Maddie’s deceased father, David, has had his consciousness uploaded to the cloud after an experimental brain scan, and it turns out he’s not the only one. Witness a corporate conspiracy unfold in the animated sci-fi drama, Pantheon. Season 1 and 2 streaming now on Prime Video. Watch it here.
Prime Video is dropping a double-header of sci-fi thriller drama this week with the arrival of not just one but two seasons of the animated series, Pantheon, on October 15th.
The first season of Pantheon has been heralded as a quietly daring work that takes on ideas of existentialism and the criteria of humanity while also challenging the onward march of Big Tech and a race to extend the shelf life of the human psyche with the goal of creating a near-immortal work force.
The series follows Maddie, a teen whose recently-deceased father contacts her online, from beyond the grave, where it’s revealed that his consciousness has been uploaded as part of an experimental new technology called Uploaded Intelligence, which threatens to go beyond merely keeping humans “alive” in the virtual realm but essentially imprison them as slaves to corporations and pawns in a new digital era of global warfare. All the while this is happening, another young person by the name of Caspian discovers he’s in a Truman Show-like situation where his parents’ troubled marriage turns out to be an act designed to push him toward a predetermined fate.
These kinds of stories have always been prevalent in video games, and with this being a video game outlet it would be wrong of us to miss bringing up some iconic modern examples of games that deal with similar themes. If you’ve played and enjoyed games like Citizen Sleeper and its stories of personal adversity in the face of unchecked capitalism and leased existence, The Talos Principle’s pondering on a post-human world left to AI, The Stanley Parable’s… The Stanley Parable, hell – even the Metal Gear Solid franchise – you’ll feel right at home with what Pantheon has to offer.
One of the things that’s made Pantheon so successful is the way it takes these ideas, that are certainly interesting but not wholly fresh in sci-fi media, and presents them through the lens of the familial experience. What lengths would we go to in order to keep our loved ones around, and at what cost to them? Just how much of an impact does our childhood and developmental environment have on our future and can the outcomes of our upbringing be predicted so far as to be manipulated?
Interestingly, while these heady and high-concept ideas sound ripe for the kinds of prestige television you’d expect from Prime Video, Pantheon also happens to be animated. From animation studio Titmouse (The Legend of Vox Machina, Big Mouth, Beavis and Butt-Head), it’s got a very anime-like vibe with lashings of Paprika and Ghost in the Shell helped by scenes taking place in more abstract, virtual spaces, but is also just subdued enough that those more accustomed to other forms of animation or even those averse to “cartoons” altogether can get into it.
Pantheon very quickly established itself as a must-watch for anyone into thrilling, existential sci-fi drama and rumination on the pitfalls of pinning our hopes on technology to elevate the status of humanity or trusting mega-corporations to be the torch bearers for transhumanism and medical breakthroughs with the potential to alter the course of human history. It’s also a series that was nearly lost to time, with Prime Video saving it from cancellation and not only bringing the first season back to our screens on October 15th but debuting a brand-new second season on the same day.