Who hasn't wondered about life after death?
I'm not going to beat around the bush, Proof is my new favorite show of the summer. The way Proof Season 1 Episode 1 introduced the subject of life after death, clearly allowing for both the idea there is and isn't an answer we're going to want to hear, was brilliant.
By all characters being part Mulder and part Scully, it allows for the belief and skepticism to breathe and adapt depending upon each individual's personal experiences, and that's realistic. In most cases, someone has their trigger. As we learned in the premiere, Carolyn's is her son, while Ivan's is his cancer.
Not only do all of the characters have different degrees of skepticism, they're all very human. Nobody is wholly a good guy or a bad guy, even Peter Van Owen, the resident celebrity psychic.
By introducing a case such as Lily's, which clearly had room for even the most reluctant to think twice, it showed that you just couldn't discount the likelihood that what Peter was selling had truth behind it.
Ivan: See, I've always hated unknowns, and now that I'm facing the biggest one there is, I want to know what to expect. I want to know what's going to happen to me after I die.
Carolyn: Right. You and everybody else who ever lived.
Ivan: But the difference is, I have the resources to try to find out, and I'd like you to do that for me.
Carolyn: You lost me.
Ivan: I'd like you to find real proof of what happens after we die.
When Carolyn first meets with Ivan Turing, she's not willing to give up her own suspicion over what she has personally experienced. Not only has she lost a son, but she's had her own near-death experience, and from what we can see, she might have seen him in the afterlife.
Being a surgeon and dealing with people who die for short periods of time quite frequently, it wouldn't be an easy concept to swallow. Even as she starts to question it after her meeting with Ivan, her boss wonders what the heck is up with her because she starts becoming interested in the personal aspect of her patient's lives.
As much as we'd love to think it would be the right road for a brilliant doctor to be personally invested, can you imagine the burden it would be to shoulder that much extra responsibility if she was not only concerned about their physical well-being, but emotional, as well? There's a reason doctors specialize, and it must have something to do with sanity.
Carolyn is strong and no-nonsense, but she also cares about the people who work with her beyond just their capacity to do their jobs well, as noted when she tossed Zed's snacks into the trash because he eats poorly. She also recognized in him someone whose opinion mattered to her, and by the end of the hour, he was on track to be one of the people she trusted most.
Would that have happened if Zed hadn't had the guts to tell her how he really felt about her heart procedure? Telling her that her work was "adequate" because they were being honest got her attention. She knows he's not going to pull any punches. Great people want other great people by their sides.
Carolyn and her husband, Len, are separated, but it's not because of the death of their son, Will. Len was sleeping with a pharmacy rep in their bed while Carolyn was on call. Will's death has affected the family in other ways, however, most notably with daughter Sophie, who believes it's easier dying than trying to live up as the one left behind.
When she's kicked out of school after a bullying incident, Carolyn decides to give the research a go. After all, Sophie lit up when she learned her mother was connected with Ivan Turing.
The whole Lily affair was interesting. I wonder if the series takes any stories from real life experiences or if they invent them solely from imagination. That's something I'll have to look into. Lily's visit to the other side united her with a grandfather she never knew she had, and even Carolyn had a hard time denying that evidence.
How chilling was it when Lily got sick a second time, died again, and was told she shouldn't talk to Carolyn anymore? I've seen the first three episodes of Proof (there are perks to this job), and they haven't revisited that yet, but I really hope we learn at some point why she wasn't allowed to talk to her going forward. What are they hiding?
Have you ever had a show that you felt was talking to you? When Carolyn and Peter met in the hallway of the hospital, that's how I felt.
Peter: Is it so hard for you to believe that there is something more?
Carolyn: Yes! And you want to know why? Because I really want to, I really wish I could be like other people who take things on faith, but I can't. I need to know!
Peter: You can. You're just not trying hard enough.
I grapple with faith because I'm too logical. I can't just let loose and let myself believe. Perhaps it's why I'm so drawn to series and movies such as Proof. That scene really hit home. What are we missing because we don't try hard enough?
Of course, Carolyn took Ivan up on his offer. Who could resist the opportunity to manage $10 billion for their the cause in which they believe whole heartedly? Who wouldn't want proof of life after death, especially when they might have come thisclose to seeing their deceased son again?
Carolyn will work with Zed and Janel (who plays a much larger role going forward; read an interview with Caroline Rose Kaplan here) and they'll continue to wow you with their stories and the questions posed as a result of their investigations, and when they falter, the wise and dying Ivan Turing will be there to remind them why they must continue.
What did you think of the premiere? Are you excited to see what lies ahead? Did you fall in love with the characters as I did and want to discuss the possibilities of life after death? Do you believe?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.