Warning: This contains spoilers for Season 1 and 2 of The Rain. Not caught up? Read our spoiler-free review here.
The Rain’s first season took the intriguing concept of virus-carrying rain and fully embraced it, using the tension-building potential of the weather to its advantage. While not without its contrivances, Season 1 crafted a compelling world full of believable characters and played to its strengths; it kept things tightly-focused, gripping and raw. Unfortunately, all of this goes out of the window in The Rain’s sophomore season as it quickly ditches its dystopian thriller roots.
Picking up right from where it left off, Season 2 sees Simone (Alba August) and Rasmus’ (Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen) father, Dr. Frederik Anderson (Lars Simonsen), killed by Apollon soldiers within five minutes of its first episode. Just before Fredrik’s demise, he shares with his children the coordinates to a base of survivors who may be able to find a cure for the virus. It’s a beginning that feels utterly contrived in the way it dispatches with an important character so abruptly and there’s little sense of mourning from either Simone or Rasmus. His death is just a cynical plot device there to direct the characters to this season’s main location. Now Rasmus is both infected and immune from the virus, he becomes both the key to finding an antidote as well as this season’s contagion-spreading threat. Instead of being contained in the weather system, the virus now seems to be mutating into plants, as well as giving Rasmus supernatural virus powers.
The majority of the six-episode season sees the shadowy organisation Apollon, whose motives remain pretty unclear, pursuing the gang in an often laughably inept manner. Elsewhere, Rasmus and co set up camp in a base with a group of defected Apollon scientists. Simone and love interest Martin (Mikkel Følsgaard) continually fall out and get back together over trivial matters. Lea (Jessica Dinnage) and Jean (Sonny Lindberg) are side-lined in a romantic subplot that seems to exist simply to make Lea’s eventual death more impactful. Patrick (Lukas Løkken) has very little to do other than mess around with various weapons lying around in their new bunker home and Rasmus falls inexplicably in love with sickly girl Sarah (Clara Rosager), whose brother, Jakob (Anders Juul), quickly falls foul to one of Rasmus’ viral outbursts.
What gave Season 1 so much impetus was the lethality and unpredictability of the rain; the fact that one drop of water could prove deadly gave the show a terrific amount of suspense. But the rain no longer carries the virus, which now takes a grip on Rasmus and fatally infects anything it perceives as dangerous through a Venom-esque CGI ectoplasm. It all gets pretty silly, particularly in the climatic episode, as Rasmus uses his virus superpowers to intentionally kill a whole unit of Apollon soldiers after Sarah is shot. When he threatens to infect Martin, he’s shot by his own sister, Simone. Yet he simply shakes off the bullet, having been made seemingly indestructible by the virus. All of this feels so far removed from the cold, survivalist grittiness of Season 1 and these supernatural elements feel completely misguided and inappropriate compared to the first outing’s authentic world-building.
It’s telling that the most compelling moments of Season 2 are several flashbacks that show the raw, devastating destruction of the rain back when it carried the virus. For example, one heart-wrenching flashback to Sarah’s past sees her parents abandon her at a virus checkpoint, leaving her and Jakob for dead. The Rain is at its best when it’s exploring the moral quandaries of this catastrophe, not when it’s acting like a supervillain origin story.
Despite this, the cast continue to deliver committed performances, particularly August who puts in an expressive turn. She adeptly captures Simone’s inner turmoil of protecting her brother yet recognising him as a very real risk. But even the cast can’t make up for the sub-par script, which is littered with nonsensical, contrived plot points. Lea’s death seems hugely unnecessary – she chooses to sacrifice herself to save Simone from Rasmus’ virus, even though Simone is wearing a hazmat suit and her partner Jean could quite easily have held her back. Simone is also suddenly a scientific wizard and is able to engineer a potential cure for Rasmus, despite no indication that she had any previous expert knowledge. There are plenty of plot holes that prop up the flimsy narrative and numerous questions that the show doesn’t address. Season 1 ended with the interesting revelation that Apollon are planning to weaponise and sell the virus to the highest bidder, but this plot point is hardly expanded on and Apollon’s motives are left frustratingly opaque.
At six episodes long, at least Season 2 is brief. But, in that time, it diverges from the show’s original premise so much that it hardly feels like the same series. The final scene reveals that Sarah has been resurrected from the dead, after Rasmus kisses her, and now carries the virus. With this twist, it appears The Rain intends to go further down the supernatural route in Season 3 (if given the go-ahead). It’s a rather underwhelming conclusion to a largely disappointing season that’s lost sight of what made the show engrossing in the first place.
The Rain: Season 1 and 2 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.