From the studio that brought us Z Nation, Black Summer returns for a second outing. Rose, Sun, Spears, and Lance are back, with a few new faces making regular appearances.
Starting with the brutal killing of a fan favorite, Black Summer Season Two didn't come to play around.
MAJOR spoilers for Black Summer Season 2 ahead! Read at your own risk!
Did I say Lance was back? Sorry. He's only back for a few minutes.
Black Summer ruthlessly started the season by killing off fan-favorite character Lance.
Of course, it's a zombie show, so he immediately turns into a zombie and starts terrorizing the man that killed him. Luckily, Zombie Lance got revenge, but the adrenaline started strong this season and never stopped.
Many things from season one were very similar: shacky cam, uncomfortable close-ups, and difficult situations.
But, despite the name of the show, these eight episodes were not set during the summer.
Winter is coming- no wait- it's already here.
Set four months after the season one finale (and premiering over two years later), we get confirmation that Rose did see her daughter at the end.
Rose is now traveling with her daughter, Anna, and occasionally with Spears and Sun.
Season two contains intercut chapters like before, and the use of cut screens for each chapter always seems to work for Black Summer.
The time also gets fooled around with, as we don't understand why the group is separated until episode two, when the chapters jump to show us what transpired.
For those of us expecting the same Rose as last season -- filled with hope and innocence -- prepare yourself for a very different character.
The apocalypse has jaded her, and she does whatever it takes to protect her and Anna. Whatever. It. Takes.
Now she has all that's left of her family with her, and she never lets go.
Rose, of course, is still kick-ass, and Jaime King dug deep this season, making Rose someone to love, hate, and most importantly -- fear.
Spears got a raw deal. After getting injured during a shoot-out with a self-proclaimed militia, Rose leaves him on the side of the road.
Sun saves him from getting captured by shoving him down a hill, leaving Spears forced to face the apocalypse, and the cold, on his own.
He gets his episode in episode 5, entitled White Horse, and this hour impressed immensely. Spears ventures out on his own and possibly meets another man (revealed to be his supposedly dead brother).
We don't know if that man's real or the vision of a dying man, but the episode was perfect. The acting, cinematography, setting and writing all stunned me during White Horse. Including the ambiguity.
Sun can arguably be called the most exciting character in any zombie show ever, even as a prisoner of the militia.
She only knows a few words of English, so she cannot understand anyone around her. The creators brilliantly used this to their advantage -- they also do not provide subtitles for her Korean.
Sun's monologue in season one rooted itself in deep emotions, and although no one knew what she said, everyone understood. Everything Sun says gets understood on some level; adding the language barrier for the viewers is a brilliant creative decision.
Christine Lee portrays Sun so brilliantly, and it feels like I can understand what she says. Her facial expressions, limited, slow English, and body language all provide a fantastic story.
Black Summer decided not to wait a few years to turn humans against each other. With supplies at a minimum and safety limited, people get desperate, and the cold sets in.
Nazeri led his militia like a tightly formed group, using their weapons whenever possible and taking what they needed, and then some.
Other people could be considered dangerous throughout the series, but Nazeri and his group were legitimately scary.
Rose's confrontations with Nazeri never went well for either of them because Rose's and Anna's skills throughout the series were quite underestimated by many.
Anna's character took center stage this season, and Zoe Marlett got a chance to show off some very impressive acting chops.
There were two of Anna's scenes that stood out the most, and they happened in Black Summer Season 2 Episode 7.
In The Lodge, Anna took first watch, so when she heard a noise, she investigated. Once she finished, she screamed silently to her reflection in the window. Anna's young, and the world got super serious super quick. Her frustrations have rightfully pent up, and seeing her let other aggression with such strength and respect was striking.
The other scene was her merciful execution of Spears. She knew he was on the verge of death, and he asked her to shoot him in the head to prevent him from turning. With tears in her eyes and bravery on her face, she fires, killing him instantly.
There were, of course, other side characters that made a significant impact during the winter.
One of the most exciting was Mance, a man who took down an incredible amount of Zombies on his own in Black Summer Season 2 Episode 8: The Plane. It's probably the best zombie battle scene in the entire series.
As did most of the main characters, he missed the plane, but he held his own to survive at the end of the season.
Other survivors include Rose, Anna, and Nazeri, but none of them made the plane.
The only person to make the plane? Sun.
What arguably has become the best scene in its entire 16 episode run happened when Sun became the only person to get on the plane. Sun mumbles to herself something in Korean, and then the polite responded -- but not in English. The pilot spoke to her in Korean.
Pilot (in Korean): You're here now.
Sun (in Korean): You understand me?
Pilot (in Korean): I speak a little Korean. (in English): Who would've thought? What's the word... uh... (in Korean): A coincidence?
Sun (in Korean): A coincidence. Yeah.
Someone can understand Sun. Do you know what that means? We can understand Sun.
For the first time in the show, we get English subtitles for the Korean Dialogue. Sun can finally speak to someone, and we know what she is saying.
Pilot (in Korean): Did you think you were going to run into someone like me?
Sun (in Korean): I thought of it all the time. Ever day, I'd wake up believing that someone would understand me, and that kept me going.
Sun's emotions during this scene brought me to tears. Christine Lee performed with such power and such grace that it was indeed a privilege to see, and my tears flowed just as Sun's did. The portrayal of every character's experiences improved this season immensely.
Black Summer Season 1 featured the characters at the onset of the apocalypse. The season was very action-packed and filled with initial panic.
Now that the dust has settled on their new reality, the creative team explored the character dynamic more, and the show improved because of it.
The first season was by no means terrible, but Black Summer Season 2 blew it out of the water.
With more tension-building one-shots, more stable close-ups, and more profound, more extended character moments (and longer episodes), the show kept its Zombie-centric plot while improving on everything else,
The different points of view that present themselves all help with the worldbuilding of the series, and the show's signature chapter-style storytelling lends perfectly to this character-driven season.
Black Summer Season 2 is a massive win for Netflix, not just based on the quality improvement but based on the amount of time spent in the top 10.
I don't recall how long Season 1 trended, but Season 2 trended for over two weeks, which is a substantial achievement for a little-known zombie show.
The creators clearly know what they are doing when it comes to zombie shows. I hope they get to prove their prowess at least one more time with a third outing of Black Summer.
The only reason I can't give the season a full five stars is the limited presence of actual zombie battles/hordes. These characters have gotten good at evading them and killing them quickly, so zombie fights weren't as common.
Tv Fanatics, I highly suggest this top-tier zombie show.
It has action, horror, thrills (the zombies run, did I mention that?), and strong characters.
Fanatics, I hope you watch this show. It's worth your time!
Michael Stack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.