Taste of the King
Officers and Wolves
Hunters Without A Home
Blinded By My End
Annihilation of Joy
Vulture With Honor
Turtles of the Eclipse
Mouse of Silver
Our world is a chaotic, noisy, insane place. Our time on this planet as a species is finite and our fleeting existence is over-shadowed by the notion that we’re impossibly small in the grand scheme of the universe. Within this chaotic cacophony of noise are moments that are truly beautiful. The world around us is full of wondrous discoveries and little miracles that can change your entire perception from that of bleak despair to something profoundly hopeful and eye-opening.
The Midnight Gospel won’t appeal to everyone but it’s a very clever, brilliant and thought provoking piece of television that perfectly captures this juxtaposition between beauty and chaos. There’s something oddly charming and uplifting about this, despite its sombre tone, and while some may be put off by the format, others will see this as a work of pure genius.
At the heart of this madness lies Clancy, an intergalactic traveler who spends his time using a malfunctioning multiverse simulator to interview different beings. Although there is a consistent narrative thread woven through all the episodes and a couple of recurring jokes, the episodes themselves stand largely on their own, with a different theme or topic explored in each.
The opening couple of minutes see Clancy fire up the machine before diving head-first into each trippy, hallucinatory world of chaos and anarchy. Whether it be a discussion surrounding existential dread and our own reality back-dropped by a large prison escape (images that emphasize ideas of escaping conventional shackles and beliefs) or even the topic of mindfulness and tranquility in the heart of a chaotic zombie apocalypse, The Midnight Gospel is all about that harmony between chaos and peace.
Clancy’s journey of self-discovery ultimately leads him through a lot of different concepts and ideas, ones that are sure to keep you thinking long after the credits have rolled. All of this builds up to a wonderful and heart-wrenching climax where Clancy confronts his own inner demons, with everything he’s learned until that point, and diving head-first into these fears. It’s a wonderful, beautiful climax and one that ends things on a sombre and empowering note that really helps tie the series together.
The different episodes all feature a musical number of some description while the length of discussion and the real meaty hook of the topic does vary between segments. Episode 6 for example takes a good 15 minutes to get into the topic while the final episode spends almost the entirety exploring that given theme. I won’t spoil what these are here but suffice to say the show takes on a lot of different big ideas and presents them in an engaging and interesting way.
Alongside these deep discussions is the animation itself. The colours are vivid, bright and incredibly imaginative. The different creatures and concepts are equally as wild as the conversations being discussed and this really helps keep things engaging throughout. There are a few jokes here and there too although at times it can detract from the conversation, especially when a joke is thrown right in the middle of a profound breakthrough or thought provoking idea.
How much you get out of The Midnight Gospel largely depends on how you feel about the world and how open you are to having your ideas challenged. The idea of a podcast discussion about death and embalming may seem pretty heavy against the imagery of a river ride through the afterlife but it works incredibly well and oftentimes the images actually enhance the material. There’s a lot of symbolism here and a few gorgeously rendered backdrops too but ultimately it’s these big, profound topics and the unique perspective given in each that gives this show so much heart and originality.
In a world stifled by formulaic ideas and rehashed concepts, even in the world of animation, shows like The Midnight Gospel stand out. It’s a violent, bloody, heady trip through some detailed hellscapes but it’s also beautiful and eye-opening. The final episode strips away all of this chaos to deliver one of the more emotional animated episodes this year and it does so with such a profound perspective that it makes the journey up to that point well worth taking.
Ultimately, The Midnight Gospel is a beautiful work of art and much like some of the best pieces in galleries, not everyone will like it – and that’s okay. For those who do though, Netflix’s latest animation may just prove to be one of the best shows of the year and it’s one of those rare series that gets you thinking long after you’ve finished watching.
Verdict - 9/10