In 2020, America came to a halt ending most television series, and “Black Summer” was also stalled. Thankfully after a long hiatus it returns and with season two returning with a deafening bang, there couldn’t have been a better time for it to premiere on Netflix. “Black Summer” Season 2 is a follow up season that doesn’t pull any punches. While the first season explored everyday people fighting to escape, the sophomore season digs deep in to every day people fighting each other (and zombies) to survive.
When last we saw “Black Summer,” our heroes fought through hordes of man eating zombies to get to a sports stadium where a helicopter was waiting to take survivors. Jaime King’s Rose had been separated from her daughter and now had finally been re-united with her. In season two, there is no ambiguity as we join Rose and her daughter Anna stuck in the middle of a terrible winter, in the middle of the woods, far away from humanity. But they’re always at risk of being mauled by one of the many roaming zombies.
When we cut to the snowy tundra, we’re dropped in to the middle of a war between two tribes of survivors, all of whom are literally fighting each other for scraps and supplies. This is no longer about survivors looking for allies, this new world is about survivors killing each other to live just one more day. The writers throw in much more story and exposition this time around, focusing on the characters a bit more while keeping the simple formula of getting from Point A to Point B.
This time though, there are two maguffins with high stakes. The survivors have all heard about a landing strip where a mysterious airplane has been landing, and they’re all anxiously trying to make it there in time. Meanwhile, the military is randomly dropping large boxes of supplies in the woods, which inspires a lot of the new characters to be willing to kill for the sake of food, medicine, and weapons.
“Black Summer” thankfully never loses its momentum, diving head first in to the chaos, but also stepping back to let us absorb what is really happening around us. Jaime King returns as Rose, one of the very few protagonists who is a much different person than when we first left her. She’s tired, she’s merciless, and she spends every waking moment doing everything she can to protect her daughter Anna. Probably the biggest highlight of the season is Zoe Marlett as Anna, a character very reminiscent of Carl Grimes from “The Walking Dead.” She’s a young girl who is desperately trying to find some hope in the death and snow, but she realizes she’s slowly losing her humanity, much like Rose.
Anna is a girl who grows wiser with every chapter, and we witness the ultimate culmination of it in the penultimate episode “The Lodge.” The formula stays relatively the same and it’s just as effective as ever. Zombies come charging from nowhere with horrifying growls, characters die (and re-animate) at the drop of a hat, and we get a very sad reality about humanity. The central theme of season two is that these people will do anything to live one more day, and we’re thrown in to stand offs where groups of survivors hold each other at gun point, willing to murder, if it means being able to eat.
There are no alliances. There are no settlements. There are no teams. There is just random people foraging for life, and it results in often disturbing moments of sheer cruelty. While “Black Summer” does subtly inject very relevant social commentary, it’s also a damn good, and breezy return to this absolutely horrifying world.
In 2020 we saw the rise of the COVID pandemic, and the brief rally cry “We’re In this Together,” promoted by the media, was instantly shattered as we saw media footage of people wrestling for quarantine supplies that included food and rolls upon rolls of toilet paper. The maniacal behavior wasn’t completely out of the ordinary. With “Black Summer” Season 2 we see what we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic.
We’re not all in this together. We’re in fact all on our own. And when there’s the hint that supplies might run out, we’ll step over each other to survive just one more day.
Streaming exclusively on Netflix.