The massive outbreak of the Coronavirus at the Suceava Hospital forced the military into the unprecedented situation of deploying its lead specialists and medical doctors to take over the administration. This is an excerpt from an open letter by Medical Corps Captain Marginean Mihai Alexandru, Romania’s Department of Homeland Security.
“3. To some, the casualties right now may seem only numbers. The time will come when they will be NAMES. We will all suffer losses. You will need a shoulder to cry on, but might not find it because everyone will have someone to mourn. Our essence will be tried, our humanity shaken. I don’t know what advice I could possibly give, and I don’t know how to better brace ourselves against this.
4. Steel yourselves for tough decisions. In an ICU with 30 patients with saturation below 60% and only 10 respirators… who do we intubate?
5. Pray! If not to God, then to any god. Admit that we were defeated, for this is the first step towards victory.”
- Far is a 6 episode comedy-drama, each episode running at roughly 30 minutes, with story lines potentially continuing into further seasons. It is a hybrid between fiction and real life current events.
- The fiction part of it is the story of five young people originally from Suceava, a mid-size city in Romania (population cca. 120,000), who grew up together and are now scattered all over the globe. They are brought together in cyberspace after Suceava is placed under total lockdown. Here comes the non-fiction part - after a major snafu amidst the medical staff, the virus runs amok and the military is obligated to intervene and basically take over the city. Our five fictional characters may as well be any or all of the Romanians living in Diaspora and witnessing the chaos from afar.
- A fresco of the present moment, and born out of the limitations imposed by the pandemic, the show (or at least its first season) will recount the events through digital tools such as Zoom, Facebook video, text, photo collage, phone calls, voicemails, surveillance cams, etc.
- Eric’s mother dies and he can’t even make it to the funeral. Raluka’s flower shop, her livelihood and her lifetime’s work, is shut down indefinitely. Mona barely escapes her abusive husband and returns to an unrecognizable, devastated hometown. Ovidiu, a doctor would love nothing more than to be a first responder, lost his medical license after an instance of malpractice. And Sebi would have made his West End debut, had the production not been cancelled due to the virus.
- Moving yet not melodramatic, melancholy without a hint of bitterness, fun without being irreverent, and with a dose of palliative nostalgia, Far will be one of the few dramatic stories told not from a news outlet. An ambitious and eclectic endeavor, one can conjure it as a combo between Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Dekalog, Freaks and Geeks and Trainspotting 2, sprinkled with some Chekhov and The Breakfast Club.
episode 1 - the pilot
After finding out about his hometown of Suceava going in complete quarantine, Sebi creates a Facebook group titled “Cops & Robbers at 8” and invites a bunch of his childhood friends. He suggests that they all meet to chat in a Zoom conference. Out of all he invites, only five of them show up: Mona, who has just returned to Suceava, Raluka, who lives in Italy, Eric from New York and Ovidiu from Paris.
We learn that Sebi, a struggling actor, lives in London with his girlfriend. He’d just booked a lead role in a West End show that got canceled due to COVID-19. Mona is a yoga teacher who moved to Boston after marrying an American she met in Bucharest. She came back to live with her mom after having marital issues. Raluka’s flower shop has been shut down indefinitely as a non-essential business, and Ovidiu, her step brother, is a doctor and a first responder. Eric’s mother, back in Suceava, was hospitalized two nights prior because of the virus.
The five of them haven’t seen each other in a while and, apart from some major holiday wishes, haven’t really stayed in close contact over the past decade. They reminisce over their childhood and the “Cops and Robbers” game they would frequently play around 8pm. Eric gets a call from his dad – his mother has passed.
Raluka and Ovidiu fight over the image of their dad, who died when they were kids. Eric talks to his dad and learns that his mother died because of a heart attack induced by a cardiovascular comorbidity with COVID, and is to buried within the next 24 hours, attended by a maximum of eight family members. Eric decides to do everything in his power to make it to the funeral, and asks his father to pull some strings to delay the ceremony. The father scolds Eric for wanting to come back, claiming that it’s because of people like him that Suceava ended up the way it did. In a desperate attempt, Eric tries to get his father to cremate the mother, as it had always been her wish. His father dismisses it as madness. Raluka introduces Pagliacci to the group, the little kitten she adopted right before the pandemic. We discover that Ovidiu’s medical license got revoked after a malpractice due to inebriation. He is a recovering alcoholic. Mona receives a text from her estranged husband, who has landed in Bucharest and is now coming for her.
Eric teaches his father to stream the funeral live on Facebook, so he can be there in whatever form. Sebi goes into one of Mona’s online yoga sessions. Ovidiu tries to console Eric by expounding on the shallow nature of all burial rites, and confesses why he himself hasn’t attended his own father’s funeral. Mona tells Raluka about her miscarriage due to her husband’s physical abuse. Raluka also opens up about how much she wishes to be a mom even though she is infertile. Sebi tries to borrow money from Ovidiu, who turns him down.
In a flashback, we hear Eric’s last conversation with his mom, while she was still in the hospital. We learn the specifics of the case that cost Ovidiu his license. Sebi talks to Raluka, trying to obtain more intel on Mona’s situation. Eric sends Raluka money to reopen her flower shop once things open back up. Mona calls Eric to offer her support – they share memories about their mothers, who were best friends. Mona receives a series of pictures and video taken from behind the steering wheel by her husband Ben – he is vertiginously approaching Suceava. After 6 months of sobriety, Ovidiu falls off the waggon.
Sebi absolves Eric of the shame and guilt of having bullied him when they were kids. Ovidiu reveals to Raluka that he no longer practices medicine, as well as the dark reality of his relationship with their father. Eric’s father fails to do the live stream of the funeral – Eric loses it. Mona and Sebi remember yet another fun moment of playing Cops and Robbers and fall asleep together on Zoom.
episode 6 - season finale
Ben has reached Suceava, is immediately placed in quarantine, and announces to Mona that they will definitely see each other in 7 days. Sebi invites Mona out on a real date once the pandemic blows over. Ovidiu attempts suicide and almost succeeds, but fails and has a deep revelation. In another flashback we see Raluka fighting with her husband over adoption; she shoves him, causing an accident with long-lasting consequences. In the middle of the night, Eric receives a mysterious Zoom invitation; it is his mother’s spirit, bringing peace back in his soul and closure with his father. In another moment of magical realism, from one screen to another the father hands Eric an urn with the mother’s ashes.