While American Netflix Originals are great, their international selection is truly one of the best ways to find new shows, especially disaster series. Into the Night Season 1 is the newest in Netflix’s international line-up. This Belgian series centers on a group of people on a hijacked plane from Brussels. Hijacked by an Italian NATO officer, the passengers are informed about a catastrophic solar event that will wipe out life as they know it. With the ground and shelter not offering protection, the survivors head west into the night, running from the sunrise.
The premise of the series facilitates a high pace, and after episode one, the danger keeps hitting in consistent waves, continuously raising the stakes. While a lot of the season takes place in the plane, the limited time before sunrise makes each landing a frantic situation, and as the plane begins to feel the effects of literally flying around the world, their safety in the air becomes nearly as insecure as it is on the ground.
The danger of the disaster is heightened as the survivors and the audience are shown the realities of being microwaved by the sunrise. But as the stakes rise, fuel reserves lower, and hope begins to dwindle, Into the Night Season 1’s fast pace is grounded in astounding character work. Each of the six episodes is titled for the six main characters in the season. While these characters take the forefront of much of the story, none of the secondary characters are underutilized in crafting a tense and tight character story among this disaster story.
The main way that the series maintains this grounding and character work is by exploring questions of morality and sacrifice throughout the season. What is a deed bad enough to be thrown into the sun? Can you be redeemed? Who gets to be in charge, the guy with the gun, the pilot, or a soldier? But most importantly, Into the Night Season 1 lays the main characters bare and complicates them by showing us their backgrounds. Sylvie (Pauline Etienne) is looking to die, Mathieu (Laurent Capelluto) is an adulterous pilot, Jakub (Ksawery Szlenkier) is too caring for his own good, Rik (Jan Bijvoet) a religious man desperate for acceptance, Terenzio (Stefano Cassetti) is scared, despite his loud bark, and Ayaz (Mehmet Kurtulus) is a gangster with a moral compass that points toward truth.
While other characters also receive moments of development, these get the most, and it’s in the conflict with each other that the show thrives. Each action is given emotional weight, whether through the backgrounds explained or the unfolding events. None of this is more true than for Ayaz. While each of the actors is great, Kurtulus is truly phenomenal as he oscillates between an intimidating force of righteousness to a caring father figure. He is a man who will take a life but will do anything he can to save one. Additionally, his character takes the brunt of both racism and xenophobia from outspoken characters on the flight. But he’s a man who has heard it before and won’t deal with it again.
Additionally, while we have characters that start strong and finish the same as Ayaz, we also have a character like Sylvie, who grows as a person and a leader. Once okay with dying and set on it, she grows into a person with something to fight for and live for, even though she has to take it one step at a time. She moves from timid to powerful over the course of the season and offers a unique story of survival compared to the rest of the plane.
Into the Night Season 1 balances a cast of characters with diverse experiences and moral outlooks and characters of seven different nationalities. This means that the language of the series is a patchwork, with English, French, Dutch, Polish, Italian, and more appearing throughout the series in both the English dub and the original French. That being said, for those who are still afraid of the one-inch barrier of subtitles, the English dub of the season is so well executed that I didn’t realize I was watching a dub until episode four.
With all of its storytelling and thrilling strengths, there is one glaring issue in the season: dangling threads. While the story is tight for the most part, offering individual character resolutions and a finale that works well, there are small pieces of environmental issues that are called out as important but don’t truly see an explanation or even an exploration. Given the finale, these open notes could very well be picked up in a season two, but with one not yet confirmed, it leaves questions opened that could have at least been confronted even if they weren’t answered.
When all is said and done, Into the Night Season 1 is a thrilling series that keeps you at the edge of your seat from the first episode and ups the ante every episode after. This series not only puts you into a roaring disaster narrative but offers moral and political commentary along the way.
Into the Night Season 1 and Season 2 are streaming exclusively on Netflix.
Into the Night
Into the Night is a thrilling series that keeps you at the edge of your seat from the first episode and ups the anty every episode after. This series not only puts you into a roaring disaster narrative, but offers moral and political commentary along the way.