The Midnight Club producer and director Mike Flanagan is not happy that Netflix canceled the show after just one season. He says in a recent blog post that he’s very disappointed with the streaming services decision, but what did he expect to happen after he struck a deal with Amazon?
Anyway, he explained that his biggest disappointment is that “we left so many story threads open and held them back for the hypothetical second season, which is always a gamble.” So he decided to keep the story for the second Outline the season so we all know what we’re missing, but also answers questions and brings some closure for us, which is nice.
I enjoyed the first season of the series and it seems a lot of other people enjoyed it too! I appreciate Flanagan taking the time to share these details with us so we aren’t left with unanswered questions.
Below are all the details he shared. Read them through and let us know what you think!
Season 2 would begin with Amesh whose glioblastoma is rapidly progressing. He would tell the first story of the season but would struggle to get through it. We would focus on his love story with Natsuki in these first few episodes as it becomes clear that Amesh’s death is imminent.
Meanwhile, Ilonka tries to reconcile how she was deceived by Julia Jayne while growing more and more in love with Kevin, and she realizes he may be fading faster than he’s letting on.
Ilonka begins an ongoing story to encourage him to “stay alive a little longer” like he did in the first season. And the story she tells is… REMEMBER ME.
That’s what I’ve been looking forward to the most this season.
REMEMBER ME is one of my all-time favorite Pike books – it tells the story of a teenage girl who is thrown off a balcony and wakes up as a ghost. She must come to terms with being a ghost while trying to solve her own murder. We would have stretched this story over 5 episodes. We wanted to use it as a vehicle for Ilonka to try and come to terms with the fact that she’s going to die and to try and come to terms with being a ghost… but that’s the coolest part. .. the main character in Ilonka’s story would not be played by Ilonka. She would be played by… Anya.
Because that’s how we live, isn’t it? In the minds of those we leave behind. And Ilonka would use REMEMBER ME to imagine her dear friend Anya waking up as a ghost and navigating the afterlife. And this kicks off one of the best mechanics of the show – even if a character dies, their stories live on as long as the members of the club remember them.
As the story picks up steam, however, the group must contend with the death of Amesh, which he greets with grace and bravery.
In his final moments, he sees someone in his room – the janitor from season one, played by Robert Longstreet, saying comforting things to Amesh, though he can’t answer.
In his final, final moments, the SHADOW descends upon Amesh and he is devoured, reinforcing the idea that the Shadow is DEATH…
With Amesh’s death comes something that turns everything on its head: a NEW PATIENT. We didn’t think too much about who that would be, but it would be a new roommate for Ilonka. Someone who takes Anya’s old bed. Ilonka was initially cold to her – just like Anya was when Ilonka arrived. Even feeling like this new girl shouldn’t necessarily be ushered into the club. But of course, they would develop a beautiful friendship as the season progressed. The new girl joins the club where something else exciting happens – Cheri tells a story. We hadn’t decided which one, but I think it might have been MONSTER.
Natsuki would die next, which would be heartbreaking. And again she would speak to the caretaker just before it happened… and again the shadow would come in the final moments.
Things would take a different turn for Spence, however.
Advances in HIV treatment in the late ’90s would come into play, and we’d see his prognosis change. The HIV cocktail came out in December 1995 and we were keen to explore that.
Spence would ride the wave of antiviral advances and would no longer be deemed incurable by the end of the season. In the season 2 finale, just like Sandra did in season 1, Spence left Brightcliffe and set out to deal with his illness and live the rest of his life.
But as for the BIG SECRETS of Season 1… here are some answers: What’s the deal with Dr. Stanton’s tattoo and baldness on himself? Well, a few things. First is dr. Stanton is actually the daughter of the original Paragon cult leader, Aceso. Her nickname was Athena, she wrote the Paragon diary that Ilonka found in S1. She turned against her mother and helped the children escape, but because she was part of the cult in her teenage years, she got the tattoo.
It was her initials that Ilonka found carved on the tree in Season 1 (her maiden name was Georgina Ballard, hence the GB that Ilonka finds carved on the tree).
She hated what became of her mother and the atrocities of the cult. She reclaimed the property after her mother left and wanted to turn it into a place to celebrate life. She tried to undo her mother’s legacy and leave something beautiful behind. She wears a wig at the end of S1, not for a sinister reason, but because she’s undergoing chemo. dr Stanton has cancer. After helping so many people cope with illness, she now has to deal with it herself.
Her treatment would be successful and she would go into remission, but having to face it – while caring for the terminal children at Brightcliffe – would become a very introspective arc for Stanton.
What about the living shadow? It’s death, right? Well… no.
At the end of the season Kevin will die… shortly after Ilonka. And as she dies, two things will happen. First, she’ll have a chat with the caretaker, played by Robert Longstreet… and she’ll make a discovery.
He’s dead. And nothing to fear. It turns out that no one else has ever seen this character. Stanton has a cleaning service and the nurses do the rooms – the only people who ever saw this mysterious caretaker were the patients. He is Death and offers them kind words before they die. Then what was the shadow?
This is an idea we took straight from the REMEMBER ME book and we’ll see how it plays out in the final moments of Ilona’s final story. In Pike’s book, Shari is being pursued by a dark entity called The Shadow. When it finally hits her, though, it turns out it’s not a bad thing at all.
The shadow is SELF. It’s the unknown. As it engulfs someone in the last moment of their life, it takes them through a place of understanding and catharsis, preparing them for the next step.
THIS happened to Anya in S1 when the shadow finally reached her – so she envisioned life beyond Brightcliffe, which ultimately enabled her to accept her death. It looks different for everyone depending on their mentality – because it’s just an extension of themselves.
The shadow is just the final catharsis, a return to our original form – it’s a moment of true understanding, and once we experience it we move on to the next place.
We see the shadow in full effect when it finally comes down to Kevin. KEVIN DIES with Ilonka by his side, and it leads to the biggest reveal of the season:
Who were the mirror man and the cataract woman?
They were Stanley Oscar Freelan and his wife who built Brightcliffe (fun trivia, it’s named after the real life Freelan Oscar Stanley who built my favorite hotel in America – the Stanley Hotel. The Stanley is also the inspiration for THE SHINING! ) .
But more than that…there’s a reason Ilonka only sees Stanley in the mirror and the cataract woman when she looks at Kevin. This is something else we took from Pike’s original book…these aren’t ghosts, they’re glimpses of PAST LIVES.
Ilonka WAS Stanley Oscar Freelan and Kevin WAS his wife. They have lived many lifetimes this way and are true soul mates – they always find each other and they always fall in love. They knew this life would be short, so they agreed to find each other in the house they built. They “remember” who they are and catch glimpses of their past selves in reflections and sometimes when they look at each other. That’s also the reason why Ilonka’s very first words to Kevin in S1 were: “Do I know you?” and why Kevin thought she was well-known too. They are two souls who always find each other.
The story is this: Stanley was dying and built this house on the cliffs hoping the sea air would help him. He did, and far outlived his prognosis (this also applies to the real Freelan Stanley). However, his wife began to succumb to dementia.
She wandered the hallways looking for him (“Darling!”) and even forgot to feed herself (“I’m starving…”), eventually refusing to leave the basement. Heartbroken, Stanley painted the walls to resemble the forest view and the ceiling to resemble the night sky so it would be a little prettier for her.
He also drew a maze on the floor, a technique used to try to curb the effects of dementia. She walked through the pattern of the maze and it was thought that it might help her in perception. Eventually she got scary cataracts, but Stanley loved her the whole time.
They were soul mates.
While they seemed scary in Season 1, that’s exactly how Ilonka and Kevin tried to remember their past. We even had their faces distorted in a way that was consistent with how memories deteriorate over time.
When the shadow comes for Ilonka and gives her this understanding – this “remembering” – she realizes that she has nothing to fear. You and Kevin will shed those personalities and be born again and have the joy of finding each other on a different path.
Shadow comes for her, death takes her gently and Ilonka goes back into the cosmos with Kevin, ready for her next incarnation.
The series would end with Cheri telling this story to a whole new table of patients, including our new series leads. Most of our original cast would now exist as stories, a story to be told to the next “class” of storytellers around the table, which we will all have met by the end of the season. A story called “The Midnight Club”.
Well, that’s it…that’s what we had in mind. Too bad we can’t make it, but it would be even better if you just had to live with the unanswered questions and the cliffhanger ending. I loved doing this show and I’m so proud of the cast and crew. Especially our cast who attacked this story with incredible spirit and courage every day.
But for now we will put out the fire and leave the library dark and quiet. To those before and to those after. For us now and for those beyond.
Seen or invisible, here but not here.
I will always be grateful to be part of this club.