“The volcryn can change everything. They can change our entire world.”
A telltale sign that a show was disappointing is when, as a viewer, you’re anticipating to the second that moment when you no longer have to put yourself through watching it. The last time I was this disappointed in a television series was Heroes: Reborn. And while Nightflyers is a much better show—though, to be fair, The Happening was better entertainment than the Heroes revival—that heavy weight of disappointment is mirrored in Nightflyers.
After being given such a horrid lead-in with the previous episode, the prospects that the season finale, “All That We Have Found” could save Nightflyers was nothing more than wishful thinking. Surprisingly enough, the finale comes close to recapturing the good, strong narrative anticipation created in those first few episodes. Unfortunately, that’s still not enough, especially when one considers one of the more ridiculous plot-points introduced for no other reason but to cause conflict.
Beginning minutes after the conclusion of “Icarus”, the Nightflyer is in pandemonium. Karl is seeing to Agatha’s sendoff into space while the crew fights to keep the ship together after Augustine’s sabotage. Let’s not forget that their stalwart captain, Roy Eris, was hacked apart by the deranged Rowan (no one on the bridge tried to step in either) and turns out to be some type of android. With the captain down, Augustine is in command of the ‘flyer but he’s taking his orders from a stronger Cynthia. The hard, evil woman now in Lommie’s body wants her “little bear” to destroy the ship and prevent Karl’s team from contacting the volcryn. Aside from her constant drivel about the volcryn infecting her ship, she offers no real explanation to her desires to destroy the aliens. Cynthia has Auggie by the short hairs, so of course, the spineless cockroach executes her wishes. Thankfully he gets a rude awakening when, after Karl takes the pod to make contact with the volcryn, Cynthia shows her true colors: she cares for no one and nothing but her legacy. Roy, Auggie, the Nightflyer crew…they are just pawns on a board for her to use as she sees fit. She, like several characters (Auggie included) having nothing compelling about them as they lack any redeeming qualities. It’s a defect most characters in this series exhibit and makes it difficult to give a damn what happens to them.
One of those not included in that is Roy Eris. From the beginning, he’s been that mystery man who gives nothing away but you know is hiding a massive secret. The big reveal in “Rebirth”, that he was some sort of android was a surprise well done but it was nothing compared to discovering the real truth: Roy was a cross-sex clone of Cynthia and, because of her lacking the high-end skills to produce such a clone, he is a deformed and spindly mass, relegated to a vat of fluids with wires connecting him to the ship. It’s a heartbreaking moment, to see someone so helpless and caged, someone who’s never really known love or kindness. The sheer thought of Roy’s physical isolation from the crew is a captivating thing and speaks to the potential scattered through the jagged narrative of Nightflyers.
Aside from Roy Eris, Thale has been the only other character that has been consistently enthralling. He is part of two of the better scenes in “All That We Have Found”; the cat-and-mouse when he psychically directs Karl to the fleeing Cynthia and then when the trapped Lommie uses him as her mouthpiece to say goodbye to Melantha and use her state in the crystal matrix to shut down the engines before the ship explodes. While much of that first scene revolves around some good directing, much of the merge with Lommie was all Sam Strike’s acting. All throughout the series he’s shown the talent and charisma to capture viewers when he’s on-screen and channeling Lommie’s mannerisms (though another cool choice by the writers/directors was have Lommie’s voice echo his own) shows off some very strong acting chops. If Nightflyers does get picked up for a second season, Strike is the character I’ll be most interested to revisit.
On the potential for a second season, there could be quite a bit to unpack. Not only the fate of the Nightflyer crew as they sit adrift with no heating or power, but Karl’s journey into the heart of the volcryn and somehow finding himself back home, with his wife Joy and a healthy, living Skye. In a way, it’s reminiscent of Interstellar, plucking the idea that past, present, and future all exist in the now. Even in losing Agatha earlier in the episode, Karl does not lose sight of his mission and, despite my many problems with him, that singular focus could be seen as a positive trait.
There were many stumbles in this first season of Nightflyers and whether or not the show can recover enough to get a second season in spite of its foibles will be dependent upon its ratings and quite possible, its production costs. As it stands, there are enough dangling threads of interest where I would be willing to give a second season at least a chance to redeem itself from what could have been an excellent freshman campaign.
Into the Void
- In addition to being one of the more unlikable characters to grace the small screen in a long while, Cynthia Eris proves that things can get worse. In a mind-numbing decision, it comes out that part of Melantha’s genetic material came from Cynthia which makes her and Roy Eris pseudo-siblings. It’s an unnecessary swerve that will garner more eye rolls than it will “OMG” responses.
- Once again, it’s amazing how these characters can behave. Despite hacking away at their captain only minutes before, the Nightflyer security just lets Rowan chill out in his quarters? Karl tapping him to assist Thale emphasized how D’Branin’s focus remained on the volcryn mission but it still came across as he was excused solely because the “Teke was amplifying everything.” Now maybe he does have to pay for his actions come season two (if they survive) but, as of now, he’s third on the list of terrible characters just behind Cynthia and Augustine.
- Watching Karl make his way into the volcryn showcased some pretty stunning visual effects. The scene was not perfect, with Eoin Macken being a bit overly expressive with his eyes and the music, which did its best to completely ruin the scene. Yet the idea of what Karl was experiencing and what it meant for his journey powered through, leaving enough of a mark for me to ask, with a curious uncertainty, “what’s next?”
Nightflyers – “All That We Have Found”
Nightflyers Season 1 Overall: