Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Amazon’s Fallout Kicks Off With A Love Letter To The Franchise

Share This Post

Broadly speaking, the task ahead of a Fallout show is the same as any other video game adaptation. We don’t ask for much. Give fans an adaptation that respects the look and vibes of the franchise. Treat the lore and narrative with respect. Most of us understand that, like any adaptation, a game will require changes to make it more palatable to different mediums, but we just want the bare minimum of respect paid towards the games we love, that the show or movie is adapting.

From the first trailer, Amazon’s new Fallout show looked promising, like it might bother to give a damn about the games and what made them popular. Thankfully, the first episode (ironically titled “The End”) confirmed that, whatever may come, this show is pure Fallout, through and through.

A bobblehead on a desk from Fallout

The amount of references and details packed into every frame speaks of a show that doesn’t just know the Fallout games, but loves them. It’s the design of the homes and clothing, with their weird, eclectic blend of 1950s American nostalgia and nuclear-powered technology. It’s the perfect replications of the Nuka-Cola machines and the faithful designs of the vaults and the soundtrack ripped from the 1930s and 1940s. Don’t tell me you didn’t grin like a squealing fanboy when Lucy used a Stimpak or the one raider inhaled Jet.

Fallout is a production marvel, with incredibly well-built sets that are both gorgeous to look at without coming across like an obviously fake film set, and faithful costume design that doesn’t look bad cosplay. Everything has that vibrant, colorful pop to it. I haven’t been this impressed with how an adaptation managed to recreate the look and feel of a popular franchise since Game of Thrones first hit the scenes. It’s that same wonder of looking at a show and just being in constant awe that it was possible for a live-action piece of entertainment to reproduce something I didn’t think it could.

If nothing else, Fallout should be studied for the quality and effort that went into recreating this world.

Of course, you need more than that, and Fallout follows a tried-and-true formula for the series in its plotting and writing. This first episode is largely dominated by the story of Lucy MacLean, the daughter of the Overseer of Vault 33, whose arranged marriage to a member of a neighboring vault is revealed to be a raider trap that leaves much of the Vault dead and her father kidnapped. It’s an amalgamation of the plot of Fallout 3, with a Vault Dweller leaving to find a missing father, and Fallout 4, where they leave to find a kidnapped loved one.

Lucy immediately endeared herself to me, and was easily the highlight among the various plotlines and characters introduced. Ella Purnell plays the character with so many layers that bring her to life, and the episode does the right thing by showing rather than just telling us. She’s capable and heroic, but obviously inexperienced in the face of the kind of conflict she faces when the raiders unveil themselves. She’s obviously sheltered, but curious about the larger world.

Basically, she is your classic Fallout protagonist, acted perfectly as such, complete with her own montage equivalent of a SPECIAL screen when we are first introduced to her.

Her scenes do a terrific job recreating the similarities of Vault life in any Fallout game, with everyone playing their part to help the day-to-day functions of the Vault and propagating the slogans and mottos present everywhere. I also like that this show gave Vault 33 (along with 31 and 32) their own unique little tweak that exists with every Vault in a Fallout game. In this case, it seems these three vaults are situated close to each other, with some sort of tradition of intermarrying in order to diversify gene pools. It is this arrangement that brought Lucy’s father to Vault 33, and is the reason for her own marriage in this episode.

Kyle MacLachlan as Overseer Hank (Jojo Whilden/Prime Video)

The dialogue accompanying these characters and their visual feast may or may not hit for everyone. It’s a bit quippy, and there isn’t much in the way of engaging, thought-provoking conversations, but for me that didn’t matter in the slightest. Some people may not like to admit it, but Fallout can be a very silly game series. Its tech and characters often exist purely for surreal comedy, and dialogue choices allow the player to feed right into that comedy.

In a series where you can do a low-intelligence run with a barely literate main character that has deep, philosophical conversations with other low-intelligence characters, or can react to the first ghouls you see with offensively funny shock, nothing in this first episode felt out of place in the slightest, and for the most part felt spot on.

We see much less of the other two characters/plotlines, revolving around Maximus, a recruit in the Brotherhood of Steel, and Walton Goggin’s ghoul character, who was named Cooper Howard before the bombs fell. Maximus’s scenes did not thrill me as much as Lucy’s, though that in no way means they are bad. I love the portrayal of the Brotherhood here, with their deeply religious/militaristic culture centered around finding and controlling Pre-War tech. The power armor looks brilliant, and the scenes do their job well enough.

It was just harder to care about your usual boot camp soldier story in between the excellent Vault scenes, especially once we’re getting deliciously brutal violence and Lucy fighting raiders off in a wedding dress.

The Prydwen airship floating above onlookers from Fallout

(The acting in these scenes also felt the weakest, with one particular piece of dialogue delivered almost like it was ripped straight from Tommy Wiseau in The Room.)

Still, the larger plot is established with Maximus, as we find out out that the Brotherhood on the East Coast has chased remnants of the Enclave back to California, with some important technology at the heart of the conflict. The Enclave are a familiar villain in the Fallout-verse, so they will probably take that role yet again.

Meanwhile, The Ghoul is dug up out of a grave by a trio of bounty hunters looking to recruit him on a bounty that is heading towards California and a woman named Moldaver, who happens to lead the raiders that attacked Lucy’s vault. Of course, it’s not this scene that people will be talking about with the Ghoul/Cooper Howard, but the opening Pre-War scene.

We don’t get many looks at the Pre-War world in Fallout, and outside of Fallout 4’s opening, I can’t think of an authentic one, rather than virtual reproductions or such. This opening does an excellent job establishing what the world was like and why it remains the way it is as society rebuilds from nuclear war. It also serves as an excellent view of just how much The Ghoul has lost by the time we see him again, while also raising questions for newcomers about what the hell happened to him.

Altogether, we can obviously expect all these plotlines to come together, with Lucy and The Ghoul both after Moldaver and the Brotherhood likely to get involved soon as well. It’s a quality setup, one that gives the show plenty of room for the kind of weird diversions that exist throughout the Fallout world while also providing the type of overarching hunting plot that keeps things focused from episode to episode.

Which, again, is very Fallout. You have your overarching plot to resolve, but with the freedom to see all the diverse dangers and communities along the way. If this first episode is any indication, we can expect some fun new places to see.

Lucy Exits The Vault

I had some cautious hopes for Amazon’s Fallout series after the trailers dropped. The look seemed spot-on, and the humor and premise appeared to be right. I went in thinking there was a good shot at a decent adaptation here. Thankfully, Fallout looks to join the ranks of Arcane, Castlevania, and The Last of Us in the pantheon of the best video game adaptations ever made.

I’ll be covering the rest of the season over the coming weeks here at The Fandomentals, so be sure to follow along as we dig into the (dog)meat of this terrific show. I can’t wait.

Fallout is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.

Images Courtesy of Amazon

Have strong thoughts about this piece you need to share? Or maybe there’s something else on your mind you’re wanting to talk about with fellow Fandomentals? Head on over to our Community server to join in the conversation!

Latest Posts

Jonathan Hickman And Greg Capullo Team Up For Bloody New Prestige Series Wolverine: Revenge

The Best There Is by The Best There Is! Jonathan Hickman and Greg Capullo team up this August in WOLVERINE: REVENGE The five-issue prestige limited series will also be available in blood-soaked RED BAND EDITIONS.

Become the Oracle of Theros Using the New Magic: The Gathering Oracle Deck

It’s May 21st, which means you can now add...

Legendary Iron Fist Creators Alyssa Wong, Chris Claremont, David Aja, And More Return For 50th Anniversary Special

This August, celebrate 50 years of the Immortal Protector of K’un-Lun in IRON FIST 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL #1!

Skybound Announces New Invincible Licenses For Board Games, Dice, And Other Collectibles

Skybound Entertainment Announces Strategic Licensing Deals That Take Invincible from Screen to Shelf

Why Vecna is the Ultimate Dead by Daylight Killer

Vecna's addition as a Dead by Daylight killer recognizes DnD's 50-year history by making him a perfect addition to the murderous affairs of the Fog itself.

‘Thelma the Unicorn’ is too Autotuned

I don’t know quite how to feel about Thelma the...