Episode 1 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
When it dropped back in 2019, Black Summer served up a distinctly different slice of zombie action. With lots of different survivors and characters killed at the drop of a hat, a thick veil of tension clung to every episode. Given the illogical actions of some characters and the sudden shifts across to different survivors, this show is also an acquired taste too.
After ending on a trademark Netflix cliffhanger, Black Summer is back after a 2 year wait – and what better time to release. With the world in and out of lockdown this past year, this series could not have had a better opportunity to film. That much is especially apparent here, as empty streets and barren landscapes allows Black Summer to pull out all the stops.
A brief prologue soon paves way for a shift four months in the future. Winter is starting to close in and the choked, urban jungle from season 1 paves way for the frozen tundra of the North. With this changed biome comes less zombie hordes and more human factions.
Humanity has divided into lots of small bands, and with sparse resources and supply drops in short supply, trust is at an all time low. With new characters joining the fray, Sun, Rose, Anna and Spears make their way North to try and outrun this never-ending plague.
Whispers of a safe haven ripple across to the different groups, as all of our different survivors set out to make the perilous journey to perceived freedom. No spoilers here of course, but the journey isn’t straight forward and eventually ends with a dramatic and tense finale. Oh and yes, there is another cliffhanger too.
Much like the first season, the scenes tend to cut sporadically between the different characters across these 8 episodes. The crux of this comes in the form of a milita group, led by new character Officer Ray.
Black Summer’s strength has always come from its realistic depiction of a zombie apocalypse. It’s very easy for us to sit here and point holes in logic or scoff at stupid decisions (and in some case yes, they really are) but adrenaline and nerves do crazy things. In moments of panic, it’s very hard to think clearly and that can sometimes backfire horribly. With the exception of one or two contrived occurrences involving zombies, most of what’s shown here is actually quite realistic.
What’s less realistic however, is the sheer lack of zombies. Unlike the first season’s fast-paced hordes and uneasiness, Black Summer instead strips that back to show that the real horror here is us. We’ve seen this gig play out across multiple different zombie flicks before and Netflix’s series doesn’t quite match up. Given the way we jump between characters, some of the new players don’t get much screen-time to really flesh their characters out.
Thankfully a couple of bottle episodes do help. The best episode of the season features Spears meeting a lonely wanderer, as the pair share time together and discuss their past. Likewise, the longest episode of the season takes place in a remote lodge. It’s tense, uneasy and full of eerie long-shots. There’s a real Shining vibe going on here and these slowed-down moments help the show a lot.
Unlike the first season however, the timeline here is distorted for artistic effect. The first episode is particularly guilty of this and it really is all over the place. It also inadvertently spoils the fate for several characters. The rest of the season is far more coherent though but this first episode is a particular black spot and will undoubtedly put some people off.
That’s a shame because while it’s not quite as good as the first season, Black Summer Season 2 does has some neat ideas and a couple of well-worked bottle episodes. Where the show really thrives though is in its fly-on-the-wall style and realistic(ish) depiction of a zombie apocalypse. It won’t be for everyone, and that first episode is a definite deal-breaker, but there’s enough bite to keep this one animated for a while.
Black Summer Season 2 releases on Netflix 17th June 2021 worldwide!