You know you’re watching a different.
is a fascinating, but well-founded, sci-fi mystery. Its humble title reflects humility towards all characters, regardless of the strange events presented to them. An alien planet, a secret room, and a mysterious stranger all fit into the puzzle, but the solver is the most unexpected and low-key: an old man.
These unique protagonists – Erin and Franklin York – must use some of the unlikely tricks they’ve mastered to evade the police, nosy neighbors, and related relatives. They bring great charm to the refreshing protagonists of JK Simmons and Sissy Spacek.
It doesn’t reach the same heights, but Night Sky creates a similarly nuanced and thoughtful sci-fi drama as Dystopian Eleven. Frank and Erin’s relationship is moving gently; Frank dutifully pushes his wife into a wheelchair, and the couple looks like a real-life version of the loving old couple in Pixar Up (the shimmering piano in the score adds to the added another layer of charm).
They contrast with the harder sci-fi elements: In the first scene, Frank helps Erin to their garden shed, and then a moment later, they sit on the observatory, looking out at the alien planet.
The question posed is: Why were Frank and Erin able to enter this unknown location in outer space? What makes them so special?
Erin is most concerned with answering the latter, and she realizes that she faces a crossroads in her life. Nasty townspeople don’t help. Authors Holden Miller and Daniel C. Connolly generously observe how older adults are treated in society: talking like children, asking about their mental state, and offering advice they know better than others.
The reverse is also true: Frank can be blunt, short-tempered, and obsessed with living his day, ignoring his suspicious and insecure neighbor Byron (Adam Bartley). Erin is a warm but wandering heart who wants to jump into the unknown, encountering secret portals, glowing objects and a seemingly innocent but dangerous stranger Jude (Hanson Chai).
Erin and Frank’s attempts at dealing with alien mysteries are hilarious, while the other characters are laughably forgotten. The couple sometimes reluctantly pretended to be old, hard of hearing, and sick to escape their secret new project.
A surprising split in the storyline takes us momentarily to a camel farm in rural Argentina, where Stella (Juliet Taziberberg) and her restless teenage daughter Toni (Rocio Hernand) s) face their own ominous visitors. Partly telling its story in different languages enhances the sense of scale and prestige of the night sky. The connection between the two storylines ultimately makes sense, despite initially throwing a jarring left turn.
A few flashbacks bring us closer to the origins of Frank and Erin’s relationship, used wisely for a brief period, so the events now keep happening. There’s a sense that something more monumental is going on with the aliens, but in the six (eight) episodes available for review, the biggest reveal still seems to be brewing in the background.
A very human alien mystery, Night Sky presents a uniquely fascinating science fiction novel with an outstanding, compassionate protagonist. As the character base is built, the stage is set for the earth-shattering revelations that really make the night sky move in the final episodes.
“Night Sky” airs Friday on Prime Video.
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