Season 2 of Black Summer, a show about surviving amid a zombie apocalypse, came out mid-June and I was intrigued to see how they followed up from the first season; a season which I really enjoyed (much to my surprise as I tend to steer clear of zombie movies and shows).
The first season of the show was released in 2019, around two years ago, so when I browsed my ‘Netflix recommended’ and saw the second season, I was reminded of how much I had actually liked watching the first.
Normally, I will watch a horror film or television show and I’ll like the suspense and gore for about one minute and then I’ll get scared and turn the lights on and watch something less sinister, like a Disney movie or a cartoon equally as calming (I am sure many can relate). However, Black Summer, for me, was different because, whilst it definitely had highly creepy scenes, it wasn’t down to zombie clichés or gimmick-y jump scares (there were a few jump scares but I found that they were in the ‘right place, right time’). A lot of the dialogue and character interactions were highly intense and created some interesting themes, from fear to desperation to complete chaos.
Made by Karl Schaefer and John Hyams, the second season follows on from the first, and we see a few different story lines that all eventually link together; Rose and Anna, mother and daughter, Spears and Sun, as well as some new perspectives. One thing I really liked about the series is how the stories are split – the same world but different views. We see Rose and Anna trying to survive together, Spears being shot, wounded and left for dead and Sun, being kept as a somewhat prisoner by an unsettling group, as she battles with language barriers, struggling to be understood in such a chaotic landscape.
With most of the vital characters from the first season being included in the second, it is hard to write a review and not credit the actors – there were so many great performances from the whole cast. Two of my favourite overall performances, however, were from Christine Lee (Sun) and Manuel Rodriguez-Saenz (Boone). Lee showed the clear difficulties of an apocalypse, not just because the world was overrun with zombies but because she was so misunderstood due to the language barrier.
One scene where her and her captors run into a group trying to take from a supply package was really interesting, when she tries to stop a fight breaking out by uttering the word “friends”. It’s sad and surreal to think of a dystopian world like that and, although it’s fiction, it shows her character is still empathetic despite most people only thinking for themselves in such devastation – her performance is full of emotion and fear.
Boone is a new character in the second series and is perceived as rather crazy and chaotic. He leads Rose and Anna to the ski-lodge, after being threatened with death by Rose due to her lack of belief that it exists. He talks a lot and tries to see the brighter side of their now gloomy life, but I appreciated this in a series about zombies because it’s quite different and unexpected. Whether his character had such a personality before the apocalypse or the crisis turned him into an over-exaggerative, high-intensity character is unknown but I really liked how he was portrayed.
The timeline of the show varies but we get the context needed to understand and I really like that the show isn’t simply one point to the next. If you haven’t watched the first season (although I do recommend this as it is just as good) or haven’t seen it in a long time, you shouldn’t be completely lost when watching – I found that even though I hadn’t seen the show in over two years, I could quickly decide who I liked, who I was rooting for and who I didn’t care for at all.
Without giving too much away, most of the characters, whilst hiding from zombies and (somehow equally as bad) people wielding weapons and searching for shelter in the bitter winter, are looking for an airstrip with a working plane and pilot, who we see a few times throughout the season. Flying over the characters, sometimes silencing all activity, the plane gives hope to most of our protagonists and becomes almost like a foreseeable ending. The plane becomes a symbol that signifies hope for most of our characters: a means of escape.
As the series progressed, I always found myself waiting for the next time I could see each character. Sun, still a captive, Spears meeting an old ‘friend’ (and still surviving at this point after being shot) and Rose and Anna meeting a few questionable new people whilst existing in a huge, abandoned house with them, including Boone who hides upstairs and that we see sneaking around.
When a large fight breaks out between Sun’s captors, the survivors in the abandoned house – including Rose and Anna – and another group, the air strip becomes more of a prominent destination. Boone takes them to a supposedly empty ski lodge with power, food, water and dozens of bedrooms, promising that he knows where the airstrip is and that they can resume the trip there after a night’s sleep.
After a few gripping scenes of a sleepless Anna exploring noises in the lodge, we find out that Spears has made his way there without his new friend. After some tense words around a large, cooked meal, there are some unfortunate decisions and then the airstrip journey is resumed.
When all of the remaining characters make it to the airstrip, it doesn’t go to plan and more chaos ensues.
There are a lot of frantic scenes of fighting and running as we slowly see the airstrip give way to zombies. Again, we see different viewpoints from the characters who made it there and their outcomes and it was one of my favourite sections of the show – so many components made it fast-paced, frightening and intense.
At the beginning of the final episode we see a close up of one of Sun’s captors, played by Bobby Naderi, giving a grizzly speech whilst pointing a gun at the camera, completely covered in blood. At this point it is unclear who he is talking to. It not only gives an insight into the episode before it has started but I found it powerful and raw and it was a really good scene that represented what kind of person his character is.
The airstrip scenes are at the end of the season and leave the audience with some pretty heavy cliff-hangers. There was a new zombie hoard, an explosion and only one person making it onto the plane. So, where does the plane go? Will a season three show us? I hope so.
If you want to watch Black Summer seasons 1 and 2, you can find them on Netflix now.
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