Anyone who has seen the adverts for the show or has tried to research the book it is based on will know the premise: Lucifer and some of his fellow angels rebelled against God and were banished from Heaven, to live on earth: they are the Fallen. These fallen angels mated with mortal women and their offspring were known as the Nephilim, half-angel, half-human creatures. This is where the show starts to deviate from known theology: we then learn, in a voice-over to a montage of paintings with angelic themes, of a prophecy regarding the birth of a special Nephilim, a Chosen One who will redeem the Fallen angels and return them to their heavenly home. The problem lies in a battalion of warrior angels, called the Powers, who have made it their vocation to destroy all the Nephilim they can find.
Once all this is explained to us (at length), we come to the real point of this show, a teenager who feels different and out of place in his life. Unlike normal teen dramas, this feeling has an actual cause - he IS different. Through the events of one tumultuous day, Aaron will find out that he is one of the Nephilim, possibly THE one. Aaron starts to hear animals talking to him, he understands all languages, and the names of the Fallen angels (in angelic script) start to appear on his arm. His eighteenth birthday is much more life-changing than he had ever expected! I particularly enjoyed the little hints we got of Aaron's special nature, even before the big revelation (which is why I would have done without the opening montage, which I felt was particularly exposition heavy). For example, his autistic step-brother Stevie only lets Aaron touch and hold him without warning, and calms down as soon as Aaron talks to him. Aaron is an orphan of unknown parentage, and he even has a dog named Gabriel. The name, Aaron, means, among other things, 'messenger', which is also an ancient definition of the word 'angel'.
However, it isn't all good for Aaron: he starts having nightmares of something chasing him in order to destroy him utterly, and he soon realises that his presence will endanger everyone he loves. Besides, just when his crush, the cute Brazilian girl in his high school, finally likes him back, he has to run before the Powers catch up with him!
As I was reviewing this episode, I tried to be fair and judge it on its own merits, not just by comparing it to the book. I felt that Paul Wesley did a good job in conveying Aaron's confusion and panic when he realises that his dream of a normal and happy life will now probably never come true.
All the characters came across very clearly and I did not feel it dragged in any way (often one of the teething problems of a pilot). I quite enjoyed Elizabeth Lackey's performance as Verchiel, one of the Powers, whose hatred of and loathing for all Nephilim leads to her calling them Abomination. Rick Worthy is, as always, amazing as Camael, another Power, and Fernanda Andrade was in no way annoying as Aaron's object of desire. I would have said I found Tom Skerrit to be over-acting and irritating, but other reviewers reversed my opinion: i.e., they found Lackey annoying and loved Skerrit, so I think this is a matter of taste.
In conclusion, I just (!) wanted to say that I really enjoyed this in every way: I liked the themes, I didn't feel it deviated from the book in any way that was crucial, and the special effects were good enough for a tv show. If you like fantasy and action, you will love this show!