Picking up where season one left off, N0S4A2’s second season appears from the outset to be a little more confident, like the second half of a story that has done the legwork to set up who the characters are, here we are plunged back into the world of Charlie Manx and Vic McQueen.
The second season continues the battle between good and evil that the first season set up quite well, and admittedly Ashleigh Cummings appears to be much more comfortable in her role as McQueen, imbuing her with a sense of strength and resilience that felt missing from the first season’s narrative.
The stand out still remains Zachary Quinto as Manx, not only does he have the more appealing role but Quinto has honed his villainous skills and manages to show the layers that make up Manx throughout the season. His allying with the sister Hourglass Man (Paul Scheider) provides true nightmare fuel as seen in Bruce Wayne McQueen, the fifth episode of the season.
The delving into the childhood of Manx provides the requisite backstory and pathos you would hope to give your villain, and while at times there’s a feeling that each episode is maybe fifteen minutes longer than it needs to be the season moves along a decent pace. Moreover, there’s enough horror-filled carnage and moments of genuine chills to keep the viewer looking for more.
The sinister Christmasland remains the best invention of the show, the mixture of childlike wonder and genuine horror provide enough to send shudders down even the hardest of horror fans spines, and the way it’s created and shot remind you that author Joe Hill is the offspring of Stephen King. You half expect a killer clown to pop up at any moment.
While the second season feels more confident, it often also feels like a show that maybe doesn’t know where it’s going. The season has a sense of finality – ending where the book ends – and thus quashing any need for a season three but you sort of wish you could see more of Manx and explore him in other situations as opposed to just having a showdown with McQueen.
As it is, it remains yet another showcase for Quinto to stretch his sinister muscles and to at times camp it up on screen but as for definitive vampire narratives, at times if feels like you might be better off looking to Shudder for something more gruesome ad upsetting.
Season 2 of N0S4A2 is out now