“Icarus” contains some questionable character turns, but it’s still an undeniably tense and propulsive episode of Nightflyers that tees up an inevitably nutty finale.
This recap of Nightflyers Season 1 Episode 9, “Icarus”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Finally, Nightflyers has come full circle. “Icarus” returns to the first scenes we saw of the show, with Rowan (Angus Sampson) roaming the ship on a murderous axe rampage and Dr. Agatha Matheson (Gretchen Mol) meeting a grisly end. But as is to be expected, we now see those scenes with some additional context; we know what led to them, and we know, sort of, where they might lead now that they’ve occurred.
Only joking. We don’t know anything, because this show is nuts.
Rowan’s sudden descent into psychosis is particularly difficult to swallow, especially since he’s playing it up to the hilt by slobbering all over chunks of honeycomb and delivering a rather silly interpretation of a standard genre maniac. You can partially hand-wave all this away thanks to the influence of the Volcryn, who turn up in “Icarus” en masse and presumably hasten one’s mental deterioration in much the same way they interfere with telepathic abilities, but it’s still a bit over the top for my tastes.
This isn’t even the weirdest thing that’s happening aboard the Nightflyer. Melantha (Jodie Turner-Smith) is raging that Captain Eris (David Ajala) has been fibbing about his true nature, which was given away at the end of the previous episode by the decontamination purge revealing his robotic peepers. And while I understand this is probably something of a shock, this a man who initially only presented himself in the form of a hologram, frequently spied on the crew for no real reason, and whose psychotic mother’s consciousness is built into the ship’s computing. How surprised are we that he was keeping some cards close to his chest?
Speaking of his mother, Cynthia, she’s still commandeering Lommie (Maya Eshet), whose physical form is drooling in the ship’s innards while her consciousness is being tormented in the digital recreation of Greywing Manor. Blimey, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Anyway, Cynthia is able to find the eager ear of her number one cheerleader, Auggie (Brian F. O’Byrne), and tell him not to make contact with the Volcryn, who at this point are on the doorstep, in galactic terms. Naturally Karl (Eoin Macken), who is increasingly becoming convinced that the Volcryn can reunite him with his dead daughter, is keen to get on the blower to the aliens, and enlists the help of Thale (Sam Strike) in order to do so.
Thale’s role aboard the Nightflyer has always been a bit thankless, and never more so than in “Icarus”, where his attempts to communicate with the Volcryn cause him to momentarily die and then, upon recovery, attempt to commit suicide. He’s saved by the projected consciousness of Agatha, who also visits Karl; I think it says a lot about Nightflyers that casual out-of-body chats are barely noteworthy at this point. The ship – and, by extension, the show – is on the brink of chaos, with multiple rival parties pursuing conflicting objectives. Despite some of its stupidity, “Icarus” was a propulsive episode of television, in part because the seeds of chaos were planted way back at the start. We’re ready for them to sprout at this point, and boy, they do.
To summarise: Karl is obsessed with making contact with the Volcryn because he’s obsessed with the idea that they can reunite him with Skye (Bronte Carmichael); Auggie is determined to sabotage the ship as per Cynthia’s instructions so that the meeting with the Volcryn can never occur; Agatha is determined to a) create some record of what has happened aboard the Nightflyer to warn other potential rescuers and b) to sever the potentially lethal psychic feedback loop between her, Thale and the Volcryn; and Rowan has gone apeshit, convinced that Agatha ordered the decontamination protocol, and is thus pursuing her through the Nightflyer with an axe.
None of this goes particularly well. Agatha manages to record and release her message, but she also ends up dead, which accomplishes her secondary objective of granting Thale full access to his powers. So, a minor victory, but again – she’s dead, which can’t be ideal. Rowan, still whistling a jaunty tune and accompanied by a bee, then sets about hacking up Captain Eris, which is easier said than done because he’s a secret robot man. And while Auggie can’t prevent the Nightflyer from making contact with the Volcryn, he has managed to return Cynthia’s consciousness to Lommie’s body. Whatever she has planned next can’t be good for anyone, least of all Lommie. “Icarus” leads us directly into the finale, where just about anything can – and probably will – happen. See you there.
You can check out our thoughts on the next episode by clicking these words.