Prime Video’s sci-fi series Night Sky had one of the most original concepts in a long time – but didn’t garner the audience or Season 2 it deserved. Night Sky debuted in May 2022 on Prime Video, but although reviews were positive, the sci-fi series didn’t draw enough viewers to justify its sizable production costs. As a result, Amazon pulled the plug after just eight episodes.
It’s a shame that there won’t be a Night Sky Season 2, because it was one of the most unique shows to come along in some time. Created by Holden Miller, Night Sky centered on Franklin and Irene York (played by Spider-Man alum J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek). An elderly couple living quietly in the Midwest, the Yorks harbor a secret: inside their barn is a device that can teleport them to a chamber that looks out onto the barren landscape and star-filled sky of another world. For the past 20 years, Franklin and Irene have been traveling to the other planet to simply “see the stars.”
However, when a mysterious stranger arrives, they realize they’re unwitting participants in a global, and possibly galactic, conspiracy. Night Sky set itself apart from other genre series because its main characters were a married, older couple instead of young astronauts, scientists or other experts. The series’ opening scene depicted Franklin and Irene talking over dinner about mundane things like doctors’ appointments and salt intake, like any ordinary husband and wife.
Viewers saw how in love they were, with their inside jokes and gentle affection. It felt refreshingly old-fashioned for a show to lean into the idea that two people can still care for each other into their golden years. Night Sky also dealt with mature and complex themes like grief, trauma and mortality. When Irene received a troubling diagnosis, she considered opening the chamber’s airlock and walking onto the alien planet’s presumably uninhabitable surface, wanting to spare her husband the pain of watching her suffer.
She was stopped by the arrival of Jude, a stranger with a deep connection to the chamber and its true purpose. Jude triggered Irene’s memories of her and Franklin’s son Michael, who had taken his own life many years before. Through Jude, Irene and Franklin confronted long-buried memories of their son’s death and the barriers it placed between them.
These themes were explored with the same depth and gravity that one might find in a primetime family drama like the meticulously planned This Is Us. In addition to the palpable human drama, Night Sky also delivered a story rife with mystery and tantalizing clues about a larger universe. Running parallel to Franklin and Irene’s plot was the story of Stella, a single mother in Argentina who was entrusted with protecting the secret of the chambers — there were several around the world.
Jude’s arrival in the Yorks’ chamber sent Stella and her daughter Toni on a journey to capture him and return him to a cult that seemed to be deeply connected to the chambers. During this journey, Stella was forced to weigh her loyalty to the cult against her responsibilities as a mother. At its core, however, Night Sky was a love story. Love was the engine that drives all the characters, whether it was Franklin, Irene and their granddaughter Denise — with whom Irene had a strained relationship — or the growing bond between Stella and Toni.
There was even a bit of hard-earned platonic love between Franklin and his goofy, but well-meaning, neighbor Byron. When Byron apparently went missing on the alien planet, Franklin made a gamble to try and get him back. And when Irene took a risk of her own to rescue a distressed Franklin, the message of the series became clear: true love has the power to travel across galaxies.
The cancellation of the series was a gut punch to viewers, as Night Sky ended on a cliffhanger that resolved many plot threads, but dropped major hints about future world-building. Other shows such as Designated Survivor and the much-lauded Manifest have been canceled by their networks and found new homes elsewhere, so there is hope that the same can happen for Night Sky. It was a unique show that took an admittedly unusual premise and turned it into something wonderful. Irene York dared to step out onto an alien world to save her husband, and that’s the kind of risk-taking that should’ve been rewarded with Night Sky.