Note: Spoilers for the final episode of “The Midnight Club” Season 1 follow below.
Fans of filmmaker Mike Flanagan’s other Netflix series may have been shocked to discover that, when it came to the Season 1 finale of “The Midnight Club,” there are a couple of huge plot threads left dangling. Indeed, this is the “Haunting of Hill House” and “Midnight Mass” creator’s first series that’s designed to be an ongoing show instead of a limited series, and in that regard the “Midnight Club” finale ending offers up a pretty massive cliffhanger.
The first season of the Christopher Pike adaptation concludes with Ilonka (Iman Benson) and Kevin (Igby Rigney) finally kissing as the kids of the Midnight Club have come to some semblance of acceptance with regards to Anya’s (Ruth Codd) death and Sandra’s (Annarah Cymone) miraculous recovery.
Julia Jayne (Samantha Sloyan), meanwhile, is in the wind having had her ritualistic sacrifice thwarted by Dr. Stanton (Heather Langenkamp), who explained to Ilonka that Julia previously had a recovery like Sandra’s and is sick again, thinking the Paragon ritual will “heal” her. She throws water on the whole thing. Nothing to see here. Nothing supernatural going on at all.
But in the episode’s final moment, we head to Dr. Stanton’s apartment where a newspaper clipping shown on the wall reveals the original builders/owners of Brightcliffe – and they’re the elderly couple that Ilonka and Kevin have been seeing throughout the season. Then the huge reveal – Stanton removes a wig from her head, which reveals a Paragon Society tattoo on her neck.
And that’s how the season ends.
So who are the old couple, who is Dr. Stanton really and what can we expect from Season 2? We had the same questions, and we posed them to Flanagan himself who said there’s a major clue to Stanton’s identity elsewhere in the season.
Who Is Dr. Stanton Really?
“We wanted people to rethink assumptions they may have made about who Dr. Stanton is,” Flanagan said. “It’s a very Pike-ian moment. There’s one major clue, I think it shouldn’t be too tough – looking back at the season – to kind of figure out why the tattoo is there and who she may be in actuality. I don’t think we tried to hide that very hard. As for the wig, that’s a much bigger deal and whether that is indicating that there’s something sinister going on with her or something else, that we do have in store for very early in the second season to reveal.”
Indeed, we think Flanagan is hinting at Stanton’s surprise arrival at Julia’s sacrifice, where she revealed there was a back staircase to the room. How would she know that? Well, perhaps she’s been there before – intimately. Perhaps she’s Athena, the daughter of Aceso who started the Paragon Society in the first place. And of course, that would mean she’s the one who stopped Aceso from performing the ritual all those years ago and who, according to Aceso in a flashback to her first meeting with young Julia, is no longer on speaking terms with her mother.
Who Are the Ghosts?
But that’s just our guess. As for the elderly couple, if you’ve read Pike’s book you know “The Midnight Club” has a lot to say about past lives. Our guess is Ilonka’s body has been inhabited by the old man and Kevin’s by the old woman as they roam the halls of their former home.
“It is to be revealed but we are very much aligned in our read of Pike’s source material and the importance of that particular idea to the Midnight Club,” Flanagan responded. “Very aligned in that, so you’re absolutely onto something there.”
What Happens in Season 2?
While Netflix has yet to order a “Midnight Club” Season 2, Flanagan says an outline for the season exists and he hopes to continue the story, including providing concerete answers to these two major questions.
“I have a rough outline for the season. It just depends,” he said. “Netflix has to let us know if they want it. But we know kind of who is still alive of the original cast by the end of the season and we know where we were going to reveal kind of two huge truths about the central mysteries of the show, about the elderly couple and about Stanton. We’ve got a really good idea of which other Pike stories would take center stage for a potential second season, and that’s some of the more exciting stuff as a Pike fan. We were gonna get into some of his very well-known titles and try to draw them out beyond just a 25-minute B story in one episode, we were going to kind of have a secondary longer story running through the season. It would be pretty awesome. But we’ll see, you know, we’ll find out in a month, I suppose. We’ll see if the viewers enjoy it. It’ll be up to them.”
Flanagan said they hope the show goes on for “a pretty long time,” especially since a changing ensemble is intrinsic to the story they’re telling. But if for some reason the show gets canceled, Flanagan promises to provide answers on his Twitter account.
“This is the first one I’ve worked on that was designed to be ongoing. I don’t know if that will happen, we’ll have to wait and see, but if it doesn’t, I promised everybody at Comic Con yesterday that I’ll put up all the all the answers to the central mysteries on Twitter, which I will honor,” the “Bly Manor” creator said. “But yeah, the show was designed to carry forward and we made the decision in the writers room not to reveal two of our kind of bigger existential secrets of the show, so that we’d have something to say in the second season. It’s a gamble. I haven’t had to operate this way before.”
Fingers crossed. This YA-tinged horror is a wonderfully emotional (and, yes, spooky) meditation on mortality, and it’d be great to see the stories of these characters continue while adding new members to the ensemble going forward.
“The Midnight Club” is now streaming on Netflix.