“I don’t think any of us are prepared for what’s happening.”
Another day, another diversion on the Nightflyer. This time it’s trying to save Tessia, Tobis, and Eris as they are trapped in quarantine after baby Skye burst into a cloud of black spores. Coupled with the agony both Thale and Agatha are in and Karl’s continued obsession, we’re that much closer to getting the finish line and the death of the Nightflyer.
It was a terrible moment when Rowan and Tessia’s daughter was stillborn. That heartache was nothing compared to seeing their dead child nearly disintegrate into ash; in truth, that would have been much kinder. Instead, the ash-like remains are black spores of some kind, searching for a host to infect in order to propagate. Thanks to Karl’s quick thinking—he actually did something useful this time around—Tobis, Tessia, and Eris are quarantined as the spores float through the air. Though Rowan and Tessia (with help from Mel and Eris) feverishly work on an antidote, it’s a fruitless mission and, at the end, when a pain-stricken Agatha is brought to the lab and recognizes the horrid screeching in her mind as the spores attempt to chew through the glass, Eris takes charge and initiates the decontamination cycle. It wipes all traces of organic matter from the med bay so when the fog clears and Eris stands naked and virtually unharmed, Nightflyers gives us the first truly WTF-worthy moment since the first five minutes of the series.
Not far behind the Eris reveal is Lommie’s run-in with the psychotic Cynthia. In one of the many head-scratching decisions this crew of capable people has made, knowing the mistake she made in leaving little girl Cynthia to roam the halls of Greywing (outside the firewalls), she re-enters the Crystal Matrix in an attempt to atone, alerting no one to her actions. She fails in a most spectacular fashion, being locked away with the abusive representation of Henry Eris while the wily and mad Cynthia finds a pathway back to life; in Lommie’s body.
In “Rebirth”, Nightflyers tries once again to course correct from very questionable decisions to the direction of a few episodes. It does an adequate job; neither bad nor special, “Rebirth” offers a pivotal moment or two as it leads us down the homestretch. Unfortunately, as well as the Eris reveal and Cynthia/Lommie body-swap sets up the last two episodes, it also places the show’s biggest problem at the forefront. Somewhere on this journey, several of this characters—Karl, Lommie, and to a smaller degree, Rowan and Agatha—have become quite unlikeable. They aren’t terrible people, per se, but their inane decisions, petty attitudes, and general lack of development have been a massive disappointment. Karl, in particular, carries the banner, his self-centered behavior getting worse every time he’s on screen. It’s understandable that his mission to contact the volcryn is paramount but the more we see of him, the more I question his motives. Are they for the good of humanity or, as it seems, more for his own peace of mind?
Despite my disappointment in the show thus far, there are a handful of themes that carry weight, keeping Nightflyers afloat. There have been multiple occasions where a character has been asked to do something that put them in danger in order to help the mission succeed. That dedication to duty and willingness to sacrifice is very admirable and a reminder that we’re not always going to like what we are required to do and, at times, must be willing to forego our own comfort and safety to see things through. In that, Nightflyers has given a strong message. It’s the surrounding points around that message that have lacked that same solid ground. With only two episodes left, Nightflyers will be hard-pressed to regain the quality of a horror/adventure framed in the first few episodes.
Into the Void
- People do dumb things; that’s a part of life. So when a character in an entertainment medium does the same, it’s not necessarily bad writing. In fact, it’s necessary for characters to have flaws. But then there’s Every time a character—an intelligent individual at that—does something dumb, another character comes in and says “here, hold my beer.” These trained individuals have hidden vital pieces of information form one another, not to mention several instances of a ridiculous lack of action in moments of crisis. You’re on a colony ship and trained for the unexpected, yet they seem to hesitate at every turn. These types of situations are what turns a situation of good drama to a contrived and lazy plot device (and not in a good way).
- Music is a vital part of telling a compelling story. It should augment the mood being set by the situation. Unfortunately, the score for Nightflyers has gotten progressively worse. The sharp synthesized beats detract from what’s happening on-screen, a cardinal sin in television and movie-making. What had once been an organic complement to the series has lost all subtlety and, like some of the cinematography has become derivative.
- Gloomy perspectives for the series aside, the Eris reveal as well as Cynthia’s victory are two major wins for “Rebirth”. Both will be integral for the last two episodes and I have to lament the fact these plot points are only now being explored so late in the game. Karl’s conversation with his ‘daughter’ Skye deserves to be in here as well. The idea of the volcryn being able to command space, time, and matter in such a complete way gives writers so much to work with in regards to the story that it’s a shame to have only two more episodes to go.