Writing a review for Origin is an unusual experience.
I could explain that the show is a new sci-fi series starring Tom Felton and Natalia Tena available to stream on YouTube (yes, even YouTube is doing a Netflix these days).
I could tell you what happens in the opening scene or how the show introduces its large ensemble cast.
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But all this, frankly, seems a bit weird when you can just scroll down this article yourself and watch the first two episodes for free in the player below. See? It’s right there, just below the links…
There is, I suppose, one thing this review can help with. To watch the rest of the series you’ll have to pay to subscribe to YouTube Premium.
So, is the show worth the fee?
Frankly, that depends on your tolerance for a few things: Lost-style flashbacks, lots of people angrily shouting at each other and an incredible amount of jump scares, all of which Origin has in spades as our heroes navigate an abandoned, dangerous spaceship.
The storyline is basically a cross between Jennifer Lawrence film Passengers and classic horror sci-fi The Thing. On an interstellar journey from futuristic Earth to a new human colony, a group of passengers wake up early, finding the spaceship abandoned (apart from themselves) and damaged after a mysterious accident.
Among the survivors are Logan (Tom Felton), a brash man of indeterminate accent and a dark secret, Katie (Siobhan Cullen) whose main character trait so far seems to be Being Irish and A Bit Kind, Eric (Icelandic actor Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) who’s the same but for Scandinavia, Lee (Adelayo Adedayo), a surly teen hacker from the UK, and Baum (Philipp Christopher), an impulsive sort who gets his pecs out fairly early on.
It’s a big cast (I haven’t mentioned them all here), and as the unlucky early risers explore the deserted ship, it becomes clear that one member of the group may be involved with whatever intergalactic threat caused the ship’s troubles, and might not be human at all (hence The Thing comparisons). Who can they trust when they’ve only just met?
Meanwhile, helping us work out who we can trust are character flashbacks (one character per episode) explaining why they elected to leave Earth in the first place, beginning with ex-Yakuza enforcer Shun (Sen Mitsuji) in the first episode and followed by Natalia Tena’s Lana in the second.
Based on the first two episodes, these flashbacks have varied results: Shun’s story is arresting, but without giving anything away Lana’s just makes her seem like a moron, prone to making terrible decisions. Oh, and she continues to make terrible decisions in her new predicament as well.
Still, this is hardly her fault, as just like the rest of the characters she’s acting on horror movie rules: behave as stupidly as possible in every situation, split up to search deserted areas, free monsters for no reason, react extremely to the unexpected appearances of your allies (there are lots of jump scares where it’s just people coming round corners), and turn on each other at a moment’s notice.
These horror movie tropes are some of the more frustrating parts of Origin, for sure, and I found myself rolling my eyes after the seventh jump scare – but there are definitely some positives to be found here too.
Young British writer Mika Watkins has created an intriguing sense of mystery aboard this deadly spaceship, and the scale of the series, which stretches from futuristic Tokyo to the edges of the universe, is genuinely impressive, as are the top-notch special effects.
Overall Origin is a decent enough, entertaining sci-fi yarn that’s unlikely to stick in your mind much once you’ve finished watching it. Whether that’s enough to convince anyone to sign up to yet another streaming service is another matter.
Origin is streaming on YouTube premium now