Is it possible for a television show to have a much greater impact once the program ends? That's part of the premise behind the new CW show "Cult," which showed some promise but it's complex storyline could lead to its undoing.
"Cult" followed an Investigative Reporter Jeff Sefton (Matt Davis) who loved to solve mysteries through his work, but he found his brother Nate's latest obsession with the hit show "Cult" to be a little too over-the-top even for him. Nate seemed to believe that his favorite show was more than a television show, which also made him a target of the show's most devoted fans. Jeff was shocked to find that his brother had vanished and left a string of clues that he was warned multiple times to not look into. He recruited Skye Yarrow (Jessica Lucas) who was a researcher on the show to help uncover why Nate had vanished. They had to comb through footage of the show, which proved to be the bearer of a lot of information. The show-in-a-show also followed a charismatic cult leader named Billy Grimm (Robert Knepper) when cameras were rolling and as the equally mysterious Roger Reeves when they weren't going. The story also followed an actress named Marti Gerritsen (Alona Tal) who played a former cult member/LAPD cop on the show as well. As Jeff and Skye continued to look further into Nate's disappearance, it seemed that they were also in danger as well. Will Jeff and Skye become the next victims of circumstance or will the actors on the show play a larger role in the mystery?
Unfortunately, it's too early to tell how the mystery will play out because the series premiere only laid out a minor portion of the groundwork that hasn't even begun to pull viewers in. The quirky premise of the show-in-a-show was a novel idea that tested how people can cross the line from pure entertainment to borderline obsession. If you can search the internet, people will find countless websites and fan fiction stories devoted to their favorite television shows. Sadly, "Cult" also suffered from the weight of the complex premise because the bouncing back and forth between the dualing storylines. The show might've been more successful if it chose one story over the other to give viewers more time to focus on the story and not which version of the show they were watching. The premiere worked too hard to introduce too many opposing ideas that it left everyone who watched confused and unable to understand what was going on. It also left certain cast members with little to do, except being mere background players than leading characters.
As for breakout performers, Knepper and Tal had the strongest impact in the premiere with the cult storyline. Their story was filled with enough good and evil tension that viewers would have preferred over the ludicrous conspiracy story that was built out of thin air. Knepper's villainous cult leader had little screentime in the premiere, but he still delivered the right amount of scares to unnerve viewers. The show would be wise to use him more as the season progressed. Tal also had a strong presence that made her the show's version of Clarice Starling who charged headlong into danger. Even though Tal and Knepper didn't share any scenes together, they drove the story in a way that Davis and Lucas' storyline failed to deliver. Davis and Lucas weren't given much of an opportunity to deliver much of a true impact because their story hasn't been properly developed just yet. Hopefully, future episodes will work on ironing out the kinks in connecting the two stories for the better. Only time will tell if that's the case.
"Cult" premiered on February 19th and airs Tuesdays at 9:00 PM on the CW.
Verdict: A show that had a unique premise, but it's complex storyline could be the one thing that sinks it down the line.
TV Score: 2 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)