Netflix UK TV review: Glitch: Season 2
Ian Winterton | On 03, Dec 2017Reading time: 5 mins
Warning: This contains spoilers for Season 1 of Glitch. Not caught up? See our spoiler-free review of Season 1 .
While many shows stumble in Season 2, ABC and Netflix co-production Glitch most decidedly does not. Retaining all that made Season 1 so subtly gripping – the unique small-town setting of Yoorana, great characterisation, and a tone that’s both creepy and full of human warmth – its six perfectly formed episodes nevertheless move the story on apace, answering many questions, but raising dozens more.
Jumping straight off from Season 1’s end, in which we shockingly discovered that Dr. Elishia McKellar (Genevieve O’Reilly) had, like the others, been resurrected after death, our beleaguered police sergeant James (Patrick Brammall) continues to discover that keeping his formerly deceased charges safe is like herding cats; with their memories gradually returning – the effect of being resurrected on the brain is described as “like Alzheimer’s in reverse” – their need to go out in search of answers overrides any other fears.
These intricately eked out revelations are one of the main narrative drivers, and what is discovered is never neat or obvious, each adding further emotional complexity to the story. Particularly effective is Kirsty’s quest to discover who raped and murdered her back in 1988, which brings her very little in the way of closure. This is of a theme with the show as a whole – life is messy and short; best to make the most of the good stuff while you’re here.
The need to live life outside of the cabin also throws up some new plotlines. Sadly for James, Kate (Emma Booth) decides to seek solace in the bed of nearby pot-smoking charmer Owen (Luke Arnold), and a one-night stand blossoms into love.
The secondary plot driver comes in the form of the malevolent force that seems hell-bent on destroying the “aberrations”. Having possessed the dead body of police officer Vic last season – shot and killed by James – this time it returns with two hosts. The first, Sarah – James’s current wife, and the mother of their baby – was revealed at the close of Season 1, after she died in childbirth but somehow came back. Aiding her is Phil (Rob Collins), killed in an oil-rig fire during the opening of this series. The step-father to teenage Beau (Aaron McGrath), he offers hints that the supernatural force operates beyond the locale of Yoorana; he died beyond its confines and yet was resurrected due to his connections with the town. A brooding brute, he makes for a formidable foe, his implacable pursuit of his “task” bringing to mind The Terminator. “I’m here,” he states calmly, “to cut the head off the snake.”
But Phil and Sarah both sow signs of the humans they once were. Sarah is particularly torn, the need to be a mother to her baby blocking out the orders of her new master – almost. Like the series in general, watching Sarah battle against her inner demon (although we don’t know if that’s quite the right word) is both moving and gripping.
Similarly effective is the development of curmudgeonly 19th Century town founder Paddy Fitzgerald (the fantastic Ned Dennehy). Although his attitude to indigenous Australians, shown last season to be surprisingly progressive, is further explored and explained, he still provides many moments of humour, as he shines a Victorian light on modern day Australia. On meeting a Greek-Australian he remarks: “A Greek? All the way out here in Australia? You must be quite the novelty at parties.” He also, touchingly, provides a window into the country’s brutal past, as his knowledge uncovers the bloody truth about Yoorana’s founding family.
Paddy’s relationship with Bo is a highlight of Glitch, and it provides some of the show’s most touching moments –which is saying something in this intelligent and sensitive drama. When Bo tells Paddy “I wish you had been my dad”, there may well be tears.
In amongst it all is Elishia, and her research that led to the resurrections. As was revealed in Season 1, her focus seems to have been with John, a convict from the 18th Century. While we don’t discover the full story, what is revealed is tantalising in the extreme, as is the discovery that Elishia was working for monolithic multinational Noregard Pharmaceuticals – with an outpost in Yoorana – when she died. Her boss, Nicola Heysen (Swedish actor Pernilla August who – in among a stellar career – also played Anakin’s mum in The Phantom Menace) enters the story, seemingly a villain, though; as with everything in Glitch, first impressions can be misleading.
Via an enjoyable dollop of pseudo-science involving stem cells and sonic vibrations, Heysen explains how Elishia was able to bring people back to life, but not, crucially, why. Was the revival of everybody other than John merely an unintended consequence? Or is, as is heavily hinted, there something more supernatural at work? The power of love certainly seems at the core of the series, something reinforced by the inclusion of a passage – read, we’re told, at Kate’s funeral – by Thornton Wilder: “Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
How all this fits together will have to wait. Though many storylines are brilliantly brought to satisfying conclusions, the season ends – confident of renewal by Netflix – with much business deliberately unfinished. Season 3 can’t come soon enough.