Tea in the Sahara
Kev – Fiction Podcast Critic
Today guys I am not going to beat around the bush. Those who follow my reviews know that my whole love affair with scripted podcasting started in 2015 with the utter genius podcast We’re Alive, a story of survival.
Over the passing years, I have introduced countless pals to ‘We’re Alive’ as the audio drama that simply puts podcasts in a chokehold. The vibe & consensus that I received on said introduction was often along the lines of “my god that podcast blew me away!” Hell, I even got my wife into the series after harping on about how awesome the show was; and she is far from a fiction audio-drama person!
For the uninitiated folk looking to fast-track and absorb the, We’re Alive podcast storyline the clever people at Wayland Productions kindly created a featurette of the previous events from the very beginning right up to Descendants. And hats off guys on what is a very sleek catch-up montage.
It has been three years (I know), since ‘Goldrush’ the last entry within the series. So you can imagine that I was happy as Larry upon hearing creator Kc Wayland was firing off the final salvo in the We’re Alive cannon with his latest offering Descendants, set eighteen years after the original storyline.
Along with executive producers Rusty Quill, we are given the unique chance to catch up on this post-apocalyptic world, and how its inhabitants have progressed living within the ruins side-by-side with the infected.
The storyline picks up in 2027 with the children of some of the original survivors, including Nicholas Tink (Jataun Gilbert). With that, we also see a return of some classic characters including Michael Cross (Jim Cleason) & Scott Marvin as Burt, which had me truly giddy with nostalgia!
The audience rejoins our survivors within a State called Westport, where you would think the modern world had gone down the pan without mod-cons and the internet. Well, you would be wrong!
What we are greeted with within the opening two episodes is an America that now has been divided into newer states that operate, and in some cases thrive with mentions of trade, commerce, emails, text, and even pagers getting a look in (remember them?!!)
Nick and the original cast live in Westport, a busy trading metropolis with high walls. Then there is United America or UA, and to the south, The Republic is made up of remaining military units left from the original US as we knew it. If I have this right the red zone, or frontier area houses the infected who have evolved and now operate within small cells or tribes.
The pace starts slow, and after some contextual catch-up, Nick and the rest of the graduate guardians get themselves embroiled in an impromptu recon mission to the red zone, and the arena. Spurred on by the words written within a journal seemingly left by Nick’s grandmother, who knows what adventures lie ahead for our youngsters! Aah, the innocence of youth.
What I admire about the first episode is how it links back to the architectural engineer of the outbreak and all of this suffering Bill Roberts, or Ink as he is better known; in my opinion one of the most elusive, and underrated characters within the whole franchise.
Descendants is starting to have the whiff of an audio drama that will deliver a continuing plotline that will thicken with every turn for its listeners. At the end of episode two, there is the inclination that we could have the return of a heavyweight original character guaranteed to turn this podcast on its head. And I for one am ecstatic about getting back on the suspense merry-go-round!
I am also especially intrigued to find out more about the poster boy dude with the green eyes and mash-up spikey tiara thing which has been used for the Descendants cover art. He kinda reminded me of Eddie, the mascot used by Iron Maiden!
Righty-oh, let’s put my fanboy hat with ‘We’re Alive’ written in BOLD aside for one moment and answer the most important question should you listen to this podcast?
I will begin with a small fear of mine that would see Descendants become as complicated as a Tommy Shelby strategy! What I mean is as Descendants organically grow with sub-plots, and bigger societies I wouldn’t want the show to become too overly complex.
Naturally, I can handle complex societies and political turmoil. Of course, I understand that a successful series with pedigrees needs to evolve in order to grow. However, remember sometimes less is more as the old saying goes.
I was expecting HUGE things with Descendants as the last entry ‘Goldrush’ was kinda meh. Good, but not outstanding in my honest opinion. What I felt Gold Rush lacked was that certain “je ne sais quoi” star quality. I have to say so far all of my initial fears have been brushed aside, and Descendants is comfortably exceeding my early expectations.
Having some of the original cast back in the fold brought back many fond memories, with new boy Nicholas Tink totally eating up the airtime with his fiercely defiant, and quick-witted attitude adding much-needed fresh legs to the show.
I also feel that within this series we will see the Sistine Chapel ceiling come down on not just one, but perhaps a few of the OG characters from We’re Alive. A statement as bold as the Burj Khalifa you might think, however, I do feel some form of transition from the old guard to the next-gen will take place within Descendants.
As you would expect the audio within Descendants is top-draw, and we the listeners also get treated to some groovy Bossa nova RadioShack music within a scene where Michael unwinds with a cheeky cigarette.
Okay, scoring time! Off the blocks ‘Descendants’ does start a little slow due to the need to bring the listener up to speed on what has happened in the past eighteen years. What the show has done more convincingly than Goldrush did is to lace new characters into the original cast by giving them more air time. The passing of the baton (so to speak), appears to be working quite favourable so far.
Descendants receive my first ever 5/5 (so far!) I personally see this show’s storyline being quite unique with the idea that the infected have adapted and developed making them deadlier than before. This has cleverly been achieved within this direct sequel whilst paying homage to the rich history of the original story for sentimental fans like myself. And that balancing act my friends is not an easy thing to do.
Reflection time. Guys if this review is well received/appreciated I will dip back into the story of Descendants with future reviews as the series progresses. Let me know if this concept is something you dig and would be interested in reading.
Scores this week 5/5
And remember “Stay alert, stay alive!”
Thank you for taking the time to read my review of ‘Descendants’ which can be found on Spotify & Apple Podcast, or from wherever you get your podcasts from. For your podcast submissions email me directly at email@example.com, via my socials, or follow my newsletter. Cheers, Kev.
Jataun Gilbert as Nicholas
Hajin Cho as Vera
Hayes Dunlap as Dean
Jim Gleason as Michael
Elisa Eliot as Pegs
Constance Parng as CJ
Lauren Croom as Secretary Dora
Scott Marvin as Burt
Claire Dodin as Riley
Tammy Klein as Kelly
Otto Sturcke as Victor
Thomas Bell as Hoggs
Brett Newton as Puck
Michal Swan as Narrator