Into the Night on Netflix is a Belgian science fiction series adapted from the Polish novel The Old Axolotl about a group of people trapped on an airplane, fleeing the now-deadly sun.  With a classic disaster story structure, a la The Poseidon Adventure or more currently, The Rain, Into the Night features an ensemble cast of well-known actors from several European countries. Early in the boarding process, a red-eye flight to Moscow is hijacked by a crazed Italian NATO officer who claims that the sun is spontaneously killing every living organism, and that they must fly west to avoid immediate death. The small group of passengers and crew work together through panic, suspicion and shifting loyalties to keep the plane gassed up while they seek a more permanent solution. The concept isn’t new, but the fast pace and unique challenges of a multicultural group of people racing the sun make it fun.

Everybody has a story

Each episode of Into the Night starts with the backstory of a different character. There is the co-pilot, Mathieu (Laurent Capelluto), who is shot in the hand during the hijacking melee and is starting to unravel. Sylvie (Pauline Etienne) is a suicidal recent widow who happens to have flown helicopters in the military so is conscripted into becoming the pilot, Ayaz (Mehmet Kurtulus) is a strapping, vaguely menacing Turk who is sensitive about his country. We also have weasely security guard Rik (Jan Bijvoet), who switches loyalties with the wind, and Terenzio (Stéfano Cassetti) the pugilistic NATO officer who wants gratitude for saving everyone’s lives, as well as several other characters that fill necessary functions, such as a mechanic, a nurse, and some expendables. As with any ensemble disaster piece, stressful circumstances make bad people do good things and vice versa.

What happened to the sun?

While season 1 of Into the Night doesn’t reveal the problem with the sun, climate scientist Horst (Vincent Londez) has enough knowledge in general to steer the group toward a more stable refuge than a gas guzzling plane. The end of episode 6 hints that we will find out more in season 2. The structure of this series is very much like Denmark’s The Rain, with a motley group forced together while fleeing a pervasive natural disaster. But somehow The Rain feels more grave, possibly because it is about teens, not adults, and because it starts with the main characters being orphaned. Into the Night failed to grab me emotionally, but the entertainment value is high, even if it is predictable.

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