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The Midnight Club season 1, episode 1 recap – the premiere explained

October 9, 2022

This recap of the Netflix series The Midnight Club season 1, episode 1, “The Final Chapter,” contains spoilers.

It wouldn’t quite be Halloween without a new horror series from horror maestro himself Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass). netflix has once again blessed us with a chilling new show from the writer/director, this time an adaptation of the 90s novel, The Midnight Club by Christopher Pike. As with all of Flanagan’s TV series, expect plenty of scares, a healthy dose of empathy, and plenty of recurring cast from his previous projects.

The Midnight Club summary of season 1, episode 1

The Midnight Club opens with “The Final Chapter,” introducing viewers to A-Grade student Ilonka as she prepares for her high school graduation speech, practicing in the mirror after having freshly dyed her hair. His speech is about being the author of your own story and shaping your own destiny. But Ilonka(Iman Benson) is cruelly stolen from him. She is diagnosed with thyroid cancer and quickly realizes that her meticulously planned future will not go as planned.

Adoptive parent Tim tries to make life in the hospital as ordinary as possible for Ilonka and we fast-forward to her eighteenth birthday. She lost all her hair from chemo and most of her battle listening to her best friend Lauren talk about college life on the phone. Tim is privately informed that Ilonka is now considered a terminal patient and the teenager overhears this devastating news. Trying to regain some control, she searches her survival rate online and comes across the miraculously cured Julia Jayne and the historic Brightcliffe Hospice.

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Ilonka is quickly sent to this hospice for terminally ill teenagers and settles into her home. Something has drawn her to this place and even in the safety of daylight she has frightening premonitions of a terrifying future. One of her visions comes true almost instantly, she sees a boy called Kevin (Igby Rigney), sitting on a bench, looking into the distance. Ilonka and Kevin are introduced, the teenagers ceremoniously announcing their life-threatening illnesses to each other, almost like a name tag itself.

The star student is then introduced to other patients and Brightcliffe staff. There’s nurse practitioner Mark (Zach Gilford) and dr. Georgina Stanton (Heather Langenkamp), along with six other teenagers living on the site. spencer (Chris Sumpter) shows Ilonka around the house, casually warning her to stay away from the basement or use the “possessed” elevator which has a mind of its own. Flanagan sets the scene masterfully, planting scares early on. There are plenty of jump scares in this opening episode that will make your heart race and leave you feeling queasy in your gut waiting for the next one.

Ilonka unpacks then meets her roommate anya (Ruth Codd), who is in a wheelchair. Anya is quite a bitter and sarcastic person, happy to talk macabre. His last roommate, Rachel, had a fondness for the supernatural and drew a summoning circle under her bed. Anya scares Ilonka with the story of Rachel’s death, stating that days before she had spoken of being haunted and stalked by a dark figure. Flanagan is back, laying the groundwork for his chilling tale.

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That first night, Ilonka wakes up to see Anya leaving her room and breaking the curfew. They have been warned not to leave their rooms at night, but Ilonka curiously follows. It seems that teenagers meet at witch time in the library to tell each other scary stories. This is Natsuki‘s (Aya Furukawa) is filming tonight and as she delves into her ghost story, audiences are taken on an adventure. Natsuki’s story sets off a tirade of scares as a teenager is haunted by a schoolgirl on a deserted street.

This effective story scares Ilonka and she accidentally makes her presence known. The children explain the Midnight Club to the beginner and establish the ground rules. She must share their wine and tell her own story to become a true member. Ilonka takes Julia Jayne’s story and twists it slightly. Once again we are immersed in the story and watch the teenager fall in love and be diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Julia is sent to the hospice, but disappears one day. When he returns, his cancer is fading, but he is left with the power to accurately predict people’s death dates.

The end

Ilonka delays finishing her story and asks what the final rule is. Anya explains their pact, the first person in the group to die must contact the others from beyond. Ilonka agrees to their terms and the teenagers disperse for the night. Kevin returns with Ilonka and they discuss her story. Kevin admits he has memorized all the names of previous guests and shows Julia’s picture on the walls. He was a real person, but Ilonka exaggerated the story somewhat, for dramatic effect.

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The episode ends with Ilonka pleading his need to live. She believes Julia was a miracle case, but the hospice saved her, why can’t it help other people too? This building has a history and is a sacred place for Ilonka. She wants to explore the land and uncover its many secrets, to find the cure. This desire to live is a great hook that instantly connects you with our leading lady. As she wanders the halls that first night, a dark figure follows her to her bedroom.

What did you think of The Midnight Club season 1, episode 1? Comments below.

Further reading

  • The Midnight Club season 1, episode 2 recap

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