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Review: October Faction Season 1 On Netflix Underperforms And Underwhelms

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BY March 3, 2020
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October Faction season 1 is currently streaming on Netflix. The is one of Netflix’s brand new comic book adaptations since their collaboration with Marvel Studios. Despite that, the streaming giant is still heavily investing in comic book adaptations. Like the recent Locke And Key and the upcoming second season of The Umbrella Academy. But, October Faction does not stand up to the streamer’s usual high standards. And in many ways, it’s kind of a hot mess. Light spoilers ahead. 

October Faction Season 1 Derived From IDW’s Comic Book Of The Same Name

October Faction season 1 poster Image via Netflix.

October Faction was originally comic book series from IDW Publishing. The book was about a monster-hunting couple that worked for a secret organization. While also juggling family life and raising twin teenagers. It seemed like an interesting premise for an original TV series. It’s easy to see how the mishmash of monster horror with domestic family squabbles may play out. And even the October Faction trailer promised something similar. But October Faction season 1 was not enjoyable, despite a potentially fun premise. It was perplexing, sure, but a lot was going on that left one wanting more, but not in a good way. 

The Characters Of October Faction Are Interesting But Underdeveloped.

October Faction season 1 begins with the married couple of Fred and Deloris Allen. Both of them are members of this worldwide monster-hunting agency known as Presidio. Shared trauma in their youth brought them together. The two then joined Presidio very young, for entirely different reasons.  There are flashbacks to show the two as young kids, but their actual relationship is kind of glossed over. There’s some implication that Fred chose Deloris over his family. But it’s vague. 

The Vagueness Continues With The Characters’ Backstories

October Faction season 1 Taylor and MacKenzie Image via Netflix.

Fred (J. C. MacKenzie) comes from a family very much ingrained into Presidio’s history. His parents were members and exposed him to monsters from an early age. While Deloris (Tamara Taylor) saw her father killed by a monster, making her want justice. Through Fred, she joins Presidio as well. Season 1 sees the Allens having to return to Fred’s family home in a small town, after the death of his father. The trip was originally meant to be for a few days but turns into the family moving into the town, for reasons that aren’t entirely made clear. Fred’s issues with his parents feel like the typical dysfunctional family trope. Flashbacks try to provide insight into this as well, but they end up as scenes that really go nowhere. 

There Is a Lot Of Family Drama In October Faction

The family, including the two teenage twins, Geoff and Viv, have to adjust to small-town life. October Faction Season 1 spends a lot of time developing this family drama but in a very superficial way. Fred hates his parents for exposing him to monsters too early, along with the loss of his older brother. So returning to his childhood home is stressful. The twins are hating their new school. Which has students that are simultaneously elitist but also have a small-town mentality.

Season 1 spends a lot of time developing these side-relationships. Geoff’s (Gabriel Darku) rivalry then attraction to a high school bully. Viv’s (Auror Burghart) new friend, and friction with a popular girl. It’s all high school tropes that aren’t done interestingly enough to be different here. There’s also Fred and Deloris’ newfound conflict with hiding the truth from their kids. It’s a jumbled mess that, for whatever reason, seems to take center stage in a show about monster hunting. 

Note: Please keep in mind that will be many spoilers for October Faction season 1 from this point onwards. 

October Faction Season 1 Sets Up A Basic Story Way Too Late

October Faction season 1 family Image via Netflix.

All this drama is happening while a new danger lurks and threatens to destroy the Allens. But this first season introduces and develops this threat very late in the show. Besides one or two scenes of the mystery in episode 1, we get no semblance of a season wide arc. Not of anything monster / supernatural related at least, until the 4th episode. I’m not sure if it was the budget or the story itself that was lacking. But there are moments of this show where the main premise almost feels forgotten. Or like an afterthought. Whereas, a poorly done teenage coming out subplot dominates an entire episode, with absolutely no payoff. 

There Are Too Many Loose Ends In October Faction Season 1

October Faction is problematic in a lot of ways. One of them is the way the show handles its many subplots. Some seemingly important subplots have no resolution whatsoever. Early on in the show, it’s shown that Fred is cheating on Deloris with another Presidio member. Deloris catches Fred’s lie, but doesn’t actually find out what he was hiding. The show never introduces us to any problems between the two. And Fred’s blatant cheating is never addressed, much less explained. Another twist sees Fred’s dad very much alive and that Presidio is torturing him to reveal something. That twist does not return to relevance until almost the last two episodes. And this twist is never revealed to anyone other than Fred’s mom. Thereby completed diminishing any intended shock effect within the story. 

Nearly Not Enough World Building

The Villain Image via Netflix.

As I keep mentioning, October Faction season 1 is interesting. The concept is fun and exciting. But the execution fell short. This world of monsters, along with a secret monster-hunting organization, is very surface level. Are these monsters of myth and fable, from alternate realities, or is there a Hellmouth in town? The monsters themselves are so different that they’re not even recognizable from other genre fiction. Then there is the main villain, Alice (Maxim Roy) who is part of a group of Warlocks. A name typically used to refer to a male witch in other fiction content. Here the name is  applied to an entire group of people with powers. What that means, what their powers are and how they’re not human despite looking very human, is never explained. And that’s the pattern with a lot of the supernatural creature aspects of October Faction.

The Impressive Highlights Of October Faction Season 1

October Faction season 1 isn’t all bad. There are impressive moments from season 1 that hopefully we’ll get more of if the series ever gets a season two. Darku’s Geoff is brilliant. The young actor seems to be performing like he’s in a completely different show. Geoff is self-aware, witty, just the right amount of annoying. His sense of humor definitely breaks up the tension in many scenes. Even the most cliched and cringe lines delivered by Darku somehow land. 

The Twins. Image via Netflix.

At times, the writing is incredibly good. Earlier in season 1, Fred & Deloris are hunting monsters in a populated grocery store. The conversation between Fred and this Vampire is very well written and hilarious. The two stumble upon each other, aware that one is there to hunt the other. They then embark on a mundane conversation about everyday life and its redundancies. All the while, the tension to their showdown building. It’s highly amusing and what I mistakenly thought was going to be the establishing tone for the show.

October Faction Underperforms For Netflix

October Faction had a great premise and a very capable cast. The concept and some of the humor work. Not to mention elements of the story that are engaging enough to continue watching episode to episode. It’s mostly the writing of the series that doesn’t allow the performances to grow beyond the shallow characters. Or the story to develop further than the sum of its parts. The show currently holds a 20% Critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

October Faction season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.

What did you think of the October Faction series adaptation? Let us know in the comments below. 

TV ShowsComic Book. October FactionIDWJ. C. MacKenzieNetflixOriginal SeriesTamara Taylor

Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.

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