This horror series continues with a strong lead performance and compelling themes
By Jonathan Pabico, Contributor
Joe Hill’s novel NOS4A2 was wondrously adapted into one of the most refreshing and original vampire tales to debut on a TV screen. The premiere of this show’s second season has an impressive lead backed by significant social motifs. The story takes place eight years after season one’s harrowing conflict between punk artist Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) and nefarious vampire Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto). McQueen has since settled down with a family of her own and remains vigilant for the return of her immortal foe.
The premiere humanizes McQueen incredibly by exploring the depths of her pain and trauma from season one. Through McQueen’s struggles to be open about her suffering with boyfriend Lou (Jonathan Langdon), Cummings unravels how such damaging experiences can easily affect someone’s life. She perfectly reprises this troubled youth as a complicated person trying to let go of personal hurt.
Cummings also beautifully portrays her role as a mother who feels uncertain about the world. This approach relays the fears that shape the bond between parents and children. Her performance further instills McQueen as someone with great compassion. This creates an emotional texture to foreground, showing how pivotal it is to trust and stay connected with your loved ones.
An important theme in this episode is how difficult it is to confront the past. Idle close-ups edited with obstructed camera angles of Cummings’ lingering facial expressions convey how trapped and tortured McQueen is by her painful memories. The dreadful colour palette in each scene is blended with a disquieting soundtrack. The watcher can understand McQueen’s inner turmoil with moving forward in her life.
The sets and lighting are layered with smooth editing between scenes to achieve an ominous aesthetic. They gradually build suspense to foreshadow the dangers that McQueen will soon encounter in the show’s overarching narrative.
The premiere’s most disappointing aspect is that Manx plays a small role so far in the story. He is mostly discussed during dialogue scenes since the script is focused more on setting up his arrival for future episodes.
Secondary characters are treated as brief subplots to just provide viewers with something new to watch until the plot returns to McQueen. They develop creepy tension, but these roles could have had more scenes in obtaining better character dynamics—or they should have instead been introduced in later episodes.
Overall, the season two premiere of NOS4A2 elevates the eerie atmosphere of its predecessor. It is surprising that Charlie Manx has little presence, given that he is the show’s main villain. Still, the plot compensates for this shortcoming with resonating themes from Ashleigh Cummings’ lead performance as Vic McQueen. The story boldly prepares you for what will most likely be another series of supernatural horrors and riveting characters.