Review: Frontier (Series 1, Episode 1)


Move over spaceman, the North American fur trade has truly taken off, moving from big screen's The Revenant to small. Frontier looks to be a first rate series.

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History Channel’s historical drama/adventure Frontier is wrapping itself up nice and cosy next to 2015’s critically acclaimed film The Revenant. Someone has obviously watched that movie, seen those fabulous fur coats, and wanted some of that action. Instead of a bear however, we have a suitably wild and savage Jason Mamoa; but something tells me that he’s not just a man in bear’s clothing.

Frontier follows powerful company men, including Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) and Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit), as they travel to North America in order to sort out the steaming hot mess of what has become the fur trade. Mamoa’s Declan Harp is the source – a man half-Irish and half native-American in descent – who has turned his back on Benton’s company and gone rogue. Benton happens upon happy go lucky Irishman Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron) who accidentally stows away aboard Benton’s vessel, and uses him as bait to catch Harp, while Michael’s muse Clenna (Lyla Porter-Follows) wastes away in jail. It feels nice and rugged, and more than worthy of its slot on the History Channel, if only for the state of the vast majority of the casts’ teeth.

Teasing aside, the cutthroat nature and anything could happen energy is evident in this period piece. Besides the few deaths in the first episode that most obviously induce that feeling (I wonder why), the oh crap moment when Michael wakes up to find himself at sea is pretty scary, with the ruthless and equally savage Benton probably walking metres above his head.

Liboiron plays the perfect plucky hero, and Mamoa the perfect embodiment of intimidation and power. There was no fooling around or holding out on Michael’s search for the ominous anti-hero, and the two meet toward the end of the first episode. Harp is unsurprisingly covered in intimidating and well-timed blood that he uses to smear over Michael’s face, but it bodes well that each episode will be equally fulfilling.

With new release Taboo currently airing on the BBC and with a little series overlap, the relationship between Tom Hardy’s Delaney and Jonathan Pryce’s Sir Stuart Strange seems to be more than a bit similar and equally as exciting as that of Harp and Benton. Fingers crossed the pair will have an equally tantalizing meet-cute as Delaney and Strange do in episode one.

Overall, a promising start to a diverse and detailed production that has already been renewed for a second season, set in one of the hottest locations on Earth since DiCaprio had that fight with that bear.

Frontier‘s first season is now available on Netflix.


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Fourth year French and English student and 2018/19 Live Editor for The Edge.

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