Review: The Sun (Sadly) Rises on Netflix's Post-Apocalyptic YA Series 'Rain'
I was an enormous fan of the first season of Netflix’s Danish series Rain, a nifty and quick-paced post-apocalyptic survivalist story. The opening season took a very simple premise and jumped straight into the action: A virus transported through rain kills everyone who comes in contact with it. Rainstorms took out almost the entire world population.
The show worked, in part, because it was so simple: Simone (Alba August) and her little brother Rasmus (Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen) avoided the rain for six years by living in one of several underground bunkers, but when they ran out of supplies, they joined several others in search of a vaccine. We would learn along the way that experiments conducted on Rasmus by his father ultimately unleashed the virus, and that Rasmus — the only person immune to the virus — thus held the key to the vaccine. By season’s end, Simone and Rasmus found their father and a vaccine seemed in reach.
Season two picks up right where it left off and almost immediately and maddingly falls apart. For one, there is not a single drop of rain in season two, thus defusing the source of so much tension in the first season. The setup is this: Simone, Rasmus and company escape Apollon, the shadowy organization with sketchy motives holding them captive. With his final words before he is killed by Apollon soldiers, their father tells Simone where they may find a cure, but that if they fail to do so, Simone must kill Rasmus.
Once Simone and Co. get set up in the new bunker, Rain takes a misguided turn away from these teenagers trying to survive the rain and toward an insipid romantic melodrama/supervillain origin story. They’re no longer traversing the woods in search of safety. Instead, Rasmus’ virus becomes the focal point. When lab technicians attempt to extract blood from Rasmus’ spine, the quickly mutating virus is unleashed upon everyone in a big, black cloud, killing them all immediately. The rain is no longer the danger; Rasmus becomes the danger.
Meanwhile, Rasmus falls immediately in love with Sarah (Clara Rosager), a sickly blond woman, for no other reason, it seems, other than the fact that he’s sickly and blonde. With the virus, however, Rasmus cannot even touch, let alone kiss, Sarah. The push and pull between Rasmus and Sarah is whether Rasmus wants to find a cure so that he can lead a “normal” (post-apocalyptic) life with this woman he just met but who is probably about to die, or whether he wants to basically use his virus as a villainous weapon of mass destruction. It’s very silly, and the cheap CGI effects do not help matters.
Meanwhile, Simone and Martin spend much of the shorter, six-episode season bickering and breaking up over inconsequential matters, Lea and Jean (Jessica Dinnage and Sonny Lindberg) — the heart of the first season — are sidelined in a silly romantic subplot that doesn’t pay off until the end of the season, and Patrick (Lukas Løkken) mostly tinkers with sci-fi weapons he finds lying around the bunker, the point of which are still not all that clear.
It all makes for a sluggish, narratively inert and dull season, at least until the final episode-and-a-half, when — and here are spoilers for those who still intend to watch season two — Lea sacrifices herself to save Simone from Rasmus’ virus, Jean goes mad and tries to kill Rasmus, Martin and Simone reconcile after a break-up, and Rasmus goes mad after Sarah is killed by Apollon soldiers. Rasmus’ takes his anger out by intentionally unleashing the virus on dozens of Apollon soldiers and nearly uses it to kill his sister, Simone, but she shoots him in the chest. However, because of the virus, the bullet has no effect, and Rasmus skulks away, apparently unkillable. The twist: Sarah — who Rasmus kissed before she died — awakens from death with the virus.
It does, however, set up an intriguing season three, if you’re interested in what is basically a show about battling what has become an evil supervillain (and his villainous girlfriend), but it’s a long way from where Rain began. Still, Alba August is such a compelling actress that it may be worth following should Netflix renew it for a season three.
Is that likely? Probably. The first season appeared to be fairly popular, and Netflix has a tendency to renew most of its popular series for three seasons before pulling the plug once they become contractually more expensive to produce, although we do not know the details behind this Danish series. No decision has yet been made, but I do expect that Rain will eventually be able to complete its story if it is contained within three seasons.
Header Image Source: Netflix