Warning: This review contains mild spoilers for “Origin”
Ever since people began speculating about space travel in fiction, we’ve speculated about the various possible mishaps. One of the most common troubles is the “lost in space” trope — passengers on a spaceship find themselves stranded in deep space, perhaps waking from cryostasis to find themselves lost. Popular examples of the trope include the SyFy show “Dark Matter,” an episode from “Firefly,” the 2016 blockbuster “Passengers” and, of course, “Lost in Space,” which Netflix recently rebooted as a new series. “Origin” is a YouTube original that relies on this familiar trope. Despite leaning on an unoriginal concept as the basis for its story, “Origin” is still a great example of modern science fiction. After all, storytelling devices become tropes because they create captivating and thought-provoking stories.
“Origin” tells the story of a group of passengers left behind on a settlement ship. The ship is owned by the Siren Corporation, a company offering blank slates in return for help in settling a potentially habitable planet. Agree to leave your life on Earth and they’ll erase your entire past, your criminal record, everything. It’s an offer which seems almost too good to be true.
The meaning of the title “Origin” is threefold. On the most basic level, Origin is the name of the spaceship that the show’s main characters find themselves on. On the next level, each episode is spliced together with life on the ship and flashbacks from one of the characters’ pasts. Their origin stories, if you will. On the final level, the show deals with what is potentially the origin of extraterrestrial life. Without giving too much away, the show has some serious vibes from the 1982 film, “The Thing.”
The show features an intriguing cast, including two Harry Potter franchise alum. Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) plays Logan, the anxious delinquent that you’ll eventually fall in love with, while Natalia Tena (Nymphadora Tonks) plays Lana, an ex-bodyguard. Tena has also experienced recent fame for her role in another popular franchise, HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
To Binge or Not to Binge?
I truly could not stop watching “Origin.” I planned on watching an episode or two while eating dinner and the next thing I knew, it was three in the morning and I had finished the entire series. To be fair, I am a science fiction junkie, but the mystery and suspense in “Origin” was definitely a driving force preventing me from turning it off. Science fiction horror seems to be getting a reboot, so if you’re hyped for the new “Predator” movie or George R. R. Martin’s new SyFy show, “Nightflyer,” then you should definitely add “Origin” to your watch list.
YouTube released “Origin” on Nov. 14, 2018, and while the show does leave off on sort of a cliffhanger, a second season hasn’t been officially confirmed despite an overwhelmingly positive response to season one. Yet, show creator Mika Watkins, in an interview with FanSided, admitted that she not only has plans for a second season, but possibly a third and fourth season as well.
While I did thoroughly enjoy the show, and again, I’m a science fiction junkie, I wouldn’t be disappointed if the show ended where it is. The open-ended final episode felt sort of like the ending to an X-Files episode. The story has a definitive close, but viewers get an extra ending scene with an ominous hint the story might not be over. I don’t think it would be terrible if the ‘what if’ at the end doesn’t get expanded upon. Honestly, I feel like shows go on for too long sometimes. I’d rather have a show end early and on a high note than get four drawn out seasons of lackluster content.
Best Episode: Since each episode tells the backstory of a single character, it’s a little easier to separate the episodes and pick a favorite. My favorite (and according to the ratings on IMDB, is everyone else’s favorite too), is “Funeral Blues.” This is the eighth episode in the season and depicts the backstory for Logan, played by everyone’s favorite Slytherin, Tom Felton. Logan forms a friendship with a woman in a nursing home and their relationship is incredibly touching. This may sound like a snoozefest, but learning about Logan’s past makes him more likable as a character. The episode also shows a completely different side to life on Earth in the near future as compared to previous episodes. Logan’s story is also unique because he is the only passenger who isn’t necessarily escaping a criminal past or trauma when he trades a clean slate for life on a distant planet.
Honorable mentions include episode five, “Remember Me,” which follows the backstory of Lee and helps set up a major plot point in the series, and episode nine, “A Total Stranger,” which follows Katie as tensions on the ship increase.
Similar Shows: “Dark Matter,” “Nightflyer,” “Altered Carbon” and “Lost in Space.”
Trigger Warnings: Mild violence, gore and adult language.
Episodes 1 and 2 are available to stream for free on YouTube, with the full series available on YouTube Premium.
10 episodes, approximately 8 hours.