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Fallout Review: Prime Video’s Violent Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Adaptation Is Surprisingly Human

Imagine a world where 219 years have passed since a horrific nuclear explosion and a select group of humans is now living inside safe and luxurious underground vaults — well-cultured havens where life is as dreamy as it can be. It’s like having a manual to living a simple life in tunnels — besides the oddity of having images of the real world being screened with a virtual projector.

Outside these vaults, everything is bizarre, scary, risky, radiated, chaotic, gory and unpredictable — in short, the world is now an absolute nightmare. You can catch radiation illness, fall prey to giant cockroaches, be hunted down by mutated humans or forced to sell your teeth for money.

Fasten your seatbelts, for this is just the beginning! Welcome to the fascinating universe of Prime Video’s Fallout, a post-apocalyptic show based on the popular video game series of the same name. Although it is set in the same universe, the show isn’t based on a particular game from the franchise; rather, it incorporates major themes and elements from the games and brings series staples like ghouls, gulpers, pip-boys and more.

Being someone who has never played a single Fallout game and doesn’t enjoy violence much, I was expecting myself to be bored, grossed out and dragged through the show — but my experience was anything but that! In fact, the show had me glued throughout and whenever my interest would wander off even a bit, something unexpected would pop up.

Fallout TV Series Review: Not Your Regular Video Game Adaption

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Aaron Moten’s Maximus plays ally to Lucy in her unpredictable journey on the surface

The Fallout TV series is much more than just an R-rated video game adaptation. It does have a shitload of gory scenes, with people smashing eyes with forks, pulling out teeth with bare hands, stapling wounds, blowing off heads like birthday candles, and chopping off everything human. But Fallout explores minute human emotions in detail, too, while diving into the complex pool of war, political unrest, existentialism, humanity, and much more. It’ll make you laugh, gasp, cuss, and roll your eyes, all at once.

As the curtains are raised, we meet Ella Purnell’s Lucy, a well-mannered lady from Vault no. 33 who is looking for a suitable mate from a different vault now — umm because she is tired of the “cousin stuff” which is not a “good reproductive practice for the longer term” (her words, not ours!).

One thing leads to another, and Lucy decides to break the rules and go out to the real world on a mission, oblivious to what’s in store for her, kickstarting the adventure of a lifetime. It is painfully funny to see her trying to deal politely with criminals, even when her life is at stake. She would give you a small speech justifying why she should shoot you, would give a polite comment on how torture is unethical while being drowned by violent creatures, and would politely ask for directions while pointing the gun at you.

On the surface, she meets Maximus (Aaron Moten), a trainee squire from Brotherhood of Steel — the militaristic faction working towards bringing order to the wasteland. He would serve Knight Titus someday. For those of you aware of the games, yes, the soldier knights are adorned with powerful T60 armours in the show. Maximus seems to be a weak one in the herd and is often picked upon by his fellows. However meek he might appear on the surface, he is full of ambition and is fuelled by envy. In short, he is as human as he can be.

Another character that Lucy stumbles upon — which honestly stole the show for me — is Walton Goggins’s rude, cowboy-attired ghoul who wears sarcasm on his sleeves. This loathsome creature has been around ever since the nuclear bombs dropped, is missing a nose, has a distinct accent, and doesn’t shy away from torturing someone. He carries around a mysterious and intriguing aura and has some of the most savage dialogues. He would make you hate him to the guts and yet you would find yourself in awe of him. The way the show’s writers have unfolded his character in layers over the eight episodes is beyond impressive. (sorry, can’t reveal much without giving away spoilers).

Fallout TV Series Review: Sub-plots Makes it Even More Interesting

The story arc of all three protagonists is equally gripping and intense, and of course, interconnected. Besides, Fallout offers plenty of sub-plots as well – none of which make the script overstuffed.

One such subplot worth mentioning is of Lucy’s brother Norm (Moisés Arias). He is a timid man who lacks enthusiasm. But through Norm’s character, the show deftly portrays the inherently human instinct for survival. The will to exist can fall deep inside the abyss of human existence and still make its way out almost immediately when the right opportunity shows up.

Fallout Review: Screenplay Taps on Intricacies of Human Emotions

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Walton Goggins’ character arc is quite interesting the series

This is the very beauty of Fallout’s screenplay. It smoothly taps into the minute intricacies of human emotions, which feel completely natural and relatable. Whether it is the idea of bullied people turning into bullies or suppressed emotions making their way to the surface for nanoseconds or animalistic humans pausing a violent fight to relish cake, the writers have done an impressive job at keeping things as real as possible, even if they’re set in a stylised post-apocalypse.

The same goes for the political instability, classism, and plausible outcomes of unregulated capitalism, which have been intelligently portrayed. Acute attention has been given to other minute details as well, such as the books being read in the vaults or even the breakfasts being served, for that matter. The production design for the show is also burgeoning with detail. For instance, although the vaults have high technology, the television sets there are exactly like the ones shown seconds before mass destruction. The same wedding dress is being passed on from generation to generation, with the name of the brides who have worn them, etched inside along with the year of their weddings.

It is also interesting to see how vault-dwellers, who haven’t stepped out in their lifetime, have an in-depth knowledge of Shakespearean literature and advanced physics and aspire to “re-colonize” and “civilize” the real world someday – exploring one of the possible scenarios of how humanity might tightly hold on to the last relics of the civilised age when pushed into a closed capsule.

The background score in Fallout excels, too, depicting the dichotomies of life in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The choice to use a romantic song in a scene where two almost rotten dangling heads are colliding, or to play Herb Alpert’s slow and sensuous Ladyfinger when four super scared people are walking at gunpoint with their hands up? The background score, too, playfully teases with the most unexpected notes at the most unexpected moments. A special shout out to the show’s composer Ramin Djawadi for coming up with a score that accentuates the darkly humorous world of Fallout.

Fallout TV Series Review: Final Verdict

All eight episodes of Fallout can now be streamed on Prime Video. While each episode is filled with thrill and surprises, it is halfway through the series that your jaws are likely to drop to the ground. It’ll make you question the very nature of wars, the future of humanity, the core values of existence, and how eerie a post-apocalyptic world might look. And with a finale that leaves us with more questions than answers, the show has already hinted towards a second season. Fallout is a perfect cocktail of adventure, survival, humour, greed, and unpredictability and is likely to attract a completely new audience to the fascinating world put together by the video game series.

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