‘The Castaways’ Review: Paramount Series Is An Emotionless Generic Drama


There are only two things that make The Castaways a total waste of time. One is the reason why the entire story takes place, and the other is the ending of the show. These two things take up roughly ten to fifteen minutes within the total runtime of five hours, so if you are able to look past them, this show is worth a watch.

The story of The Castaways is centered around two sisters, Erin and Lori. Erin is looking for her sister, Lori, who has gone missing along with the plane she was on. Everybody has given them up for dead, but Lori believes that there is more to the event that people are ignoring. How she doggedly pursues the truth and tries to rescue her sister forms the crux of the story.

For the first two episodes or so, we are presented with the story in a non-linear format. The present-day investigation of Erin is shown alongside the beginning of the tragedy, a few weeks ago, where the people were trying to survive on the island. That is why we were under the impression that The Castaways may be a shortened version of Manifest, but the show is its own story. Frankly, a lot about the story doesn’t add up. People make stupid decisions all the time, and while we understand the intent of the writers to convey the gravity of the situation through them, there is just not enough time or buildup to deliver that effect. On the other hand, there are so many details missing, like where the people managed their food, clothing, or shelter, and how they learned to form a community amongst themselves. While these are still forgivable omissions, the lack of an emotional journey between the characters was its biggest drawback. It is what made the audience feel like the plot had been lost towards the end, and this was all way too unnecessary.

Regardless, since the runtime of The Castaways was just a few short hours, these loopholes don’t feel as pressing to us. The crux of it is that most of it is not as thrilling either. Erin’s journey and ability to think on her feet are impressive. Lori had a moment with a crocodile that was interesting. The rest is as bland as the fish the castaways must be eating on that island.

The actors have a minimal job, and they do it well. Our favorite is the actor who plays Jack. His conveyance of empathy and wisdom as part of his role was the only thing that the audience was able to feel through the screen. As for the rest of the cast, Lazarus Ratuere who played Felix, and Sheridan Smith as Lori were the only ones who made an impression. Of course, Celine Buckens had a screen presence and was very easy to believe as Erin Holme. The locations were excellent and optimally used to suit the story, so there isn’t much to complain about or point out here.

The Castaways is not the first story about the world forgetting about people left stranded on an island. It started way before Lost, and the most recent example is Yellow Jackets, which is as murky to watch as it is exciting. In comparison, The Castaways is a cakewalk. There is a scene that repeatedly plays throughout the narrative. It is of the sisters when they are young, and are reciting the tale of a princess in an enchanted forest and how that would protect her from every danger. That is what this series is: a fairytale, where the happy ending involves ending up with a man who has literally dropped from the sky into the sisters’ lives to give them the happiness they want. Spoiler alert: remember the funny dream of having a cottage overlooking the sea, cut off from civilization, where you can live in a ‘little world of your own making.’

The Castaways was a show that needed to be explored more. Maybe a better look into the conspiracy theorist mind of Erin or the motivations of Mrs. Eldridge, or at least a proper reason as to why Erin felt the need to do it all alone. Was an affair with a much older man really a good enough reason to run from the police? And why is no one addressing the fact that Erin was a proper freeloader and that it was those tendencies of hers that caused her initial unkindness to her sister? If only The Castaways had been an episode or two longer, there would have been scope to address these characters as more complex people than justifying them away with a simple reason. The series is adapted from a book by Lucy Clarke, which we haven’t read. But it can be easily deciphered that the book must have those details that are missing from the series. 

When it comes to movies or series that deal with concepts that have been covered many times before, there is an element of what one may choose to address or skip to save the audience from the burden of repetition. For example, we did not need to know how the passengers learned to survive on that island. Our knowledge of similar shows in the past makes up for that. There is also no need to show why the investigation by the police went nowhere. These details would have added to the show, but they are not strictly required. However, skipping out on Jack’s emotional journey was a mistake, since it is such a pivotal moment in the show. This takes us back to a season of The Walking Dead, where one person was questioning another as to what right they had to stop the former from taking their own life in such a hopeless world, and that too by holding the latter’s life at stake. That was a powerful scene, one that showed the sway people’s hopes had over them. In contrast, Jack going from being everyone’s sunshine to absolutely nothing was not something we were prepared for. Even when it came to Felix and Lori’s relationship, that happened a little too fast. Here was a man who was damaged because of what he had to face in life, and then there was a woman who had to start from scratch because of her changed dynamics with the people around her. It felt like these two ended up together for the sake of it, though they had some undeniable chemistry from the beginning. If only there had been more of an emotional connection between the audience and these two arcs, it would have made a great difference in how we felt about The Castaways. In its absence, this is just another five hours of generic content.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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