Apple TV+ has four new series premiering as part of the streaming service's debut, each set in a different era. The Morning Show takes place in modern day. For All Mankind is also recent, but in a different timeline where America lost the space race. Dickinson is set in the 1800s, during the years of Emily Dickinson's life. Then there's See, which is a science fiction show set far in the future. So when does See take place, exactly? It's hard to tell. Warning: Spoilers for See follow.
When See first opens, it sets the stage with a series of placards explaining what has happened. In the early-to-mid 21st century, a virus was let loose on the human population. This disease was swift and fatal, with billions dropping dead in a very short span. Those who managed to survive the virus were rendered blind. The population of the Earth was cut down to about two million from the current 7.7 billion alive today.
All the series then says is "hundreds of years later," the story begins.
But how many hundreds of years? Can viewers pinpoint where on the gregorian calendar they are? Because even though it's supposedly been several generations since this cataclysmic event, there are things still hanging around that make no sense.
When it comes to the Alkenny tribe, it is believable the Earth has been recovering from human activity for at least a century or two, with vast forests, and crumbling concrete bridges reclaimed by vines. Their tribe in the pacific northwest has not had a sighted person in it for generation, as far as they know. They have folk tales and stories past down via the oral tradition, all of which talk about how terrible Vision is and how it was a curse on the land. They've redeveloped the quipu, as a form of written Braille-esque communication. (The quipu was a method used by the Incas to communicate in the absence of the written word.) The only sign of modern life ever existing are old crumpled, plastic bottles, which have not disintegrated, and won't for several billion years.
But then there's Queen Kane's house. She rules from an ancient dam, which had been crumbling for quite some time. And yet, there's still working electricity. She has a record player, hooked up to a receiver and speakers. She's listening to Lou Reed's 1972 album Transformer.
Her people are worried. The dam is failing, and the electricity is faltering, suggesting that time is taking its toll. But still, were centuries on, and hipsters are still jamming to Lou Reed?
And then there are the books Jerlamarel sends to his children to teach them to read. Inside the box are cheap paperback copies of high school classics that look like they were published circa 1990. For cheap 250-year-old paperbacks, they are in shockingly pristine condition. They barely look like they're 100 years old.
These clues suggest something doesn't add up. How many years has it been? With only oral traditions and summers to count, no one knows for sure. But See may be closer to our time than it is letting on.