Tribes of Europa does well in getting you interested in a post-apocalypse Europe, but more so in how the world and cultures shifted than its characters.
|Genre(s)||Action, Adventure, Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi, Young Adult, Non-English, War|
|Elja||David Ali Rashed|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
It’s 2074 when Tribes of Europa begins, and it has been 45 years since the event known as “Black December” when a global technological blackout happened, which rendered all technology, from phones, the internet, and vehicles, inoperable. Since then, Europe has collapsed into tribes, and the first season focuses on members of the Origines tribe who, after an Atlantian crashes near their territory, get wiped out.
Why? Well, being that Atlantians, specifically their technology, are the only kind which have survived “Black December,” it makes everything about them valuable. So the Origines get overwhelmed by the tribe known as The Crows, due to their protection and association with the Atlantian. Leading to three kids from the Origines tribe, Liv, Elja, and Kiano, fighting to reunite with their siblings and father after The Crows wipe out their tribe and force them onto very different journeys.
Varvara and Kiano
Throughout the first season, Kiano, Liv, and Elja all end up interacting with Crows, but only Kiano gets to see their capital city and develop a long-lasting relationship with them. One which not only lets us see how the Crows have transformed Berlin into their capital but get a taste of their culture. Also, we get a nice, albeit twisted, relationship between Varvara and Kiano. Now, is it the best you can imagine between a captor and a captive? Not necessarily.
However, as Varvara begins to either fall for Kiano or develop a real soft spot for him, while you will never forget she essentially forces him to have sex with her, a part of you may want to set that aside. At least, as it becomes clear Kiano wants to do more than survive in Crow society but thrive.
As noted below, in the “On The Fence” section, one of Tribes of Europa’s biggest issues is that it more so brings the world to life than makes any person part of it a medium into said world. Because of this, certain situations, like the death of Jakob, don’t hit like they should, despite him being the only living parent of Kiano, Liv, and Elja.
Yet, his death easily shows what’s wrong with Tribes of Europa in terms of not creating a real sense of urgency and completely avoiding you becoming emotionally attached. For as much as you may come to like the three leads, more often than not, you’re waiting for that special something or someone to make them into who you know they should be. In terms of young heroes who you should be rooting for and wanting to see reunited with their family.
However, as shown with Jakob’s death, connections and relationships are an afterthought. So while Liv, Elja, and Kiano aren’t dying anytime soon, they are but a vehicle for you to see the world, and your connection with them is more about familiarity than volunteered loyalty.
On The Fence
More Often Than Not, The World Is More Interesting Than The Characters In It
As shown by the character and show guide, while we meet many characters and a lot happens to them, unlike most shows, Tribes of Europa doesn’t balance world-building with character building. Rather, Tribes of Europa is about world-building, with its characters often being secondary. The benefit of this is, you learn a lot about the places they go, the various tribes, and the history of a post-tech apocalypse Europe.
The problem that goes with this is that with characters who don’t drive the story along, it’s easy to get bored. For with lacking investment in what happens to who, increasingly it may feel you’re reading a accompany guide, which references notable things that happened, rather than getting to experience them for yourself. Making it so, no matter how many times Liv, Elja, or Kiano’s lives are threatened, there isn’t any sense of fear.
Instead, at times it is like Tribes of Europa is a video game, like Fallout: New Vegas, where you are introduced to these various factions who, in some cases, do horrible things. Yet it is ultimately left to you how to feel and your character, who is mostly a blank slate for you to make the story of.
Liv & Grieta, A Missed Opportunity
At one time, it seemed Grieta would be the key to Liv being reunited with her family. Which, in some ways you could imagine Grieta and Liv developing a relationship like we saw between Arya and The Hound, from Game of Thrones.
Alas, that doesn’t happen. Rather, Liv falls for some boy, betrays said boy, and ends up with a barely talked about tribe at the end of the first season. Leaving you with a character that appears to be an equal opportunity backstabber in desperate need of a supporting character.
The problem with Elja’s storyline is that, compared to Kiano trying to survive in Crow territory and being paired with Varvara, alongside Liv meeting so many people, he’s boring. Or rather, for most of the season, he is until the Atlantian cube he has finally is activated, and then things pick up. But with Tribes of Europa being only 6 episodes, by the time Elja’s story takes off, the season is over, and you’re left hoping season 2 picks up where this one left off.
Rating: Mixed (Stick Around)
Watching Tribes of Europa is like viewing someone play a video game on YouTube who avoids side quests, chances to deepen relationships between characters, if they don’t have to, and has a love/hate relationship with the characters thrusted upon them. Because, you can see a lot of investment in you getting interested in Europa, the groups, and the question of how things became how they are.
However, as for the people who control these groups, and their subordinates? Even with the eccentrically dressed Crows, the militaristic Crimson Republic, and other places and tribes we meet, you rarely care about anyone. Thus making the story often feel like a drag and you committed because you just want to see more of the world.
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