quick glimpse of the quiet before the literal storm, where young teen Simone (Alba August) is worrying about all things school, like, oh, being late for class with a pending group presentation in the mix.
Almost right after she enters the school building, her father Frederik (Lars Simonsen) rushes in with apparent distraught and drags her to the waiting car. The whole fam is already in the vehicle, including an irritating 10-year-old baby bro Rasmus and the equally stricken, but trying to keep it together mother. Her dad keeps saying they need to go somewhere safe because the rain is coming and it’s clearly a very bad thing.
After a near car crash they finally arrive at a bunker out of Copenhagen that’s marked with the logo of Apollon, the company Alba and Rasmus’s father works for and they’re sequestered away from the world just as the rain falls.
Many things happen in the first episode that would be too spoilery to discuss, but rest assured that the curveballs the series creators throw at the audience from the get go earn enough mystery and cliffhanger cred to likely take you through a few more episodes on sheer curiosity.
Those episodes we're referring to happen six years after the rains have decimated Scandinavia. And Simone and Rasmus? Well, they’ve since become young adults while subsisting on nonperishable food items that are fully stocked in the bunker.
The now-strapping young teen Rasmus, in particular, is shocking to behold as it looks like his only hobby has been hitting the bunker’s in-house gym and downing protein shakes when big sister Simone is napping.
So what happens when two Danish siblings emerge from the safety of their bunker to find all of civilization gone?
If you just groaned, suspecting that this may yet be another dystopic drama riding on the coattails of The Walking Dead then this likely isn’t the series for you—especially if you’ve got post-apoc TV fatigue, look elsewhere for your binge.
For those who still haven’t gotten their fix of what happens when the planet falls apart then you’ll be glad to know that Netflix’s first original young-adult series is full of promise.
It’s easier to watch and keep track of than the heady complexity of Germany’s Dark, and its polish is more serious and grim than the horny, emo teens of American-produced The 100. This Danish dark star is almost exclusively about survival.
And that’s a good thing. See, this first season will hit all the familiar tropes of a survival milieu and the siblings will also hook up with a more knowledgeable and battle-hardened crew in the form of familiar template characters: the battle-hardened ex-military, the one-time party girl, the quiet but dependable nerd, the crazy motherfucker.
The most interesting thing is the group dynamics and how the siblings vibe of natural purity somehow imbues the rest of the group with hope and a renewed sense of ethics in a world gone mad. It was great to see the development of characters like the gloomy, rebellious seductress Beatrice (Angela Bundalovic), and perennially outraged Patrick (Lukas Løkken), once they got to interact with Simone and Rasmus, especially when their own personal histories are revealed through flashbacks.
The worst things about The Rain are the head-scratching moments that reek of sloppy world-building and scientific non-sequitur wtf-ness. We'll leave you to spot the obvious ones when you watch but an example is the mystery of the downpour itself: if puddles and being drenched in the rain is enough to get you infected and die, then a small, stray speck of moisture should be enough to kill.
It follows that even a dew left on a leaf could be a hazardous tangent of infection. Do people need a certain amount of rain in their bodies so they’re considered infected? Why isn’t everybody carrying around vendor-sized umbrellas and full-body raincoats? Almost no explanations to these are offered in the first season and we found it maddening. Rain, rain, go away.
Paging creators Jannik Tai Mosholt, Esben Toft Jacobsen, and Christian Potalivo. Can we have more information about the damned cause of your apocalypse, please?
Told through an arc of 8 episodes, Rasmus and Simone with their new post-apocalypse family are set free from their collective past and, in the process, societal rules. It’s a gift of survivalism and its curse. But in the meantime there’s still love, jealousy, and a delayed coming-of-age to deal with along with finding shelter and avoiding crazy people.
Season 1 of The Rain is now screening on Netflix