DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Lazarus Project Season 1 Episode 1 contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

Welcome! “Episode 1” of The Lazarus Project dives headfirst into a timey-wimey mystery as we view this world through the perspective of our bewildered lead, George. It’s a solid series premiere that plants enough seeds to keep us intrigued and willing to tune in for what’s to come. And that cliffhanger! I had a feeling it was coming, but it certainly moved the narrative needle all the same. 

While there are undoubtedly a few time travel tropes the show falls prey to, the story is fresh, and these characters are interesting enough to keep me invested. 

Ready to delve into “Episode 1”? Let’s get to it. 

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We open with George (Paapa Essiedu) waking next to his fiancée Sarah (Charly Clive) on July 1. It’s a big day for George: he’s presenting his app idea to the bank for a loan. While he walks to said bank, we hear talk of a potentially deadly viral outbreak (Sound familiar?). George gets approved for that loan, meaning he can snag a patent for his app. After he and Sarah celebrate, she reveals she’s pregnant. They wed, and all is well. That is until three months later when we learn that MERS-22 has swept the globe, taking countless innocent lives. Around Christmastime, we see George, Sarah and other Londoners donning face masks. Oof. This hits too close to home. 

Things look dismal as the pair open their Christmas presents. Sarah is about ready to pop. We hear George cough, followed by Sarah. Later, both enter the hospital with symptoms. They notice how full the waiting room is. Sarah turns to George and asks her if they’re going to die … and then George wakes up on July 1 to repeat the past six months. Everything unfolds as it did then, verbatim. Sarah is none the wiser, but George realizes something’s amiss. He did this already. 

Archie and George look at each other and smile in The Lazarus Project Season 1 Episode 1.

THE LAZARUS PROJECT Season 1 Episode 1. Pictured: Anjli Mohindra and Paapa Essiedu. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery Media.

Next, George fumbles his loan meeting. He rattles on about how he’s lived through all of this once before. He asks Sarah to take a pregnancy test to prove she’s pregnant; however, Sarah insists she doesn’t want to have a child right now. Concerned for George, Sarah finds him Googling “time loops” and various sci-fi-related things. She suggests he see a therapist. Then, she decides to stay with her family for a while. Hey, it’s okay — George will wake up with his sweetie when the six-month period ends. 

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Archie (Anjli Mohindra) finds George attempting to chase down Sarah. She urges him to let Sarah go. Then, Archie addresses the elephant in the room. George can detect these time loops. She’s part of an organization that can help him understand his gift and why time incessantly travels backward to the same date. She gives him a card, encouraging him to stop by whenever the loop restarts. Later, George walks by a pub and spots Sarah sitting inside, laughing with Karl (Chris Fulton), who works with her at a local school. Karl is smitten with her. Unfortunately, Sarah moves out, leaving George to sit and stew in his apartment. 

Thankfully, the loop returns to the start button, with George waking up on July 1 beside Sarah. He meets with Archie at the covert headquarters for The Lazarus Project, an organization that specializes in preventing apocalyptic events. We learn the world has ended several times over the past few decades. The Lazarus Project utilizes time travel to turn back the clock. July 1 happens to be a timestamp the group uses. Humans are regularly exposed to time jumps but don’t recognize them as such. George is one of the very, very few who can. Remember that MERS-22 pandemic from earlier in the episode? That ended the world, hence why George started noticing himself reliving one particular block of time. 

George asks Archie about COVID-19 (It’s so weird hearing a TV show address something we’re still experiencing). She credits TLP with getting the vaccines ready in time. Okay, so that means this organization is real, right? Archie asks George to join their operation. He can learn more about why he’s a “mutant” and help them divert the next global crisis. When George arrives home, he lies to Sarah and tells her he got approved for the bank loan. Of course, he didn’t attend the meeting in this particular loop. 

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Later, George meets the rest of the Lazarus gang: there’s Wes, aka Mom (Caroline Quentin), who spearheads the operation; Greta (Salóme Gunnarsdóttir), The Dane (Lukas Loughran), Blake (Lorn Macdonald) and Shiv (Rudi Dharmalingam), who’s a mutant like George. The gang welcomes George into the fold. They plan to celebrate that night with drinks and karaoke because they saved the world again. Hey, that’s how I would celebrate, too, if I brought civilization back from the brink of collapse. After Greta and The Dane kill it at karaoke, George chats with Shiv. They share common ground as the two normies who can recognize the time loops. 

George stands outside while facing forward as Karl stands behind him in The Lazarus Project Season 1 Episode 1.

THE LAZARUS PROJECT Season 1 Episode 1. Pictured: Paapa Essiedu and Chris Fulton. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery Media.

However, Shiv distances himself from George, claiming they’re not alike. Shiv was born with this ability, whereas George merely acquired it after The Lazarus Project saved the globe from the MERS-22 pandemic. What transpires next is a montage featuring George hard at work as he gets into the swing of things at TLP. He partakes in sharpshooting practice, conducts research and fills out paperwork. It’s like school but for time travel and extinction-level events. After work one day, Sarah reveals she told Karl they’d attend his dinner party. George reluctantly tags along. Karl asks George for financial advice. George advises Karl to invest in a company that’s about to go under. That’ll show Karl for being a prick. 

Next, George makes a discovery regarding a Russian bank. Mom tells him and Archie that it’s linked to Rebrov, a dangerous man who used to work for The Lazarus Project. George later asks Archie and Shiv if Rebrov was the only former agent who went bad. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. That night, right before July 1, George and Sarah have sex. The following day, George walks with Sarah to school. Karl pulls her aside and demands to speak with George. He claims George purposely told him to invest in a sinking ship of a company. Karl lost all of his investment. When Sarah urges him to wait it out, Karl reaches for Sarah’s arm. She almost gets hit by a truck when George saves her. What a close call. 

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At The Lazarus Project, Mom sends the group to Paris to extract Rebrov. She found his location. She informs George of his participation despite his belief he’s not a field agent. While in Paris, George sits in the van with The Dane. Archie and her team storm the building where Rebrov is hiding. Unfortunately, Rebrov (Tom Burke) shoots most of TLP agents. He also kills Archie. Then, Rebrov escapes via motorcycle. The Dane speeds after him in the van. It’s an exciting high-speed chase through the streets of Paris. We even get a couple of slo-mo Matrix-style moments. 

George really wishes The Dane would be more conscientious of the innocent civilians becoming collateral damage in this dangerous chase. After Rebrov crashes his bike, George and The Dane emerge, guns at the ready. Suddenly, someone kills The Dane, leaving George to his own devices. We see the local police appear as they attempt to capture Rebrov. That’s when the former TLP agent detonates a massive bomb that takes them all out. 

George stands outside a building while holding a piece of paper in The Lazarus Project Season 1 Episode 1.

THE LAZARUS PROJECT Season 1 Episode 1. Pictured: Paapa Essiedu. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery Media.

Later, George wakes again on July 1, the Paris nightmare in his rearview mirror. Archie calls him early that morning. She can’t believe she was shot in the head. Archie reveals they’ll try again regarding Rebrov. While George walks Sarah to school, he receives a text saying they’re tracking him down and to get to the office. As George walks away, Sarah and Karl get into the same argument we heard earlier, with the latter claiming he lost all his money from a poor investment. Karl reaches for Sarah’s arm as she loses her balance. Suddenly, the truck from earlier approaches … only this time, George isn’t there to save Sarah. We hear screams as it strikes her. Holy motherforking shirtballs. 

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I love the idea of an organization using time travel to prevent apocalyptic global events. How that truly ties into George beyond his inexplicable ability to detect these time loops remains to be seen. Like any new sci-fi series, we have more questions than answers. Essiedu delivers a solid performance, although we don’t know George well enough to root for him yet. I think next week’s episode will turn the tide in that regard, especially as we see George reel following Sarah’s (presumed) death. Of course, she might not actually be dead if it’s part of the loop. 

There’s a lot of fun to be had with a premise like this and with the Groundhog Day-inspired time loops. You could kill these characters off in myriad ways and have them magically resurrect for the next loop. That said, the downside to that is taking away the emotional impact and narrative stakes if every character is protected by time loop plot armor. I suppose if The Lazarus Project utilizes this sparingly, it could be effective. Only time (hee hee) will tell. 

The Lazarus Project airs new episodes every Sunday at 9 pm on your TNT affiliate. 

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