Fallout Series Review: A rollicking blend of sci-fi, Western, satire, and relevant politics

Fallout Series Review: A rollicking blend of sci-fi, Western, satire, and relevant politics

Fallout is a chaotic adventure story that employs the best of science fiction, western, and relevant political themes, and binds it all together with absurdist humour and slick gunslinging action
Fallout(3.5 / 5)

A mundane children’s birthday party, a charming Walton Goggins dressed like a cowboy, regaling kids with rope tricks, and yet the music and the subliminally devious high frame rate instill a sense of foreboding in us, and pretty soon, we witness the world getting draped in nuclear bombs. The first 10 minutes of Fallout is a masterclass on ‘How to hook the audience’. The sense of dread is so thickly laid in the introduction and it works so well. However, Fallout daringly reinvents itself, almost immediately, and sheds the uber-serious tone it employed in the first scene. What we are treated to afterwards, is a delightfully chaotic mixture of dark absurdist humour, unconfused political commentary, and a glorious mix of Western and science fiction.

Creators: Graham Wagner, Geneva Robertson-Dworet

Cast: Walton Goggins, Ella Purnell, Aaron Moten, Kyle MacLachlan

The story happens in a post-apocalyptic world, two centuries after a nuclear exchange, and a privileged few have survived within self-sustaining underground habitats known as Vaults, while the less fortunate (which is putting it mildly) survive in a degraded lawless state. The idealistic Vault-dweller Lucy McLean is forced to abandon her naive world and is thrust into the barren irradiated wasteland, where every living, half-living, being, is trying to kill her. The Western elements are so organically ingrained in the show and are some of the most fun parts of the overall experience. The ‘Wild West’ template is wonderfully retrofitted onto the nuclear wasteland. We have mutant gunslingers, militant factions with futuristic armour, cannibalistic foragers, bounty hunters, shanty towns built over scrapyard, full of dubious merchants. Walton Goggins’ The Ghoul, the mutant gunslinger, glides into the frame and effortlessly eats up every scene he is in. Goggins plays Ghoul with a blend of charm and terror. Writer-Director Jonathan Nolan seems to have helped himself to another glass of creative juice from the same springwell that made him create Ed Harris’ The Man in Black in his previous sci-fi Western TV show, Westworld.

Fallout is a defiant antithesis to the ongoing trend in Hollywood, where the entire purpose of a story is to increasingly build momentum, while the impact is never allowed to arrive or even if it did, the satisfaction is quickly pulled away with a supposed tease that tells you there is more to come. All in service to the unbridled growth of IP, stories are never allowed to end anymore and the mysteries are stacked on top of each other while a solid pay-off never arrives. In Fallout, every big mystery that is setup at the beginning of the story reaches a satisfying pay-off at the end. While the last episode still leaves us enough to look forward to the next season, we definitely get all the answers to the questions that hooked us initially.

On a macroscopic level, Fallout is a critique of corporate America and how the all-devouring philosophy of capitalism is signed so deeply into the DNA of the country, and by extension, the world itself. Even with a scathing political commentary, Fallout does not thrust its opinions on you, at least initially. There are strong antagonistic forces but the story is smart enough to let their idea of ‘good’ create obstacles and tensions for the protagonists, instead of creating villains out of unidimensional amoral intentions. However, you can peel back the layers and the centre of all conflict seems to be ‘human greed’ but we arrive at such a (dare I say) old-fashioned motivation only after peeling back layers of complicated narratives that justify the aforementioned motive at the core. Aaron Moten’s Maximus sums it up best, as he delivers perhaps one of the greatest lines in the series, “Everyone wants to save the world. They all just disagree on how.”

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