The midnight club producer and director Mike Flanagan is not happy that Netflix has already canceled the series after one season. He says in a recent blog post that he is very disappointed by the streaming services decision, but what did he expect to happen after he made a deal with Amazon?
Anyway, he explained that his biggest disappointment is that “we left so many storylines open, so they’ve been held back for the hypothetical second season, which is always a gamble.” So he decided to outline the story for the second season so that we would all know what we’re missing, but also to answer questions and give us closure on some things, which is nice.
I enjoyed the first season of the series and it looks like a lot of other people enjoyed it too! I appreciate Flanagan taking the time to share these details with us so we aren’t left with unanswered questions.
Below you will find all the details he shared. Read them through and let us know what you think!
Season 2 would begin with Amesh, his glioblastoma progressing rapidly. He was supposed to tell the first story of the season, but would struggle to make it. We would focus on his love story with Natsuki for those first few episodes as it becomes clear that Amesh’s death is imminent.
Meanwhile, Ilonka tries to reconcile how she was fooled by Julia Jayne while falling even more in love with Kevin, and realizes he may be fading faster than he lets on.
Ilonka starts a serial story in an attempt to encourage him to “stay alive a little bit longer”, as he did in season one. And the story she tells is… REMEMBER ME.
This was what I was most excited about this season.
REMEMBER ME is one of my all-time favorite Pike books – it tells the story of a teenage girl who is pushed off a balcony and wakes up as a ghost. She must navigate like a ghost as she tries to solve her own murder. We would have stretched this story over 5 episodes. We’d use it as a vehicle for Ilonka to try and come to terms with the fact that she’s going to die, and try to wrap her head around the fact that she’s a ghost… but this is the coolest part. .. the main character of Ilonka’s story would not be played by Ilonka. She was supposed to be played by… Anya.
Because that’s how we live on, isn’t it? In the minds of those we leave behind. And Ilonka used REMEMBER ME as a way of imagining her dear friend Anya, waking up as a ghost, navigating the afterlife. And this makes for one of the show’s best mechanics – even when a character dies, as long as they’re remembered by members of the club, they live on in their stories.
However, as the story begins to pick up steam, the group will have to deal with Amesh’s death, which he greets with grace and courage.
In his final moments, he sees someone in his room – the first-season janitor, played by Robert Longstreet, saying comforting things to Amesh, even though he can’t respond.
In its final, final moments, the SHADOW descends upon Amesh, and it engulfs him, reinforcing the idea that the Shadow is THE DEATH…
With Amesh’s death comes something that turns the whole thing upside down: A NEW PATIENT. We didn’t really know who this would be yet, but it would be a new housemate for Ilonka. Someone takes Anya’s old bed. Ilonka would find herself cold to her at first – just as Anya was when Ilonka arrived. Even if you feel like this new girl, you don’t necessarily have to enter the club. But of course they would develop a beautiful friendship over the course of the season. The new girl joins the club, where something else exciting happens – Cheri tells a story. We hadn’t decided which yet, but I think it was MONSTER.
Natsuki would be next to die, which would be heartbreaking. And again, she would talk to the janitor just before it happened… and again the shadow would come in the last moments.
For Spence, however, things would take a different turn.
The advances in HIV treatment in the late 1990s would come into play and we would see his prognosis change. The HIV cocktail came out in December 1995, and we really wanted to investigate that.
Spence would experience the wave of antiviral advancements and by the end of the season he would no longer be classified as terminal. In the Season 2 finale, Spence would leave Brightcliffe, just like Sandra did in Season 1, on his way to managing his illness and living out the rest of his life.
But on to the BIG MYSTERIES of the first season… here are some answers: What’s up with Dr.’s tattoo and bald head? Stanton? Well, a few things. First, dr. Stanton is actually the daughter of the original Paragon cult leader, Aceso. Her nickname was Athena, she wrote the Paragon diary that Ilonka found in S1. She turned on her mother and helped the children escape, but because she was part of the cult in her teens, she had the tattoo done.
It was her initials that Ilonka found carved into the tree in Season 1 (her maiden name was Georgina Ballard, hence the GB Ilonka finds carved into the tree).
She hated what became her mother, and the atrocities of the cult. She reclaimed the property after her mother left and wanted to turn it into a place that celebrated life. She tried to undo her mother’s legacy and leave something beautiful behind. She’s wearing a wig at the end of S1, not for any sinister reason, but because she’s undergoing chemo. Dr. Stanton has cancer. After helping so many people deal with illness, she now has to deal with it herself.
Her treatment would be successful and she would go into remission, but facing that – while caring for the terminally ill children in Brightcliffe – would become a very introspective arc for Stanton.
What about the living shadow? It’s death, right? No.
At the end of the season, Kevin dies… shortly followed by Ilonka. And when she’s dying, two things will happen. First she talks to the janitor, played by Robert Longstreet… and makes a discovery.
HE is Death. And nothing to be afraid of. It turns out that no one else has ever seen this character. Stanton has a cleaning service and the nurses make up the rooms – the only people who ever saw this mysterious janitor were the patients. He is death and offers them kind words before they die. Then what was the shadow?
This is an idea we take straight from the book REMEMBER ME, and we’ll see how it plays out in the final moments of Ilona’s last story. In Pike’s book, Shari is haunted by a dark entity called The Shadow. But when it finally gets a hold of her, it turns out it’s not a bad thing at all.
The Shadow is ITSELF. It’s the unknown. As it engulfs a person at the last moment of their life, it guides them through a place of understanding and catharsis, preparing them for the next step.
THIS is what happened to Anya in S1 when the shadow finally reached her – that’s why she fantasized about a life outside of Brightcliffe, eventually finding acceptance of her death. It looks different on everyone depending on their mindset – because it’s just an extension of themselves.
The shadow is just the final catharsis, a return to our original form – it’s a moment of real understanding, and once we experience it, we move on to the next place.
We see the shadow in full force when it finally comes for Kevin. KEVIN DIES with Ilonka by his side, and it leads to the biggest reveal of the season:
Who were the Mirror Man and the Cataract Woman?
It was Stanley Oscar Freelan and his wife, who built Brightcliffe (fun trivia, he’s named after the real Freelan Oscar Stanley, who built my favorite hotel in America – the Stanley Hotel. The Stanley is also the inspiration for THE SHINING!).
But more than that… there’s a reason Ilonka only sees Stanley in the mirror, and sees the cataract woman when she looks at Kevin. This is another thing we took from Pike’s original book…these are not ghosts, but glimpses of PAST LIVES.
Ilonka WAS Stanley Oscar Freelan and Kevin WAS his wife. They have lived this way for many lives, and are true SOULMATES – they always find each other and always fall in love. In this life they knew it would be short, so they agreed to find each other in the house they had built. They have “remembered” who they are, and glimpse their former selves in reflections, and sometimes when they look at each other. This is also why Ilonka’s very first words to Kevin in S1 were “Do I know you?” and why Kevin thought she was famous too. They are two souls that always find each other again and again.
The story is this: Stanley was dying and built this house on a cliff hoping the sea air would help him. It did, and he far outlived his prognosis (this includes the real Freelan Stanley). However, his wife began to succumb to dementia.
She wandered the halls, looking for him (“Honey!”) and even forgot to feed herself (“I’m starving…”), eventually refusing to leave the basement. Heartbroken for her, Stanley painted the walls to resemble the forest scene, and the ceiling to resemble the night sky so that it would be a little prettier for her.
He also painted a labyrinth on the floor, a technique used to curb the effects of dementia. She would follow the pattern of the maze and it was believed that it would help her cognition. Eventually she developed terrifying cataracts, but Stanley always loved her.
They were soul mates.
So while they seemed scary in Season 1, that’s exactly how Ilonka and Kevin’s ghost tried to remember their past. We had even distorted their faces in ways consistent with how memories deteriorate over time.
When the shadow comes for Ilonka and gives her this understanding – this “remembering” – she realizes that she has nothing to fear. She and Kevin will shed these personas and be reborn, and have the joy of finding each other in a different way.
The shadow comes for her, death gently takes her away and Ilonka leaves with Kevin back into the cosmos, ready for their next incarnation.
The series would end with Cheri telling this story to an entirely new table of patients, including our new series of leads. Most of our original cast would now exist as stories, a story told to the next “class” of storytellers at the table, all of whom we will have met by the end of the season. A story called ‘The Midnight Club’.
Well, that’s it… that was what we had in mind. It’s a shame we didn’t make it, but it would be much worse if you guys just had to live with the unanswered questions and the cliffhanger ending. I had a blast making this show and I’m so proud of the cast and crew. Especially our cast, who attacked this story every day with incredible spirit and courage.
But for now, we put out the fire and leave the library dark and quiet. For those before and for those after. For us now, and for those afterwards.
Visible or unseen, here but not here.
I will always be grateful to have been a part of this club.