The Second Disaster Blogathon: Into the Night (2018 -)

This post is part of the Second Disaster Blogathon, hosted by Dubsism and Pale Writer. Read the rest of the world ending posts HERE!

I’m a big fan of the show Lost. There’s something about a group of strangers forced to face a disaster together to survive that deeply appeals to me. When Lost became a world-wide phenomenon, there were many attempts to replicate its success. Most were awful and faded quickly into obscurity.

I’m always looking for the next Lost. Not necessarily one exactly like it, but something with that vibe and same basic situation. I found a Spanish show called El Barco (The Boat) that I reviewed a few years ago and enjoyed immensely.

Recently I found Into the Night. Inspired by the Polish post-apocalyptic novel The Old Axolotl by Jacek Dukaj, it’s the first Belgian-made show on Netflix. I was immediately captivated by it.

The story, in a nutshell:

Passengers are starting to board a plane from Brussels to Moscow when an Italian NATO officer named Terenzio (Stefano Cassetti) hijacks it. During a struggle in the cockpit, the pilot is killed and the co-pilot Mathieu (Laurent Capelluto) is injured. One of the passengers, Sylvie (Pauline Etienne), is a former military helicopter pilot and helps Mathieu get the plane in the air. Terenzio insists the plane head west instead of going to Moscow.

Turns out a supposedly natural disaster has occurred (still not totally clear what by the end of Season 2) that makes sunlight deadly. They have to outrun the sun to survive.

It was so early in the boarding process that among the unwitting passengers are Jakub (Ksawery Szlenkier), a mechanic, and maintenance worker Osman (Nabil Mallat). Pre-boarded passengers include an elderly man and his caregiver Laura (Babetida Sadjo) and a Russian woman named Zara (Regina Bikkinina) with her sick son Dominik (Nicolas Alechine) on the way to Moscow for an experimental treatment.

Rounding out the survivors are a Turkish man named Ayaz (Mehmet Kurtuluş), a climate scientist named Horst (Vincent Londez), a security guard named Rik (Jan Bijvoet) and a young social media influencer named Ines (Alba Gaïa Bellugi).

Yes. It is QUITE convenient that the passengers include a mechanic, a maintenance worker, a climate scientist, and a helicopter pilot.

We’ll just overlook that, though.

Here’s why: this show starts on a high pitch that never really lets up. The tension is very taught throughout all the episodes. It helps a lot that the episodes are relatively short (usually clocking in around 40 minutes) and the seasons are also very short (6 episodes each).

As with Lost, we have a diverse group of strangers, some who immediately distrust each other due to prejudice or misunderstandings. All of course have secrets and some not-so-secret reasons to be on the plane. The show does use flashbacks but in a very different way from Lost. Each episode is named after one of the characters with a cold opening that gives a glimpse into their lives just before the disaster.

Since this is a European show it is different in certain ways from what we would expect from an American show. There is a bit of comic relief but for the most part it is super, deadly serious. It’s also less optimistic in its views, which I believe is another cultural difference. The first time we see Sylvie she is planning to commit suicide because of her boyfriend’s recent death. The survivors depend on her leadership and she feels obligated to stay alive even while feeling suicidal.

I like to joke that these stories always have a pregnant woman. I believe this is because the possibility of new life brings some optimism to a story about the end of humanity. This story has a pregnant woman—however, she’s one of the flight attendants (Mathieu is the baby daddy) who didn’t make it on the plane and presumably was quickly dispatched when the sun rose after it took off.

So, yeah, not very optimistic.

One way it IS like an American show is some romantic relationships begin to develop. They are not dominant though.

I am deliberately not posting pictures or summarizing the plot of Season 2 because that would be a big spoiler. The first season is basically trying to keep the plane in the air so that it’s always night, making brief landings for fuel and food, and encountering many obstacles, which includes conflict among the group of survivors.

It takes a while for the survivors to even believe that the disaster has happened. There’s a struggle over who will lead them and how major decisions are made. Zara is desperate to save her son, who could easily die when his dwindling medication runs out. There is mystery surrounding Ayaz and why he is on the plane. Terenzio causes issues because he sees himself as the natural leader and thinks they should listen to him because he saved their lives. Mathieu does not feel equipped to lead as he was only a co-pilot.

As I said, this is a very tautly written show. You do not watch this because you want to kick back with a beer and relax. It’s very spare—I like that. Not a lot of messing around with extraneous stuff. I watched it the first time earlier in the pandemic, now, after being under the stress of if for two years, the tension seems even more palpable. The music is also notable. Unlike the gorgeous orchestral score for Lost, the music is electronic and pulsating, which contributes to the tension.

The story is also merciless. I found some of the inevitable deaths hard to take but can’t say they were unbelievable or gratuitous.

Season 2 ends on a big cliffhanger. Reports say the show has been green lit for another season. I just found out a spin-off series called Yakamoz S-245 exists on Netflix (with other characters concurrently experiencing the same disaster). Supposedly the two shows will intersect when there’s a Season 3.

When I catch my breath from rewatching Into the Night for this blogathon, I will give that show a try, too.

6 thoughts on “The Second Disaster Blogathon: Into the Night (2018 -)

  1. Wow, that’s an intriguing premise, and as you say, builds off the tension and trapped feelings we’ve all been having the past two years. I think it’s interesting that they’ve spun off another series already — it must be grabbing a lot of people’s attention.

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