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Series / The Last Train

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The Last Train, known as Cruel Earth in Canada, is a six part drama made in 1999 about a diverse group of people struggling to adapt to life in post-apocalyptic Britain after having been accidentally frozen for an indeterminate period of time.

Provides examples of:

  • Adventure Towns: The overall plot involves the survivors journeying to find Ark, a place of safety. At least once an episode they make a pit stop or find someplace to settle down only for something to go wrong.
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  • After the End: The main cast awaken to find one of these having slept through the apocalypse.
  • Anyone Can Die: In the opening episode a couple of unnamed background characters die whilst the main cast remain remarkably lucky but then about halfway through the series one of our main cast gets killed off and during the last episode it looks like two others might have joined her. Reference to their survival is so vague that some viewers thought they had died.
  • Apocalypse How: The series is set in Britain which seems to have undergone a societal collapse and possible species extinction following a meteor strike. Presumably, the rest of the world was affected in a similar way but its never confirmed.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: All the survivors that the group come across take this view mostly because following the apocalypse there seems to have been fertility problems amongst the remaining population with miscarriages and stillborns being the norm.
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  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: This kinda happens with Jandra who, as she lies dying, flashes back to the birth of her son Leo. It almost happens at the ned where Hild going into labour occurs just as Mick and Austin appear to be dying.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Thouroughly averted as the first to die is a white male in a suit and the only black guy in the group not only survives but becomes the unofficial leader of the group.
  • Bury Your Gays: The only LGBT character mentioned is Jean's son who never makes an appearance having died off screen. But its clear from the conversation where he is mentioned that Jean was very proud and accepting of him and had been looking forward to meeting his new boyfriend.
  • Chased By Natives: The group spend a lot of time being chased by another group of survivors who appear to have regressed into a more primitive and savage society.
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  • Comforting the Widow: Occurs a lot in this series. Its more understandable for Jandra who was actively fleeing her abusive husband when she boarded the train in the opening scene but Ian was on his way to the hospital where his wife was giving birth and had a very hard time coming to terms with the death of both during the first couple episodes. Then you have Mick who found out the painful way that his girlfriend and best mate had committed suicide in the back of his van but has no problem moving on and hooking up with Roe.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Its slowly revealed that Jandra was fleeing an abusive husband. Made more painful by her children's genuine love for their father and Leo being in denial about the abusive nature of his parents relationship accusing his mother of abandoning their father to die in the meteor strike.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The meteor strike causes widespread devastation and death and whilst isolated groups manage to survive by hiding underground or as human popsicles it seems that their descendants suffer from fertility problems and severe difficulty in carrying a child to term. As a result humans as a species are slowly dying.
  • Determinator: Harriet who starts off obsessed with reaching the military base where her boyfriend was supposed to wait for her then later becomes obsessed in finding Ark the underground research facility where all the human popsicles where stored.
  • Framing Device: Each episode begins and ends with voice over of Anita writing in her diary except for the last episode where she has been carried off by Hild people so Leo provides the voice-over/diary entry in her place.
  • Human Popsicle: The only reason our main cast survive the apocalyptic meteor strike is because Harriet panics and turns them into a bunch of accidental human popsicles. They spend most of the series searching for Ark the place of safety where the nations top scientists where stored as human popsicles.
  • Killed Off for Real: Happens to one of the main cast half way through the series.
  • Karma Houdini: Colin is this. At first he is merely a coward who contributes nothing of value to the group and has no problem telling lies to gain sympathy and make himself appear more likeable. But as the series goes on he engages in more reprehensible stuff like attempted sexual assault and cowardly leaving others to die out of jealousy yet never suffers any comeuppance for his actions.
  • The Last Title: The title of the series.
  • Pregnant Hostage: Hild kinda inflicts this upon herself. When her own people threaten the main cast with guns she makes herself and her humongous bump into a human shield for them and later leaves with them of her own accord. Her people react as though she has been kidnapped.
  • Team Mom: Austin counts as this as he is always the voice of reason and attempting to quell the frequent arguments that erupt between Ian, Harriet and Mick as well as providing a spot of paternal advice to Leo.
  • Token Romance: The romance that develops between Mick and Roe is this. They could have just remained good friends and the plot would not have changed at all. Its also a case of comforting the widow when you consider that Mick lost his girlfriend in the meteor strike.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: This is Harriet in spades. Most of her dialogue is trying to encourage and persuade the others to join her in finding Ark and whenever the group look to have found someplace safe to settle down she sabotages it. Like poisoning the water supply at the abandoned farm cottage or pushing the cart with all their gear and supplies off a cliff because their almost at Ark and its slowing them down.
  • Wham Shot: Thinking they've been asleep a few months, the train passengers hit the road to find survivors. As they leave a ruined town, the camera zooms in on a faded grave with the year of death marked 2012...and as the train crashed in 1999, this means they've been frozen for decades.

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