Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon First Kill - Season One - Roundtable Review: First Cliffhanger

SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers

Subscribe for show updates
Receive news and updates about First Kill - Season One - Roundtable Review: First Cliffhanger whenever something new comes out.

First Kill - Season One - Roundtable Review: First Cliffhanger

This article was written by Aimee Hicks, Chlöe Curnow, Prpleight, & Zoé Fleury. The open and close of the article were written by Aimee Hicks. Prepared for publishing by Aimee Hicks.

Netflix’s First Kill started off its existence as a short story before being adapted into this series. The short story has a fairly robust following despite the anthology collection only having released in September 2020. That is the tried and true test of something, if even despite existing for a relatively short amount of time it can still make a name for itself, then it likely has staying power. That is the foundation for any good entertainment property. Given its quick popularity, it was only natural in the evolution of this property that adaptation to the screen would come in some form and it did, less than a month after the release of the anthology.

Film and television adaptations from books are a mixed bag of huge successes and epic failures with very little room in the middle for mediocre. The biggest hope for a fan of any book or short story being adapted is that the production team and creators get it right. There is always the very real fear that they won’t and a beloved story will be tainted. Thankfully, the creators, executives, and writers behind the series did this one right. They pulled together a phenomenal group of performers to bring these characters to life and paired them with well-written scripts.

We were gifted with eight well-crafted, perfectly acted episodes, that were at times campy, but in the best way possible. This show knew what it was meant to be and knew what it needed to do to find its own unique footing in the crowded space of teen supernatural shows. But, with only eight episodes, that means that things moved fast. We decided that the best way to review these jam-packed episodes was to provide multiple points of view, so sit back and enjoy the below roundtable article as we discuss various aspects of the season.

Continue reading below to find out our thoughts regarding the first season of this extraordinary series. After reading, please leave your own thoughts in the comments.


First Kill is based on a very popular short story of the same name written by V.E. Schwab. Thanks to the short story the series had a leg up with a built-in audience and that helped amplify the hype around the launch of the show. Were you familiar with the short story before watching the series? If so, do you think the series honored the source material? If not, will the series inspire you to read the short story? Do you think the series lived up to all of the hype that preceded its launch?

Aimee: I found out about the short story from a friend before I knew a series was in development. I bought the anthology book but didn’t get around to reading it until after the casting news about Sarah Catherine Hook (Juliette Fairmont) and Imani Lewis (Calliope Burns) was revealed. What I read in the casting snippet reinvigorated my excitement and at that point, I finally went and read the short story. It was very well written, but simply too short because I wanted to spend more time with the characters. Thankfully, I knew that opportunity was coming via this series. I personally do think that the series did honor the source material, but that is also probably largely in part to the fact that V.E. Schwab played a very big part in the series including writing credits for several episodes. If a series was ever going to truly honor the story it is based on it was going to be First Kill. This seemed to be one of the biggest hyped freshman shows I’ve seen on Netflix in a very long time. Usually, the amount of effort put into promoting this first season is reserved for established shows, so I was glad to see Netflix put forth some real effort to promote it and I think the effort paid off. I had very high expectations going in and the show did not disappoint.

Chlöe: I think this series did a great job of living up to the hype. I’ve been a fan of V.E. Schwab’s work for several years now and I loved the short story as much as the rest of her writing. I’d always felt like there could have been more to the story and the show’s done a fantastic job of taking that short story and opening it up into a whole world of fun and interesting characters. The first episode is pretty close to the short story as well which is a bonus.

Prpleight: I missed ALL of the hype. I never heard of the short story. I saw the trailer and assumed it was going to be an annoying teen angst romance thing that I could use as background noise. I'm not really sure if I'll actually read the short story or not. If it's available in audiobook form the odds are higher.

Zoé: I loved the short story! I never expected it to become an actual show, given how short it was, but I was excited when I heard about it. I honestly didn’t expect too much, given the limited amount of source material, but seeing it played out was definitely an interesting experience. It was a lot of fun, I certainly enjoyed it.

At the very core of this series is the love story between Juliette and Calliope. What were your impressions of their story? What moments do you think best showcased the couple? Were there any moments between them that you would have liked to have seen handled differently?

Aimee: First I have to compliment Sarah Catherine Hook and Imani Lewis for the chemistry they infused into their performances to make the love story of these two star-crossed lovers all that more impactful. From the very first moment these two shared the screen the chemistry and tension between Juliette and Calliope was palpable. There wasn’t a single scene they shared that I didn’t feel that profound connection that bonded these two characters together. Because of that, there isn’t a single thing I would want to see changed. Obviously, the way their relationship ended in the season finale wasn’t ideal, but given the breakneck pace of their love story, it did feel organic to the story to send them in opposite directions. It provides incredible material for a potential Season 2, so I wouldn’t even change that no matter how hard it was to watch their relationship falter even if the breakup is destined to not last.

All of their moments were so well written and acted that it is hard to not pick them all, so here are my top three. First is the sequence at the end of First Love (1x5) where Juliette is tempted by the scent of Calliope’s blood. To see how hard Juliette fought to contain her bloodlust, a beautiful contrast to First Kiss (1x1) where she did lost control, showed how much Calliope means to her. Hook did some inspired acting in this scene in the way she showed Juliette fighting to use the bee story Calliope was relaying to her in order to regain control. Then the moment Calliope was in danger from Oliver (Dylan McNamara) we witnessed Juliette’s primal need to protect Calliope override even the power of bloodlust. It was a great showcase of their bond. Second, is the time they spent in Calliope’s room in First Severing (1x6) because I think it allowed for some quiet slow moments for it to just be them together as a couple showcasing the intimacy of their love while also showing them still fighting to hold on to each other despite the insurmountable odds against them. Third, is the breakup in First Betrayal (1x8) because of just how hard it was to watch. The blinding pain both characters experienced in that moment was actually the ultimate display of their love, as they both said in the voiceovers, had they not met each other they wouldn’t have ever known a love powerful enough to lead to that much pain. I think that the loss, pain, and betrayal on both sides will allow for their inevitable reunion to be all that more profoundly impactful.

Chlöe: There are a number of vampire shows out there which follow a male/female romance so to have one for an LGBT audience is a breath of fresh air for the genre. It was cute, it was cheesy and though it was a little heavy-handed with the Romeo and Juliet references at times, Hook and Lewis played beautifully into their natural chemistry, fighting for their love against insurmountable odds.

The best scenes that showcase their relationship for me have to go to the scene where Juliette takes a bee off Cal’s shoulder and their fight at the end of the finale. The first was a real eye-opener into Cal realizing that maybe all monsters aren’t monstrous and the latter is a brutal showcase of what they would do for the people they love played against the backdrop of their respective relationships with their siblings. While Jules’ heart wins for her, Cal’s devotion to her family comes first, setting up some heartbreaking tension for a potential second season.

Prpleight: One of the things that got me hooked on the series was that the writers took the time to let us get to know who Juliette and Calliope were and the challenges they were facing before they became a couple.

Zoé: Juliette and Calliope won my heart for sure. Their paralleled struggle of just wanting to fit in resonated with me. Juliette’s awkwardness was adorable and 100% relatable. I absolutely adored the bee scene! Juliette’s gentleness, paired with Calliope’s later confession that no monster could ever be that gentle with a bee, was a great plot point. It really solidified Juliette’s characterization, to both Calliope and the audience. That being said, the one thing I would’ve loved to see a little different is time. The show only gives four episodes to build them up and break them down. It all felt so incredibly fast when I wanted to savor it a little longer.

Sarah Catherine Hook and Imani Lewis were extraordinarily cast as the leads of this series, but the casting team surrounded them with an exceptional supporting cast. Which performer(s) from the rest of the cast do you think stood out and made the biggest impression? What were some of their most defining performances?

Aimee: This is extremely hard to answer because the entire cast delivered scene-stealing performances. Elizabeth Mitchell (Margot) and Aubin Wise (Talia) were so very well matched portraying dueling matriarchs. Mitchell is a performer with a massive portfolio who is well known to be extremely gifted at her craft and Wise matched her move for move. Will Swenson (Sebastian) surprised me by how much he made me invest in Sebastian. Parents in teen supernatural dramas rarely get solid storylines, so it was refreshing to see the parents not only get their own storylines but to get good ones with real character depth and evolution. The only exception is Jack (Jason R. Moore) because I really wanted more of him than we got, mainly because I really enjoyed Moore’s dynamic with Wise and Lewis. He got some good material, but I think he was left out a bit when compared to the other parents.

Dominic Goodman (Apollo) and Phillip Mullings Jr. (Theo) surprised me with the energy they brought to their characters. Dylan McNamara delivered a nuanced performance that made it impossible to know if Oliver is a good brother who truly cares for his little sister of a psycho preparing to launch a monster invasion. But one performer in particular really stood out amongst this exceptional group and that was Gracie Dzienny who absolutely shone as Elinor. I first became aware of Dzienny during her role on Chasing Life and even back then I thought she had a lot of potential if she was given a really meaty role. I was absolutely right because she really went all in and made Elinor one of the best characters in a sea of exceptional performers. I honestly can’t identify just one scene as a defining moment because in every single scene she was in she left a lasting impression. I hope that if we get a Season 2 it involves lots more of Elinor.

Chlöe: Where to start! The best thing about this show for me was how the layers were peeled back on the supporting cast throughout the course of the season. Jonas Dylan Allen (Ben Wheeler) was a highlight from the beginning as the loyal and sincere best friend of Juliette. By the final episodes though, Aubin Wise, Dominic Goodman, Phillip Mullings Jr., and Dylan McNamara all got their time to shine and they did not waste their opportunities.

Talia shone as she put being a mother before her duties as a hunter, screaming and begging for Theo’s life and doing everything she could to keep him from being killed by his father just for turning into a vampire. Theo got some great emotional work concerning the death of his mother and Apollo’s breakdown over Theo’s supposed death was a great showcase of vulnerability after all the cocky bravado he’d been laying on in the early episodes. Dylan McNamara’s Oliver though remains the most intriguing of the supporting cast after the reveal that Elinor was the sociopathic influence behind his downfall in the eyes of his parents. He’s set on bringing his parents down after taking down Elinor for the time being but I’m hoping for a reconciliation with his parents in the future.

Prpleight: I think the moms stood out for me. Talia's intensity throughout the series grabbed me early on, but watching her fight for her son's life was one of the best sequences in the show. Margot stood out in a different way. When the series started she felt like the villain of the piece. I loved watching the transformation from an uncaring mother to a character I cared about, was pretty terrific.

Zoé: I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Mitchell since her Lost days, so I was happy to see her in here. But I think the two actors that stood out most were Gracie Dzienny and Aubin Wise. Elinor was so fun to watch the entire season; her ambition and manipulation were increasingly entertaining as the episodes went on. Talia had the most emotional moment in the whole show, though, in my opinion. The scene where she said goodbye to Theo was strikingly heartbreaking in a way I didn’t expect. I especially loved that it reinforced how, while he was her stepchild, she saw him as just as much her blood as her biological children.

This is a series with a rich mythology and that means time had to be given to set up all the nuances that encapsulate the world these characters inhabit. Do you think rich mythology helps or hinders shows in this genre? What were your impressions regarding how First Kill handled establishing their own mythology?

Aimee: Mythology is a critical part of any supernatural show. Each series inhabits its own world and establishing that is critical. Just as critical, however, is establishing it smart and not info-dumping too much early on. Allowing the world to gradually come together for the audience is what makes it more engaging. I think First Kill did a solid job establishing their mythology. There were a few info dumps, especially in that first episode, but then they leveled out and dropped bits and pieces throughout the season. They also left the door open for us to see the growth of additional aspects of the established mythology, which was a smart writing choice.

Chlöe: If handled correctly, rich mythology can benefit a show so long as they don’t rely too much on exposition dumps. As far as the basic vampire mythology in the show goes, they established it well but the rest of the mythology is surface-level at best with some definite room for more nuance in the future as they get more scope to be able to delve deeper into other supernatural beings like witches.

Prpleight: No show or story that has no grounded world is going to be worth watching. I appreciated that the show took the time to create a world of its own rather than borrowing all of their rules from other entries in the genre. For me, all of the attention to the world-building and establishing the characters on the canvas is the element that saved me from my least favorite elements of a teen romance.

Zoé: The mythology of monsters is far and wide, and so utterly varied. There are the main public conceptions, and then there’s lesser-known lore or adjusted myths. The interesting thing is that every story seems to have a different take on all these myths and that makes it a little unique. In First Kill, they have their own take on the mythological creatures. There were a few moments I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, as it deviated from the preconception I had of the mythology but the show was quick to establish its own version of these creatures. The world-building was pretty solid and well-explained. I don’t think rich mythology hindered the show.

Even the best shows have faults. What, if anything, do you think didn’t work? What would you have liked to have seen changed?

Aimee: Two things stood out to me and both are post-production issues. The first and biggest was the background music that often became the foreground music and was just way too much way too often. Sometimes it even overpowered the dialogue and after a while, the near-constant barrage of background music became absurdly annoying. I would have easily binged this show in one sitting if it hadn’t been for the poorly mixed background music. I had to keep taking breaks between episodes because it just became too much. When we hopefully get a Season 2, I can’t express enough how badly they need to rethink the sound mix for next season. This is a case where more is not better. Also, some of the music choices just felt random and not always like they fit the moment. The second thing is the CGI, but that’s not entirely unexpected from a teen supernatural drama, they aren’t known for being given budgets high enough to sustain good CGI. I would, however, really like to see them get a budget upgrade next season since it seems like the story is leaning towards them diving further into the monster world which will require better CGI. The acting, writing, directing, and cinematography on the other hand were all exceptional. Fix the sound mixing and the CGI and they are really onto something with this show.

Chlöe: I’ve mentioned the mythology above. Apollo jeopardizing his family with that summoner could have been handled with a bit more nuance and depth but I understand why it wasn’t, with other events taking priority. Other than that, I’m not too sure some of the stylistic choices worked, specifically when the screen went red and music started playing when Jules was starving for blood. It worked slightly better for Oliver and Apollo when their trauma was portrayed through a grayed-out filter but I think they could probably have found a more subtle and natural way to portray the emotions these characters were feeling.

Prpleight: There were elements about the brother's story that I felt needed space in one more episode to feel more well thought out. It felt abbreviated. I wish they had, at least, identified the legacy symbol associated with the vampire that killed Theo's mother. I wanted that loose end tied up. I was actually disappointed to see Juliette confess to having accidentally turned Theo into a vampire. That hint that he'd tasted the legacy blood had me thinking that, once he died, he would turn into the same type of vampire as Sebastian. I understand why it had to be Juliette's fault. I don't think anything else would have made Calliope's reaction feel natural.

Zoé: We’ve all seen all the jokes about the CGI, and it’s absolutely true. I don’t think I’ve seen worse VFX in a Netflix show. It was even worse than the CW or Teen Wolf, which was really surprising. As someone who does VFX work, I could immediately spot bad colorization, weird cropping, and flat overlays that were supposed to be dynamic effects. Hollywood’s been very backed up with VFX workers, so it’s hard to say if it was because of a lack of a CGI budget, if it was intentional, or if it was because they simply didn’t have the time to polish it up. If it was the latter, I think it really would have benefitted from a later release. Nonetheless, the show was fun, and bad CGI has never really stopped me from enjoying a show.

What were some of the biggest and most shocking surprises from this season? What moments best captured the essence of the series?

Aimee: I think one of the biggest things I did not at all see coming was Sebastian dispatching his mother-in-law the way he did. That was certainly an interesting twist that I think took a lot off guard…including Elinor. As for what best captured the essence of the series, I think it was the tender moments between Calliope and Juliette where they got to be together just the two of them. Those moments really captured the heart of the show which is this star-crossed couple. But the parents also surprised me with how deeply engrained they were in the very essence of the show, especially Talia and Margot. I think anytime those two were together butting heads or trying to find common ground for a temporary truce were some great moments as well that tapped into the very core of the family element that is also a key part of the show. The performers really dove into each performance to make every shocking and tender moment count.

Chlöe: I think the quieter relationship moments were the best for capturing the essence of the series. Juliette crying and being embraced by Oliver after her fight with Elinor, the easy and natural relationship between Cal and her brothers, Sebastian making sure Elinor knew she could always back out of the Davenport engagement. For me, the biggest surprise has to be Sebastian eating Margot’s mother and the most shocking surprise was Apollo taking his father’s side when Talia was begging for Theo’s life, though this too is a moment that perfectly encapsulates what the show is about: familial love, loyalty, and duty.

Prpleight: Well, I certainly didn't expect Margot's mother's visit to end so...abruptly. That was awesome. I was also surprised that they didn't rush Juliette and Calliope's love story

Zoé: I did not expect Sebastian to eat Margot’s mother. I was speechless in all kinds of ways, for all kinds of reasons.

If the series gets picked up for another season, what would you like to see happen? How do you think the big cliffhangers could possibly be resolved?

Aimee: I think the odds are fairly decent it’ll get a second season, but with Netflix these days it’s hard to know for sure. But, in what I hope will be Season 2, I want to see Calliope and Juliette struggle with being apart and struggle with the idea of being together. I loved the build-up of their story in this season and hated the break-up, but as I have mentioned prior, I also felt the break-up was a necessary part of the story. I want to see their journey back together and what catalysts force them back into each other's lives again. I’d love to see them fight a few times, but neither being able to follow through in the end. I also want to see a darker side to Juliette because the events of this season changed her. I hope we get to see her struggle without Calliope there to ground her. I think the ending with Oliver, Carmen, and Theo is setting up a much bigger monster problem that both families will have to contend with. I think it could be interesting to see Talia and Margot have to break with the respective legacies of their individual sides and join together in the name of protecting their families. I am also very curious to see how Elinor’s story plays out. I doubt they’ll be able to hold her in custody for very long, but what she does afterward, well, that’s anyone’s guess at this point. Mainly, I’m just excited to see whatever the writers choose to grace us with. After the terrific work they did this season I trust them to do right by the show going forward.

Chlöe: I watch shows for the characters first and foremost so I’m gunning for reconciliation between Oliver, Sebastian, and Margot, a reunion between Theo, Apollo, and Cal, and of course a reunion between Cal and Juliette. Oliver’s witch girlfriend Carmen (Walnette Marie Santiago) strikes me as a wild card so a second season will be great to see who’s really going to end up pulling the strings of their monster uprising. We also have to see whether Elinor gets out of her current prison predicament. She probably will somehow considering her mind-altering gift so Juliette and Oliver better watch out for the trouble she brings their way.

Prpleight: I want Oliver's plan to be worth the wait. The way he took care of his sister was a great payoff to that story. The final shot has me worried that it won't play out at the same level as most of the stories in Season 1. I suppose I could have saved myself a lot of typing and simply said, I want the writing to remain at this caliber or even get better.

Zoé: First of all, I’d love to see Calliope and Juliette make up, but I think that’s an inevitability. After that, I’m curious how Margot will work her way out of her current mess – she now only has two days to figure it out. I’d also love to know what’s going on with Sebastian’s weird change, and what Oliver’s really up to.

What are your final thoughts about this first season?

Aimee: I was excited for this show and went in with pretty high expectations and that always comes with great risk. Thankfully, this show did not disappoint me. It had the right mix of campy vampire fun, serious moments, action, and heart. The characters could not have been cast any more perfectly. The performers all delivered strong performances throughout the episodes. The writers knew what they were doing and crafted a terrific season. Other than the post-production stuff I mentioned earlier, I think this was a very strong first season. I wish it had been a couple of episodes longer, but they made the most of the episode count they had to work with. I really hope we get a Season 2 announcement sooner than later because this series has a lot of stories left to be told. Not since Warrior Nun back in 2020 have I been this impressed by a new show on Netflix. With all the hype surrounding this show, if Netflix plays their hand right they could have a longstanding hit on their hands. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait as long between seasons as most of Netflix’s other shows.

Chlöe: I think the show has gotten off to a strong start and the cast has ended up in a really good place for a second season to start digging into the trauma they’ve all experienced during the last eight episodes. Juliette and Cal have proven to be mesmerizing leads and the corny fun of watching the two of them fall in love has been endearing and heartfelt, to say the least. This is a show that’s filled with love and I for one can’t wait to rewatch it as we wait for news on whether it will be renewed or not.

Prpleight: I put this show on my short list with Teen Wolf. The character work made the show stand out for me. I've already recommended it to several friends.

Zoé: No, it may not have been the best show I’ve ever seen, but it was a fun watch. And it was truly, genuinely sapphic, which is honestly a rarity.

First Kill gave us an entertaining season full of moments that allowed viewers to watch these characters navigate moments of great joy and life-altering heartbreak. We saw characters evolve and change, in the cases of Theo and Sebastian, they are literally different beings than they started the season. We saw two moms willing to do anything for their families and witnessed their children trying to find their way in a world that is already confusing enough without having to deal with supernatural creatures. Most importantly, we saw the beautiful and ultimately heartbreaking love story between Juliette and Calliope evolve, flourish, and falter right before our eyes. This season crafted a broad and immersive world for these characters to inhabit and for the audience to enjoy visiting. After the rollercoaster ride that this first season was, all that is left now is to hope for a Season 2 announcement to come so that we can all get excited about returning to visit these characters again for new adventures full of love, loss, and legacy.

Please use the comments to discuss all your favorite parts of the first season of Netflix’s First Kill.


SpoilerTV Community
Latest News