Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Pilot” | Aired July 20, 2014
Imagine living on the brink of human extinction because a mysterious infertility plagues humankind and no new children can be born. Anyone familiar with Timothy J. Sexton’s Children of Men will recognize the premise of The Lottery, also penned by Sexton. What’s surprising is that this show is on Lifetime, the same channel famous for its emotional TV movies and a show about the crazy stage moms of dancing children. Lifetime has changed up its game with this new, politically charged dystopian thriller.
2025: Set in the year 2025, a time when no new children have been born for nine years, the episode begins with a statement from the President (Yul Vasque), relating that the cause for human decline is unknown.
In a bar, scientist Alison Lenon (Marley Shelton) seduces a man, seemingly just to get his DNA for her work. We can already tell she is smart and driven—and maybe a little ruthless.
Before we can really get to know Alison, we are taken back to three days earlier and introduced to a little boy, one of the last six people to be born. He is a diabetic six-year-old named Elvis. He’s clearly an anomaly, and is treated as such. Elvis lives in fear, and a colorful mask that his loving father Kyle (Michael Graziadei) puts on him is the only thing that comforts him. From the moment these characters are introduced, we feel uneasy for them, knowing danger lurks for this father-son duo.
Corruption and chaos are everywhere. Wild political protests take place in the streets for the mandatory fertility testing, while criminals—including the brother of White House Chief of Staff Vanessa Keller (Athena Karkanis)—distribute fake fertility drugs. A scene in which she smacks some sense into her lawless brother establishes Vanessa’s strength and tough love.
100 fertilized eggs
In the lab, Alison reveals to Darius Hayes (Martin Donovan), director of the U.S. Fertility Commission, that she has managed to fertilize 100 eggs. He is excited about the discovery, but to Alison’s dismay, immediately demands to send in a new team of scientists.
“Dr. Lenon, thank you for your service,” Hayes says, dismissing Alison and making it abundantly clear that Hayes is a villainous character.
Elvis calls Kyle from school, stating he is sick. When Kyle gets to the school, the Department of Humanity meet him and grill him about everything from Elvis’ mother to the last time he had a drink. They will not let Kyle see his son.
Meanwhile, Alison brainstorms ways to find out who the the confidential sperm donors are, while James Lynch, a coworker and Alison’s former love interest, reveals he will stay at the lab despite Alison’s being fired. Alison is hurt by the betrayal, but has more important things to worry about.
White House meeting
Hayes meets in the White House to discuss the fertilized eggs. He says he wants to keep the success under wraps so as to not attract attention.
Vanessa disagrees, saying they should “share the victory with the nation,” and suggests holding a lottery to give 100 women the chance to be surrogates for the 100 fertilized eggs. She wants to instill hope with this new plan, which is clearly a different objective from the one Hayes has. The good guys win for now, as they agree to Vanessa’s idea.
Alison goes to the Cryogenic Egg Bank and requests the list of donors, but is only able to get the name of one: Brooke Ashton. She retrieves Brooke’s address and leaves, as she knows she is being followed by a man in a black Town Car.
Alison travels to Brooke’s secluded home, where she reveals to Brooke that one of her eggs were fertilized. Brooke is ecstatic and says she’s been having vivid dreams about having a daughter. She wants her egg back so she can be connected to the child, but signed away her rights when she donated the eggs. Still, she and Alison are determined to find a way for Brooke to resume responsibility of her eggs.
That is why Alison visits James and tries to convince him to let Brooke be a surrogate. He refuses, but she does not give up. They share a drink, before she abruptly leaves after stealing his security code for the lab in Embyogenes.
Brooke calls Alison and says she found a lawyer to help her get her egg back, even though Alison tries to warn her. As she’s hanging up, Brooke receives a knock on the door from a man with the fertility commission—the same man who was following Alison in the black Town Car.
Chases, chases and more chases
The President gives a televised address about the fertility crisis, telling the nation that a “baby lottery” will be held. At the same time, Alison uses James’ ID to sneak into Embryogenes, and Kyle goes to Pittsburg Hospital searching for Elvis. Kyle sneaks around, punches a nurse who tries to stop him and finally finds his son. Elvis is scared until his father gives him back his mask. The two escape the hospital and flee.
Meanwhile, as Alison leaves Embryogenes, Vanessa greets her and invites her to the White House to share her story with the world as a national hero. Alison declines, but then is chased by the mysterious man who was at Brooke’s house. She outsmarts him by running on and off a train, which takes off with the man stuck on the train while Alison gets away.
Alison goes back to Brooke’s house, where she sees Brooke’s body being wheeled out on a gurney covered with a sheet. Brooke is dead. It was ruled a suicide, but we know that’s not the case. Politicians sure are ruthless in this dystopia.
Alison gets back home, and James is there because he knows she stole his ID. After arguing, he shows her Kyle’s photo and reveals he is the man who fertilized Brooke’s egg.
The mysterious man calls Hayes and says he “took care of the Brook Ashton situation.” Hayes confirms, saying they made it look like a suicide, and it is clear they are up to some very evil things.
The episodes leaves us in utter suspense, with Alison violently thrown into a black Town Car by two men in black suits. And now we’re reeled in and wondering what will happen to Alison. Hopefully, her fate will not be the same as Brooke’s.
The Lottery, rated TV-14, airs Sundays at 10/9C on Lifetime.