The Republic of Sarah Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Pilot
If you’re putting the name of one character of an ensemble drama in the series’ title, she had better be intriguing.
Sarah Cooper was all that on The Republic of Sarah Season 1 Episode 1.
The events of the episode forced Sarah to grow up a lot faster than she had been planning to.
Initially, twentysomething history teacher Sarah appeared to be like one of her students, having to be awoken by her roommate AJ to make it to school on time after staying out too late at a punk show.
Then, in some not-so-subtle foreshadowing, Sarah proclaimed that ordinary people can do extraordinary things during a lecture (using the term loosely) on the Revolutionary War.
Little did she know that the revolution was coming, brought on by an invasion of Lydon Industries, an international mining company there to pillage Greylock, an incredibly diverse small New Hampshire town.
People from such towns don’t like “flatlanders” (or “people from away” or “out-of-staters,” you pick) coming in and telling them what’s good for them.
But that’s exactly what happened in Greylock, spearheaded by former native son Danny Cooper, Sarah’s estranged brother.
That was because coltan, a valuable mineral used in electronics, had been discovered beneath Greylock, and Lydon was there to strip-mine it.
Those about to be displaced for pennies on the dollar were unlikely to agree with his assessment. And Danny chose to bail on the meeting rather than answer hard questions in a public forum.
The heart of this drama is going to be the Coopers: Sarah, Danny, and their problematic mother, Ellen, portrayed by Megan Fellows (Reign),
Ellen is a respected politician and author who secretly happens to be a raging alcoholic, who those in power have protected.
Ellen made the formative years of older brother Danny and younger sister Sarah a living hell.
As a result, Danny left town at 16, cutting off contact with his family. Sarah stayed and became Ellen’s caretaker/protector. His return knocked Ellen off the wagon, to Sarah’s dismay.
How much of Sarah’s resistance to Lydon is directed toward the rapacious company and how much is her striking back at the brother who abandoned her is hard to say.
Obviously, Danny didn’t handle his departure from Greylock well. But he was just 16 and was running away from his mother’s abuse.
Still, he did leave his baby sister alone with that same mother. He also left behind his longtime girlfriend Corinne, who is Sarah’s bestie, and maybe their son Josh. That was hinted at, nothing more yet.
Nothing was stopping Danny from making a call or sending an email during the intervening years, except likely guilt.
He did the right thing going to Ellen after Lydon’s slimy lawyer threatened to make Ellen’s records public. That gave Ellen the chance to clean come so that Sarah wouldn’t have to abandon her independence campaign.
So let’s consider Danny a work in progress. He’s still working for the villainous corporation, but he may come around to protect those he loves (but likely not the town that covered up for Ellen).
Didn’t Sarah come up with an ingenious way to at least slow down Lydon’s attack on Greylock? And don’t you love that she used her beloved history to do it?
Amazingly, a judge bought her argument that, because of changes in geography, the town was independent of either country it bordered. Ellen must have cherry-picked a friendly jurist.
Sarah definitely tapped into the zeitgeist of Greylock, as residents resisted being told what to do by a corporation willing to use underhanded tactics, such as getting permission for eminent domain from the government before even talking to the townsfolk.
And, as Grover pointed out, people were ready to follow Sarah, beyond her friends and students.
It was no surprise that the citizens voted for independence in the referendum. Otherwise, there’s no concept for this series.
It was also no shock that the existing mayor, a Lydon sycophant, stepped down after the vote and that a reluctant Sarah was elected mayor by acclamation.
It looks like Lydon is playing the long game, having Sarah arrested on a trumped-up charge.
There was plenty of other drama behind the drive for independence storyline.
The old I’m-in-love-with-my-best-friend trope was dusted off, as both Sarah and Grover seemed reluctant to try for a deeper relationship, despite Corinne pushing both of them. Give it time. It will happen.
Sarah’s cop roommate AJ is having an affair with the ex-mayor’s wife. That’s interesting.
And being the CW, there have to be several quirky young characters as well.
The Republic of Sarah has those in spades.
There’s Maya, the brainy daughter of gay diner owner Luis, who a judge forced to leave L.A. and go to New Hampshire after her mother was jailed. Little wonder that she’s resentful.
There’s Bella, the ex-mayor’s daughter, who rightfully dumped local block-of-wood Hunter (that’s subtle) in favor of complicated Native American Tyler.
Maybe after Sarah gets released from jail and figures out how to fund her new nation, she could offer advice to her students as well.
Nah, she’ll be too busy sorting out her own life.
To revisit Sarah’s scheme, watch The Republic of Sarah online.
What does Sarah do next?
Which characters did you like best?
Should Greylock forgive Danny?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.