The Afterparty Season 2 Review – A saucier mystery that reaffirms the show’s strong branding

Season 2

 

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score – 3.5/5

When writer and creator Christopher Miller said before the release of The Afterparty’s Season 2, “Expect more of the same,” one wouldn’t have taken his statement at face value. Well, perhaps we should have. The second season of this delightfully refreshing whodunnit is inspired by the essentials of Season 1. And that is a great thing. It infectiously works in favour of the saucier mystery in the second season that takes some time to get going. 

But once the train leaves the station, there is no turning back. All character narrations in Season 2 of The Afterparty are anchored in more granular detailing. They are more in sync with the “Danner and Aniq” trials and play a much more active role in cracking the mystery. While it would have been easy to call this version of The Afterparty jaded, the creatives put in a lot of effort to resist labels like those. 

The murder victim, in this case, is Edgar Minnows, an unassuming and self-absorbed millionaire who is set to be betrothed to Grace, Zoe’s younger sister. Their wedding will take place over the weekend at the lavish Minnow Vineyard that sprawls endless acres of land. A rehearsal dinner will be followed by the wedding, which will be followed by…a morning of murder! Edgar’s dead body is discovered after the wedding night and Aniq calls upon his old partner-in-chief, Danner, who is now writing a book about the first murder, to aid in the investigation. 

Aniq and Danner interview every family member present at the wedding over the next few hours. Each character tells the same story through their eyes and tribulations with the other members of the family. The format for Season 2 remains the same. Each narration from the characters is set up with a different theme that reflects their personality and obsessions. Season 1 proved what a genius way it was of emboldening character lines and infusing the narrative with fresh ideas using these individualized setups. I was very impressed with how the blueprint is replicated in this season.

The pick of the episodes for me are Hannah and Travis’ stories. The choices of characterization are spot on, where the makers use a Wes Anderson-themed setup for Hannah and a noirish style from the ’50s for Travis, the beleaguered conspiracy theorist. Seeing all of these different flavours of film genre bundled into one exciting rainbow of thick slices remains a pleasant experience. The most admirable aspect of these portrayals is the beguiling mix of drama and comedy. Neither of them dominates the overall experience, helping viewers to absorb the full impact of the thoughtful writing.

These characters are not invented from thin air, carrying no meaning or significance. They are imperfect, lonely people looking for a way out of their loneliness. The fallacious infallibility of the human condition is plastered onto all of the characters. The writers are smart enough to recognize how they could simultaneously paint these instincts as probable motivations for them to kill Edgar, giving the show its central conceit. Thus, both these things are seamlessly integrated into one another.

Despite the positives, I do feel that the season falls in quality and standards after episode 4. The exact reason for the slight deterioration is hard to pinpoint but sadly, it does have an impact on the overall outlook for this new season. However, the mystery remains afloat through all these hindrances. I wouldn’t exactly say that we were kept on our toes playing the guessing game right till the end. A few episodes before the finale, you will likely get a fair idea of who the killer might be. But despite this, full marks should be given to the creative team for not churning out a half-hearted, half-baked murder plot. 

With regards to the performances, I was most moved by Ken Jeong’s turn as Feng Zhu, father to Grace & Zoe, and Vivian’s husband. In the initial episodes, it did not seem likely that his character arc would be so rich and cathartic. Jeong reached deep into his family’s experience as struggling immigrants looking for a lucky break in a foreign country. He really set the bar high for the rest of the ensemble cast who were very good overall. They had mostly equal screen time and participation, although I would have preferred to see more of the brilliant Zach Woods.

Woods was very underutilized by the writers. Against his staple archetype, Woods is asked to play a distant and darkly cold character, with whom he mostly seems comfortable. He holds Edgar’s idiosyncracies to a quality standard throughout. Jack Whitehall’s Sebastian is funny and aptly written but he is definitely overcooked on some occasions. A little more refinement would have brought him out as a more effective character.

Overall, season 2 of The Afterparty is a treat for the fans of the first season and new viewers alike. If you like the whodunit genre, this should be considered your go-to fodder. 


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  • Verdict - 7/10
    7/10
7/10

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