The Swarm: Episodes 1 and 2 Review

The Swarm: A Fresh Direction for the CW

September 12 at 9 p.m. on The CW marks the premiere of The Swarm, a new show that represents the network’s transition into a more sophisticated and genre-driven era. With big changes in ownership and the departure of popular series like the Arrowverse and Riverdale, The CW is exploring new avenues to appeal to a wider audience. This German-produced eco-thriller, adapted from a science fiction novel by Frank Schätzing, is a departure from the cheesy supernatural shows of the past, promising a slower burn and a more mature style of television.

The Mystery of The Swarm

The first two episodes of The Swarm introduce a series of intriguing incidents without revealing too many answers. The tension builds as we witness a Peruvian fisherman’s murder by aggressive minnows, a group of Canadian tourists attacked by orcas, and the staff of a French restaurant decimated by an infected lobster. Meanwhile, an international ensemble of scientists, primarily affiliated with the fictional Marine Institute, investigates a range of phenomena, including whales, ice worms, and bacterium, attempting to uncover the truth behind these bizarre and dangerous events beneath the sea.

A Plethora of Characters

The show introduces a multitude of characters in its initial episodes, played by renowned actors like Barbara Sukowa and Cécile de France. However, the focus primarily remains on Leon (Joshua Odjick), a whale song specialist, and Charlie (Leonie Benesch), a rule-breaking PhD student. While these characters receive ample screen time, the frequent shifts to other characters diminish the emotional connection we may develop with them. Although this narrative choice aids in building momentum and expanding the global scope of the impending disaster, it leaves many characters underdeveloped, which does a disservice to the talented cast.

A Masterful Directorial Vision

Director Luke Watson compensates for the lack of character development with a masterful display of suspense and dread. The underwater sequences are visually stunning, alternating between breathtaking beauty and ominous darkness. Watson draws inspiration from classic underwater thrillers like Jaws and Creature from the Black Lagoon, utilizing camera angles to evoke fear and unease. The show wisely employs VFX sparingly, using digital sea life to inspire awe or terror, often within the same scene.

At times, the ocean in The Swarm looks breathtakingly gorgeous, all beautiful sea-green water and sparkling waves; at others it is absolutely terrifying.

The Fear of the Unknown

The Swarm taps into the deep-seated fear of the mysteries lurking beneath the ocean’s surface. As a result, those who dedicate their lives to understanding the ocean become its primary targets. The potential loss of these individuals raises questions about the fate of humanity as a whole.