Review: 'Night Sky' a Drama Sprinkled with Intrigue and Wonder That Touches and Breaks Your Heart

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday May 16, 2022

'Night Sky'
'Night Sky'  (Source:Amazon Studio)

Amazon is hitting it out of the park with their original TV series lately. From the recent "Outer Range" to "The Wilds" to the short-lived "Tales from the Loop," audiences should be paying close attention.

This is just as evident with their newest series "Night Sky," starring a luminous Sissy Spacek and stalwart J.K. Simmons. Posited as a sci-fi series about an older couple who have a portal to another planet in their backyard, the series, created by Holden Miller, is about so much more.

The first episode opens at night in a small town with 70-something Irene (Spacek) suggesting to her husband Franklin (Simmons) that they should go "look at the stars." Dealing with a myriad of medical problems, the two carefully make their way to the shed in their back yard, where we discover a bunker that leads to a mysterious stone room that transports the couple to a sort of living room look-out where they can stare out at the stars and planets of another place.

Having kept this secret for decades, the two still aren't quite sure what to make of their discovery, but it has brought them wonder and peace for a long, long time. Having lost their only child to suicide, they have considered telling their granddaughter, Denise (Kiah McKirnan), about it, but are afraid; so, they keep it to themselves. But a nosy neighbor named Byron (Adam Bartley) notices something is up with the couple and is determined to figure out what they are hiding.

When Irene visits the lookout one night by herself (with a heartbreaking motive), she is astounded to find a man named Jude (Chai Hansen) gasping for breath in their private space. Who is he, and where did he come from? Irene takes him back to her home and, despite Franklin's objections, nurses him back to health.

This is the start of the many mysteries of "Night Sky," which also include a side story involving an Argentinian mother (Julieta Zylberberg) and her daughter with a secret of their own.

What's fascinating about this series is that the sci-fi is secondary to a truly moving portrait of a loving couple in their twilight years. They deal with medical problems, worries about who will care for each other, and past trauma and grief. It's rare that a mainstream show puts its focus so prominently on the elderly and all that aging entails; but it does so, and does it beautifully. We easily fall in love with Franklin and Irene, and there are times when we forget about their portal to the stars because we are so invested in making sure they are okay.

Sure, by the end of the first season there will be answers to some of the central mysteries of the show, but there will also be more questions. But within that, there are some incredible scenes between all the characters that deal with basic human struggles. It's fascinating and moving to watch, especially when anchored by remarkable actors.

Simmons creates a character of a grumpy old man set in his ways and wanting to live out the rest of his years simply existing with the love of his life. He's not even that interested in the portal in the backyard. As they've admitted, they've made the journey over 800 times. Nothing much has happened, but the opportunity to see a gorgeous and mysterious view. He just wants to be with Irene.

But with the arrival of Jude, and Byron's meddling, he becomes so protective of his family that he sometimes loses his way and can't see the gray areas.

Spacek is simply perfection. Her Irene is absolutely lovely. An empathic, curious, but pained woman who always wants the best for everyone, but also knows she has needs of her own she can't deny. Every time she speaks, there is a warmth to her that is as heart-warming as it is heart-breaking. I fell in love with her, and when the final episode was over, I already missed her.

"Night Sky" is not what I expected. It's a sci-fi show that focuses on people over special effects and twisty plot developments. It's a drama sprinkled with intrigue and wonder, that touches and breaks your heart in equal measure.

I really hope the show continues, because I can't wait to join Irene and Franklin on their journey through life and the stars again.

"Night Sky" premieres on Amazon Prime May 20th.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.