Spoilers for moments from the first episode of “Nightflyers” below.
George R.R. Martin’s “Nightflyers” docked with the Indigo Ballroom at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday to give fans a closer look at the upcoming Syfy sci-fi/horror series, and it a word, it looks bloody.
Based on the 1980 novella by the “Game of Thrones” creator, “Nightflyers” follows a team of scientists aboard the Nightflyer, the most advanced ship ever built. Sent on a mission to the edge of the solar system, they encounter something terrible as they realize true horror isn’t waiting for them in outer space–it’s already on their ship.
And as we saw during the panel, death, dismemberment and insanity ensue. On hand, executive producers Jeff Buhler, Gene Klein, and David Bartis and stars Eoin Macken, Gretchen Mol, David Ajala, Jodie Turner-Smith and Angus Sampson, who provided new details about the series — and a clip — that make the whole thing seem like a cross between “Solaris” and “The Shining.”
The panel explained that, though the show is set in Martin’s far-future, galaxy-spanning “Thousand Worlds” universe, it takes place just 70 years or so after the present. The Earth by this time has become an environmental catastrophe no longer able to support humanity, and humans are colonizing other worlds in order to survive.
The Nightflyer was built to support colonization efforts, but at the beginning of the series has been repurposed for the mission to investigate a recently discovered mysterious phenomenon near the outer planets. On the way, things go very bad for the crew, as shown off during the first exclusive footage which, we were told after, was essentially the first couple of minutes of the pilot episode.
In the footage, we first see the ship apparently teetering in deep space and badly damaged — you can see what looks like clumps of earth, trees and other materials presumably used for colonization spinning away from it. Inside, the ship’s gravity has been disabled and we find Gretchen Mol’s character, who looks stricken and exhausted as she floats to get a handhold on something. The scene jumps to a bloody hand turning a power switch on, which restores gravity, causing Mol’s character to slam to the floor.
She stands up — we see now that she’s in a wrecked laboratory in which the floors are covered in blood and other viscera — and begins rifling around until she finds a recording device. She curls up on the floor under a table and rasps a message: “this isn’t a distress call, it’s a warning. Do not bring the Nightflyer to earth.”
At this point, Angus Sampson’s character strolls nonchalantly into the room. He’s covered in blood, carrying an axe, and looks fully crazy. After he leaves the room, Mol’s character scrambles to find a jar which, we see, is used to dispose of toxic waste. She intends to eject the jar into space, but before she can, that axe crashes through the shelf in front of her as Sampson lunges into the room. Seriously, it’s basically Jack Nicholson’s “Heeeere’s Johnny!” moment in space.
They fight for several minutes until Mol’s character jabs Sampson’s in the leg with a knife, causing him to fall to the ground. While he struggles to move, she shoves the jar into the slot and ejects it into outer space. Then she walks over to a window, looks pensive for a second, picks up a buzz saw, and slices her neck open, spewing blood all over the window before she collapses and dies. End scene.
It’s brutal as hell and had the audience laughing and screaming at the same time.
Sidenote: the clip started with a video by Martin, who apologized for not being able to attend Comic-Con, and said it’s because he’s too busy working on numerous projects, including his still-unfinished “A Song of Ice and Fire” novel “Winds of Winter.” Cue audible chuckles from the crowd.
The panel also showed the trailer released Thursday afternoon, featuring a very “Solaris” moment, which you can watch here.