Hit or Sh**: Syfy’s AFTERMATH

In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.

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What the hell did I just watch . . . 

Seriously, I have no idea what just happened, and I don’t think the writers of the show do either. AFTERMATH, Syfy’s new Canadian-produced drama, is about a lovely family of five, the Copelands, who try to survive the most fucked up apocalypse I’ve ever seen on screen. You think zombies are bad? This show gives us flying demon zombies that snatch you and carry you into the sky. We also get a fish hurricane, earthquakes, a possessed, homicidal gas station attendant, and giant falling meteors. I probably wouldn’t have even batted an eye if they threw a sharknado in there too. If I got anything out of this episode, it’s that I definitely wouldn’t want to be the Copelands.

The episode starts off in media res, which was its biggest problem for me. We don’t really get to see the Copelands in their everyday lives before we see them in full apocalypse mode. The show has main character Joshua Copeland interacting with a possessed man in a pink dress holding a machine gun before it has him interacting with his own family. We’ve got kids pulling out guns and shooting demon zombies by the 10-minute mark. AFTERMATH should have taken advice from other shows and movies that show the initial stages of an apocalypse, like FEAR THE WALKING DEAD or SHAUN OF THE DEAD. Both of these spend a fair amount of time introducing us to the characters and their values before throwing them in the middle of a crumbling world, so that we actually worry when they’re in danger. Everything we learn about the Copeland family in this episode is through their fight to survive, which is not who they truly are. I’m sure they will eventually put in some flashbacks to make us care about their characters, but during the pilot, I would’ve been fine if the zombies ate their asses.

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I will only keep watching AFTERMATH if this guy makes a reappearance

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The logic in this show is completely ridiculous, if it even exists at all. There are infinite examples, but I’ll just hit the ones that bothered me the most. For some reason, even after everything that’s happened to them, the Copelands keep trusting everybody. At the beginning of the episode, they watch a friendly kid go from enjoying a nice spaghetti dinner with them to trying to eat them alive in about two seconds; this family should know firsthand that people aren’t what they seem. And yet, they act like kind-hearted neighbors to everybody they meet, from the murderous gas station attendant, to the hostile roadside couple, to the creepy cops. If the Copelands keep this up, they’ll be zombie fodder by episode three.

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This program is brought to you by Subaru

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There is one point in the episode where a possessed man steals the Copeland’s daughter Brianna and flies off with her into the sky. No big deal. The rest of the Copeland family’s first reaction is to head off on the road to go search for her, seemingly confident that they will find her because they sent her a text to meet them in Yakima. Why the hell are they so sure she’ll be in Yakima? They watched her get sucked up into the atmosphere. It’s probably more likely that Satan himself is eating her rotten corpse. They have literally no reason to believe she’s alive, let alone waiting for them safely in Yakima. Lastly, the Copelands seem oddly alright with everything that’s going on around them. After every force of nature has tried to kill them, they act like it’s just another Tuesday. They even throw this in our faces, when Josh smiles and says, “It’s actually a really beautiful day” to his son, the morning after his entire family was almost slaughtered by a demonic teenager. These are the kind of jokes you might make in the second or third season when the characters have been dealing with this for months, not in the pilot when they’ve been dealing with it for half a day.

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Only the Copelands head out on a family road trip right after losing their daughter to a flying demon

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Due to the offbeat acting, predictable moments, and all the other flaws I’ve mentioned, I’m going to have to give this pilot a hard pass, which saddens me because I was really rooting for this show. For someone like me who lives for apocalyptic fiction, the idea of a show that combines almost every type of apocalypse is so crazy that it’s actually exciting, because there are so many possibilities. It’s too bad that they couldn’t make it a good story, because that is much more important than a good premise. I want to be able to root for these characters to endure through the mayhem ahead of them, but the writers haven’t given me any opportunities to.

Sadly, I will not be tuning in for episode two of AFTERMATH, and I don’t recommend that you do either. Instead, try an apocalyptic show where you actually care about who dies — cough cough — THE WALKING DEAD.

Verdict: Sh**

AFTERMATH airs on Tuesdays on Syfy

Jordan is a student at Chapman University from Vancouver, Canada, and a Crossfader guest contributor. When he's not watching THE WALKING DEAD, you can probably find him…watching every other show.

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