Saints of Anarchy — Episode 1: ‘The Never Go’ [Jamale Ellison, USA, 2021]

Episode 1 of Saints of Anarchy opens with an incredibly interesting premise; Earth has merged into another dimension through the explosion of a Hadron Collider, allowing evil spirits to roam our reality and massacre humanity, leaving the planet desolate and with very few humans remaining.

We are then met with two Horsemen of the Apocalypse within a dimension called ‘The Never Go’, arguing over the value of the remaining humans, one named Apollyon openly admitting his disgust and fury over those left alive, whilst the other parries with a calmer and more empathetic tone in favour of mankind. Contrasting lights of grey and bright orange, and differences in intonation and costume discern the two characters, both played by director Jamale Ellison.

We are then met with our human protagonist Hajile, who has lost his family to this merging of worlds, and desperately flings himself into The Never Go in an attempt to find them again. Ellison demonstrates a particular depiction of The Never Go, a dimension that mirrors ours, but with a blue hue accompanied with a similar isolation.

Ellison’s decision in utilising an empty landscape feels realistic and haunting, depicting the bare fields and streets of Germany as well the clear motivations and central ideas of the three characters (all portrayed by himself), whilst still being able to distinguish each one, despite not having an overt variety of costumes.

However, this introductory episode to the series, whilst clarifying the premise and the intentions of Hajile, feels difficult to fully comprehend due to a lack of exposition, relying more on experimental depiction that makes the short feel mysterious albeit obscure. It can be argued that this is the first episode, and as such may introduce key details down the line for greater dramatic effect, especially considering that the unexplained nature of The Never Go remains the most fascinating aspect of the film.

The connection to biblical canon is a another compelling layer to the already captivating premise, as demonstrated by the two Horsemen who provide comment on humanity and its connection to God, referencing the crucifixion of Christ and mankind’s tendency to war.

Episode 1 of Saints of Anarchy opens and closes with the concept of jumping to an alternate mirror dimension, whilst keeping the full nature of the show shrouded in a possible attempt to draw in viewers for the next episode. While it may appear slightly tricky to follow, it is undeniable that Ellison’s concept of collided worlds and his empty post-apocalyptic vision of Earth draw us into the tribulations of his characters.

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