The First Five Episodes of “The First of Us”

Scenes from this gripping one-hour drama about survival and human endurance focus on two lone people who must struggle with being the first to arrive at a party.

Set in the plausible post-pandemic world of an apartment housewarming, the show follows the hardened Mitch and the spirited Ellen, who arrive before the other guests despite taking the local train and also stopping at a bodega for a Snapple and some aspirin.

Episode 1

Ellen and Mitch must sneak and fight their way across the wilds of a Brooklyn living room.

“When is everyone coming?” Ellen whispers to Mitch. Ellen furtively checks the Paperless Post invite to no avail while Mitch acts like everything is normal, helping to synch up a troublesome Bluetooth speaker. A tense standoff with a randomly generated Wi-Fi password ensues.

Using echolocation, the hosts descend on their guests, trying to infect them with boring chitchat. Ellen and Mitch are coerced into sharing their opinions on the Tom-and-Raquel “Vanderpump Rules” saga, declaring themselves Team Ariana even though they have watched only half an episode, as they are more interested in surviving than in dying for a cause.

Episode 2

Mitch realizes that he has drunk too much seltzer and now has to use the apartment’s only bathroom, which is so close to the living room that his pee stream is fully audible. He tries to pee quietly—in small spurts—but that makes a weird sound, too. In a moment of desperation, he goes full Niagara Falls, aware that, at any moment, the predatory hosts could snap their heads toward the sound.

Episode 3

A snapshot of the world that was: Ellen listens to a podcast while making soup; Mitch plays a video game; both ignore a faint but ominous sound. Night falls and the sound grows louder and more frequent. Reality sets in—Ellen and Mitch pick up their phones and realize the horror that is to come. There is to be a housewarming. They are in a group text.

Episode 4

Ellen and Mitch are forced into a deadly game called Bananagrams. The hosts test Ellen and Mitch’s will to survive and to withstand twisted wordplay traps. Ellen and Mitch must subsist on a ration of lettered tiles. “Peel!” the host commands, and they may take another tile. “Dump!” and they must put one back. “Bananas!” Mitch cries out, hoping that the game will come to an end. But, after examining his words, the hosts shout, in unison, “Rotten bananas!” The words must be spelled correctly or the savage game will continue.

Episode 5

In the midseason finale, Ellen and Mitch head inland, toward the shelter of the seemingly unoccupied territory of the drinks station, only to be faced with a fresh threat from the host—“Can you open this wine for me?”

“Whatever you do,” Mitch whispers to himself, “don’t push the cork in . . .” ♦

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