No Tomorrow Season 1 Review and Analysis/ Season 2 Speculation

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No Tomorrow Season 1 is Now Available on Netflix

I really love this show that manages to be both optimistic and a dark comedy at the same time. It’s filled with unique, quirky characters who still feel like real people in real situations. I’ve actually known multiple people in green card marriages, some of whom fell in love, some of whom didn’t. We’ve all known, or been, people stuck in dead-end jobs, unfulfilling marriages, or having midlife crises. I’ve known several people who changed careers and decided on something nontraditional, like Evie’s dad and Timothy, or had an unusual second job, like Deirdre. They had to work hard and face their own and everyone else’s doubts in order to succeed. No Tomorrow infuses these common scenarios with new energy as Xavier sweeps through and wraps everyone up in his enthusiasm, encouraging solutions as creative and life affirming as he is. It doesn’t work out equally well for everyone, every time, including for Xavier, but that’s part of life and risk taking.

Evie is going to work at her current “dream job.” (Remember when Cyberhugs was the dream job, then Givers and Getters? This is the third dream job in four months.) Hopefully that will work out the way she wants. Graham seems to be written as the perfect man for her. Respectable, conformist, and upper middle class, like she craves, and Xavier couldn’t be, but in an adventurous, cool, confident way that Timothy couldn’t live up to. I just wonder what will happen when Evie hits the reality of life in a third world country. She hasn’t done well with anything outside of a comfortable middle class norm for the entire season, unless Xavier pushed her until she got acclimated. She’s more open now in some ways, but in others she’s still inflexible, shallow and selfish. Maybe her new adventurousness will help her fit in, but she wouldn’t even share her table with Graham in the restaurant for a few minutes, or give Xavier a day to deal with news about his theory before going to Iceland. She’s grown enough to be more clear about what she wants, and become confident enough to go after it. But she hasn’t learned how to commit to things and people and stick with them, even when it’s hard. She still walks away instead of looking for compromises.

Xavier is now going from the free-spirited guy who didn’t even have a job, to an elite government employee with a high security clearance and long work hours.

Part of my love for this show is that I was able to relax very early on because women were well-represented. They weren’t only being shown as certain types of characters, especially unflattering ones, or being treated less respectfully than the men or given less agency. There are a roughly equal number of male and female characters, it’s racially diverse, and there’s a few LGBTQ characters as well. The characters are all quirky and flawed, but also have their strengths as people. We saw growth in all of the regulars. Not a single female character was smart but easily overwhelmed by her emotions, or competent and unfeeling, the two most popular strong female stereotypes. If anything, they turned those stereotypes upside down. Deirdre looked like she might be all business, then she looked like she might be smart but emotional, but she turned out to be competent, intelligent, honest, passionate, romantic, strong but a little fragile, a little afraid to get hurt but still ready to try again at love despite two divorces. She’s amazingly complex, and she’s only a supporting character.

Xavier and Evie changed each other. They brought out the things in each other that were missing. It wasn’t a one-sided relationship, where a hero rode in and rescued the fair maiden from her boring life, or where the maiden taught the wanderer the  benefits of settling down. They were equally good for each other, and each represented something the other was missing. Xavier was attracted to what he thought he saw in Evie, but some of it wasn’t really there. He wanted someone to spend his life with and have a family, but she told us in the pilot that she feels too young to settle down and have kids. She wanted to figure out who she really was, and what she wanted for herself. Xavier taught her how to do that, and how to live authentically as herself. She loved him for it, but that’s as far as the love went. For her, it was never a forever love. Xavier always saw Evie with a sheen of his own desires, and what he knew she had the potential to eventually grow into, laid on top of her. But she’s not ready for that future yet, and she may never be. She may decide to spend 1 year in each Doctors Without Borders post around the world, with a different boyfriend in each country, so that she never gets bored or in too deep, but is still helping people and seeing the world.

Xavier was never really the irresponsible person he appeared to be, or that Evie thought he was. His way of being responsible just didn’t look like the conventional thinking that she had been raised with. I’m not sure she ever figured that out. But practically all he did, through the whole series, was try to take care of people, to make sure they were in the best place in their lives that they could be when the end of the world came. He was raised to be a bold, independent thinker, and that’s what might allow him to save the world. Xavier is an intense guy, who excels at following his obsessions. It takes commitment to come up with his asteroid theory, do the math, create the slide show, send it to the appropriate authorities, and keep believing and trying, even after universal rejection. He took care of people in unusual ways. He thought about the asteroid’s approach in an unusual way. He’s lived his life in an unusual way. In the end, Evie wants a veneer of normalcy and respectability that Xavier is never going to intuitively understand, so he’ll never be able to give it to her.

They did, at times during their relationship, manage to communicate their feelings and needs effectively and find a compromise. The only way I could see things working long-term would be if Xavier continues with the government and finds it fulfilling enough to make it a long-term career. If Evie gets travelling out of her system and wants to settle down, maybe seeing the world will have broadened her understanding of normal and respectable enough to be more accepting of Xavier and Jesse, and maybe his work and schedule will make him middle class enough for her. But there would still be the issue of his intensity and her lightness. That’s just hard to get past.

I actually ship Xavier and Tyra a little bit. Joshua Sasse is with an older woman. His alter ego could be as well.

As I tool around the web reading reviews of this show, I’m shocked at how many people assumed that Xavier was wrong about the asteroid, that he was metally ill, and that Evie should be treating him accordingly. They let that color all of their opinions about Xavier, the relationship, and the show, instead of keeping an open mind, as the show clearly meant for us to do. The writers were very careful to make sure that no one ever debunked Xavier’s theory who had the scientific and mathematical knowledge to do so, and to never give Xavier the signs of severe mental illness that might compromise his scientific and mathematical thinking. Yes, he’s depressed, and probably has anxiety, maybe an obsession. But he’s also right, and most great inventors and discoverers probably were obsessed as well. He wasn’t hallucinating or delusional, and there was no real evidence to think that he was. Just because someone’s ideas aren’t mainstream, doesn’t mean they’re crazy. This show is as much a commentary on how mainstream society views people with new and dangerous ideas, and tries to marginalize them, even white, straight men, as it is about anything else. Look around the interwebs, and get a sense of how few viewers wanted to believe Xavier was right. Then think about how he’d be treated in the real world.

Maybe the show would have done better in the ratings if they’d let the viewer in on the secret that he was right about the asteroid at the beginning of the season, but that would have taken away much of the interesting the dynamic between Evie and Xavier. It’s been more fun watching them try to navigate this giant elephant in the room. Next season, fingers crossed, they’ll have to deal with the fact that, when it came down to it, she didn’t believe him, and walked away when he needed her most, just when he was told he was wrong. She showed her hand when she left for Iceland, proving that she thought his idea was so ridiculous that he should get over it in a moment. 223 slides worth of math. That’s an investment that needs some time to get over and digest.

No Tomorrow might do better on Netflix than it has in its initial run, because anyone who’s been spoiled about the end won’t be as inclined to take Evie’s side in every argument as reviewers have been so far. Maybe Xavier is far enough out of the mainstream that people just don’t “get” him. He’s one of those intense people who sometimes goes too far, and is too much for other people to handle, without meaning to be. It’s easy to misinterpret that kind of person as being intentionally pushy or offensive when it’s their own intense emotions driving them, not what they think about someone else. The thing is, sometimes the worst case scenario comes true. Sometimes you’re not paranoid. Sometimes the government is wrong or lying. Sometimes we need the extremists and others on the fringe, who realize what the future’s going to bring before anyone else does. Or what the truth is. Or what the right thing to do is. Or all three at once.

Xavier KNOWS the truth. He’s intense about it. There’s not a lot of time left to be careful of people’s feelings and go slow. Evie brings him out of his depression, makes him want a future, gives him the ability to go slower and be softer, but it doesn’t change the fact that the asteroid is coming. He wasn’t depressed because of the apocalypse. He didn’t create it as a symptom of his depression. His depression and the apocalypse were unrelated. It was everyone else who decided that they didn’t need to take either his depression or his apocalypse theory seriously because combined they made him seem delusional. Which, really, Jesse? A guy is depressed enough that you think he’s created an elaborate end of the world scenario and you don’t think he needs help? And, Evie, you don’t think someone who’s predicting the end of the world might just be depressed underneath that manic front?

Evie is the eternal optimist, though. She didn’t look below the surface of anything until she was forced to, not even herself. That’s what Xavier brought to her. She broke through the surface of the water when she dove off the cliff in episode 2, and realized she had more depth than she’d given herself credit for. She’d never challenged herself, never gone deep, always floated from one easy scenario to the next, always stayed the pretty, popular, good girl. She did what was expected of her, and she can’t really be blamed for that. It’s what we’re all taught, and the pressure to conform can be overwhelming. I suspect it’s easier to rebel if you’re already on the edge of society. But Evie’s still evolving, still working through her tendency toward being shallow, selfish, and self-absorbed. She has a kind and generous heart. She just doesn’t have the empathy and persistence to put them to their best use yet. She’s lived a sheltered life, and hasn’t been forced out of her comfort zone enough to develop those qualities.

What does Xavier see in bourgois Evie? An antidote to his depression, for one, with her optimism and joie de vivre. But, in the farmers’ market scene from the pilot that he flashes back to in episode 11 or 12, she’s buying the rutabaga and asking about listeria precautions. Then, she’s with her sister and nephew. It’s all there. She’s connected, has roots, is a bridge to the type of close family Xavier had, but lost, and wants to have again. She’s earthy, interested in how her food is produced, would possibly be interested in that farm that’s still in the back of his mind somewhere, and would be smart about managing the details of it. And, she’s asking about listeria, a soil-born form of food poisoning that’s particularly deadly, killing up to 25% of its victims. In other words, she’s worried about a potential plague, and the vendor doesn’t take her any more seriously than the scientific community has taken Xavier. Here’s a girl he can relate to, and who might balance him out. She gradually helps him reconnect with the family he still has, and work through his depression over the family he’s lost. She brings him to a point where he wants to have a future again, and makes him consider what that future would look like. Evie inspires Xavier to solve the asteroid problem, even though he has to overcome the indifference and derision of the scientific community, and Evie herself, to do it.

What does Evie see in Xavier? When we meet Evie, she’s feeling stifled, stuck in a rut. She’s timid and ruled by her fears and need for approval. She wants to change jobs, but her boss won’t take her seriously. She’s been with the same guy off and on since college. She loves him, but he doesn’t seem like he’s the right guy for her. She doesn’t know how to break free of her relationship and move on, or to get her boss to take her seriously. Enter Xavier, full of confidence and bravado, who doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about him. He lives his life the way he wants to, and sticks to his beliefs regardless of what the rest of the world says. He encourages others to live authentic lives as well. He’s a revelation to her. Xavier gradually teaches Evie to face her fears let go of her need for approval, to believe in herself and her abilities. He sets her free.

I still miss Fern. She was, in many ways, what Evie wanted to be. She’d created the life she wanted instead of waiting around, hoping for someone to give it to her. She’d done some good along the way, and hopefully is still out there doing good. I don’t think Evie turned her in, just threatened to, so Fern should be running her charity from a foreign country. Evie’s probably forgotten Fern and her charity ever existed by now, anyway, and Fern could safely return to the country. She does need to stop embezzling and pay herself a salary that’s large enough to afford the lifestyle she needs to get donations. Or charge those expenses to the charity legitimately, one way or another.

The No Tomorrow writers didn’t need to discredit Fern that way to write her off the show. It’s one of the things No Tomorrow did that I like least. They legitimized Evie’s treatment of Fern by having Fern turn out to be an embezzler in the end. What was the point of the whole forgiveness storyline if they were just going to do that anyway? Does Cybermart Barbie have to turn out to be the good guy and hero of the story, no matter what? Or, couldn’t they at least have Evie acknowledge how many time she was willing to break the law when it suited her own purposes, and understand that Fern was ultimately doing this for a good reason? That would have shown character growth for Evie from early in the season when she wouldn’t give Jesse a chance to explain his crime. But Evie’s character growth was almost all in the direction of learning to be adventurous and follow her dreams. Early in the season she learned to be open-minded about people with ideas that differed from her own, but, in the end that was so that she was ready to change her own ideas. She was still rejecting toward Xavier, even when he let her know that his theory was the truth. There was no acknowledgement of what that meant for him, or them, or apology from her. In Evie’s mind, all she can see in both Fern and Xavier are people who don’t follow the rules of society that she’s comfortable with, so they aren’t people that she can ultimately respect and be with.

 

Season 2 Speculation:

I’m kind of wondering how the show is going to handle having characters in the Philippines, Washington, DC, and Seattle/Tacoma if there’s a season 2.

Will Evie be written out since she was given a potential boyfriend, her “dream job,” and didn’t want to know about or talk about the end of the world? Or will she discover in a few episodes that she doesn’t like it in the Philippines, Graham isn’t right for her, and Doctors Without Borders isn’t the right job? She did jump into this giant life change with little preparation. Changing her mind after a few weeks would be very typical of Evie. Then she can either go back to Seattle or join Xavier in DC.

It’s hard to imagine that Xavier would be the one that would be written out. Joshua Sasse was the bigger name going into season 1. The premise of the show is still built around his character, assuming they pick up season 2 before the asteroid gets to earth, which is where the best storyline potential is. They spent much of the last few episodes setting up his potential work in Washington, his family situation, and showing us that he and Evie are ultimately incompatible. Evie got the last few scenes, but it was kind of a send off into the unknown.

Evie’s family was written out halfway through the season, but Jesse was brought back and given a girlfriend. He got a job at Xavier’s favorite hangout spot. Jesse could easily be the bridge between Xavier in Washington and the Cybermart gang, especially if they get to know Jesse and hang out at his shop. Amber, Jesse’s girlfriend, could also work at Cybermart.

Xavier also reconciled with his father, who has a wife and a daughter, and who is willing to make some effort to make amends to Xavier. It’s possible they’d move to be closer to Xavier before the end of the world. Maybe Hamish Senior will work with Xavier on the asteroid project.

Timothy will keep following the asteroid story. He can be another bridge between the two locations. Will Timothy and Talia make it as a couple? I really, really hope so! She’s the best girlfriend he’s had yet. Strong and confident, but patient, wise, and kind with him as well. She brings out the best in Timothy with her quiet faith and confidence in him. He’s ready for that, finally. She seems into Timothy, but we don’t know her well enough yet for me to understand her motivations. My guess is that she’s a powerful, ambitious woman who likes that Timothy isn’t threatened by her strength and ambition, and has shown some determination of his own, but doesn’t feel the need to try to compete with her.

How will Hank and Deirdre cope with the thought of the asteroid being on its way while Deirdre’s pregnant? They were already buying bunkers and baby hazmat suits before they knew the truth. Will they be able to trade up for a bunker that holds three instead of two? Will Hank’s apocalypse planning and Deirdre’s anxieties go into overdrive?

How will Sofia and Kareema deal with their rushed Green Card marriage long-term, with the pressure of the approaching end of the world? Especially since Kareema didn’t want to get married at all before she met Sofia. Will Sofia want to go home and be with her people? Will Kareema want to be free for adventure and experiments before the end of the world?

Xavier and Evie could still be end game. I was on board with that for most of the season. But they had her break up with him for shallow reasons too many times, issue too many ultimatums, break too many promises, and date too many other people. And that was just the things she did within the relationship. Meanwhile, Xavier was loyal, committed, deep, willing to compromise, willing to listen, and tried to be there for her. He wasn’t perfect. He was a huge jerk sometimes. But he admitted when he was wrong and tried to do better. Now I feel like what they fell for in each other was a mirage of what they wanted out of life. Xavier is a family man. He’s deeply committed to the people he cares about, family most of all. He’s ready to settle down and create a family of his own. His mother’s death, Jesse’s imprisonment, and the asteroid all sidetracked him. His escapism made him look like a fun-loving free spirit. He is very adventurous and fun-loving, but he was using his lifestyle to mask depression when Evie met him. Evie did help draw him out of his depression. He was drawn to her because she appeared to be family-oriented, to love children, to be stable, and to be homey. The qualities within himself that he’d buried, and was ready to bring back out. But he did also see the real her, and knew that she needed to leave her stability and stagnation behind.

Evie is someone who likes to be on the move, whether it’s by traveling the world or changing jobs frequently, changing boyfriends or trying new restaurants. She doesn’t want to be tied down to the same thing, day after day. She doesn’t want depth or stability. She is the fun-loving free spirit Xavier appeared to be, but she’d never had the self-confidence to act on her impulses so freely before Xavier gave her permission to. Xavier supported her and cheered her on so that she could overcome her family’s negativity toward any lifestyle that wasn’t ordinary and mainstream. She saw Xavier as that free spirit, but she did also see the depth in him and the need for a connection with his family. She pushed him to reconcile with his father and to reconnect with his entire past so that he could overcome his depression rather than running from it. Evie helped him get his theory heard by the world, even though she didn’t want to engage with it herself. It was Evie who got Timothy involved, which ultimately led to Tyra finally reading the theory.

They were able to give each other this gift of healing and bringing out their true natures so that they can each live authentically. Their authentic selves have very different needs, though. Evie needs to have her adventures. Who knows how long she’ll want to explore the world. She may spend 10 years or 40 years travelling, with a different guy in every country. Or she may quickly decide she prefers smaller adventures, closer to home, although I think that would be a disservice to the character.

Xavier needs to save the world, and if he’s successful, he’ll need to finish repairing himself emotionally, which will likely include creating a new family. He loved seeing Evie with her nephew, and he loved babysitting her nephew. Evie was not all that interested in her nephew. She told us in the pilot that she’s not sure she wants kids. Xavier told us his dream of the future involves a farm and a family, which is about as tied down as you can get.

But that’s probably further than season 2 will get. If we get one, next season will probably end where I thought this season would, with the asteroid about to pass earth, and its exact trajectory still slightly uncertain. Xavier’s team will have done everything they can to nudge the satellite off course, or to cool the earth’s atmosphere, or whatever daring solution they come up with. We’ll be left to wait for season 3 to find out if it’s the end of the world as we know it, a near miss with a bit of damage, or a complete miss with big parties (that probably cause some damage) afterwards.

 

 

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