TV Series Noughts and Crosses: Season 1 Episode 1 – Recap/ Review with...

Noughts and Crosses: Season 1 Episode 1 [Series Premiere] – Recap/ Review with Spoilers

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What if the roles were reversed and members of the African continent conquered Europe? Would things be different, better even, or just the same?


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CreatorToby Whithouse
Director(s)Julian Holmes
Writer(s)Lydia Adetunji
Aired (BBC One)3/5/2020
GenreDrama, Romance, Young Adult, War
Introduced This Episode
Kamal HadleyPaterson Joseph
Ryan McGregorIan Hart
Jasmine HadleyBonnie Henna
Meggie McGregorHelen Baxendale
Minerva HadleyKiké Brimah
Persephone “Sephy” HadleyMasali Baduza
Callum McGregorJack Rowan
Jude McGregorJosh Dylan
DannyCharlie Jones
Jack DornShaun Dingwall

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Plot Overview

It’s a different world in Noughts & Crosses. In their history, a country named Aprica, located where Nigeria is in our world, conquered most of central and northern Africa and the western part of Eurasia. This all happened around 700 years ago, and since then, what remains of the Aprica empire, now is split between a notable swath of Africa, the United Kingdom, now known as Albion, with Russia, the Ottoman, Malian, and the Moors controlling different parts of western Eurasia.

The series’ focus though is their London, and the world of Crosses, Black immigrants, and Noughts, the white natives. Thanks to attempted uprigings, amongst other situations, in the 1950s, rather than a civil rights movement which pushed for equality, instead there was the segregation act that was supposed to bring harmony through a separate but equal existence. However, all this led to was more poverty, and it being made clear who was in power and who should be happy for what scraps they get.

An idea of the modern map of western Eurasia.
An idea of the modern map of western Eurasia.

Leading to the characters of the show. On one side, we have the Hadley family, led by Kamal, who is the home secretary of Albion, who would love for their colony to separate from what remains of the Aprican government in Africa. On the other side is the McGregor family, led by Ryan, who formerly was an activist, but between his children and responsibilities, he ended up toeing the line.

These two families both work in conflict and harmony as Ryan’s wife and Kamal’s are close. Well, as close as a politician’s wife, Jasmine, and her maid, Meggie, can be. But as for their children, they are the ones who will cause a stir. Maybe not so much Jasmine’s oldest, Minerva, who clearly is just about the prestige and riches her father’s job brings, but more so Jasmine and Kamal’s youngest daughter Persephone, known as Sephy to those she is close to.

She, alongside the youngest boy of the McGregor’s, Callum, are childhood friends who have a romance that blooms. However, whether it can survivor the anger of Callum’s older brother, Jude, who mourns the death of his best friend Danny, or the liberation leader Jack Dorn, is anyone’s guess.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Yes, there are moments when Crosses mispronounce Noughts names, and it is lowkey hilarious.

Review

Highlights

The Role Reversal

It is always a thought amongst people that if this marginalized group or that one came to power, rather than the white male majority, how different things would be. This fantasy idea is often perpetrated, but in Noughts and Crosses, we’re reminded that power and the ability to dominate is far too consuming. Never mind the need for a us vs. them mentality that will permeate history no matter who the victor.

Yet, it is hard to not admit how curious the world of Albion is, never mind their parent Aprica. For the concept of African nations joining to do more than conquer Africa but western Eurasia is an interesting idea. One that, considering who the gatekeepers are, sounds strange to see produced to the scale Noughts and Crosses is, yet we are in a new generation.

And I should note, nothing about this seems cheaply done.

The World & Character Building

For example, while Nigeria isn’t specifically named, from the fashion to some of the terms, you can see the culture represented. Add in us getting multiple opportunities to get a glimpse of Albion history, and it makes you feel like you are in a living and breathing world that’s simply a part of the world you never been to and wasn’t spoken about in your history book.

But, to really top things off, while most shows struggle with both building up a world and character development, Noughts and Crosses doesn’t seem like it’ll have that problem. Perhaps it is because one of its leads, Kamal, is a political figure who clearly is a nationalist, and thus we get to know him and get a sense of Albion history? Add in us getting to see the other side through Callum and Jack’s eyes, and it gives you both the ability to see Albion on a macro and micro level. Making it so no stone feels unturned.

On The Fence

The Romance

Callum and Sephy kissing.

While as individuals, we enjoy Sephy and Callum, I won’t say there is the chemistry there you can see bridging their races. Note, it is established they grew up together and are still friends, but with that in mind, they more so come off as brother and sister than two people who should be making out and likely having sex down the line. Perhaps making their romance the sole thing you can ding the show on since there is something missing there.

Overall

First Impression: Optimistic

Despite a central romance being lackluster, everything else Noughts and Crosses pushes does make us want to see more. Especially as we see Kamal go hardline with his nationalism, and people like Jack try to rise up and cause disruption. And while it’s attempt to create a mirror to modern society is notable, though iffy, you do have to enjoy the role reversal and the idea of how London, and other parts of the world, would have been if African countries made the first move.

Where To Watch

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Amari Allahhttps://wherever-i-look.com
I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and from movies, TV, the occasional book, play, and Broadway show, have been trying to bridge the gap between a critic and an avid lover of various forms of media.

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Review Summary

Despite a central romance being lackluster, everything else Noughts and Crosses pushes does make us want to see more. Especially as we see Kamal go hardline with his nationalism, and people like Jack try to rise up and cause disruption. And while it's attempt to create a mirror to modern society is notable, though iffy, you do have to enjoy the role reversal and the idea of how London, and other parts of the world, would have been if African countries made the first move.
The Romance
72 %
The World & Character Building
82 %
The Role Reversal
84 %

Questions, Comments, or Opposing Opinion?