‘Daybreak’: Alyvia Alyn Lind Might Be the Best 12-year-Old Pyromaniac Ever
The coolest character of this fall’s television season, easily, is a 12-year-old pyromaniac who sounds like she learned to talk by watching Deadwood.
Angelica Green, played by Alyvia Alyn Lind, can be found roaming the streets of Glendale, Calif., in Daybreak, which drops Thursday on Netflix.
Her travels are more interesting than the usual 12-year-old meanderings because six months earlier, Glendale was the epicenter of a bomb blast that wiped out most of the grownups and turned the rest into zombie knockoffs called ghoulies.
So Glendale is now run by teenagers, which is as nuts as it sounds and thus becomes perfect turf for a bright sociopathic tween like Angelica.
Her weapons include a flamethrower that doesn’t throw enough flame. So you can see what she has to put up with, and maybe get a hint of why it all turns out hilarious.
Daybreak is, among other things, an antidote for those who are tired of shows like The Walking Dead taking the Zombie Apocalypse so doggone seriously.
The ZA in Daybreak, a 10-episode series, is no less lethal and a whole lot more fun.
Especially when Angelica shows up — and by the way, even though Lind is barely a teenager herself, she’s been around. She’s been appearing on The Young and the Restless since 2011 and she’s had roles in dozens of other shows, including NCIS, Revenge and 9–1–1. She’s played a young Dolly Parton twice, with no trace of inordinate affection for fire.
In Daybreak, Angelica is impetuous, very very smart and annoying in a good way — all of which neatly complements the show’s actual main character, Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford).
Josh serves as our narrator, helpfully providing us with the Twitter version of this zombie apocalypse by explaining that almost everyone over 18 was “melted into goo.”
The adults who did survive and became ghoulies lurch around town looking for living flesh on which to munch. This pretty much makes them zombies, though there are a couple of differences. They can speak, for instance, so in their aimless lurching they continually repeat the last thing they said before the bomb exploded, like maybe how they need to go to Lulu Lemon to exchange their yoga pants.
The ghoulies keep the survivors on their toes, but as in The Walking Dead, the bigger problem for the survivors is the other survivors. Who in this case are especially annoying because they are, well, teenagers.
Credit them with this: The ZA didn’t change their game plan. They’re still split up into all the familiar teenage groups — jocks, cheerleaders, nerds, techies, celebrity obsessives, etc. — only with their most obnoxious traits magnified because there’s no longer any adult social structure they need to nominally accommodate.
Six months into the ZA, Josh seems to be one of the relatively rare detached observers dealing with the situation rationally and methodically. He has stocked his apartment with food and survival supplies, including Type O blood in case he needs a transfusion.
After he gives us the short version of the ZA and roars off in a cool sportscar, Josh says life now is “like living in Grand Theft Auto, only better.”
Or not. Josh mostly gets around on a skateboard, dodging both ghoulies and all those fellow moronic teenagers who figure that since there are now no rules, it has become survival of the fittest.
There’s a Lord of the Flies element to every ZA story, of course, and in this case it takes absurd and often hilarious forms, like cheerleaders who decide to become samurai warriors and Golf Club nerds who think they can rise to power by brandishing their nine-irons.
Those aren’t Josh’s big challenge. His big challenge is finding Sam Dean (Sophie Simnett), the girl with whom he was developing his first real relationship when the bomb went off.
He knows she’s alive, because she left him a Post-it note. He just doesn’t know where, thus the quest that forces him out of his relatively comfortable apartment and into streets full of lunatics.
Against his better instincts, Josh almost accidentally acquires a posse that includes Wesley (Austin Crute), a former bully who wants to atone for his past by living a peaceful samurai life, and, yes, Angelica.
Call it a twisted Wizard of Oz kind of situation.
Fans who remember Daybreak from its first incarnation as a graphic novel, written by Brian Ralph and published in 2006, will notice significant changes for the Netflix version.
In the comic, the narrator had one arm. Josh has two. In the comic, the zombie-like adults were unnamed and never fully seen. So fans will likely debate whether Ralph’s work has been compromised, though it’s also true that The Walking Dead itself is only based on the original comic premise, not wed to its particulars.
Viewers who want a full, logical explanation of the ZA may raise other questions here. Like how many of the basic comforts of life appear more or less available despite the fact no one seems to be working or, say, maintaining infrastructure.
No matter. Daybreak would rather spend its time having fun, a good chunk of which emanates from flashbacks featuring Glendale High School principal Michael Burr (Matthew Broderick). He’s clueless in the funniest possible way.
Daybreak understands both the infuriating characteristics of teenagers and the craziness that triggers that infuriation, both before and after a zombie apocalypse.
It’ll have you at “Angelica.”