Would Simone & Rasmus Have Survived Their Five-Year Bunker Stay In The Rain?

Photo: Per Arnesen/Netflix.
Warning: The following post contains minor spoilers for Netflix's The Rain.
There are a lot of potential plot holes in The Rain. The Danish Netflix Original hinges on deadly acid rain, which wipes out almost the entire population of Denmark in one fell swoop. That alone has its issues. Like, say, if the rain is poisonous, wouldn't there be a lack of potable water? This is not the case in the show. The biggest plot hole, though, sits in the first episode. The series' protagonists, Simone (Alba August) and her brother Rasmus (Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen), spend five years in an apocalypse bunker. Yes, five years. (There's some discrepancy as to how long they spend in the bunker. Rasmus says in the beginning that it's five years. For the purposes of this story, we will stick with five.) The time passes quickly in the episode, Rasmus growing from a young child to a full-blown teenager. Somewhere in that time, Simone cuts her hair. The show cleverly hides that time from us, although it alone could be a television show. Five years! Inside a blueish bunker! Two teenagers!
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In the show, Simone and Rasmus skip out of their confines and into the real world, excited to take on things like sunlight, space, and other teenagers. In reality, though, being in a bunker for five years would be incredibly traumatic.
Dr. Deborah Serani, PsyD, a psychologist in Smithtown, NY, says that being in a confined space has drastic effects on your body chemistry. "Without the sun, our circadian rhythm, or body clock, would be impaired. And as such, our entire physiology would be chaotic. Being in darkness and confinement would create not only a depression disorder, but also interfere with sleep, wakefulness and our sense of time," she says.
Living in confinement has resounding effects on your mental state. It's not just lack of light; boredom will also seep into your chemistry. This is especially important for Rasmus, who effectively went through puberty underground.
"Monotony, boredom, and sensory deprivation shrinks brain organs and slows brain functioning," Serani says, adding, "Children and adults in solitary spaces have been known to self-injure just to have stimulation."
We know time has passed in the bunker because we see small pieces of evidence, like the plants in Apollon's sad bunker-garden. By the end of the five years, the plants are all dead, although someone scribbled a drawing of plants on the glass wall. Rasmus does pull-ups, seemingly to keep himself in shape. This is common, and important for people in confinement. Physical fitness as well as a daily routine — Simone is shown shaving her brother later in the pilot — can keep mental capacities in order. (This is a technique NASA employs to keep astronauts in tip-top form so they can, you know, land on the moon.)
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If you saw the movie Room, you might remember that Jack (Jacob Tremblay) had to wear sunglasses after he escaped the room where he grew up. This is because his eyes weren't adjusted to the light. In fact, after isolation, all of the senses are overly sensitive, not just the eyes.
"One's senses would register the change as traumatic. Sights, sounds, and smells would be overwhelming. The difference in temperatures, the openness of space as well as the taste of the air would be overwhelming," Dr. Serani adds. A 2017 study on prisoners who underwent solitary confinement found that prisoners who spent more time in solitary confinement were more likely to report signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Perhaps the most puzzling part of Simone and Rasmus' stay is that Rasmus went through puberty. Young Rasmus (played by Bertil De Lorenzi) enters the bunker; teenager Rasmus exits the bunker. It's entirely possible, given that he's not a NASA-trained scientist and neither is Simone, that Rasmus' growth might have been stunted. "Space has long been associated with good health. Small spaces are linked to underdeveloped weight, height, and mental functioning," Serani says.
Their stay is less of a plot hole, then, and maybe more of a revisionist reality. The Rain, thrilling and narratively complex, scoots past this detail in order to get on with the more interesting story: how Simone and Rasmus survive in a post-apocalyptic landscape. This kind of plot also isn't unheard of for post-apocalyptic storytelling. In The Walking Dead, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) sleeps through the end of the world in the hospital, awakening to discover a zombie-run city. It allows these shows to glaze over the rougher parts of the narrative. Watching Copenhagen dissolve post-rain would have been tedious; there's only so much tragedy I'm willing to watch on screen. And, watching Simone and Rasmus eke out their days in a bunker is its own tragic story.
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The Rain chooses instead to focus on the glitzier storyline, which involves a pack of teens roaming around an empty Denmark. Simone and Rasmus join forces with Martin (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) and head out to find answers. With so many teenagers to watch, why would we pay attention to Rasmus' stunted puberty? After all, his post-pubescence later becomes integral to the romantic narratives of the show.
Would Simone and Rasmus have survived five years in a bunker? Maybe, but not without radical effects, considering their ages. The Rain is best if you do your own revisionist viewing — poof! Simone and Rasmus magically survived five years underground.
Now, about the potable water situation. Also, is anyone showering?
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