When an actor comes out of retirement to pursue a project, expectations around it suddenly shoot up. The novel that this show is based on isn’t too celebrated or read. That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad one. But it does make it obscure. So, Last Light came on the radar for the masses due to Matthew Fox’s involvement. The genre it belongs to has given some great hits in recent times. It has become the darling of streaming platforms. Elements of thriller, disaster, and science fiction are more often than not a readily potent mix. But unfortunately, Last Light has none of that. Maybe the disaster part – but for very different reasons.
Last Light is just about five episodes too long. The main crux of drama here centers on a unique act of eco-terrorism. In the midst of all this, Andy Yeats (Fox) is separated from his wife Elena, son Sam (who does not have vision), and Laura, herself a budding environmentalist.
Whilst the mother-son duo are stuck in Paris, Laura is in London, and Andy is in Luzrah, called away by the company he works for to investigate. When it is revealed that the unprecedented bacteria that is seemingly unstoppable and the world stares at a frightening and tragic end created by Andy, he is forced to chase and confront a dark secret from his past.
It would probably have been more appropriate to brand the show as a family drama instead of bringing the disaster element into focus. And that too is done in a manner with no intention to explore dynamics or questions of human connections. Just under-baked, improperly executed, borrowed conviction from various different works. Most of the show’s marketing felt misdirected after having watched it. The actual crisis is given hardly any time or explanation.
The build-up is so poor that you only hear the word bacteria at the end of episode 3. Put that into the perspective of how long the series is: just five episodes! The antagonist is introduced in the penultimate episode, who was there all along – for like five minutes in one episode.
The writers felt it would be a grand reveal that could breathe some life and tension into the story. If that indeed was the thought process, then that is nothing but disillusioned thinking. Seven people in the MI6 are left in charge of handling the “crisis” that has apparently not affected other countries. Who is giving the orders, who are executing them, and if there is any tangible outcome; nothing matters. To understand what the writers did, here is a small analogy.
Imagine a footballer pressed into a corner on his side. With the opposition players pressing, he passes it back to the goalkeeper, who thumps a ball high in the air, hoping that the wretched number nine will make something out of it when he is clearly not capable of doing anything. The long ball, basically.
Writers do exactly that with Last Light. Some magic by the television gods would conjure something that strikes a chord with the viewer. Everything hinged on hope where there was none.
When you want to exploit a lack of trust between a husband and wife to create the emotional core that leads to an exciting event in the narrative, give the viewer more than two lines to establish a connection. How can you expect them to connect all the dots by themselves? We do not find any mention of the disaster spreading anywhere else, except in Paris where the mother-son duo goes through a useless arc. Phrases like “trust me, mum”, or “trust me, son” are thrown around just for the sake of it; with the hope that some emotional depth can make space by itself. After sending just two trucks with three men to capture Andy, no more were sent thereafter.
The plot has so many loopholes that an entire list can be prepared with a multitude of entries, maybe too many to read. The show is absolute shambles where none of the themes and subplots – or even the plot – come together. Everything feels like a loose end that the writers chase and find a dead turn in the middle of it. It is not ordinary to find something on the internet these days that is this miserably out of sync without anything to admire.
Last Light is a huge disappointment considering the possibilities to carve out a slow burn with complex characters and adventurous world-building. There is absolutely no way it should even be allowed to be streamed by Peacock on its platform. Please, stay away.
Verdict - 3.5/10