At the close of “Please Remain Seated,” the third episode of Sophie Turner’s new series Survive, heroine Jane Solace (Turner) finds herself in the middle of a plane crash. Jane is besieged by glass and the most terrifying effects of gravity — it’s horrifying. This detail isn’t a spoiler, since the entire marketing campaign behind Survive — launching on brand new streaming platform Quibi April 6 — hinges on the fact that Jane is forced to survive after ending up trapped on an icy, deadly mountain with only a stranger named Paul (Corey Hawkins) to help her.
While Turner’s first project, 21st century TV touchstone Game of Thrones, threw direwolves, dragons, and ice zombies at the 24-year-old, she still says the mountains (both physical and mental) of Survive were much more complicated to climb.
The Emmy-nominee started filming Thrones in 2009 when she was just 13. Kicking off Quibi with her very own show remains more daunting. “It’s actually much scarier because the market is so much more competitive now,” Turner told Refinery29 in an email ahead of Survive’s debut. “So there’s a huge amount of pressure to make something unlike anything else that’s being made right now.”
Survive certainly isn’t like anything else in the streaming landscape. First, there are the technical basics of the drama, which debuts with three 10-minutes-or-fewer chapters. Quibi will then release a new episode of the series every weekday until the story is complete (Survive will wrap on Friday, April 17). Then there is the actual, extremely delicate plot of Survive. When viewers meet Jane, she is a patient at a mental health facility called Lifehouse following a death by suicide attempt a year prior. On the outside Jane — who has been diagnosed with PTSD and suicidal ideation — has improved her mental health since her near-death experience. Jane is apparently doing so well, that her caretakers approve her release from Lifehouse.
On the inside, however, Jane is hiding a plan for a final death by suicide. She is hoping to end her life on her flight back home to New York (early episodes of Survive open with a trigger warning). “Mentally, I knew that headspace,” Turner, who shared her own history with suicidal ideation in April 2019, explained about her process to get into Jane’s painful mindset. “All I had to do was more specific research to hone in on the specificities of Jane’s mental illness.”
The bigger challenge arose when Tuner left familiar terrain like an airplane cabin set to film on the hulking mountains Jane must traverse to stay alive. “Physically I didn’t really prepare at all which was a big regret once we were up in those mountains!,” Turner joked. If you think hacking her way through the infamously fearsome night shoots for Thrones’ “The Long Night” gave Turner a leg up for the wind and snow of Survive, you would be wrong.
“I know for a fact the Battle of Winterfell night shoot was far more brutal to film for the crew and cast,” she began. “But considering I only had three night shoots for the Battle of Winterfell, I would say that on a personal level the mountain scenes in Survive were more brutal [for me].”
Still, Turner is happy with the work she produced, intimidating outdoor adventures included. “I hope people take away from Survive that those figurative mountains that you feel you have to climb when it comes to mental illness, are manageable,” she said. “You just have to actually begin that climb and get the help that you need.”
This advice seems particularly well suited to the time when Survive will enter the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has made an already-dreary news era even more tragic. The disease is also driving people into their homes for the good of society — but leaving many feeling more alone than ever in the process. The idea of watching someone else battle through a possibly fatal and definitely isolating situation may not immediately appeal to some viewers in this current climate. However, Turner urges possible fans to remember Survive may be exactly what will make them feel less lonely.
“People need this show right now specifically because not only does it provide an escapism for people, but also it feels incredibly relevant to their situation right now.” Turner said. “That isolation — the fight against an invisible monster.”
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.