Published Jul 02, 2013Much of the appeal of the supernatural drama Believe stems from the mystery and lack of clarity. It deliberately avoids answering questions it knows the answer to, building audience investment through curiosity and intrigue. Unlike most television pilots, which focus on excess exposition and resultant contrivance to establish a series dynamic, this metaphysical drama focuses more so on themes and ideas, letting the viewer know that they're in for smarter than average entertainment.
During the opening moments of the pilot episode, death row inmate Tate (Jake McLaughlin) is broken out of prison by Winter (Delroy Lindo), a priest sent there to give him his last rights. Rather than dote on the facts of the breakout or the basic machinations, this moment merely exists as part of a bigger plan.
Winter is part of a group of "True Believers" who protect a gifted 10-year-old girl named Bo (Johnny Sequoyah). Her powers, which manifest during emotional moments, are undefined, but could easily be harnessed for crime and power posturing should they get in the wrong hands. The solution, which Winter and cohort Channing (Jamie Chung) are entirely confident with, is to have Tate protect the girl, remaining anonymous and on the run.
The degree of certainty that everyone has about this plan, despite Tate's obvious confusion and reluctance, suggests and a greater, unexplained mythology. And as the pilot reiterates throughout, belief and faith, though presumed acts of weakness, can ultimately save and protect these characters.
While this could easily read as Christian propaganda, there are too many unexplained tenets within the series to suggest any sort of pedagogical agenda. Though the "True Believers" have a religious background, the focus here is more on the idea of trust, compassion and connection as necessary aspects of the human experience. With a misanthropic criminal at the center of it all, the trajectory would then be one of "believing" that he is a valuable part of a social enterprise.
Making this all highly kinetic and emotional is a darker component that is given little explanation, but has an obvious, planned foundation. Skouras (Kyle McLachlan), a man of influence, is aware of this girl and her powers and has henchmen (Sienna Guillory in the pilot) using any means necessary to obtain her. This contradicting thematic vein—Bo and Tate are unable to trust anyone lest she be kidnapped—makes for an interesting way of keeping the character arc of "believing" in good complex and dynamic.
Should the series continue to explore deeper human truths while serving up the same level of action and entertainment demonstrated in the pilot, Believe could prove to be one of the best shows on television.
Believe is scheduled as a midseason replacement to air in early 2014 on CTV. (Warner)