“Phoenix Rise,” BBC’s new TV series, has premiered, and it is a show that is worthy of acclaim. Revolving around the lives of six teenagers, it examines their stories and backgrounds as they re-enter the British education system after having their lives derailed due to difficult circumstances.
The plot has in its center six youngsters: Billy, Darcy, Rani, Leila, Summer, and Khaled. Each comes from a very different background, and each has their own story as to how they got into this alternate education system designed to help “difficult” students learn a thing or two about discipline and ethics so they can become model pupils and rejoin mainstream education. Their mentor is a teacher named Jamie Stewart, who is responsible for their academic progress and overall well-being. As soon as they all meet, things start coming to the surface, and all six get entangled in some or other mess in their own way, and “Phoenix Rise” Season 1 takes off.
Boiler Room Outcasts
“Phoenix Rise” Season 1 begins, and we get introduced to our primary characters. Billy is someone who comes from an underprivileged background and has a younger sister (Rhianna) to care for. Darcy is a cool guy with a fancy bike. Summer is a sensitive young girl with a caring heart, but under her overbearing celebrity mother, her self-esteem has gone for a toss. Leila is the youngest in this group and the most carefree too. Rani is a reticent young girl who joined the school after her immigrant family moved to England. Last but not least, there is Khaled, a timid tech genius whose hacking prowess provides several turning points in “Phoenix Rise” Season 1. We also get introduced to their mentor, Mr. Stewart, who himself is a disciplined figure yet has certain eccentricities to watch out for.
The six students meet Mr. Stewart on the first day and are given a tour of the new school, Phoenix Rise. Polly, the school’s old-timer, shows them a ‘safe space’ where the six can share their fears or apprehensions and talk about their issues. The room is quite dingy and resembles a boiler room, so they form an online group and name it “The Boiler Room Outcasts.”
The first trouble begins with Billy. His photo is circulated online with the word convict written on it. He gets agitated and asks the tech nerd Khaled about it. He finds out that it was Darcy who had circulated his photo. Billy and Darcy, therefore, get into a feud. Khaled runs into his bully, Nathan, from the previous school. Rhianna has her period on the first day. After Billy gets to know about this, we find out that Billy and Rhianna’s mother had died a while back. Their only guardian is their father, who has not returned from his job for months now. Billy asks Summer for help with his sister’s “girl problem.” Summer advises Billy to buy sanitary pads for Rhianna. Billy, short on money, steals it from a shop, and this is caught on CCTV. The news reaches Mr. Stewart, and he calls in Billy to mentor him.
Meanwhile, Leila goes on to give a very poor audition for the upcoming musical play. Rhianna is best friends with her but is unable to muster the courage to tell her the truth about her singing talent, but she does secretly catch Rani singing flawlessly in the bathroom. Summer reveals her stint in the hospital for mental health issues, which is why she has been transferred to Phoenix Rise.
Miss Becky Ruiz arrives as the behavior teacher to assist Jamie. Darcy makes a poor first impression before her after she (Miss Becky) crashes into his bike, totally crushing it albeit by accident. Darcy runs off his mouth and talks very disrespectfully to her, not knowing she is his new teacher. Later, he gets into another trouble when in response to Brookland’s (another school’s) challenge, he decides to jump from one building to another in order to prove their mettle and restore the school’s reputation. He practices but realizes he has promised too much to the whole school. Before jumping, he tricks everyone into believing that he will jump but actually has no plan to do so. He schemes with Polly to deliberately sabotage his jump and call Mr. Stewart. Billy notices this little plot and calls Darcy out. All 5 gather in the boiler room and make a bond to stick together no matter what, but Billy declines.
Darcy, in hopes of bonding more intimately with Summer, invites her to his house. Summer arrives with the rest, thwarting his intentions. Billy gets closer to Summer. A jealous Darcy reveals information about Billy: that he had punched a teacher, which is why he was thrown out of his previous school. At first, Summer gets inhibited but then schemes with Polly to ask Billy out on a date. Billy says yes, but then gets locked in the boiler room after someone locks the door from the outside. Suspecting it to be Darcy, he runs to meet Summer after getting out and finds out that Summer left with Darcy after he was a no-show on the date.
Summer, Darcy, and Billy end up in detention. Meanwhile, Rani posts a video of herself singing but does so while remaining anonymous. Billy gets worried about her sister and plans to go to the staff room where his confiscated phone is kept. Darcy and Summer offer to help. All three skip detention and go to the staff room. Rest all join as well along the way. Darcy gives Billy a reality check and provokes him by calling him a loser with whom Summer would never be in a relationship. In retaliation, Billy hits him. They reach the staff room and have a blast there. They leave right before Miss Abel, another teacher, is about to enter but is distracted by Rani. Ultimately, they aren’t caught, but Mr. Stewart gets onto Billy and starts to enquire about their dad and finds out he has been away for months, leaving Billy to take care of himself and his sister.
‘Career’s Day’ Arrives
Career Day arrives, and the school is set up to guide the kids in finding the profession of their liking. Billy talks to a lawyer there and secretly inquires about custody laws. Summer’s mother is invited as a speaker there. She calls Summer up on the podium. Summer, after having kept her feelings bottled up, bursts out in front of everybody, telling her mother she wants to be a nurse and not a doctor, as her mother expects.
Phoenix Rise prepares for a football game. Darcy and Billy play for the same team but lose the match. Having lost, they pick themselves up and comfort each other. Billy makes a move on Summer by writing her a note. Darcy again tricks Summer by writing his own name on the note, making it look like he had written it. Billy, ignorant of this fact, start building up frustration against Summer, thinking she is not into him.
Meanwhile, Rani’s singing video goes viral, and Mr. Stewart takes Billy for a karate lesson. Miss Becky takes Darcy under her wing and, sensing his privileged background, asks him to volunteer at a food bank. Darcy finds Billy asking for food there and tells this to Mr. Stewart. Rhianna asks Rani to step up and audition for the play. She declines but gives a speech in class instead after gaining the courage from her mother, who fled from a war-torn Iraq.
Mr. Stewart Confronts Billy
After a cat-and-mouse game, Mr. Stewart finally asks Billy, face-to-face, about the current state of his father. They agree to tell each other the truth, but Billy, under the wrong impression that it’s all a plot to get Social Services involved, who will separate him and Rhianna, runs off, taking her with him. The gang panics and, along with Mr. Stewart, goes off in search of them. They find Billy and Rhianna on the verge of running off to a different city. Mr. Stewart calms Billy down and makes a pact with him not to tell anybody about the dad’s situation.
When all this drama was happening, Leila’s bubble was finally burst by Sam, the director of the play. Rani took charge, but before she could perform, the electricity went out. Rani then performs solely for the Boiler Room outcasts. Summer remains aloof, and as time progresses, her mental health deteriorates. At the end-of-term party, Billy finally confesses his love for her, and they share a goodbye kiss before Summer tells him that she is going back into rehab as her symptoms of self-abuse have started to return. Mr. Stewart is suspended, and his return dangles on the outcome of an investigation.
‘Phoenix Rise’ Ending Explained: Why Was Mr. Stewart Suspended?
Mr. Stewart had a lot going on his plate. He had helped the pupils so far, especially Billy, keeping it from the school authorities and Social Services that Billy had essentially no active guardian and that he was only a kid, unfit to provide for her sister alone. Khaled, after having been sent into detention for a whole week and stripped of all IT rights, finds an old news article about Mr. Stewart in which he was caught jacking a car and makes it viral. He did so in his ignorance of the consequences, but ultimately it all came crashing down on Mr. Stewart. Will he return to Phoenix Rise again? We will have to wait for “Phoenix Rise” Season 2.
“Phoenix Rise” is an intense dive into the school life of these dramatically different individuals. It will keep you hooked from beginning to end, and maybe you’ll reminisce about your school day shenanigans while watching this show. Do catch it; it’s streaming on BBC iPlayer.