On one of those bored days off at home, where I had not a chore, an assignment or a social engagement in sight, what better way could I spend my time than binging an entire season of a brand new Netflix series?

Wildly popular “Stranger Things” and the controversial “13 Reasons Why” have sparked commotion among TV-lovers, and I wanted to see if “The Hollow,” a hot-off-the-press Netflix original, had the same sizzle. I’m a sucker for animation, so I figured I’d settle in for the first episode and give it a shot.

It took a few minutes to admit it had stirred my curiosity. Once I did, I couldn’t stop. Every episode, something new drew me in, keeping the drama and action rolling. The next thing I knew, only one episode remained, and I couldn’t keep from shouting advice to the characters onscreen. Here are all the reasons I binged the entire first season of “The Hollow” in just one day.

1. Puzzles and Mystery

The series opens when the three main characters wake up in a cement block room with no doors or windows and with no memory of who they are or how or why they got dumped there. They each find a piece of paper in their pocket with their names on it — the only clue that teens Adam, Mira and Kai have to their identities.

The Hollow
Ashleigh Ball, Connor Parnall and Adrian Petriw voice the three main characters, Mira, Kai and Adam, respectively. (Image via Collider)

The room has an air duct, which seems like an obvious method of escape, but the vent is still too high to reach, even when they stand on one another’s shoulders. They find only one other object in the room: an old typewriter that makes the blocks in the wall pop out like a widely spaced ladder if they hit the right keys.

Once they solve the puzzle, ominous green gas seeps into the room, leaving them little time to pull themselves up each block to safety. The chances of escape look slim until Adam discovers that he has miraculous powers of strength and agility, which he uses to help the others climb before they dash through the vent with the gas at their heels.

The questions raised in the first minute lead to tension among characters who, forced to work together, immediately face a leadership dispute. The tension, along with the fact that the heroes don’t even know themselves, immediately creates room for character growth and bonding.

Timed perfectly, the fast pacing of the story and the delivery of the clues made it easy to stay focused and interested, and near impossible to break away. By this point I had to see how the mystery unfolded, but it just kept growing from there.

2. Versatile Settings

How do ancient cities, defunct amusement parks and UFO graveyards fit together? With only their exotic nature as the common denominator among them, these otherworldly places turn the heroes’ heads around as they travel through tall forests, blistering deserts and bitterly cold tundra.

An apparently blank map boosts the anticipation of arriving in each new setting. As the characters move from one place to another, the map fills itself out to reveal locations they’ve already visited.

All the uncharted territory leaves them wondering what dangerous new environment they’ll encounter next, because each holds its own challenges that they must adapt to as they struggle to achieve their goal: to get home.

They might face madness in the desert heat, hungry monsters in the woods or an impossibly high climb up a chain to a floating temple.

Knowing that an interesting new setting would come up in the next episode kept me hooked, too — only so many different biomes exist, and I worried that after a while the show would run out of ideas and start repeating until I’d been bored to tears — but no.

Each new place progressed the plot, never turning back to an old one unless necessary. It makes sense; after all, the answer to their quest could reside in any unchecked portion of the map. Why double back to where they know they won’t solve the mystery?

3. Oddly Loveable Villains

Wherever they go, the team finds people who will hurt them if they make a wrong move. Many of these figures relate to classic mythology: a minotaur in a labyrinth, a cyclops, a dragon. But even more enemies simply require the trio’s help to solve a problem, which the heroes reluctantly agree to in exchange for aid in getting home.

The unlikely partnerships turn heroes-versus-villains into heroes helping friends — at least when they’re dealing with those who seem to come from this foreign world.

Adam, Mira and Kai run into another group of teens who want to get home, too. They claim to have faced the same challenges as the heroes, and throughout the season the heroes doubt their honesty and motives, especially because they seem to know more about where they come from but won’t share the information.

Along the same vein, a brash, flamboyantly dressed purple man appears at the heroes’ call to “help” them. He helps in a way that typically veers them out of immediate danger, but off course from their goal.

The man acts like a god in the strange world, interacting with everyone like he knows them well. His endless fount of knowledge about the heroes’ situation comes out in sporadic bursts of hints, which gives them tiny crumbs of information to fill an enormous blank space.

“The Hollow” craftily built my desire to see these antagonists again because they offer part of what the heroes need. They also have bizarre personalities, such as the hospitable grim reaper who desperately wants his sick horse to live, which makes them likeable and exciting even as they create conflict.

While the mystery, shifting settings and quirky villains kept me watching hour after hour, plenty more intriguing qualities made “The Hollow” a great find. Its racially diverse characters, superpowered heroes and growth among characters had me eager for more.

And the ending — oh, that ending.

It answered so many questions raised throughout the season, but it also posed brand new mysteries before closing. My best guess: The characters will switch from animation to live action throughout the series, which would be a bold move for any TV show. I hope it does, because it looks like “The Hollow” has high enough quality to excel in both.

But until Netflix releases Season 2, I’ll just have to theorize what might happen next.

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Natalie Hoover

Point Loma Nazarene University

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