From the mind of Dan Brown comes the story of an early Robert Langdon as he follows the symbols through a high stakes mystery in Peacock’s The Lost Symbol. Developed for TV by Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie (Criminal Minds, Revenge), this is the first of Dan Brown’s properties to be adapted for the small screen.
Originally intended to be the third of the Tom Hanks-led films, following The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons, the project was scrapped in favour of Inferno, and it was announced in 2019 that The Lost Symbol would instead be made for Television and adapted as a prequel to the films.
The series features Symbologist Robert Langdon (Ashley Zukerman — Fear Street, Succession) as he is drawn into a series of symbol-based puzzles to find his way to his kidnapped mentor, Peter Solomon (Eddie Izzard – Ocean’s Thirteen, Mystery Men) and is being sought out by a CIA task force to uncover an even larger mystery.
The show follows the same beats as the films do, starting with a mysterious discovery leading to Langdon’s inclusion, thanks to his knowledge of symbols. He then, with some help (in this case, A Museum Security Guard, a CIA Agent and his mentor’s daughter), follows the clues and finds himself in some precarious situations, leading to an interesting enemy.
Let’s get one thing out of the way early. Nobody can replace Tom Hanks. Any attempt to do so would be foolish. That is why I think the decision to make this a prequel series combined with Zukerman making no attempt to ape Hanks’ Langdon was wise. Fans of the films will have to make that adjustment, but shouldn’t need to worry about judging this show based on the movies.
“The pilot episode of The Lost Symbol does something that a Dan Brown Novel does very well, confuses you in the beginning.”
The pilot episode of The Lost Symbol does something that a Dan Brown Novel does very well, confuses you in the beginning. A number of drastic scene changes and meeting new characters with no explanation has you saying “what is going on here” in a good way. Count on the show to gradually put the pieces together, so it all makes sense in the end (in as much as a clandestine Masonic mystery can make sense to you).
An interesting thing about a Dan Brown Novel as a TV show is that it paces wonderfully for TV. As each episode progresses, you are inevitably introduced to a new mysterious character, watch as Langdon and his cohorts unlock the next piece of the puzzle and get a revelation or two to help remove the fog from the story.
The performances in the series are good overall, Ashley Zukerman‘s take on Robert Langdon leans a lot more towards the character traits in the book, some of which are only mentioned in a brief moment in the movies. His chemistry with Valorie Curry (Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Blair Witch) lends to their backstory together; playful and a bit romantic despite the serious circumstances they are in.
Eddie Izzard puts on a stellar one-person performance in the more psychological part of the show, most of which finding her in isolation from the rest of the cast. Sumalee Montano (Star Wars: Resistance) plays a prototypical CIA agent well, with enough intrigue to make you wonder what she has up her sleeve.
My sleeper VIP of the show, though, is Rick Gonzalez (Old School, Coach Carter, Arrow), who I tend to love in everything he does. His role as the initially unwitting sidekick adds a humanity to the show that is difficult for other characters to pull off due to the situations they are in or simply the types of roles that they are playing. Gonzalez’s character, Nunez, is where you have to go for relatability.
Rounding out the cast Is Beau Knapp as the intensely creepy Mal’akh, a menacing presence covered head to toe with body modification, Raoul Bhaneja as the man known as The Janitor (not in that background actor sort of way) and Keenan Jolliff as the black sheep son of the kidnapped, Zachary Solomon.
The show’s biggest success is how they feed you just enough information to get you excited for the next episode. Having only been given access to the first three episodes to screen, I can tell you that the last moments of the third episode have me needing to see what happens next.
They use enough music cues and make enough stylistic choices in the production of the show to remind you that you are in a familiar world. One specific scene takes music right from the end of The DaVinci Code that, while subtle at first, instantly transports you there, so you don’t need constant reminders in the dialogue that this world isn’t new to you.
The Lost Symbol is available on Peacock in the US and premieres on Showcase in Canada On October 11 at 9pm ET.