Sixteen-year-old Henrietta “Henry” Coles (Maddie Hasson) is far from your average high-school kid, given her sad penchant for grand-mal seizures in the midst of the lunchtime cafeteria. Henry’s mom Cleo (Missi Pyle) has a tendency to take on a boyfriend and whatever baggage he carries, endure it for six months to a year, and then grab Henry and take off for the next safe-house, so her home life isn’t exactly what you’d call stable either.
The current boyfriend model out for a test run is Tom Hope (Matt Gordon) and his daughter Jenna (Sarah Desjardins), here in some little nowhere town that actually holds quite a few more secrets than anyone might think. Tom takes care of the local bowling alley and does seem to genuinely care about Cleo and Henry, he’s a nice guy who’s a lot more observant and discreet than anyone realizes. Jenna is one of those eternally popular kids, pretty and apparently vapid with it, but she too turns out to be a genuinely kind person, and when the feces hits the whirling blades, Henry will need all the help she can get!
Every high school has a Golden Boy that all the girls (and perhaps some guys too) lust after, this story features Clay Boone (Tanner Stine) in his Letterman jacket, all smug about his athletic prowess, still for some reason intrigued by the newcomer who clearly isn’t like the other girls, Henry Coles. And even after observing her have a scary seizure in the midst of school, Clay decides he’s going to get Henry alone with him and have his way with her.
Here’s where the show, despite being filmed very well and having a terrific storyline that keeps the audience guessing, needs to come with MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNINGS. The scene in Clay’s truck, where he knowingly molests Henry to the point where she has a massive seizure, her powers kick in and she teleports out, leaving Clay behind to be crushed by what she did to his truck, is raw and real and very damaging to those of potentially weak constitutions. In fact, this instance of rape and assault becomes the focal point of the entire show, somehow even more so than the newfound teleporting ability Henry is now using, much to her chagrin.
Because Henry was initially attracted to Clay and certainly wanted to make out with him, right up to the point where she began to yell at him clearly “NO!”, Henry feels an incredible amount of survivors guilt and what I would term PTSD in the wake of her assault. But it’s the aftershock of her teleporting out, the crushing of Clay’s truck and his own body, turning him into a paraplegic forever afterwards, that really gets to Henry. This one instance, where Golden Boy once again turns out to be Prince Shithead, sparks off all kinds of ripples that no-one could have predicted, least of all Henry herself.
Clay’s dad Bill Boone (David James Elliot), he’s a car salesman with his own dealership and everything, he somehow manages to have some seriously shady dealings with the nearby Mennonite community and Jeremiah Miller (Shawn Doyle), and he makes the instinctual leap that it was these nefarious business practices that led to Clay experiencing the repercussions for it. Clay’s brother Lucas (Craig Arnold), he was already far too involved in the shadowy family businesses, and he tries to help both his enraged father and his struggling brother, but the real truths are far under the skin and actually have nothing to do with the underhanded family dealings – until now.
Things are beginning to spiral out of control and somehow Cleo, Henry’s mom, thinks it’ll be a good idea to take a job offer from Bill Boone to work at the car dealership. So prepare to toss Mom into the mix of murderous Mennonites and crazy car salesmen! Tom and Jenna have clearly understood something’s very wrong with Henry, above and aside the grand mal seizures even, and both are trying to help however they can. Despite just being classified as moms new meal ticket, Tom can keep secrets like nobodies business and actually embraces his lady and her daughter with all the fervor of a real dad.
Jenna too, when she learns the awful truth of what Clay did to Henry, goes on helping Henry through her rape aftermath however she can, past he point of being annoying and goddamn insisting that Henry talk about it, don’t bottle it in, if not to Jenna herself then to the Planned Parenthood help line, or hell, anyone who will listen. The father and daughter Hopes are the good solid reliable kind of people this world needs more of. And the adorkable little friendship of the autistic boy who worships superheroes, Townes Linderman (Daniel Maslany) from school, should get an honorary mention, as its his determined belief in the heroic journey he insists Henry is undergoing that makes the long path even a little more bearable.
There are attempts to fold in an outside storyline about the newly-found teleportation ability that involves Henry’s missing real father, and Nikolai (Callum Keith Rennie) and others like her who are able to teleport in and out, being hunted by some nasty organization with of course plans for them abilities. And while we’re fairly sure these outside storylines, with the origins of teleportation abilities and what they might mean for Henry and her Cleo, will be extra terrific in Impulse Season Two, the initial season dealt primarily with Henry and her assault, and that’s plenty enough heartbreak for all of us.
Fight for Henry’s rights with Impulse Season One, on YouTube Originals now!