‘Fallout’ Review: Lions, Tigers, and Irradiated Bears, Oh My

Written by Matt Rodriguez

I had the opportunity to see the first two episodes of Prime Video’s new Fallout series on the big screen, and like the nuclear explosion that kicks off the events of the series, I was blown away by what I saw. Based on best-selling video game franchise, Fallout follows Lucy MacLean as she leaves the safety of her underground vault and ventures into the chaotic world above for the time. Like the games, the series inspires a sense of wonder. There is an entire post-apocalyptic world to discover and while the series is more linear than the open world nature of the games, its just as weird, wacky, and wondrously violent as expected.

Lucy MacLean (Ella Purnell) has spent her entire life as a well behaved member of Vault 33 where she lives in peaceful harmony underground with her fellow vault dwellers in the aftermath of nuclear attacks that left the world above a radioactive wasteland. That was over 200 years ago and nobody from the vaults has even dared to venture outside. That all changes when their happy community is attacked by raiders and Lucy’s father and leader of the vault is kidnapped. As the only brave enough to leave, Lucy ventures into the unknown in search of her dad and quickly learns that life outside the comforts of the vault is vastly different and far more violent than anything she’s ever experienced.

Fallout jams a lot into its first two episodes, beginning with the dazzlingly destructive nuclear explosion that kicks everything off. It’s the end of the world but the beginning of our story. In addition to Lucy, the series also focuses on two other characters, a squire for the Brotherhood of Steel named Maximus (Aaron Moten) and The Ghoul, a devilish gunslinger played by Walton Goggins. Their stories overlap, but there are entire portions of each episode dedicated to their individual motivations.

I found Maximus and the Brootherhood of Steel to have the most compelling story. For those unfamiliar with the games, the Brotherhood is a cult of sorts who collect and preserve technology from the old world. They’re instantly recognizable by the power armor their knights wear. Maximus is but a lowly trainee when we’re first introduced to him, but it seems like he will do whatever it takes to get the opportunity to put on the armor. The Ghoul is equally as interesting, too. He was once a former entertainer named Cooper Howard and was actually alive during the nuclear attack. Thanks to a vaguely explained cocktail of drugs, he’s managed to stay alive all this time, although the centuries have turned him literally into his namesake. He appears to be the villain in the first two episodes, but I have a hunch we’ll learn there’s more to his story.

What stands out most about Fallout is just how detailed the world is, both above and below ground. The Vault-Tec bunkers are comprised of new age technology with classic 60s style, and the attention to detail is note-worthy. The same goes for the various settlements and townspeople shown across the wasteland. Everyone feels like they’re on their own journey. And while it’s a shame that you can’t take control yourself and explore every inch of the world on your own like in the games, there is that same sense of amazement. Like Lucy, you don’t know if the next person she talks to is going to be a friend or foe. The Brotherhood of Steel seem cool but also look to have their own shady secrets just waiting to be unearthed. As one of the only living creatures (that we know so far) who was alive before the blast, you can’t help but wonder what turned him from entertainer into a gunslinging manic.

Hopefully these characters will live long enough to get some answers because as interesting a world it might be, practically everything is trying to kill them. Fallout is violent. Bullets don’t just leave tiny holes in people, they eviscerate and explode all manner of body parts in bloody bursts of red. That’s in addition to the variety of knives, chainsaws, and mysterious face-melting injections. That doesn’t even account for the heavily mutated wasteland creatures that will devour you at any chance they get. You don’t want to go up against an irradiated bear, even if you do have power armor on. The violence can be absolutely brutal, and rarely is there anything in-between life and death.

Despite the dangers, Fallout’s first two episodes still makes you want to venture out of the vault and explore its vast and rich world. Even more, it’ll make you want to pick up a controller and play the games, whether for the first time or the 100th time. I’m curious to see where the series will go, both in this season and hopefully in the future. As they say in the opening, the end is only the beginning.

You can watch the entire 8-episode series beginning later tonight, April 10, 2024, at 9pm ET on Prime Video.

About the author

Matt Rodriguez

Owner and Chief Editor of Shakefire.