Created by Jason George
Starring Pauline Etienne, Laurent Capelluto, Stefano Cassetti
“One problem at a time.”
That is the mantra recited by French co-pilot Mathieu (Laurent Capelluto) every time he is confronted by a new setback on an accursed flight around the globe. And, boy, do the setbacks pile up in Into the Night, the apocalyptic sci-fi series that moves with such propulsive energy it practically leapt out of its origins as a Belgian web series and flew into the international lineup of your Netflix subscription.
Based on the digital novel The Old Axolotl by Polish writer Jacek Dukaj, Into the Night is a tasty morsel of six episodes that last no more than 40 minutes each; it’s the entertainment equivalent of popping open a Pringles and munching your way down to the bottom of the can. We begin in Brussels and follow Sylvie (Pauline Etienne), a French ex-navy operative who is finagling her way into another flight after missing the one she was supposed to be on. She plops down the urn of her cremated lover (Thorian Jackson De Decker) on the counter and gets an upgrade to first class on the next flight to Moscow.
But no sooner does she walk onto the plane when a wild-eyed Italian named Terenzio (Stefano Cassetti), a military attaché serving at NATO, bursts in waving an assault weapon. After a brief ruckus with Mathieu that injures the co-pilot’s left hand, he succeeds in getting the plane off the ground, babbling that they need to fly west into never-ending night because the sun’s rays have turned deadly
Into the Night’s apocalyptic premise is an easy sell in the times we’re living in. But for the first few episodes, the external danger, though more earthbound than Stephen King’s similarly situated The Langoliers, feels abstract and distant. That’s because creator Jason George—he wrote all six episodes—is more interested in sealing his characters in a hermetic bubble and watching what happens. Put another way, the plane is a flying hothouse that allows its passengers’ ugly impulses to flourish.
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Like The Eddy, the episodes are named after a specific passenger whose secrets render them particularly vulnerable. Apart from the suicidal Sylvie, the unfaithful Mathieu and the power-hungry Terenzio, other episodes focus on the frantic maintenance engineer Jakub (Ksawery Szlenkier), the easily affronted security analyst Rik (Jan Bijvoet) and the duplicitous real estate agent Ayaz (Mehmet Kurtulus). As the problems mount, the decisions become more dangerously flawed. Meanwhile, the characters race against the light, not just to save their lives but in many ways to keep their true selves cloaked in darkness.
Taken together, Into the Night’s six episodes are longer by 15 minutes than The Irishman’s three-and-a-half-hour running time. But trust me, that will not be a problem: The minutes will fly by.
Into the Night is currently streaming on Netflix.