Signs Season 2 has a strong sense of place, decent acting, and interesting characters, but its plotting is a mess and it can’t decide exactly what kind of show it wants to be.
This review of Signs Season 2 is spoiler-free. You can check out our thoughts on the first season by clicking these words.
Netflix’s dour Polish mystery series Signs, or Znaki, only debuted its first season a couple of months ago. It was a flawed but watchable effort, concerning mostly two parallel mysteries — a present-day murder, and an age-old Nazi conspiracy. The second season, all eight episodes of which debuted globally today, picks up on both of these narrative threads, but also introduces a few more, including some new characters, and tries to get far too cute with time, structure, and genre for its own good.
The overall sense of this season is that it’s a mess. Characters fade in and out of focus, we leap back and forth through time, and about halfway through the show begins to fundamentally change. It was always weird, but a grounded sort of weird, one informed by religious fanaticism and human evil. Those things remain to some extent here, but crucial elements of the first season’s plot are left to fester in the background while we focus instead on knitting together a new missing person’s case with the unresolved Nazi UFO business from the first season — among other things, including local politics.
Following the kidnapping of Nina (Magdalena Zak) at the end of the first season by Krzysztof Sobczyk (Piotr Trojan) and his mentally stunted accomplice Dorota (Paulina Galazka), Commissioner Trela (Andrzej Konopka) has gone way off the rails. He’s drunk all the time, and Ada (Helena Sujecka) is having no choice but to try and cover for him while he continues to live in her house. Meanwhile, Mayor Antoni Paszke (Miroslaw Kropielnicki) is confined to a wheelchair, being cared for alternately by Agata (Helena Englert) and Zofia (Malgorzata Hajewska) while he attempts to secure his re-election, though that task is made suddenly more difficult by Blazej (Michal Czernecki) running in opposition to him, considerably aided — financially and otherwise — by Kaja (Barbara Wypych) and Twerski (Rafal Mohr), representatives of a consultancy firm with seemingly bottomless pockets and clearly ulterior motives.
This is a lot on its own, but there’s more to it. Kasia, daughter of the town drunk Pawel (Robert Gulaczyk), goes missing, as do the parents of a young child whom Zofia finds wandering the road and mistakes for her dead daughter, Laura. The phones are out, Father Roman (Rafal Cieszynski) is still grappling with his faith, and the lingering mystery of what exactly the Nazis left buried in the Owl Mountains at the end of the war continues to be of considerable interest to several interested parties.
Even with so much going on, Signs Season 2 nonetheless seems more interested in showing off rather than balancing the competing plotlines properly. It regularly indulges in flashbacks, and occasionally breaks into split-screen and musical accompaniment for scenes that don’t particularly warrant it. Seemingly important aspects like Jonasz (Andrzej Mastalerz) and his “cult”, including their drugged-up holy water operation, are left almost completely alone, while we get a ton of focus on a lopsided mayoral race, endless scenes of drunk men wandering through the woods, and several other scenes and subplots that aren’t half as interesting as the show seems to think they are.
Ultimately it raises more questions than it could possibly provide answers for, and a midpoint shift into slightly different genre territory feels as if it comes out of nowhere. There’s still a lot to like in Signs Season 2 since it can build suspense when necessary and includes its fair share of relatively shocking moments. Its characters, too, are compelling, even if painfully few are relatable. But it’s difficult to argue that this story has been conceived with any kind of long-term plan in mind, so random and inconsistent does it end up being, and this follow-up outing quickly squanders a lot of the goodwill earned by the first season’s last-minute twist and cliffhanger with an inferior continuation.