Freeform premiered Beyond after Shadowhunters on Monday with the back-to-back airing of its first two episodes. The series stars Burkely Duffield as Holden Matthews, a boy who has a mysteries accident and wakes up from a coma 12 years later as a young man with powers. Duffield deftly conveys the boyish innocence of a man who’s lost so many years and is now faced with learning about everything he’s missed.
Holden must grapple with not only this new life, but a younger brother who knows more about the world than he does, parents divided on how best to help him adjust to his new world, his new abilities and a warning not to trust anyone from a young woman he’s never met.
That young woman is Willa, portrayed by Dilan Gwyn. She knows about his abilities and the untapped power he has yet to access. The Holden and Willa have immediate chemistry. She claims to have been in communication with him during his coma and is now trying to protect him. Early in the pilot Holden doesn’t want to hear any of it. He just wants a normal life. By the end of episode two, and everything he’s gone through, Holden realizes he needs her help.
Willa’s warning about not trusting anyone includes Holden’s childhood best friend Kevin (Jordan Calloway). Holden discovers his best friend is now a high school teacher and councilor spying on him for the organization that sent The Man in the Yellow Jacket (Peter Kelamis) to get proof of Holden’s powers.
Holden’s family is portrayed by Michael McGrady as dad Tom Matthews, Romy Rosemont as mom Diane Matthews and Jonathan Whitesell as brother Luke Matthews. The Matthews family is the emotional cornerstone of the first two episodes as we see how Holden’s coma has impacted each. They weren’t used too much or too little.
Beyond is a engaging surprise from a channel that hasn’t perfected its formula for producing YA fantasy/sci-fi shows the way The CW has its comic book based lineup. It has no difficulty blending the YA angst Freeform viewers are accustomed to from Pretty Little Liars and The Fosters with enjoyable action, sci-fi, fantasy and mystery elements we’ve seen from early seasons of Teen Wolf on MTV. There’s also a hint of Stranger Things-like nostalgia (though to the early 2000s, not 1980s) thanks to Holden’s bedroom remaining unchanged during his coma.
Beyond is the first Freeform fantasy or supernatural show I can recommend without reservation. If Beyond hooks you like it did me, according to the commercials, you can binge the entire first season on your cable company’s On Demand or at Freeform.com. However, I am seriously considering savoring the experience of enjoying each episode as it airs.
What did you think of Freeform’s newest series Beyond? Did you love it, hate it or going to give it a few more episodes before deciding? Sound off in the comments below!