By Sorenya Miller
How did you miss Into the Night during the pandemic? The Belgian hit show premiered on May 1st, 2020, and turned out to be a sleeper hit. The show centers around a group of passengers whose plane is hijacked by a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) officer. While it may be an overused TV show concept, it comes with a slight twist. It turns out that the NATO officer, Terenzio Gallo, was trying to escape from an imminent threat: the sun. Ironically, there is a Danish show on Netflix called The Rain, where a virus in the rain is killing humans. It looks like international shows have a thing for the elements. However, as ridiculous as the Into the Night plot sounds, it actually works. Throughout the show, a whirlwind of problems ensues, from hijacking to outlandish characters and the pressure to stay into the night.
At the onset of the show, we’re presented with a slew of passengers headed to Moscow. Each character has their own story and fits into today’s societal bubble. Ines Ricci is a social media influencer, who is glued to her phone and wants to update her fans on every detail of her trip. Horst Baudin is a professional with an established career as an environmentalist. Laura Djalo is the only main female Black character, who nurses an old man. Richard Mertens is the “most righteous” and is set in his Christian morals. For a holy man, he judges every single person on the plane and makes covert racist remarks. Zara Oblonskaya is a mother, accompanied by her sick son Nicolas. Dominik Ayaz Kobanbay is a criminal who partakes in risky business deals. Sylvie Dubois is sad, and wallows in regret. Mathieu Douek is the plane’s pilot. Jakub Kieslowski is the plane’s mechanic, and Osman, a Muslim, is an airport cleaner. In a time of crisis, several leaders emerge from this group to lead the plight into the night.
First, we are introduced to Terenzio, the Italian who is trying to save himself before the end of the world. He forcefully goes onboard a commercial flight, urging the pilot to take off. Acting as the show’s antagonist along with the sun, Terenzio quickly establishes himself as an autocratic paranoid leader. He uses his gun as a prop to strike fear into the passengers and show that he is in control. Essentially, Terenzio had no intentions of stringing anyone along but now he is forced to step up and lead a group of scared passengers. As the truth unfolds and everyone finds out the reason why they were held captive, they accept him skeptically into their fold of survivors.
Terenzio now shifts from being the show’s antagonist to a side character. However, he doesn’t conceal the influence he had on some passengers by forming an alliance and suggesting that the group be more democratic. In summary, Terenzio will take any chance to display his authority. Even his job title as a NATO officer makes some of the characters assume that his accusations are correct, although their lives are in his hands. Yet when the truth unfolds, he desperately holds on to his authority and tries to turn the others against the pilot, the most competent person to fly the aircraft. As a leader, Terenzio is irrational, unstable, selfish, and an egomaniac. He gives the impression that he did the right thing by saving the passengers from the wrath of the sun, but he did not consider that it might be a curse instead of a blessing.
Next, Mathieu Douek, the plane’s pilot who has undergone immense training for circumstances like these, struggles to maintain his composure. Mathieu’s expertise is challenged while his physicality and morality are tested. In his first encounter with Terenzio, a gun is placed to his head and a decision must be made. He stays calm for his passengers and puts their needs and safety above his. As the story unfolds, we are given more context on Mathieu’s life. This insight conveys that he is not as confident as he depicts. However, because of his occupation, he has to keep his demeanor positive. As a leader, Mathieu uses his expertise to keep everyone in the night and make the tough decisions to keep all his passengers safe. On the contrary, as more pressure is placed on him, he succumbs and starts to make rash decisions to survive. Generally speaking, Mathieu doesn’t stray far from his values, but he makes many unprofessional decisions. This shows that during times of crisis a leader can throw ethics out of the window and go into survival mode.
Finally, we have Sylvie Dubois and Ayaz Kobanbay. Sylvie idolizes suicide after the death of her boyfriend. Conveniently, she was in the military, but she was not a “badass” like how movies normally portray military personnel. Instead, she’s subtle and takes charge without any force. As a leader, Sylvie is a natural, and she’s not afraid to make tough decisions for the safety of the group. On the other hand, Ayaz Kobanbay uses his skills as a conman to think fast on his feet. He also spots fake people easily and is honest in his opinions. Although his past catches up to him, he justifies his actions and acknowledges his mistakes. As a leader, Ayaz is not afraid to admit his flaws, but he uses his strengths tactfully. His character is definitely smarter and more mature than the others.
All in all, Into The Night is a solid 7.5 out of 10. The actors do a good job of acting paranoid and scared. Their chemistry with each other works well and it is not awkward. Plus, the backstories were useful for their character development. The show also tackles subtle themes such as racism, suicide, and prejudice. However, the show did have some far-fetched minor storylines and some things started to get repetitive, and we never got to see what the sun actually does.