It’s rare when a show seemingly comes out of nowhere and grabs ahold of you. FROM Season 1 was such an experience.
It was a perfect blend of mystery, horror, and young lore, which made for a perfect watch. It was elevated by performances from all corners, led by the incomparable Harold Perrineau.
FROM took everything that makes the genre appealing and put a unique spin on it.
One of the sticking points was the fact that there were a lot of mysteries, which felt justified since we joined the town’s residents at a time when they hadn’t learned much about the circumstances surrounding the town’s status quo.
In a way, it felt like we were right there in the throes with them as they tried to survive another night, fighting the monsters from the outside, those inside of themselves in them, and those in their midst.
Somewhere in the second season, we saw a marked shift away from what made the first season so compelling, and the bright future ahead began to dim.
Too Many New Mysteries Were Introduced Without Answers for Those That Came Before
This descent began right after Boyd’s failed excursion, which saw him transported somewhere else after escaping into a faraway tree.
It’s worth reiterating that Season 1 was already shrouded in mysteries. Where exactly was the town? Why did these specific people find themselves in it? Was the ordeal real? What created the monsters? Who was the boy in white? Who was Victor? Is there any chance of escape?
Season 2 saw Boyd return with something new in him, and after days of struggling with it, it was revealed as just the thing needed to kill the monsters (more on that later).
As Boyd dealt with that unexplained phenomenon, Tabitha began seeing eerie children who repeatedly chanted the same phrase in unison.
A new busload of people arrived, and one new inhabitant had had dreams about the town as it was prior. What was that about?
The second season abandoned everything it had set up beautifully throughout the first to chase new mysteries. It was as if someone forgot that the mysteries on hand were already doing their job.
As a result of these and other factors, FROM went from having the perfect mix of characters and mysteries to being overrun with both, and our chances of following familiar threads all but disappeared.
Boyd arrived with something inside of him; he angered the forest, and a music box was somehow connected to cicadas that would kill people, three at a time.
The season-long storyline felt like a detour that no one wanted.
The Monsters Became Less Scary
Nameless, unknown monsters, looking far too much like you and me, emerging from the darkness at night was the town’s immediate threat.
It was brilliant for the monsters to remain nameless because that contributed to their mysterious allure while still allowing us to draw parallels between their nature and that of vampires.
For one, they both had a taste for human blood and flesh. And they only came out at night. They resembled humans but were nothing like them, and they were cunning, crafty, and almost indestructible.
With that assessment, it was clear what was necessary to survive. They had to get out.
On FROM Season 1 Episode 1, the full glory of the monsters was revealed as one tricked a child named Megan into inviting them into the house, only for it to ravage them.
Since Megan’s room was on the first floor, it created the impression that the monsters could fly, levitate, or appear suddenly.
But later, we discovered they operated like regular humans with a fixed schedule of working hours — hours they never went beyond — and were never in a rush to go anywhere. Instead, they strolled with measured steps, smiling stupidly.
The fact that they could only hunt at night and couldn’t fly, or levitate, released a bit of their fear factor.
Among the town’s mysteries were the disappearing electrical wires, and Tabitha made it her mission to discover where they went or where they ended.
Instead, Tabitha would descend into a void, which she later learned housed the sleeping monsters by day. That discovery revealed an important clue, as even with all the fracas she and Victor made in the void, the monsters remained asleep.
This begged the question, why not attack them during the day? They knew how to get into the tunnels; the monsters would be asleep and couldn’t run.
If confronting the monsters face to face proved too difficult, they could easily have burned alive (or dead, without knowing much about their nature). With the many cars in the town, gasoline was not a problem, and it was not like they were driving anywhere anytime soon, if ever.
Letting such an opportunity pass them by was unthinkable.
The final nail in the coffin was when Boyd’s thing killed a monster on FROM Season 2 Episode 7.
Of all the monsters to kill, losing the one I’d dubbed Smiley seemed almost cruel. It was the only monster with an attachment for the audience, and we thought his well, entertaining personality could reveal much.
Instead of starting small and possibly angering the monster we’d come to believe might be their leader (if they had any), FROM killed the most interesting monster, taking with it some killer lines and a creepy, almost benevolent smile.
The remainder of the monsters are nothing more than gaping mouths with chainsaw-like teeth. Are they as smart as Smiley? Would they lose focus without him? They were less fearsome by the moment.
From our perspective, it seemed they could be taken out easily, even without Boyd’s newfound abilities.
The Characters Became Too Angsty and Annoying.
But the real problem was how the characters turned out to be.
Even if one wasn’t particularly digging the narrative’s direction, the characters should have been enough to stick around for.
Boyd was the same old Boyd. He thought he had to save everyone but ended up bringing them more trouble. In all fairness, it wasn’t his intention.
After discovering the circumstances under which his father died, Kenny became insufferable. He had constant outbursts, temper tantrums, and whined about everything. We went from rooting for Kenny to believing he was nothing but a bother. Grief wasn’t reason enough to act how he did.
And then there was Victor. It was evident as early as in the first season that Victor knew more than he was letting on, but we were willing to give him a pass due to his (inferred) diminished mental capacity.
In Season 2, though, Victor got significant screen time and a focal bump, but nothing about him amounted to much. He knew a lot about the town, had drawings, and could remember things from the past, but he would pull back right on the verge of a breakthrough.
Honestly, it stopped being understandable and became frustrating.
FROM Ignored the Newcomers
Remember the busload of people? If not, it’s understandable because they faded into the background amidst the never-ending drama of the long-time residents.
At the least, they promised fresh stories, but after glossing over the fact that Elgin could dream about the town, nothing much about them was explored.
If FROM Season 2 was to pull focus from the horrors of Season 1, the expectations were that they would focus on what the new batch of people would mean to the fragile unity of the town.
And while they did explore that with wildcards like Randall and the food shortage, it didn’t feel grand enough.
FROM dug itself into a hole that might be hard to get out, if at all.
I would hope the creatives behind it have a plan to tie all the mysteries together, but that wouldn’t make up for ruining the best thing the show had going for it: the monsters.
Nothing makes a show as boring to watch as when it spells out everything for the viewer, and the same is true for shows that bombard viewers with too much.
What did you think?
Did the writers get too ambitious after the acclaim the first season received?
Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Denis Kimathi is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He has watched more dramas and comedies than he cares to remember. Catch him on social media obsessing over [excellent] past, current, and upcoming shows or going off about the politics of representation on TV. Follow him on Twitter.