Mike Flanagan kept his word and has revealed the answers to burning questions from the cliffhanger ending of “The Midnight Club,” following Netflix’s decision to cancel the show after one season.
“It’s a shame we won’t get to make it, but it would be a bigger shame if you guys simply had to live with the unanswered questions and the cliffhanger ending,” the executive producer and co-creator wrote in a Friday Tumblr post. He shared it on the heels of Thursday’s news that Netflix has opted not to pick up “The Midnight Club” for Season 2, just as Flanagan and producing partner Trevor Macy move their overall deal from Netflix to Amazon.
“The Midnight Club,” which launched Oct. 7, consisted of 10 episodes, the first of which broke the world record for most jump scares in a TV episode.
Flanagan took great care in laying out the broad strokes of his plans for a second season, as well as shedding light on the main mysteries in Season 1, the biggest of which being the identities of the Mirror Man and Cataract Woman continually seen by terminally ill Brightcliffe hospice residents Ilanka (Iman Benson) and Kevin (Igby Rigney) in Season 1.
“They were Stanley Oscar Freelan and his wife, who built Brightcliffe (fun trivia, he is 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’),” Flanagan wrote. “But more than that…there’s a reason that Ilonka only sees Stanley in the mirror, and sees the Cataract Woman whenever she looked at Kevin. This is something else we took from Pike’s original book…these aren’t ghosts, but glimpses of PAST LIVES. Ilonka WAS Stanley Oscar Freelan, and Kevin WAS his wife. They’ve lived many lives this way, and are true SOUL MATES — they always find each other, and they always fall in love. In this life, they knew it would be a short one, so they agreed to find each other in the house they built.”
Flanagan revealed that over the course of the season, first Amesh (Sauriyan Sapkota), then Natsuki (Aya Furukawa), then Kevin, then Ilonka would die, with Spence (Chris Sumpter) leaving the hospice upon a positive response to HIV treatments. Cheri (Adia) would be the only member of the Midnight Club, whom we’ve known from the start of the series, left among a new group of teens, telling the story of her now-dead friends.
“When the Shadow comes for Ilonka, and gives her this understanding — this ‘remembering’ — she realizes she has nothing to fear,” Flanagan, who also created “The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” wrote. “She and Kevin will shed these personas and be reborn, and have the joy of finding each other another way.”
It would have also been revealed why hospice owner Dr. Stanton was shown to be bald with a strange tattoo in the final moments of Season 1: “Dr. Stanton is actually the daughter of the original Paragon cult leader, Aceso. Her nickname was Athena, she wrote the Paragon journal that Ilonka found in [Season 1]. She turned on her mother and helped the kids escape, but because she was part of the cult in her teenage years, she had the tattoo.”
Flanagan continued: “She is wearing a wig at the end of [Season 1] not because of a sinister reason, but because she is undergoing chemo. Dr. Stanton has cancer. Having helped so many people deal with disease, she now has to deal with it herself. Her treatment would be successful, and she’d go into remission, but having to face that – while caring for the terminal kids at Brightcliffe — was going to be a very introspective arc for Stanton.”
The plot point Flanagan says he was “most excited” to explore in “Midnight Club” Season 2 is based on the book “Remember Me” by Christopher Pike, the YA author whose work inspired the entire series.
“‘REMEMBER ME’ is one of my all-time favorite Pike books — it tells the story of a teenage girl who is pushed off a balcony, and awakens as a ghost,” Flanagan wrote, revealing that Ilonka would have told this story as a way to try to help Kevin hold on a bit longer. “She has to navigate being a spirit while trying to solve her own murder. We would have stretched this story out over five episodes. We were going to use it as a vehicle for Ilonka to try to come to terms with the fact that she is going to die, and to begin to trying to wrap her head around being a ghost….but this is the coolest part…the lead character of Ilonka’s story wouldn’t be played by Ilonka. She’d be played by…Anya.”
Flanagan says he wanted to find an important way to bring the deceased Anya (Ruth Codd) back in Season 2: “Because this is how we live on, isn’t it? In the minds of those we leave behind. And Ilonka would use ‘REMEMBER ME’ as a way to imagine her dear friend Anya, waking up as a ghost, navigating the afterlife.”
And last but not least, Flanagan gives the full answer to what the “Living Shadow” was that appeared to be haunting Anya as she died in Season 1. Read that reveal in full below.
At the end of the season, Kevin will die… followed shortly by Ilonka. And as she is dying, two things will happen. First, she’ll find herself talking to the Janitor, played by Robert Longstreet… and she’ll make a discovery.
HE is Death. And nothing to be afraid of. It turns out no one else ever saw this character. Stanton has a cleaning service, and the Nurse practitioners make up the rooms – the only people who ever saw this mysterious Janitor were the patients. He is Death, and offers them kind words before they die. Then what was the Shadow?
This is an idea we take directly from the book REMEMBER ME, and we’ll see it play out in the final moments of Ilona’s final tale. In Pike’s book, Shari is pursued by a dark entity called The Shadow. When it finally catches her, though, it turns out it is not a bad thing at all.
The Shadow is THEMSELVES. 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 is what happened to Anya in S1 when the Shadow finally reached her – that’s why she fantasized a life beyond Brightcliffe, which ultimately let her find acceptance of her death. It looks different for everybody, depending on their mind-set – because it is simply an extension of themselves.
The Shadow is just the final catharsis, a return to our original form – it is a moment of true understanding, and once we experience it, we move on to the next place.
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