Good science fiction uses the genre to tell deeply human stories. I know, I know, a genre populated by aliens and tech that routinely try to pull us away from humanity seems like it should do the opposite. But with low sci-fi uses of the genre, storytellers have the opportunity to take our world slightly outside of reality to explore what our lives and connections to others mean. That’s what Night Sky does.
A Prime Video Original eight-episode series, Night Sky, comes from showrunner Daniel C. Connolly, is written by Holden Miller, and stars J.K. Simmons, Sissy Spacek, Chai Hansen, Kiah McKirnan, Adam Bartley, Julieta Zylberberg, and Rocío Hernández. Starting with an elderly couple Irene (Sissy Spacek) and Franklin (J.K.Simmons), Night Sky spans space, place, and time by weaving together people through it all.
You see, Irene and Franklin discovered a chamber buried in their backyard years ago. But it’s not some bunker meant to ride out a Cold War; instead, it inexplicably leads to a strange, deserted planet. Looking at the stars together has become a nighttime pastime as they carefully guard their secret. But when an enigmatic young man named Jude enters their lives, the Yorks’ quiet existence is quickly upended, and the mystifying chamber they thought they knew so well turns out to be much more than they could ever have imagined. Their personal hideaway quickly unfolds into one piece in a vast mystery as we see them, their family, and those touched by the mysterious chamber.
First and foremost, Night Sky is beautiful. From the opening, the detail and care put into designing the chamber, putting elements of home into it with books and furniture, and setting it against the night sky of an alien world is the right kind of whimsy. And that’s where the Night Sky sits as a series. It uses low-concept sci-fi to hold onto a very real world with small elements of advanced technology brushing up against banal life in a way that works. This allows the moments in which the chamber and its science interact with the rest of the world to have a sense of grandeur that erupts.
Without giving too much away, Night Sky uses these eruptions of the wonderous to propel people closer together and to work out their fears. While the entire cast of Night Sky has something to offer, in fact, there isn’t a bad performance in the bunch; the series belongs to Sissy Spacek and J.K. Simmons. The two are a couple who have seen life together, experienced loss together, and are just trying to live for the small excitements. But despite their love, the two work against each other most of the series.
Irene and Franklin aren’t completely against each other, no. Instead, Irene’s curiosity and sense of exploration are what push her forward in the story and help Jude find out his past. Franklin, on the other hand, is practical and sensible and rightfully fearful that the mysterious man and the unknown past he brings to their door is a trap. Set by who? He doesn’t know, but he’s pushed by a need to protect his wife. Slowly though, Franklin discovers his own sense of wonder and curiosity that leads to a better understanding between the two of them.
Additionally, Night Sky uses two distinct storylines and flashbacks to reveal the mystery of the chamber. How it began, what it’s connected to, and ultimately what Irene, Jude, and Franklin have found themselves pulled into. This mystery takes time to develop, and the second storyline, told almost entirely in Spanish, seems out of place at first. While the actresses and characters in this separate but important thread of the narrative are interesting, the pacing left me yearning to return to Irene and Franklin. That said, by the end of the season, it’s pulled into our main story seamlessly.
Night Sky has a lot to offer for fans of science fiction, but it also has a lot to offer for fans of drama. A mysterious drama that uses science fiction concepts to explore relationships and the impact we leave on other people, this series is one to watch. I just need to know if we’re going to get a season 2.
Night Sky Season 1
- Rating - 7.5/107.5/10
Night Sky has a lot to offer for fans of science fiction, but it also has a lot to offer for fans of drama. A mysterious drama that uses science fiction concepts to explore relationships and the impact we leave on other people, this series is one to watch.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.