Welcome To Camp Nightmare
Welcome! It’s been a long time since The A List aired and if you don’t fancy the 13 episode deep dive back into this one, we’ve got you covered.
The A List is listed with an age rating of 12 but to be honest, this feels like a pre-teen mystery accessible for families and teens up to about 14 or 15.
In essence, this is an extended Goosebumps episode with the added element of romance and love triangles, hence the title of this piece “Welcome to Camp Nightmare” (which happens to be this reviewer’s favourite Goosebumps book!)
Anyway, let’s begin.
Our story takes place on Peregrine Island, where a bunch of kids gather together for the Summer festivities. All the usual characters are here, including Mia and Amber who happen to be the central figures. Their rivalry is what immediately grabs and remains a constant through the season.
Amber can just touch people and they instantly come under her control. For Jenna, she touches her hand and makes her see that the food is rotten when it’s not. She also installs herself as the Midsummer queen.
A stranger appears out the woods too, who we later come to learn is a runaway called Luka. More on him in a bit.
On the day of the Midsummer celebrations, Mia arrives to meet her love interest Dev. Only, he doesn’t show up. Instead, she finds the words “I hate Mia” etched into the wood. Amber shows with her brainwashed cronies and tells Mia that “pride comes before a fall.”
As she runs away, she stumbles on a tree branch and finds a hand protruding through the dirt. There we actually meet Luka, who points a bow at her.
Luka has been stealing from their camp but wants Mia’s help to gain resources in exchange for showing the one spot where there’s a wi-fi signal on the island.
There, Mia rings Lily and asks for help. Apparently there’s no ferries en-route to Peregrine Island. It also turns out someone died on the island a year earlier. A girl had an accident the year before, who we later come to learn is a girl called Midge.
Another of those teens on the island is Alex, who has a will they/won’t they romance with fellow camper Petal. They both follow the sound of sobbing and come across an abandoned cabin. They also see a strange shape under the cover but when she checks, it’s no longer there.
In the midst of all this, we learn a few clues about Dave, the camp counsellor. He used to be a camper and he’s been there for years. He apparently doesn’t remember but when Amber presses him, she claims it’s his fault for “not looking for her”. This becomes clear late on when we find out what really happened to her.
Harry, the camp’s geek, figures out the green lights they’ve been seeing. It’s a drone. There’s also a recurring symbol here too which is the same one Mia finds in the woods earlier in the season. This all links to a hatch which the group absolutely rip off from Lost, scene for scene.
The Hatch & The Lab
So what’s in the hatch? Not a world-ending button, that’s for sure. Instead, the trio find a lab with roots and flowers inside.
Kayleigh, still under Amber’s control, bashes her head on a tree branch and snaps out of her entranced state. It’s worth mentioning here that the hatch has a pulsating blue light on a device under the desk. It’s not mentioned again for the rest of the season but it seems important.
A group photo reveals more home truths. It seems like all these campers have been there before but inexplicably forgotten when and how. Within that picture is Midge, who stands at the back of everyone. It turns out she was a loner and no one hung out with her.
Kayleigh remembers that the last day of camp, at the first Midsummer night, they had a party and Midge got lost on a cliff and fell.
Mia learns all of this with her crew and decides to use Kayleigh as a spy, to get close to Amber and figure out what she knows. It backfires, of course, given there’s still 4 more episodes to go at this point, and Amber forces her to spill all.
Mia and Alex decide to try and communicate with this ghostly spirit they’ve been experiencing on and off through the season. As they talk in a tent, it somehow etches “I’m still alive” on a tree branch. This is the last of three different encounters; her cabin, the woods and the camp.
Mia and Alex triangulate the signal and believe it’s from one central spot. Alex recruits Petal to the cause not long after. She has some wild theories about Amber using the trees and communicating with them but – while half correct – isn’t the whole story.
The two sides
Mia finds Luka, helping to patch him up. She also finds everyone’s phones in the water within a plastic bag. Who threw them there? Well, Mia feeds this back to Luka and decides to help him patch up the hole on his boat to high-tail it off the island.
Dev makes a deal with Amber, giving up the picture of last year’s summer in exchange for forgetting everything. Dave is also under Amber’s influence, as Mags tries to turn him back.
Petal however, manages to withstand Amber’s mind control but in the process ends up “broken.” Amber is too, doubling over and projecting memories from last year.
Those memories include a funeral for Midge, with everyone wearing black. Midge is not dead though. She’s actually inside Amber. Or, more specifically, Amber is Midge.
The rebels, or those who have fought against Amber, team together to find Luka. He’s wanted and off the grid but Petal, after being broken, is now being used as a homing device by Amber. The gang make it to the lab, where Mags stands waiting for them. She’s part of all this.
The Old Lab
The lab is an old research station used for monitoring the island. Mags was part of the team that treated Midge after her accident. They tried an experimental procedure to regenerate parts of her brain that were damaged. It worked too but in doing so it made her become Amber for… reasons?
The Amber personality emerged both physically and mentally. It also supports inexplicable powers too. When she started to get out of control, Mags sent a signal up which explains the flare.
Mags is working for a higher authority, who use codes on the computer because everything is so sensitive. “Stay in position, await further instructions.” is all she’s given to go on. The computer in the lab is only used for comms in and not out.
The lab has been set up to try and cure what’s happened to Amber. With this newfound knowledge, Mia and the others scramble out and leave. As they do, Amber shows up at the lab herself.
She controls the trees, forcing Mags to lie down as a rose protrudes from her mouth. Luka leaves with his boat, leaving them all stranded…and stuck on the island with Amber and her cronies.
What happened to Midge?
It’s here we finally figure out what happened to Midge and it’s… pretty underwhelming to be honest.
A year prior, Petal won the peregrine hunt but only because everyone forgot about Midge who was still hiding. While on her way back to camp in the middle of the night, she slipped and fell off the cliff.
Back in the present, Mia and the others escape from Amber thanks to a deus-ex-machina nap. Amber is weak and needs to rest after exerting all her energy.
Mia and the others make it to the hatch where they find Mags cold and alone. When she snaps out of her trance, we learn how to stop Amber.
They need animosine, a rare chemical that boosts how plants communicate. When Midge was injured, this compound was used to enter Midge’s bloodstream. This created Amber.
Mags has been using the lab to reverse the process and bring back Midge, hence all the plants and vials everywhere. She has an antidote all ready to go but it hasn’t been tested.
“This is getting out of hand. Now there are two of them!”
Alex decides to go with Mia to confront Amber. It all goes horribly wrong. Alex is brainwashed while Mia is saved by Luka. With the boat salvaged, Harry and the brainwashed Petal head aboard while Mia decides to go back and save Alex from her fate.
Amber leads Mia to the cliff-edge and tells her to jump. Mia bites back and forces her to try and see sense. Instead, Alex snaps out of her entranced state and stabs Amber in the arm with the antidote.
Harry and Petal leave on the boat, unaware that everyone else has been snapped out their state. This includes Dave, who learns from Mags that “they’re coming.”
Amber is finally free of Midge. But wait, what’s this? Midge suddenly rises up off the cliff edge. “You have no idea what you’ve done.” And cue cliffhanger!
So that’s the entire story of The A List in a nutshell. There’s of course a lot more going on here, including all the love triangles and bickering, but hopefully this is enough to get you up to scratch for season 2. It airs on Netflix worldwide on the 25th June 2021!
What did you think of The A List’s story? Have we missed any crucial details in this recap? Do let us know in the comments below!