This spoiler-free review is based on the first two episodes of Impulse season two.
Viewers of Impulse on YouTube Premium have figured out by now that the television adaptation of the Stephen Gould Jumper novels is more true to the themes of personal trauma from the first book than it is to the high octane action film from 2008. As a result, the pacing of the first season is quite deliberate, focusing more on what caused Henry Coles, played by Maddie Hasson, to teleport in the first place rather than accelerating through her origin story and having her quickly gain control over her abilities. Although some of that will change in season two, the first two episodes made available for review indicate that the details about Henry’s abilities and those that seek to exploit them will continue to unfold with enticing but realistic incremental progress.
And that’s not a bad thing! Although we’re not yet certain whether Callum Keith Rennie’s character can be trusted, the assistance he provides in Impulse season two will immediately raise new questions in the viewers’ minds when the show returns on October 16, 2019. However, Nikolai, as he will come to be known, will also bring answers to long held questions, and the shady group he works for will begin to be fleshed out and given its own set of motivations. As good as season one was, if season two didn’t at least start to address these mysteries, it wouldn’t have been a follow-up worth revisiting.
But for fans of characters like Henry’s sister Jenna (Sarah Desjardins) and the lovable geek Townes (Daniel Maslany), there’s plenty to love about the sophomore season of Impulse. After being visited by the hacker known as “Systems Analyst Manager” in season one, viewers will no doubt look forward to the continuing mystery of the interloper’s identity and whether or not they have the teenagers’ best interests at heart. The friendship and support that Jenna and Townes give to Henry will be challenged to the limit as Henry struggles to deal with the aftermath of what she did to Bill Boone.
And it’s not as if the Boone family is finished with its life of crime and the Mennonite community which was so wrongly accused in season one. Despite the contrition and guilty conscience Lucas Boone (Craig Arnold) is feeling in having killed Amos Miller and the imprisonment of the community leader, Jeremiah (Shawn Doyle), Esther Miller (Tara Rosling) is still very much looking to place blame as Impulse season two begins. How the drug ring and Bill Boone’s absence will play out is anyone’s guess, but there’s no doubt that the tenacious Deputy Anna Hulce (played wonderfully by Enuka Okuma, now as acting sheriff) will not simply move on the way her former boss might have insisted she do.
But the most important difference in season two is the addition of more details about the wider community of teleporters and why shady elements of the government might be interested in learning more about them and about Henry in particular. In that sense, this new season feels properly like the second chapter in the story with plenty of shifted motivations and new players in the mix that thankfully don’t detract from the character development of those we love to sympathise with, like Jenna with her closeted sexuality or Henry with her increasing need to find ways to deal with traumas new and old since her abilities now have the power to kill.
As teen dramas with a genre twist go, Impulse is right up there with Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger and Hulu’s Runaways in terms of allowing the characters to develop and experience the full range of emotion as they grow into their powers rather than thrusting huge responsibilities on young people and having them jammed into heroic roles they’re not prepared to deal with. Impulse is still just as much about Henry’s transient childhood and the pain that Clay Boone put her through as it is about learning how to control her power and avoid those who would use her for their own purposes. Impulse season two worthily carries the mantle with a clear sense of where the series wants to go.
Read about what’s new on Netflix this month here.