The third and final season of Netflix’s The Rain is almost here and if you haven’t already checked out the Danish sci-fi series then now is the perfect opportunity. So why should you make the time? Besides the fact that you’ve probably already finished fellow twisty Netflix series Dark and are looking for your next binge, this less recognised drama has a lot to recommend it. And with new episodes landing soon, there’s still time to catch up.
Without wading too far into spoiler territory, the show follows a small group of survivors living in Denmark several years after a virus has wiped out the majority of their friends and family (how far the virus has spread outside of the country or even the immediate area is unclear). In this case, the virus is transmitted through the titular rain after being absorbed into the atmosphere, and so we begin the show with siblings Simone (Alba August) and Rasmus (Lucas Lynggaard Tonnesen) as they spend the first six years hiding out in a bunker.
There’s a chance the central premise of killer weather has already turned you off, but make the logical leap and it’s actually a clever way of building tension. Imagine being in danger of immediate death as soon as the sky starts to look a bit dodgy.
Simone and a newly adolescent Rasmus come out of hiding to find that the world is not what it was, with people living in fear and fighting over food and shelter. They run into another group comprised of fellow main characters – hero-type Martin (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard), troubled Patrick (Lukas Lokken), sweet Lea (Jessica Dinnage), and awkward Jean (Sonny Lindberg) – and together they try to make it out of the quarantine zone.
It might be a strange suggestion to spend your precious downtime during a global pandemic watching people deal with the fallout of a disease that’s seemingly succeeding in wiping out most of humanity. But while there are certainly elements of The Rain that can hit a little close to home right now, it sits just far enough in the world of fantasy that its twists and turns provide a nice distraction from the very real dangers outside of your own door.
This is not a tween version of The Walking Dead. In other words, it prioritises hope for a potential future over nihilism and the fear of everyone and everything that isn’t part of your existing group that so many of these narratives sink into. Often the characters are actually too quick to trust others (besides the token dissenting voice), leaving the audience screaming at them to be more suspicious, but it lends the series a human quality missing from a lot of similarly dystopian fiction.
Fans of character-driven shows will also find a lot to like in The Rain, as the mystery of how the sickness was unleashed and the often grim realities of surviving in a world that has given up on humanity more often than not take a back seat to the relationships between the characters. We begin with Simone and Rasmus, who spend six years alone before deciding to venture out, and it’s this sibling bond that drives the rest of the series.
And, of course, there are plenty of romances to go around too. Some of them you can see coming a mile away but others take a while to develop and are genuinely worth rooting for. And refreshingly, friendships are given equal importance as couples and familial relationships, keeping all the characters emotionally relevant throughout.
Characters are developed via Lost-style flashbacks, but these are more like distorted slideshows than narratives in and of themselves. We’re offered only a glimpse of their lives before, and how they specifically got to the place where we meet them.
Like most good dystopian series with characters in the young adult age range, The Rain has a satisfying narrative undercurrent of the next generation rising up to build a better world than their elders. As Simone uncovers the truth about her family, she and the audience discover that her father may have been more involved with the world’s predicament than she knew, and almost all of the older characters we meet are completely out of touch with how to move forward in any productive or morally righteous way.
For all of the doom and gloom that comes with a premise like this – and the show does often look how it feels with the Nordic weather offering everything a desaturated, muddy aesthetic – The Rain is ultimately a show about a group of people who choose each other over and over again in spite of the forces working against them.
The second season veers a little more into hard sci-fi as a driving force rather than a background element and makes the virus into a monster to fight against (another Lost similarity) rather than an unseen danger, but the characters remain the primary concern. Presumably, the third run of episodes will effectively wrap things up for the ongoing mysteries as well as each of our main players, making The Rain one of those rare shows that has been given the right amount of time to tell its story.
With short, compact seasons that have little to no fat and, it should be said, a fairly good dubbed option for non-Danish viewers, it could be the perfect bitesize binge.