Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3/5
It feels like forever since The A List was aired on BBC. When it released back in 2018, this 13 episode teen drama felt like a watered down version of Lost, with an enticing mystery held back by teen romance, contrived dialogues and some questionable acting. The show also ended on one heck of a cliffhanger too, leaving the future of the show hanging in the balance.
Of all the places for The A List to find a home – and a new future – Netflix commissioned the show for an 8 episode second season. Fast forward to 2021 and The A List is back and more mysterious than ever before.
While the acting is an improvement and the show does manage to dive into its mysteries a little more deeply, The A List is still held back by some of the issues plaguing it the first time around. That’s not to say it’s not an enjoyable watch though.
The season picks up six weeks after the events of season 1. We have a handy story recap HERE if you need a quick heads up on what’s happened thus far. Anyway, the kids are separated, with some being held in a quarantined facility while others are off the island and back on the mainland.
Trouble is brewing though and as Mia collects up those stragglers dotted around her town, she entices them to head back and figure out what secrets are being kept on Peregrine Island.
Of course, those secrets revolve around Amber and Midge, who are the focal antagonistic force in this season. Their motivations generally revolve around maniacal and one-dimensional “I want revenge!” but it’s not too much of a deterrent. The mystery is what will reel you in and it’ll be enough to push you through these 8 episodes.
This second season’s pacing is actually pretty good too, zipping through a litany of different ideas at a pretty rapid pace. By the end, most of the big plot points are resolved with enough left for a third season if the show gets enough eyeballs. Judging by how this closes out though, I can’t see that happening.
Mia and Amber are the ones with the best character development here, while the rest of the characters suffer from similar problems to the first. With short run-times for each episode (under 30 minutes a chapter) and a large ensemble of players, there were always going to be casualties.
Brendan is missing this time around too, while other characters make cameo appearances and inexplicably disappear without an explanation over where they’ve been or what they’re doing.
That’s to say nothing of characters who are on-screen. Kayleigh for example, is reduced to weak comedy relief and contrived lover tiffs this time rather than a genuinely fleshed out arc. I understand this is made for teens but it’s a shame to see the same problems that held the first season showing up here too. Even the newcomers don’t get a lot to do, and a few fresh faces on the island late on only raise more questions.
But what of the mystery? Well, that’s the one part of this show that actually works quite well. Almost every episode ends on a shocking cliffhanger and there’s some absolutely doozies in here. The trouble is, some of this is never really resolved by the end.
At one point a character turns into a statue while another time a creepy doll is found on a chair. These moments are enticing in the moment but on reflection only exemplify some of the frustrating plotting this show brings with it.
Despite its shortcomings, The A List doesn’t end on a big Netflix cliffhanger which is a massive plus. There is a teasing glimpse of a possible third season but not enough to hang your head in exasperation over a hollow conclusion. For that alone, fans of The A List should be satisfied by what’s here.
The A List may be back with the same lovable group of characters, but it also brings with it the same baggage and problems. This is something that’s only underlined further by how far teen dramas have come since 2018. There are some amazing offerings in this genre and The A List does come up short by comparison.
It’s certainly a better effort than season 1 though and the mystery is much more interesting this time around. However, it’s far from perfect. Still, it’s a fun ride while it lasts and if you were hooked by 2018’s effort, you should find enough to like here too.
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Verdict - 5.5/10