Warning: Graphic content. Also, plenty of spoilers abound in the following. Proceed at your own risk.
Clearly, Troy’s ghost and I need to have a serious talk.
The first season of After Nightfall has been, in a word, successful. It’s won more awards around the world than you can poke a stick at, and now we’re back with season 2, which has more episodes, more characters, and a bigger budget thanks to a crowd funding campaign. All these combine into making Season 2 look like it’s going to be even better than Season 1, if you can believe it!
In the season 1 finale, Colin managed to unlock Troy’s iPad. Nathan and Yardley were caught kissing at conversion camp, with the Naylor couple promising to ‘step up’ therapy. Dave discovered Leanne’s affair thanks to Isobel. Hayden, Grace and Xavier found Kobie burying Troy’s phone where his body was discovered. A heavily pregnant Faye was attacked and seriously injured by Oscar. And lead detective Simon was murdered by Troy’s killer.
Episode 1 opens with a new character. Zara is the new sergeant at the station, and we meet her as she’s leaving her distraught partner. Instantly, you know this is not a woman you want to cross. She means business.
But the main feature of this episode is Troy’s funeral, and Angela is convinced the killer is among the mourners. While we don’t see any of the service, it doesn’t matter. This setting is a perfect way to introduce several new characters. Being added to the roll call is Colin’s sister Renee McCleavey (who is at odds with mum Viv), Colin’s Aunt Narelle who shares the family ESP gene, Angela’s ex-husband Ian, and mysterious school student Wesley, who has obviously come off worse in a fight. There’s also mention of another McCleavey sibling. Kate. This can be no coincidence, given that Colin asked Viv in Season 1 how she coped with losing a child. I think Kate might be appearing in some way sooner or later. Red herrings are a given in a murder mystery, but there’s one thing Wayne Tunks doesn’t do and that’s gratuitous plot holes. Thank God.
(P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, a certain Harper Smith appears at Troy’s funeral. You may recognise the actor. She knows nothing other than the two pages of the script from that day!)
Inside the church, Troy’s ghost stands by his casket, seen by Viv, Colin and Narelle, who tells Colin that Troy has unfinished business. I quite agree.
Also, shout out to the beautiful music performed by the multi-talented Kristina Benton, who plays Ursula in the series!
Moving on to Episode 2, and Troy continues to linger. Sort of a strange thing to comment on, but massive props to the makeup artist for adding the strangulation marks on Troy’s neck. A very effective touch!
We cut to the park, where Sergeant Zara confronts Brad and Angela, both drinking off-duty. She promises there’s going to be a lot of changes, including a crackdown on corruption. And from the look she gives Brad, I’d say she’s onto him. Good. Barbara Gouskos give a very powerful performance in the few minutes she’s been on screen. I’m very keen to see what her character is all about, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find there’s more to her than meets the eye.
Meanwhile, Kobie hounds his little sister for information on Faye’s attacker, but she’s not telling anything yet. Which, honestly, given her age and what she witnessed makes perfect sense. I’m just wondering why she hasn’t been interviewed by the authorities, yet, but the season is still young!
Over at Dave’s, we meet Amaia, the newest member of Dave’s gang. Leanne is still around, but Dave’s justifiably giving her the cold shoulder. And currently there’s no word on Ryan, but I’d be surprised if he still has a face at this point.
Justine’s anger at her husband is growing by the second, and then there’s an unexpected visitor to the McCleavey household. It’s Brenda, a TV psychic who claims she’s been speaking with Troy. Cue the eye roll. And it seems Colin will be the character we follow most in Season 2. He heads to Hayden’s house and reveals the data on Troy’s iPad is corrupted. And this is where, as I said above, Troy and me need to talk.
I’m not entirely sure why he’d leave his damn iPad in the cubby house where water could get to it, and if the data is unreadable. I know, I know, it could be a red herring and there’s very likely going to be an explanation of why/how this happened. But still. Also, if I was killed (touch wood) and came back as a ghost, the first thing I’d do is snitch on the murderer. However, Narelle did say Troy’s strength was building, and I’m pretty sure I saw him name names to Viv in Episode 5, so who knows?
Anyhow, Colin has officially teamed up with Hayden, and is now in possession of Troy’s phone. I’m going to go out on a limb and say we can officially strike Hayden and Colin off the suspect list but to be perfectly honest, I never thought either of them was the killer.
And finally, we return to conversion camp, where my beloved Nathan and Yardley are being subjected to…well, there’s really no other way to put this, torture. This is why I’ve added a content warning, and I have literally never done that on anything I’ve ever written, so you know I sure as hell mean it.
Nathan and Yardley are forced to view images of gay couples and given electric shocks to ‘train’ their sexuality. I won’t lie, this is a very difficult scene to watch, and it’s even worse when you know this sort of ‘treatment’ is very real. Not since Dolores Umbridge hopped her way into Harry Potter have I ever genuinely wished to strangle a character as much as I do Peter and Melinda in this scene. Holy hell I hope they get what’s coming to them. My hat is off to the actors for their bravery and honesty, as I can’t imagine this would have been easy to film. What on earth is going to happen next?
Season 2 of After Nightfall has really taken things to the next level in every way. The story is dense and building by the episode. The world is expanding and the established characters are developing further. The plot is moving forward in unexpected ways. The atmosphere is building like a pressure-cooker. Presumably thanks to the higher budget, the cinematography has stepped up from its already impressive look, including some great split screen shots of Troy, the use of slow motion, and creative camera angles.
It’s been more than a year since we last caught up with the McCleavey family, but from what has been delivered in these first two episodes, it’s been well worth the wait. We still have six episodes left, and the possibility of a third season, so hang on tight. It’s going to be quite the ride.