There’s yet another crisis at the community. The seeds that they received in exchange for the petrol turn out to be useless and this disappointment is another blow for Abby and Greg. The pair of them are clearly finding leadership to be a tiring and thankless task and when Abby learns that Jenny is pregnant it causes her to pause and reassess her own life.
But there’s another problem to deal with before Abby can consider her next move. A group of new arrivals turn up – they’ve been driven from their own settlement and plan to find another, but ask that they leave one of their party (a sick woman) behind. The community decides that it’s too risky to take her in, so all the strangers leave.
But when they discover the woman has been left behind anyway, they’re forced to accept her (although Greg and Abby still argue the point). Afterwards, Abby slips away to be by herself and encounters Jimmy Garland – who’s now back in control at Waterhouse. It seems inevitable that their destinies are intertwined – but when she returns back to the Grange she also has to deal with some unexpected news ….
A Beginning is a somewhat bitty story, since it concerns itself with tying up some loose ends as well as looking ahead to the second series. The arrival of the strangers at the start reminds the community about the story told to them by Robert Lawson in the previous episode. He painted a picture of small communities who were becoming increasingly isolated and insular as they begin to jealously guard themselves against all “outsiders” whether they be friend or foe.
The Grange community are convinced that the only hope of long-term survival is to establish a federation of communities – each one independent, but able to assist the others as and when required (we’ll see how Charles Vaughan attempts to make this dream a reality in the second series).
The arrival of a sick woman is yet another example of how society has changed. Prior to the death, she wouldn’t have been turned away – but now, it’s understandable that Abby, Greg and the others are reluctant to accept her (she could have illnesses that would kill them all). The irony is that when she recovers she’ll prove to be one of the most important and useful members of the community.
Her name is Ruth Anderson (played here by Annie Irving, although she’d be replaced by Celia Gregory in series two). She was a medical student and although she never qualified, her knowledge, in a world where only a handful of doctors and nurses have survived, will prove to be invaluable.
She also has other news. On her travels she met a group of people living on a houseboat. One of them was Dr Bronson, who Abby met earlier in the series, and another was Abby’s son, Peter. This provides an unexpected happy ending to the first series, as Abby and Jimmy Garland set out to find Peter.
We’ve already been told of the unlikelihood of people from the same family surviving and even if we accept that, it does seem a remarkable coincidence that out of all the places Ruth could have ended up, she arrives at the place where Peter’s mother is living. Given the decimated nature of the population, it becomes a little more acceptable, but only a little!
This is the last we’ll see of Abby (although she has returned in the recent Big Finish audios). We have to assume that she did find Peter and that they, and Jimmy Garland, lived happily ever after. Although if you favour a more downbeat ending, then Terry Nation’s Survivors novelisation is worth tracking down.
So series one ends on an optimistic note. But as we’ve seen, any happiness tends to be short-lived and the opening moments of the second series plunge the survivors into another desperate situation.