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TV Series Review

As kids, most of us were told never to get in a car with strangers. But for Amy Bellafonte, it seems like it's working out about as well as could be hoped.

Oh, things aren't peachy, that's for sure. The world's about to end, for one thing—not by fire or flood or even a zombie apocalypse. No, it's a vampire apocalypse that's coming, and the bloodsuckers are psychic, too.

Ah, the irony. The scientists that created the vamps were actually trying to prevent the apocalypse.

That's the Fangs I Get?

Doctors Jonas Lear and Tim Fanning discovered this vampiric condition in the wilds of Bolivia years earlier, and they were thrilled that it seemed to give its bearers complete immunity from disease as well as significantly longer lifespans. Sure, it also turned them into murderous monsters, as Tim discovered in the worst possible way. But still, at least they were healthy monsters. So for the last three years, Lear and his fellow scientists have been trying to modify the virus and eliminate its less-positive, homicidal side effects.

The secret? The scientists believe it's youth. The younger a victi—er, patient bonds with the condition, the more symbiotic the two organisms become, and the less likely the human host will be to chomp on someone's neck. So goes the theory, anyway. They'll need to try it out first—on some kid who won't be missed.

Enter 10-year-old Amy.

Everything (from the scientists' point of view) was going swimmingly at first. Amy, whose mother died of a drug overdose, was successfully kidnapped by lethal operative Brad Wolgast and his equally capable partner. She was on her way to become, scientists hoped, a wildly successful guinea pig.

But Brad, who lost his own daughter not so long ago, decides that Amy deserves a better future than whatever the scientists have in store for her. Now the pair of them are on the lam, pursued by nefarious (if ultimately well-meaning) forces.

Does that mean that Brad kidnapped Amy twice? I'm unsure, but no matter. The review must go on.

Ready … Amy … Kill It With Fire!

Fox's The Passage is based loosely on a book trilogy by Justin Cronin (the first of which was likewise titled The Passage and published in 2010). While the trilogy covers a good thousand years, Fox seems to have smaller ambitions, at least initially—focusing on the relationship between Amy and her abductor/surrogate dad, Brad.

But the drama still retains the novels' horrific trappings. This is a show about vampires, after all, and not the shiny kind, either. Blood splashes and sprays and pools quite a bit—not Walking Dead-levels of gore, mind you, but more than you expect to see on network television, even today.

Sexual relationships take a backseat to all the bloodletting, naturally, but they turn up occasionally, too. Language can be coarse. And obviously, if you think too much about the show's premise, it comes with a bit of discomfort: Y'know, the whole don't get into cars with strangers thing. Real-life kids should never run off with dangerous, gun-toting men, no matter how well-meaning they seem.

But in Amy's case, Brad really did mean well, and their familial bond feels sweet and real and affecting. Maybe for the first time in her life, Amy has a parental figure in her life that she can trust. As such, The Passage feels at times like a heartwarming family story, even if the hearts in other places are hitting room temperature.

In short, The Passage is about as positive a television show predicated on ravenous vampires and the end of the world as I can imagine. But while Amy might eventually save the world, is it enough to save this show? I'm skeptical.

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Episode Reviews

Jan. 14, 2019: "Pilot"



Readability Age Range



Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Brad Wolgast; Saniyya Sidney as Amy Bellafonte; Jamie McShane as Dr. Tim Fanning; Caroline Chikezie as Dr. Major Nichole Sykes; Emmanuelle Chriqui as Dr. Lila Kyle; Brianne Howey as Shauna Babcock; McKinley Belcher III as Anthony Carter; Henry Ian Cusick as Dr. Jonas Lear; Vincent Piazza as Clark Richards






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Paul Asay

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