Beyond is one of Freeform’s newest series. It premiered January 2 with a two episode, two hour special, and then the entire season was released for streaming. The series is about a young man named Holden (Burkely Duffield) who wakes up from a 12 year coma to find his entire life is different. His little brother is in college, his friend is married with a kid on the way, and he has supernatural abilities that make him very desirable to many people, good and bad.
We discover that Holden, while in his coma, actually visited a dimension called “the Realm.” It’s here that he meets his main love interest, Willa (Dilan Gwyn). They spend all of that time together exploring the Realm and training Holden to use his Realm-given powers of controlling the elements with the help of Willa’s grandfather, Arthur (Alex Diakun). In the end, Arthur’s goal is to keep life and death separate, while his ex-partner Mr. Frost’s (Martin Donovan) goal is to cross the bridge into the hereafter in order to save his love/Willa’s mother, Celeste (Lara Gilchrist).
I wanted to like this show. I really did. The trailers were all interesting, the storyline looked promising, and the action seemed awesome. It’s even based in Kansas!
Sadly, it just didn’t deliver for me. The show starts off slow, but appears to offer some hope. The end of episode 1 gives us a view of Holden flexing his powers by punching the ground in anger, sending the creepy man in yellow (Peter Kelamis) and his cronies flying through the air in the epic slow motion, rain-accentuated action scene featured in the teasers. That’s quickly followed by a getaway and another explosion, this time of the car he’s in, when Holden gets angry at Willa.
And that’s about all of the interesting action we get until episode 7 when another glorious slow motion fight occurs between the man in yellow and Holden. This one is even more intense with bullets and darts flying through the air and ends with Holden actually stopping them with all of the rocks he has floating around him. Episode 7 is also where Holden actually starts trying to purposefully use his powers instead of dealing with the random outbursts he keeps experiencing.
The rest of the episodes left me with a feeling that nothing really happened in them. There was a lot of talking, some bickering, more than enough dream flashes, and a plethora of extra scenes that really don’t seem to have a purpose other than to slowly draw the show out to fill 10 episodes.
The special effects for the series are decent. The slow motion, explosions, and levitating objects are well done and come together to make some interesting scenes and action. On the other hand, the Realm effects are distracting and don’t lend much realism to the environment. The music is a mixture of good and bad. In the first two episodes, Holden takes a couple of joy rides on his bike, and in both of those instances, I loved the songs (“To the Top” by Twin Shadow and “South” by Hippo Campus, the second of which is a band and song that I’ve loved for a while now)! There are a couple of instances where the music is a little distracting, but overall it blends in with the scene and doesn’t stick out as either good or bad.
The characters all feel flat and predictable. It’s almost as if they were all assigned a specific trait to strictly focus on, and that’s all there is to them. Holden is naïve, Jeff (Jeff Pierre) is military, the man in yellow is creepy, Diane (Romy Rosemont) is authoritarian, Tom (Michael McGrady) is angry, Charlie (Eden Brolin) is sarcastic and nonchalant, and Lydia (Roberta Valderrama) is awkwardly obsessed with movies. There doesn’t seem to be much development outside of those traits, and no one really changes. In truth, Lydia is actually my favorite character, and she is a temporary guest in a single episode whose purpose is to quote action movies, ogle Jeff, and help save Holden.
The overall dialogue includes so many clichés I lost count. The show is predictable and clichéd in general, as well. The guy you think is bad is actually good while the guy you think is good is actually kind of bad. You shouldn’t trust anyone; well, except that guy who seems completely untrustworthy and evil because he’s actually not.
The series ends with a few unanswered questions and cliffhangers. The man in yellow wants a favor from Charlie in exchange for Arthur’s location (she doesn’t like Arthur), Holden has an ominous dream showing the Realm in distress with a warning from his 12-year-old self that his world is next, Willa’s compass points somewhere (finally), Kevin reaches out from death through a walkie-talkie, Frost is in a coma, and Arthur is fixing his machine. It poises the series perfectly to continue into a second season with some plot already outlined. I’m interested to see if it does get renewed. The reviews in general are positive, it’s fairly highly rated on IMDB, and a lot of people seem to really enjoy the series. Maybe a second season would offer more opportunity for character development and action. If so, it might be worth a second chance. What did you think about the series? Let us know in the comments!
Beyond airs Mondays at 9/8c on Freeform. You can also stream the entire season, if binging is your preferred watching method, on the Freeform app and site.