The second half of the first season of The Tribe has been released by Shout! Factory, and this collection of shows offers more of the same. It's safe to say that if you enjoyed the first half, you'll really be pleased with this collection. Several of the characters become more developed, the show continues to deal with some fairly adult themes for a tween drama, and there are some interesting twists that shape the lives of the Mall Rats. I found several aspects of the show in the earlier release to silly to the point of distraction (the constantly changing hair styles and make-up fashions in a post-apocalyptic world and some of the contrived plot lines), and that definitely holds true for these episodes too. Since most people reading this probably enjoyed the first collection to a fair degree, I tried to set aside my prejudices and view the show from the point of view of someone who wasn't bothered by the more inane parts of the series.
About a year after all of the adults have died off, a small group of kids find themselves thrown together by circumstance. They form a tribe, naming themselves the Mall Rats since they live in an old shopping mall, and soon discover that they form a family. The group is run by Amber, a pragmatic though caring young lady, and her foil for control is Lex, an aggressive, lazy, narcissistic lad who is rather tough. In Lex's corner is his right-hand man, the dim-witted Ryan, and his fawning girlfriend Zandra.
The children living in the mall include Cloe and her friend Patsy and they're looked after by Salene, an insecure tween, Dal, the son of a doctor who wants to become a healer, Jack, the 'scientist' of the group who is convinced that there are still some surviving adults somewhere, Trudy and her newborn baby, and the enigmatic Bray who acts as scout and takes dangerous trips into the city savaging for food. The tribe is rounded out by Casey, a younger thief who tried to rip off the group and was invited to join, and the mystical Tai-San, an oriental who pretty much walks out of the woods at the end of the previous collection and spends her time talking about sending people "positive energy" and meditating.
In this second half of the first season, the post-apocalyptic teen drama/ soap opera things start off on a
The Mall Rats debate whether to go, and finally decide to show up since they have something potentially very valuable to trade: energy in the form of electricity. Jack has created a wind turbine that will charge batteries. This would establish the Mall Rats as a power, but only if Jack can get his idea to work. He's having trouble perfecting it, and once Lex cuts out a piece to give to Zander as an engagement ring (without Jack's knowledge of course) it gets even worse.
At the festival they discover the Dal, who had recently left the tribe, being sold as a slave. It turns out that slavery is how most things get done in this society, and any lone travelers are likely to get taken by slavers. With Dal is Sasha, a wandering minstrel who ran afoul of some slave traders.
Mild Spoilers Ahead - Warning
Things end up going badly at the gathering since Jack can't get his turbine working and Lex runs into someone he betrayed in the first episode and gets the crap knocked out of him. The whole event ends in chaos and the Mall Rats manage to rescue Dal and Sasha while leaving the rest of the slaves to their fate.
Soon Amber and Sasha start to grow close. There is definitely an attraction but Sasha is a wanderer and can't stay in one place very long. He take Amber away for a day alone on the beach, and there he asks her to go off with him. She's very, very tempted.
This half of the season played out a lot like the first, and it started strong. The subplot involving teens selling other teens into slavery was nicely done and felt genuine. (Though the fact that the slavers had no other slaves for sale when the first encountered Dal was a bit hard to swallow, but not totally implausible.) The revelation that a lot of the slaves were used to charge batteries was by pedaling on stationary bikes made a lot of sense too. The survivors weren't used to living without gameboys (something members of the Mall Rats use their precious batteries to power) and other electronic devices and using slaves is one way to getting them charged.
Of course, that raises other problems, and that's the program's biggest flaw: if you think about it at all it doesn't hold together. If the technology to adapt a stationary bike or treadmill so that it will charge a battery exists (and pretty easy to construct since the Demon Dogs are portrayed as being violent, non-thinking thugs who hunt stray people for fun) why was it so hard for Jack to make a windmill do the same thing? Why hadn't someone else thought of constructing a windmill? Bray made it seem like Jack's idea was a technological leap, which it would have been if no one else understood the method of turning mechanical energy into electrical energy, but that problem didn't exist apparently. But I digress...
Some of the more melodramatic element of the show played a bit better in this half than they did in the first. Lex and Zander's relationship progresses nicely, and the Amber-Sasha-Bray love triangle was interesting and held a surprise or two. On the other hand the Bray-Lex rivalry is more of the same. While the fact that the two alpha males would clash wasn't surprising, I never quite bought how Lex was trying to be subtle and just undermine Bray's authority, and I thought Bray would have fought back a bit more strenuously.
Salene struggles with bulimia in this half and I was pleased to see the show continue to tackle more adult themes. Her tearful explanation of how she's gotten into a vicious cycle of eating and purging was realistic, and though it appears that they're going to resolve the plot with a simplistic solution, that thankfully does not happen. The show gets points for not talking down to the audience either.
There were some unexpected twists in this season too. When Jack thinks he has seen an adult with long, grey hair on a fuzzy video feed he's hooked up, Patsy goes off looking for him and what she finds is surprising on a couple of levels. The revelation she eventually discovers puts a new spin on some aspects of the show. It was a nice shocker that piqued my interest in the show just when it was waning.
The second half of season one, 26 episodes, arrive on four DVDs housed in a single-width quad case.
The Dolby digital stereo soundtrack is clean, letting the absolutely horrid theme music (a soft rock love ballad that does not fit the mood or theme of the show at all) come though clearly. Why they decided to go with that song, and reuse that one song over and over, I have no idea. There were one or two dropouts, where the audio totally disappears for a split second in one episode, but I'd be willing to bet that it was a problem on the master tapes and in any case a second out of 10 hours worth of content I can live with.
The 1.78:1 widescreen image looks surprisingly good. The colors are solid and the level of detail is fine. There was some minor banding in a couple of places, but nothing major. Overall the show looked better than I was expecting.
The fourth disc includes a behind-the-scenes featurette that runs 26 minutes. I actually enjoyed watching this a lot more than I thought I would. It has the show's creators talking briefly about the genesis of the program and then spends most of the time with the actors. It was interesting to see these kids being interviewed about their characters... many of them had much stronger accents than they do on the show. The show also covers how the kids are treated, their schooling, etc. My only complaint is that it's very clip-heavy. They show almost as much footage from the show as they do of the actors' interviews.
Viewers who were sucked into the plight of this group of kids thrown together in a post-apocalyptic world with no adults by the first collection of episodes will doubtlessly enjoy this second half of the first season. The personal relationships are just as interesting, the supply of Max Factor hasn't run out yet, and there are some nice twists to the story that are sure to surprise. For those people, and those people only, who liked the first set, this collection comes with a solid recommendation.