Netflix’s Into the Night, a Belgian apocalyptic thriller, was something of a surprise when I saw its first season last May, although I didn’t get around to posting a review of it so, er, take my word for it- it was pretty good. The premise is one of those which… well its either interesting or ridiculous, depending on one’s own ability to stomach it- for some unfathomable reason, radiation from the sun causes a global disaster, killing anyone caught in sunlight, and the series focuses on a bunch of survivors on a flight from Brussels racing ahead of the sunrise, knowing they have to stay in the night to survive. Its one of those dramas with people caught in a crazy, pressure-cooker situation, and it worked very well in season one, albeit its success depended upon the viewer ‘buying’ into its bizarre set-up and forgiving some strange acting.
Unfortunately the series completely jumps the shark with season two. I don’t know if the writing team was entirely different or if perhaps it was only greenlit subject to a reduced budget, but it now feels like some other show entirely. This sometimes happens to television shows between seasons (The Walking Dead?), and of course happens to films with successive inferior sequels (the Christopher Reeve Superman films), so its hardly anything new, but it remains frustratingly disappointing when it happens. Maybe there’s logic to delaying successive seasons to two-year gaps (like Westworld seems to do) rather than rushing into it in a race to capitalize on surprise success. Admittedly even after just over a year it can be hard to pick things up, I always seem to struggle returning to shows, possibly because there is just so many of them and they tend to be quite complex with multi-season arcs. But right from the start of this season its clear something is off. Its like some other show, with characters behaving very oddly, very stupidly, and twists and turns coming out of nowhere just for shock value, as if the sudden nonsensical twists of fate and unexpected deaths are the only thing that will keep people watching. Consequently the show is always on edge, and there’s little faith in investing with characters who can be gone by the end of the next episode, or plotlines that can seem undermined by another writer in another episode.
My theory is that the producers/writers completed season one not really knowing where they were going afterwards, having set up something of a cliff-hanger and not having a clue how to get out of it. Maybe I’m being unfair to that writing team- as I have noted, budgetary or time constraints may have affected it. Naturally this second season would have been made during the Covid pandemic too, so production difficulties may just be being reflected in the sudden drop in quality of the show. Maybe we’ll see this over the next year or so with other shows, maybe we’re seeing it already, and maybe it excuses some of the films and series we’re seeing of late which thoroughly underwhelm. I guess Covid’s just the gift that keeps on giving. At any rate, not only am I not sure Into the Night deserves a third season, I also doubt that many viewers will even care.