This is one of the most inconsistent series I have seen, and it would be easier to rate individual episodes than the season as a whole. I have higher-than-average standards and I was completely taken with this from episode one and just as delighted by two and three. I loved the cinematography, the thoughtful, introspective pace, and the understated mystery of it. They did a phenomenal job of capturing the moody, atmospheric, classic-meets-modern enigma of the paintings by Simon Stålenhag that inspired it. The fact that past and future timelines seemed unapologetically conflated was intriguing and, refreshingly, the details of the story weren’t unveiled in a heavy-handed manner or impatiently spoon-fed to the audience. The episodes were largely stand-alone, but with subtle insertions to suggest an underlying continuity. It felt like a spiritual successor to The Twilight Zone far more than any actual remake has achieved.

Episodes 1, 2 and 3 all receive top stars from me. Episode 4 was equally solid and very well acted, but it was a portrait of grief well-tailored to leave you absolutely gutted. Back in episode one we glimpsed an argument between two main characters, but we knew nothing beyond the fact that one was seeking permission from the other. Without betraying any spoilers, my assumption was that episode 4 removed a barrier for the character needing permission and thus served as a catalyst for further story developments.

It seems I was mistaken. Episode 5 is another stand-alone episode that doesn’t offer much in the progression of the overarching plot. The acting in this episode is unsurpassed as Dan Bakkedahl manages to deliver a likeable and sympathetic character despite serious anger issues and a penchant for making head-shakingly short-sighted decisions. Had we not spent much of the episode frustrated with his woefully frayed rationale, it would have rated as highly as the rest.

Things took a downturn at episode 6. I loved the craft of the opening shot – how it tipped off alert viewers who the episode was about before he came into frame. The painful awkwardness of the pool table scene was perfectly executed and deeply relatable to anyone who’s ever had an anticipated encounter go down in flames. But once the story really gets going, the characters begin to behave in ways that make Bakkedahl’s character look like a genius. At least, it makes it very very hard to continue to root for them. The main character behaves like an idiot teenager, and maybe it would have worked had he been one. As it stands, it’s hard to forgive. I give it credit for the ultimate takeaway, but Gaddis was an unfortunate conduit. Lack of experience does not excuse that level of immaturity. We’re down to 3 stars.

Episode 7 would have been perfect for Halloween, and as a nut for All Hallow’s Eve I was completely on board with it for the entire first half carried by Emjay Anthony. But in the second half our lead character made the sort of mind-numbingly stupid decision often exemplified by the ill-fated stars of the horror genre which is so impossible to justify that it shatters the suspension of disbelief. Furthermore, the ending felt rushed and goofy, falling short of pathos. Demotion to 2.5 stars, all earned by Anthony.

Despite the disappointment of the previous two episodes, I still maintained every expectation that episode 8 would somehow bring us full circle and tie up some loose ends. We would find out what the argument in episode 1 was about, what the changes in episode 4 gave rise to. Maybe little Cole would get to carry the baton of what his grandfather started and use it to sort out some of the chaos he had inadvertently created. Surely we’d learn more about Eclipse and its relation to the warping of Time-Space within the community, and how that might be utilized to sort some of the more egregious calamities and leave us with a modicum of closure.

But that didn’t happen. Duncan Joiner delivers an impressive performance, but the plot was as thin as gauze and really lets everyone down. What did it accomplish? I don’t ask for neatly packaged happy endings, but this really feels to have gone off the rails somewhere. 2 stars – for performance and atmosphere – and a heavy helping of disappointment.