The series initially premiered in January 2019 on Rooster Teeth FIRST with the final episode of the season airing Mar 9, 2019. It also received a second airing on Toonami later that year. The voice cast for the series includes Michael B. Jordan, Dakota Fanning, David Tennant and Maisie Williams among many other great actors. gen:LOCK follows a group of specially selected people who have their minds uploaded to giant mechanical robots in order to fight a war where the enemy is in possession of technology which kills organic life. By having their bodies far away from the machines, or Holons, the team is able to effectively beat back The Union and stand a chance against them.
The group, led by Dr. Weller (David Tennant), the great mind behind the gen:LOCK program, repeatedly ran into The Union’s answer to the gen:LOCK program, a machine they call Nemesis. Over the course of the season we find out who and what Nemesis really is, all connecting to the first successful gen:LOCK recruit, Julian Chase (Michael B. Jordan).
Chase fought in the battle of New York City alongside his girlfriend Miranda (Dakota Fanning) as a part of the Vanguard, a military defense agency for The Polity led by Colonel Raquel Marin (Monica Rial). In order to protect the rest of the Vanguard and The Polity, Chase sacrificed himself in a grand act, allowing fellow Vanguard including Miranda to escape with their lives. Years pass and The Union has pushed the Vanguard back, taking control over a large portion of the continent.
We come to learn that Chase’s body was recovered from the wreckage, and his impaired body was able to be put in a pod, kept alive. He was tested for the gen:LOCK program and was seen as a perfect candidate. The program allowed his mind to exit his crippled body and become a weapon to help try to turn the tide of the war.
When this is revealed to the rest of his fellow former teammates and Miranda, everyone is shocked and unsure how to process the news. They already had to grieve and find a way to move on with their lives. Now that the program is out in the open, they brought in new recruits to train and prepare for the upload to their potential Holons. We find out that one of the recruits brought in is actually an imposter, who makes his way to the program, only to fail to upload due to him not being compatible, leading to his death.
Once the rest of the team agrees to upload and join the program, they quickly have to train to be able to be useful in the fight against The Union. Upgrades are made to their Holons armor and Dr. Weller does his best to get the team as prepared as they can be. Chase acts as a de facto leader at times due to his experience in the program but the team all find ways to be the most useful to the rest of the team and the Vanguard on their missions.
When we last left the team, after suffering losses, they successfully completed a game changing mission by taking out Nemesis. The team was able to truly come together as one in their mind share.
In a heroic twist, Leon (Gray Haddock) was able to successfully upload to the empty Holon due to the death of the fake Sinclair (Blaine Gibson) and having an extra on hand. In the battle, he suffered a lot of damage and following his download, was placed in a coma. Earlier in the season it was revealed he technically qualified for the program but was disqualified due to being above the age requirement. This likely led to the complications he faces.
With Dr. After Weller’s death following the attack at the Anvil, it may be tougher for them to find a way to heal him. Hopefully with the team moving their headquarters to RTASA where Weller’s ex wife Dr. Jha (Anisha Nagarajan) works, they can figure something out. Plus, in Weller’s place they have Migas (Miles Luna) as the chief engineer for the gen:LOCK team and will also act as a liaison for the Vanguard. There will be many changes afoot for the new season.
Cammie (Maisie Williams) has shown she’s exceptionally talented with the upgrades she provided for the team, I’m sure we’ll be seeing her helping Migas and RTASA with the technicalities of the Holons in Weller’s absence.
The mind share that occur throughout the season show how the team was able to bond in instances. The connection between the group only grows stronger despite the setbacks the team endures. We see how the team goes from being very independent and stuck in their own ways to opening up. Yaz (Golshifteh Farahani) starts off very tense and by the book but finds ways to open up, especially with Chase, as they’ve spent the most time together at the onset. Even Kazu (Kōichi Yamadera) is very tense at points, not feeling completely like a team member only to come around to it, especially after his mind share with Val (Asia Kate Dillon).
Val has chemistry with everyone, let’s be honest. Their ability to cut through everyone’s feelings and emotions and get them to mind share at some point in the heat of battle is impressive. They really brought the team out of their shell. Especially with their causal openness in every way with who they are. The mind share itself appears to be an intimate connection, but having Val be a part of every one of them made the chemistry even stronger.
Miranda really struggled with the reality of Chase’s return and where the two of them stand with all of the changes to their lives. During the final battle with Nemesis, I loved when she popped out of her Strider to confront Nemesis, long enough to catch him off guard as his memories of her are still with him. Going forward, without Chase’s physical body, will they attempt to rekindle what they once had or has that time run out. It seems Miranda and Jodie (Chad James) had something going on before Chase’s arrival too.
One of my favorite parts of the series has to be the opening titles. From the animation to the music, it completely sets the tone for the series. It unmistakably sets the stage for the larger than life Holons, the struggles and battles they must endure, and shows off the personalities of each of the characters, even in the short seconds we see them. Battle Tape’s “Belgrade” is a perfect catchy and purposeful song choice. It feels futuristic, has a driving beat and feels especially grand (and has been on repeat as I write this).
If the series takes a cue from fellow Rooster Teeth series RWBY, the intro will likely change in the new season. If it does I can’t wait to see how it goes and if it sets the tone for the new season also.
One thing I’m hoping the series touches on is the fact that we caught a glimpse of Julian’s sister Dri (G.K. Bowes) in the Ether when the team was taking time off before the Ether power station was attacked, taking them offline. We saw her previously in the Ether in the first episode where she was performing. We were made to believe that his mother and sister were dead, but her appearance in the Ether says otherwise, at least for Dri. When we last saw Roberta (Shari Belafonte) when New York was attacked, she was moving through their apartment with purpose. Maybe she had some sort of escape plan in place for her and her daughter. Hopefully season two can give more insight into this lingering mystery!
Another mystery left hanging at the last second of the first season was the reveal that the real Sinclair is still alive and is impersonating a Union soldier. He looked bruised and beaten but determined to make it to some unseen location. When we first met the fake Sinclair, he was confirmed to be compatible with the gen:LOCK program. Is he going after The Union for impersonating him? Was he taken by The Union when the switch happened? It’ll be very interesting to see where his intentions and loyalties lie.
One of the biggest questions I hope will be answered is what are the motivations behind The Union. Their backstory as to why they are at war with The Polity and the Vanguard isn’t extremely clear right now. The new synopsis for the season states “In this new season, a war leaves behind only a handful of highly skilled soldiers fighting for the future of humanity as a deteriorating Earth, due to an unstoppable climate collapse, has two distinct visions for the future of the human race: The Polity and the Union.” This gives a bit more insight so hopefully more will be revealed.
I’m really excited to see the team move forward in the new season. They’ve reached a connection that will come in handy in future battles. The trailer for the new season makes it seem as if their time together might be coming to an end due to the technology advancing, leaving them outdated. Their experience and talents should come in handy and keep them relevant to the Vanguard hopefully!
The entire voice cast from the first season is set to return following a long hiatus between seasons. The new season will pick up with the team facing off against multiple Nemesis following the destruction of the original Nemesis, the original version of Chase which was captured and manipulated by The Union.
Our first look at the new season earlier this summer shows that The Union’s replicate infinite Nemesii are out there and they are sending them after the gen:LOCK team in an unending stream. The team continues to fight against overwhelming odds and continue to persist in the face of fear and hopelessness in this harsh war.
This endless torurte for Chase having to kill more and more copies of himself has to take a toll on his psyche especially with his physical body now gone. He’s continued to sacrifice so much of himself for the greater good to ensure the survival of his friends and those he fights for.
The team is probably the strongest it’s been now knowing they can take down Nemesis or multiple ones at a time. It seems The Union has pushed them back to the final holdout in the war in Los Angeles. Will the strain and length of the war create issues between them all? Will RTASA try to expand the gen:LOCK program allowing for more Holons to fight in the war as hinted in the trailer?