A few times during Season 1 of The Society, it feels like the show is literally hitting you over the head with symbolism. None is more so apparent than by the writing on the wall, which is actually writing on the wall. During the very opening moments of the show, Grizz happens to notice writing on the wall in an early episode of The Society, literally because it’s graffiti, but it’s a hidden message and theme that runs through the first 10 episodes.
Whether you knew immediately what “mene mene tekel upharsin” means, like Grizz, or are confused about it, like all of Grizz’s friends, there's actually a lot that you need to know about the saying.
Just before the kids head off for their ill-fated and short-lived camping trip, Grizz happens to notice that “mene mene tekel upharsin” is written on the side of the wall. His friends don’t pay much attention to it and comment that just like anything not perfect in the town of West Ham, it’ll soon be scrubbed away. Later (after the “incident” and the kids realize that they’re completely all alone in the town) the graffitti is apparently gone. Was it washed away, or is it just not on the wall of the church in West/New Ham? That’s still a big lingering question.
As Grizz explains the first time he sees it, this graffiti is the “writing on the wall” from the Book of Daniel. He translates it for everyone: “you’ve been weighed in the balance and found wanting.” That’s the beginning and end of the conversation about the graffiti, as Boy #2 of Grizz’s group jokes that someone probably got high the night before and scribbled it.
But that’s not the only time the saying appears in the show. In the last episode of the season, as Allie and Will are tied up, she brings it up. Just before Grizz goes off on his expedition to find new land, he tells Allie that he’s been seeing some “signs,” and the writing on the wall is one of them. Allie explains this to Will, and then mutters “you’ve been weighed in the balance and found wanting” under her breath, so you KNOW it’s important. But what does it actually MEAN?
Yes, we know it means that you’ve been judged and found not up to standards that have been set. And that just means that you aren’t up for the job — whatever hypothetical job you’re up for at the time being. But how this relates back to The Society is still a mystery.
Does it refer to the kids or their parents? Who didn't measure up? And is this New Ham situation the punishment? While Allie is talking to Will while they’re tied up, she mentions that they’ve started to kinda reflect their parents. It's possible that their parents were the ones not up to the job, i.e. not really trying to remove the smell from West Ham by refusing to pay for it to be done. It could also be about the kids, who are now trying to run things like their parents and keep falling short when it comes to things like, you know, basic democracy.
Going into season 2 of The Society (which, just FYI, has not officially been ordered yet), this phrase is definitely going to come back into play somehow, whether it be Grizz seeing more of these “signs” or Allie continue to figure out if she, along with everyone else, is up to the task of, well, everything.