Bad Mother – | Review Score – 3/5
Good Father – | Review Score – 3.5/5
The Night Road – | Review Score – 2.5/5
The Lake House – | Review Score – 3/5
Bruce Wayne McQueen – | Review Score – 1.5/5
The Hourglass – | Review Score – 4/5
Cripple Creek – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Chris McQueen – | Review Score – 4/5
Welcome to Christmasland – | Review Score – 4/5
Bats – | Review Score – 3.5/5
NOS4A2 was one of the bigger surprises in 2019. Despite a relatively slow start, it soon grew into a more comfortable horror-flavoured melodrama over time. With Charlie Manx defeated, the teasing season 1 finale left enough of a dangling thread behind to cling to for season 2.
With Manx gone, the season picks up 8 years later. Vic has moved on from her horrific ordeal and found solace in her relationship with Lou. She got a child now too, Wayne, and these two are enough to keep Vic on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately when Vic receives a call from a familiar voice, she descends down a twisting spiral of self-destruction.
Meanwhile, Maggie is living comfortably with police officer Tabitha. When she’s called away by an urgent call from Vic, she finds herself caught up in a new nightmare as Manx returns with a vengeance. With Bing back by his side, Manx turns his attention solely to Vic and those whom she holds most dear to get his revenge.
Only, trouble brews in paradise. While all this is going on, Millie starts to grow restless in Christmasland and questions her Father’s real purpose. This leads her to a mysterious house sitting atop a hill that holds some pretty dark secrets for Manx’s past.
Inevitably, all of this builds up to a climactic final act, with a couple of stylistic hiccups along the way holding this back from being a better title. Despite that though, the show ends on a high with a big finale that leaves the possibility of a third season hanging should AMC decide to renew this one.
Unlike last season though, the focus here is solely on the main conflict between Manx and Vic. This does work to streamline the series though and there’s a deliberate emphasis on honing in on various supporting characters. Bing and Manx get a whole episode dedicated to themselves for example, while Maggie takes on a mysterious new foe in the Hourglass Man. There’s even an episode that splices up one scene into multiple perspectives across 40 minutes.
The latter point is one of the few stylistic gambles that doesn’t really work. A lot of the built-up drama to this point is flat-lined in favour of a showy episode of style. For some, this is going to be a cleverly written episode but against the rest of the season it stands out for all the wrong reason.
Alongside that though are some nice themes that come through and looking back, the bigger picture of the series is clear to see. The evolving and contrasting fortunes for both Vic and Maggie is absolutely fascinating and seeing their personalities change across the season highlights some of the better elements of character building.
I won’t spoil anything here but the end-result in the finale is one that feels well-earned and also puts both central protagonists into perspective. I say central because Maggie plays a much more prominent role this year and really comes into her own across the season.
Overall though, NOS4A2 does well to bow out on a high. There’s a suitably climactic finish that closes out many of the story angles and it’s safe to say not everyone makes it to the end. While it never exceeds the bar set for the first season, there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable follow-up nonetheless.
Verdict - 7/10