The sign outside the post office reads “96 days without incident”. This is reassuring, until you consider that the person responsible for updating the sign may have been eviscerated by the weird, undead elderly woman who lurks at people’s windows after dark, plaintively calling: “Let me in. I’m so lonely.” In From (Sky Sci-Fi), that’s a possibility.
Unfortunately, little Meagan has opened her sash window to admit the needy corpus, resulting in her and her mother featuring in a blood-spattered crime scene before the opening credits.
Incidentally, From is a striking title. It suggests we have made so many films and TV shows that we have exhausted all the nouns and verbs and now it is time for the prepositions to shine. It is only a matter of time before Notwithstanding.
Anyway, something bizarre has happened to this modest burg and, if I know my TV slow-burners, we won’t know what that is until season two, which has just been commissioned. The stars and stripes fluttering outside the post office is tattered. Tattered, people! You used to be so beautiful, stars and stripes, but who would want to salute you now?
It is the kind of town where men wear dungarees without irony. Indeed, all the local irony is saved for the diner’s jukebox, which plays The Animals’ We Gotta Get Out of This Place. For reasons we will presumably get in season two, ain’t no one gonna do that. This place is like The Truman Show, only most of the women seem to have graduated in Amish dressmaking.
This is the scene encountered by Jim and Tabitha, an unremarkable couple, when they arrive unexpectedly in town with their smug camper van and Arizona plates, plus two cute kids, Julie and Ethan. They are the family I would have preferred to get theirs before the opening credits, but you just know they are going to be the dramatic vortex of the drama. They pull over to ask how to get back to the highway just as the funeral service for Meagan and her mum is concluding.
How fitting that they ask directions of a character played by Harold Perrineau, the actor best known for starring in Lost, as one of the survivors of a plane crash on a spooky-scary island no one was able to leave for six seasons. From is landlocked Lost – there are malevolent forces that come out at night to kill people (and probably nibble the flag, too). Perrineau plays Boyd Stevens, no longer the baby-faced poppet of Lost, but rather a middle-aged sheriff tasked with sorting stuff out.
He knows the family is doomed and that they won’t be seeing that highway again, but he tells them to head straight: “Then you’ll see.” What they see is that someone has been bending space: whichever direction they head, they keep coming back to this town. (The same thing happened to me at spaghetti junction – I looked like Tom Hanks in Castaway by the time I made it to Sutton Coldfield.)
Hence the show’s title: there is only “from”, never “to”. Jack Bender, the director of the first four episodes, has fun with this well-worn trope. It is the kind of show in which Jim brakes hard and says: “What the … – ?” When there is a tree blocking the road, Tabitha says: “Why is there a tree blocking the road?” It must be the storm, says Jim. “That’s one selective storm,” she replies. Of course it is, Tabitha. It’s a spooky-ass zone where the laws of nature don’t apply. Like Solaris, but less high concept.
Tabitha tries to reassure the kids that the birds circling above are not crows. This is good, she says, desperately, because the collective noun for ravens is merely unkindness, not murder. The camper van heads off, only to crash after narrowly avoiding some incoming fresh meat (hipsters with New York plates). Ethan gets a table leg through his leg, so he can’t be removed from the wreck, even though darkness is falling and the woods are alive with the sounds of menace.
“They’re coming,” says Sheriff Boyd. But who’s coming? My best guess is the extras from The Walking Dead’s final series. They have walked, very slowly, all the way from Georgia; now, they want secure work doing what they know best: spending eight hours in makeup before pretending to feast on human remains for 169 episodes.