To the Lake Epidemia

To the Lake / Эпидемия

Published: January 29, 2021

To the Lake is currently a big hit series on Netflix. It has been released in other areas as The Outbreak. Released originally under the Russian title Эпидемия (Epidemia), this thriller television series follows a group of people in Moscow as the city descends into anarchy with the rapid spread of a deadly virus. The disease is at first seen as similar to the common cold – except that it also affects the individual’s eyes, discoloring them to a ghastly red. Further, three or four days after contracting the virus, most individuals die.

The show centers around a complicated Moscow family. Kirill Karo stars as Sergey, a man recently divorced and now re-married. Viktoriya Isakova plays the role of Anna, Sergey’s new wife, and Maryana Spivak plays his ex-wife Irina. Sergey has two children, his son Anton played by Saveliy Kudryashov, and his step-son Misha played by Eldar Kalimulin. Lastly, Sergey’s father, Boris, played by Yuri Kuznetsov, also joins the group as does Sergey’s neighbor Lyonya, his wife Marina, and his daughter Polina.

Below, you can find a trailer for To the Lake, a synopsis of the plot of the first episode, and an analysis of the series. On Netflix, it is available in Russian with English subtitles.

Plot Synopsis for the Pilot of To the Lake

The series premier begins with a ghastly seen of an infected individual running through snow in a zombie-like state. He coughs up blood with every step his eyes are blood-red. This however, is a dream. Anna wakes up at her dacha outside of Moscow, beside her husband Sergey. She does not realize her dream is not a dream, but a sort of premonition.

Sergey goes to Moscow for a visitation with his young son Anton from his first marriage. Irina chastises Sergey for pushing young Anton on his swing, and she angrily announces it is time for Anton to go, coming up with every excuse to not allow Sergey to see him for much time at all. Even her mother sympathizes with Sergey, realizing the impossible position Irina has put him in. Irina tells young Anton that Sergey has a new family now and has to go to them. It appears Sergey left Irina for his current wife Anna and Irina is still furious and hurt about this. While Irina and Sergey are arguing, they do not see what is going on not far behind them in the park. A man has collapsed there. There is no color in his eyes, and he is coughing up blood. Irina’s mother goes to comfort him and ask passersby to call a doctor.

In the next scene, Lyonya arrives at a detox clinic to pick up his troubled teenage daughter. It appears the center has not helped her. As she is being checked out, she floods the restroom before setting it on fire. Lyonya and Polina then head back to their home. During the car ride, it seems Polina could have anything she ever wanted with her rich father and it is not clear why she is rebelling.

On the drive, Lyonya nearly hits an elderly woman, who we see is Irina’s mother. The color in her eyes is gone. Now, we know how quickly this virus spreads. Within the same day, Irina’s mother has contracted the virus, and now displaying symptoms, and is walking around Moscow aimlessly.

Lyonya arrives home, spots Sergey and his step-son Misha, who is obviously highly intelligent but socially impaired, as they are flying drones. Lyonya invites Sergey and his family to dinner. Outside of the conversation, Misha stares at Polina waiting in the car, obviously infatuated with her.

The next scene is the dinner table at Lyonya’s home. Many things are revealed here. Firstly, Sergey met Anna in the psychologist’s office where he was treated for severe depression. She was there for her son Misha, who was being given therapy there for Asperger’s syndrome. Lyonya, meanwhile, met his wife Marina at a strip club where she worked. The entirety of conversation at the dinner table is abrupt, often rude on Lyonya’s part, and awkward. Misha abruptly leaves the dinner table as Polina is rubbing his leg below the table. Polina is sent her to room. However, Misha then uses his drone to watch her through her bedroom window. She realizes this, and strips for the drone, enticing Misha. Meanwhile, Anna has grown tired of Lyonya’s rude conversation, and ends the dinner by yelling at him, telling him essentially how she is tired of rich people who think they can do or say whatever they please.

Sergey and Anna return to their home. They witness a news broadcast with a doctor describing the symptoms. The reporter interviewing him interjects that the virus is under control, and less than 200 people have been infected. The doctor proclaims this is nonsense and over 2,000 in Moscow have been registered as having the virus. The news broadcast cuts out. It appears censorship is taking place.

The next day Irina is at work. People are wearing face masks, and seem to be social distancing. She goes to the bathroom, and finds an infected individual in the stall, and leaves in a hurry to pick up Anton from school. Parents are not being allowed into the school to pick up their children. Military vehicles are quarantining the school, because there is an infected child inside. Military men are shown entering a classroom, with a little girl cowering in the corner, showing symptoms. They blast her with some sort of white substance that covers her entire body before taking her to a truck. She is not allowed to be seen by her father.

People are now taking the virus seriously, and are trying to flee. However, all airports and roads are closed. Sergey’s father shows up at his house in the middle of the night. Boris says that they are crazy for still being at home, and that they must rest, and leave in the morning.

Sergey, instead of waiting, goes to get Irina and his son. He bribes a military man to allow him to hide in a food truck going into Moscow. At the same time, Irina’s mom shows up at her apartment, and she realizes she is infected. Irina, sobbing, refuses to let her in. Her mother is not seen again.

While Sergey is in Moscow, trouble is brewing at his home. A military truck arrives at Lyonya’s house. He agrees to let them in to check that his family is not infected. However, the men inside are really criminals using the situation to their advantage. As one loots, the other physically attacks the family. Lyonya and Marina nearly don’t make it, until Polina kills the man. While this is happening, the other man has already targeted Sergey’s house next. Boris is not falling for it. He and the looters exchange gunfire and they eventually flee. Misha has run over to Lyonya’s house, to check if Polina is okay. Now the two families have joined together, in hopes of surviving.

Sergey takes his family from Moscow, but realizes the truck he came in has been looted. They are attacked, narrowly escape, and then go to Sergey’s dacha. The group decides to flee.


Analysis of To the Lake

To the Lake has been without a doubt very successful. Of course, with COVID-19 impacting every part of our world, many are more inclined to find an epidemic show intriguing to watch. While COVID-19 is not as apocalyptical as the show may seem, it is possible the show raises questions from the audience. What if this happened in my city? What if COVID-19 was worse? Could we survive a situation like this? The show does not answer these questions, but is entertainment that can cause us to think in our current situation.

There was also some controversy about the series which took place in Russia. Shortly after release, episode 5 was abruptly taken off of Premier, a Russian streaming platform that debuted the show. The company claimed this was simply because they were splitting the season into two halves. However, the episode showed men in military dress executing people suspected of being infected. Many felt that this was likely censorship. Russia’s Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, has denied the government pressed for, censorship however. Episode six, when it was released, clarified that the executioners were, like the men who invaded Lyova’s home, actually criminals impersonating the military.

Users on IMDb, gave the series a 7.3 out of 10 star rating. The series’ Rotten Tomatoes score is 100%, with an audience score of 84%. To the Lake has also won numerous awards. At the APKiT Awards in 2020, the series won Best Film Editing, Best Makeup, Best Cinematographer, Best Actress in a TV Movie/Series, and Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Series. This show is nothing but well-deserving of these ratings, as the cast and crew have done an amazing job of making it an international hit.

The series To the Lake was originally released Premier on 14 November, 2019. After Netflix obtained the series for $1.5 million, it was internationally released on 8 October, 2020. There is currently only one season with eight episodes, produced by 1-2-3 Production, and directed by Pavel Kostomarov, a very well-known Russian film director. To the Lake is available on Netflix, with English subtitles. Season 2 is projected to be released in late 2022.

It is available on Netflix in Russian with English subtitles.

About the author

Rachel Rodriguez

Rachel Rodriguez is a third-year student at the University of South Carolina, double majoring in Russian and Criminal Justice. She is also currently pursuing part of her Masters Degree in Criminal Justice. Rachel aspires to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, applying her translation skills for English, Spanish, and Russian. She will soon be studying other countries’ criminal justice systems in London with UofSC. In her free time, she loves to travel and explore the outdoors.

Program attended: Online Internships

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