How Many Episodes Is AMC's 'The Son'? The Book It's Based On Has Plenty Of Material
While Tom Hardy's FX series Taboo tricked viewers by appearing to be a miniseries before going and being renewed for a Season 2, AMC's The Son is playing no such games. Although you would think a TV series starring Pierce Brosnan would have to be a miniseries because of his movie star status, the Western is following a regular series format. With 10 episodes in Season 1 of AMC's The Son, Brosnan is going to be on your TV a decent amount when the series premieres on Saturday, April 8. And if the hot Texan sun that is featured in the series is already making you thirsty for more episodes, it appears another season could easily occur if AMC decides to renew The Son.
For the first episodes of The Son, both AMC and SundanceTV will be doing a special two-hour premiere of the series. Rather than it being one two-hour episode, the premiere will actually contain the first two episodes of the show. That means that after April 8, there will only be eight more episodes to go in Season 1.
Yet, if The Son continues to follow the book it's based on, written by Philipp Meyer, there should be plenty of material to adapt into more seasons. As The New York Times described Meyer's book in its 2013 rave review, The Son is a "multigenerational family saga spanning the years from 1836 to 2012." That's a hearty 176 years for The Son to cover and as the book is 561 pages, it will need more than just one season to accomplish all that storytelling.
As a producer and writer of the AMC show, Meyer oversaw many elements of The Son. However, changes were still made to the series that deviate from his book. In its nearly 200-year timeline, the novel follows four generations of family through the eyes of three characters — Brosnan's character Colonel Eli McCullough, Eli's son Peter, and Peter's granddaughter Jeannie. But The New York Times reported in March 2017 that AMC's The Son condensed the original novel's story by making Jeannie Eli's granddaughter instead of his great-granddaughter.
AMC's version also bumped up the beginning of the story by having a young Eli (portrayed by Jacob Lofland) kick off the series in 1849 before it flashes to Brosnan's adult Eli in 1915. So rather than going from a young Eli in 1836 to an old Jeannie in 2012 like the book did, Season 1 of the TV show focuses on Eli in 1849 and 1915. Kevin Murphy, the showrunner and executive producer of The Son, said about the change to The New York Times for its March 2017 article, "Philipp understood that anything we did to his book didn't unwrite the book."
As for how those book changes will impact future seasons, Alan Sepinwall wrote in his review of The Son for UPROXX that, "Later seasons might shift from a Young Eli/Old Eli structure to Old Eli/Adult Jeannie," noting that was something the creative team of the show had said. But be forewarned that if you read the book and hope to see Eli's great-granddaughter Jeannie as an old woman reflecting on her life in the year 2012, don't expect that to happen in Season 1. Instead, she'll be hanging out with her grandpa Eli in 1915.
Regardless of those changes, The Son still seems poised to continue for more seasons if the network chooses to renew it — and that's certainly the goal for the novel's author. In an interview with the magazine Cowboys & Indians, Meyer said he imagines "a five-seasonish arc" for The Son. Meyer said:
"We could basically do the book and some stuff I left out of the book. See, the book is 600 pages. But I probably left out 1,000 pages of pretty good material. Like, there's stuff that I touch on in the book for two pages that I had two chapters written about. But I was just like, man, am I really beating the reader with this much?"
No matter what changes exist between the critically-acclaimed novel and the TV show, there is more than enough content for the show to continue beyond the first season's 10 episodes. And you can see for yourself if you want more of Eli's legacy to be told once The Son premieres its first two episodes on Saturday, April 8.