'The Passage' Season 1: Despite elements of horror, Amy and Wolgast's relationship takes the lead as the show's lifeline
Amy being the test subject, and Wolgast being tasked with retrieving her for the medical trial is enough to make them enemies, but what we see instead is a change of heart in both.
In an era where science fiction and supernatural beings are the two biggest sensations when it comes to genres for TV shows and films, Fox's latest series, 'The Passage,' does the remarkable job of mingling the two. Adapted by Liz Heldens from the Justin Cronin novel of the same name, 'The Passage' tells the story of a young orphan getting roped into a dangerous medical trial which ends up turning its subjects into superhuman vampires wreaking havoc, leading to apocalyptic destruction. But all of that aside, there is also one of the most special elements of the show which helps it shine despite the negligible shortcomings, and that happens to be the relationship between the 10-year-old protagonist, Amy, and her rescuer, Brad Wolgast.
The official synopsis of the show describes it as: “The Passage is an epic, character‐driven thriller about a secret government medical facility experimenting with a dangerous virus that could either cure all disease or cause the downfall of the human race. The series focuses on a 10‐year‐old girl named Amy Bellafonte (Saniyya Sidney), who is chosen to be a test subject for this experiment and Brad Wolgast (Gosselaar), the federal agent who becomes her surrogate father as he tries to protect her.”
The interesting thing about the dynamics of Wolgast and Amy's relationship is the remarkable innocence in their interaction; despite them being on completely different teams, they eventually come together in their quest for survival. Sidney is simply spectacular in her rendition of the character - a feisty ball of fire who just wouldn't take no for an answer - while Gosselaar's Wolgast if your every day awkward father figure suddenly made responsible for a child's future.
Amy being the test subject, and Wolgast being directly tasked with retrieving her for the medical trial is enough to create a tiff between the two, but what we see instead is a change of heart from both; as Wolgast is stuck with the pinpricks of his conscience, Amy too goes through a molding of sorts that allows her to be more accepting of the help the abandoned orphan is being offered from the stranger.
That Amy is tough and resilient is no secret as the very pilot opens with her announcing daunting one-liners like "My name is Amy Bellafonte, and this is how the world ends” and also “I didn’t use to believe in monsters, but I do now. I saw them change everything." And this harshness that could be easily be deduced as a result of being forced to grow up too fast, has a soft core to it too. In her dealings with Wolgast, we see Amy's childlike innocence highlighted, as she tells him in the very first episode that he still owes her a unicorn, after a not so enjoyable carnival trip. In that, Amy in Wolgast's company is a more rounded, yet multifaceted persona, and Sidney makes it a delight to witness the journey.
Wolgast, on the other hand, is your quintessential knight in shining armor, masquerading as the no-nonsense tough guy. What's interesting about the plot is that Wolgast - even though he's going against the authorities - is actually doing what he's doing, with good intent. In his task to bring Amy to the research center, he gets protective of the child and starts acting like a father-figure despite having no prior experience in the department. Think of an older, less animated version of Steve Harrington from 'Stranger Things' whose clueless compassion had turned him into a social media phenomenon overnight.
Be it the individual actors' portrayal of the role, or just the path that the character's storyline follows, down the line, it almost seems impossible for Amy to be Amy or Wolgast to be Wolgast without each other. They complement each other so well, that despite the elements of science fiction and supernatural coming together in a dystopian world, it is this pure, innocent relationship budding between the two main characters that steals the show.