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Rooster Teeth’s Day 5 (episode 1) review: Time to get serious

For most of its history, Rooster Teeth has specialized in producing comedic web based content. From Red vs. Blue to Lazer Team, they are known for making videos that are intended to make you laugh, with just a little bit of story on the side. However, the most astute fans of Rooster Teeth may have noticed that some of their flagship web series have taken a darker tone lately. With Day 5, Rooster Teeth’s latest live action web series, it appears as though this subtle shift in mood has culminated in their most intriguing project to date.

From a narrative standpoint, Day 5 is entirely different from the usual sort of wacky stories that Rooster Teeth’s audience may be familiar with. Like most post-apocalyptic stories, Day 5 starts off with a global event that causes the majority of the human race to die. Unlike most post-apocalyptic stories, the cause of this extinction level event isn’t global nuclear warfare or aliens or zombies, but rather the innate need for the human body to sleep. All around the world, people are dying in their sleep, leaving the handful of survivors in a precarious situation where they must stave off sleep for as long as possible through whatever means necessary.

day5_JesseBoyd and WalkerSatterwhite
Fun fact: they are actually under less stress than most college students

As such, there are no laughs in Day 5. This is not a story where a group of the most inept soldiers in the galaxy stumble around secret bases and corporate conspiracies, this is a story where death is very real, and it is coming for all of the characters one way or another. The very first episode of Day 5 makes this clear as drug addict Jake, unnaturally smart teenager Sam, and a handful of other survivors come to terms with the fact that being deprived of sleep and relying upon all kinds of drugs and stimulants to stay awake for even a day causes the human body and mind to break.

Of course, this means that Day 5’s most notable feature isn’t going to be its CGI or action sequences, but rather how the characters interact with each other and their own need for sleep. Within the first 10 minutes of episode one, you get a sense of how much stress the characters are under, how they cope with to it, and how it tests the maxim of staying together to survive when everyone is dealing with the fact that they can quite literally die in the blink of an eye. Ultimately, even though most of the characters fall into the usual categories of being smart, serious, or witty, they are largely well played due in no small part to the bursts of swinging emotions that typically arise from sleep deprivation.

Remember kids, don't do drugs (unless people are dying from going to sleep)
Remember kids, don’t do drugs (unless people are dying from going to sleep)

Unfortunately, the nature of Day 5 as a web series does mean that some characters (most notably Sam) have no choice but to stretch the imagination a bit during a few scenes (especially given their background and the situation that they find themselves in). After all, most people are probably aware of how you can’t think as clearly or how much slower one reacts when they don’t get enough sleep, and yet some of Day 5’s characters apparently ignore this and can function somewhat normally to the point that it seems more like they are merely inconvenienced by the apocalypse.

Although Day 5 has none of the humor that is commonly associated with Rooster Teeth, it is a fascinating change of pace from your usual tales of apocalyptic doom and gloom. There may not be any zombies or international warfare, but that is completely fine because Day 5 is more of a story that revolves around the characters and their battle against time and nature itself. At the very least, it presents an interesting question: when you have to fight your own body to survive, what are you willing to do?

Day 5 episode 1 will be available on June 19, 2016 on Rooster Teeth, YouTube, and Facebook. Subsequent episodes will be available for Rooster Teeth sponsors weekly. You can sign up for a free 30 day Rooster Teeth sponsorship trial here.  

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