First look Apple TV+ review: See Season 2
James R | On 30, Aug 2021
This spoiler-free review is based on the opening episodes of See Season 2, but contains spoilers for the end of Season 1. New episodes arrive on Apple TV+ weekly. Not seen Season 1? Catch up with our spoiler-free review here.
“Humans have a long history of despising and fearing who are different.” That’s Paris (Alfre Woodard) in See, as it returns to Apple TV+ for Season 2. It’s a comment that explicitly gets to the heart of what makes the sci-fi drama such an interesting watch, not because of its ambitious premise – it’s set in a future world where humanity, due to a virus, has been left without sight for generations – but because of what it tries to do with that premise.
Starring Jason Momoa as Baba Voss, a tribal leader who finds his two sighted step-children the prized targets of dangerous forces, Season 1 leaned into the way that relying on other senses would shape society – and also the way that battles are fought. What initially began as a brutally gruff epic, complete with inventively violent skirmishes, found its strength in the way that it focused on something much smaller: a father’s love for, and desire to protect, his children.
Season 2 expands the show’s scale significantly if not always consistently, and begins with even more violent displays of self-preservation, as Baba Voss and his kids – Haniwa (Nesta Cooper) and Kofun (Archie Madekwe) – find themselves separated. Haniwa has been taken capture by a rival tribe, while Kofun is escaping the civilisation built up by his birth father, Jerlamarel (Joshua Henry). Kofun had some help there from Baba Voss at the end of Season 1, and they team up to go and rescue Haniwa, with some help from Paris.
Meanwhile, Sylvia Hoeks’ Queen Kane, who provided a distant threat in Season 1, looms centre-stage as she becomes wildly more unpredictable with her power – if you’re missing Cersei Lannister from your screens, this is Apple’s slightly more over-the-top answer. By her side is sister Maghra (Hera Hilmar), much more reasonable and sensible and therefore inevitably not given any shred of power – although the fact that we know she’s Baba’s wife from Season 1, and Haniwa and Kofun’s mother, means that we can guess where she’ll end up by the end of the season.
But keeping it in the family is where See works, as it gives a dynamic and tension to events beyond the central question of sight. There’s a rich thematic seam running through the whole thing, as the show questions whether sight is a blessing or a curse in a world where most people can’t see – something explored with quiet tenderness through a friendship between Haniwa and her minder, Wren (Eden Epstein). The return of Jerlamarel, who has been left blinded by Baba Voss’ fight with him in Season 1, further adds fuel to the central philosophical and biological fire, which is echoed by the still-impressive world-building in the societies and cities formed around our ensemble of character.
All those notions are best when left to simmer in the background, as sight is instead manipulated and used by our players for their own ends, whether it’s propaganda or war-mongering. Amid the brewing conflict, See’s second season is finding new ways to draw out different sides to its characters, whether it’s Christian Camargo’s witchfinder Tamacti Jun, whose drive to track down Baba’s sighted children last season is replaced by duty of a different kind, or the cunning Lord Harlan (Tom Mison) plotting to become Queen Kane’s husband, putting her in her place as he goes.
Seasons 2’s not very secret weapon, though, is to double down on Baba Voss’ family drama, by introducing Dave Bautista as his estranged brother, General Edo Voss. Momoa remains a hulking, fierce presence, balanced out by his gentle, caring streak, and Bautista is a striking contrast – a hulking, fierce presence who has no gentle or caring streak whatsoever. The bad blood between them grounds the events, no matter how ludicrous the dialogue can sometimes get, and recalls the kind of sibling rivalry that fuelled the TV series Vikings in its best seasons. While there’s interest in seeing how the battle-hardened general’s obsession with sighted threats is dismissed by his own war council as superstition, the real meat comes when these two slabs of men collide with each other with a gripping, gritty gravitas. If Season 2 can keep that hate-hate relationship at its core, even as it widens its horizons and risks falling into hokum, then See could grow to become a fully fledged epic. With a third season already greenlit, Apple certainly appears confident that it will draw eyeballs.
See is available on Apple TV+, as part of a £4.99 monthly subscription, with a seven-day free trial. For more information on Apple TV+ and how to get it, click here.