Sonju and Mujika lead the children through the forest and to the edge of the wasteland, pointing them towards the coordinates left by William Minerva. Once they reach the coordinates, they uncover a hidden shelter with everything they need to survive until they can come up with a plan to rescue their friends and escape to the human world. Despite this hopeful start, their sanctuary may be much more than it appears…
As Su said last time, we are in serious SPOILER TERRITORY from here on out. It’s more or less impossible to discuss the main beats of each episode without revealing important details of the story and setting, so proceed with caution if you haven’t watched the episode already (Why the heck not? Get on it!).
Now that they have a firm destination, the kids are in high spirits. Emma is still carrying her conflicted feelings, and the entire group continues to mourn for Norman, but on the whole, they have a lot to be positive about. They’ve made friends with Sonju and Mujika, showing that demonkind isn’t a monolith, and the world isn’t entirely hostile. By the end of the episode, they’ve even found a place where they can rest and create something of a normal life while they plan their next moves. Things may still be precarious, but they have good reason to be positive.
This is one of the show’s biggest strengths: juxtaposition. The monstrousness of the farm and the pursuing demons is never out of mind, but the contrast with these moments of calm make both the hope and the horror stronger through comparison. It’s a balancing act that many shows stumble with, but Neverland handles it admirably. I just KNOW something is going to come along and spoil all of this, but dangit, I’m glad these kids are catching a break. It’s not just misery and dark twists all the time.
With that in mind, let’s talk about some dark friggin’ twists. The first comes after the children part ways with their new demon friends. Sonju was not being entirely honest when he said his faith prevented him from eating humans – it only applies to humans raised on the farms. His hope is that by freeing the children, humans will breed and become “wild”, making them literal fair game.
I’d half-expected Sonju and Mujika to try and eat the children themselves, so I’m glad the reveal was more nuanced than that. Mujika also seems less than on-board with her companion’s plan, so there’s plenty of room for things to change between now and if/when they encounter the kids again. It also makes me wonder if Sonju is truly patient enough to wait over a decade for “wild” humans to appear, or if circumstances will push him to break his faith. For now, he seems to be satisfied with protecting the flock for his own eventual use.
The second twist, unsurprisingly, comes at the end of the episode, as two different groups find secret rooms hidden within the shelter the children have settled in. Emma finds an isolated telephone, picking it up to find William Minerva on the other end of the line. At the same time, another group of finds a small bunk room covered in frantic writing with one word repeated over and over – HELP.
For me, Neverland hits all the right notes of a tense thriller. I’m fully aware that at any moment, things could go completely sideways for our characters, yet the show still manages to keep things tense by teasing out the reveals just long enough to put me on the wrong foot. It also avoids the easy/gory path of arbitrarily killing off characters to raise the stakes, so the scares don’t feel cheap. The demons and the entire situation remains as troubling as ever, and I’m still excited to see what happens next.
Episodes two and three have been a welcome break from the tension and anxiety of the first season. There is still much to fear, and the threat of discovery or darker secrets is always present, but it gives us some breathing room before the next nightmare begins.