The last time Cultured Vultures talked about the Danish Netflix Original series The Rain, we had mixed opinions on it: an interesting premise with an average execution, full of unoriginal characters who give decent performances, beautifully shot but formulaic in its story progression.
It’s been two years since the show hit the small screen (and it’s mildly amusing that they decided to drop season three in the middle of a global pandemic.) With the final chapter here, has it had time to develop from its shoddy beginnings or does The Rain crush itself under the own weight of its painful mediocrity?
The season opens three months after the events of the second season. Rasmus struggles to control his newfound powers at Apollon, while Simone and her group of companions go beyond the quarantine zone to find the rest of the world decimated by the virus. With their plan of escaping to safety up in smoke, the group resort to their original goal: find a cure.
Season three of The Rain has six episodes with a running time ranging from forty-five to fifty minutes per episode, though it can feel like it’s dragging for much longer. As mentioned in season one, skip the dubbing and watch the series subbed. It’ll make the experience slightly less painful.
This run of The Rain is remarkable in the fact that it could take an interesting concept and make it so boring. It’s clear that the writers weren’t exactly sure what they wanted to do with the show. All the suffering, all the sacrifices, everything that Simone and her group of friends went through and worked towards in season two gets wrapped within the first half hour of episode one, only to go back to the original goal of season one.
In fact, not knowing where to go seems to be a common theme throughout the show: turning the virus from a persistent environmental threat into a cloud of killer black smoke turns the show from a decent dystopian human drama into a cheap sci-fi thriller (remind anyone of Lost?). Also, shocker, the characters do find a cure, and it is one of the more interesting parts of the show. Even though it seemed a little Deus Ex Machina in its introduction to the plot, a flowering plant that feeds off the virus was actually something intriguing, but this one interesting element isn’t good enough to make the show stand out creatively when the rest of the season is such a chore to watch.
Developed characters like Jean and Patrick (who are main characters, might I add) have to make way for other minor characters who aren’t anywhere near as fun to watch. In the review of the first season, the comparison was made between The Rain and The Walking Dead. However, now it seems like they aren’t even being subtle with their inspiration: the leader of the child gang seems to be a watered-down version of Ezekiel from season 7 of TWD. At least with the characters in season one and two, they had some interesting aspects to them. The audience wanted to celebrate in their happy moments and feel pain during their sad times. Here, the new additions feel like cardboard cut-outs unworthy of attention and makes the cast feel cluttered.
Some of the character motivations were just weird. There was one moment in particular that stood out to me: Rasmus watches his sister leap to her ‘death’, and he feels sad for a whole few seconds until his girlfriend – who he thought died in season two – returns to him. The next time the audience sees these two, they are happily sleeping together, smiling and giggling as if nothing bad has ever happened to them. What? Also, Rasmus transforming from a bright-eyed naïve boy full of hope to an angry dictator feels very Anakin Skywalker, and that gives the character’s development arc much more credit than it deserves.
Even the cinematography isn’t exempt from the trashiness. Season one was genuinely pleasing to the eyes in most of the shots: vast empty streets where danger lurked up every alley or misty forests that felt threatening. In season three, there are instead the long, clinical hallways of Apollon as well as the wilderness which just feels more like a background to a scene instead of an actual presence to add drama and tension. It’s so visually unappealing. Even the black veins and wisps of smoke of the virus, something which is supposed to inspire terror, get old after a while.
What really sucks is that there are some actually good moments buried beneath all this. There are bits here and there where the acting, the music and the cinematography comes together to make some beautiful scenes – when the characters reacted to Simone’s assumed death, it felt genuinely moving. However, sadly, these are weighed down by the rest of this season. It was a boring mission to get through and the characters that you are meant to root for quickly become so dry. I do hope that some of these actors go on to do better work, because they do provide decent performances, but the rest of The Rain was so bitterly disappointing that it’s not even worth trekking through to get to these moments.
Season one’s greatest crime was that it was just fine: an interesting concept that could’ve gone either way. Season three’s greatest crime is giving the show such a bland note to finish on.
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What started off as something worth watching for its good elements has succumbed to painful, plain boredom. Despite the occasional decent performance, a disappointingly forgettable story.
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