• What is behind that curtain, and other burning questions about ‘War of the Worlds’ season 2. (SBS)Source: SBS
Season 2 of ‘War of the Worlds’ is coming on 18 August to SBS and SBS On Demand. Until then, we have questions.
Stephen A. Russell

13 Aug 2021 - 8:52 AM  UPDATED 18 Aug 2021 - 9:25 AM

If there was a more surreal way to watch the unnerving re-do of War of the Worlds than in the middle of Melbourne’s icy winter lockdown, when the streets fell deathly silent on 8pm curfew, then, answers on a postcard. But trust me, it was pretty whack.

Looking out from my balcony, it was eerily easy to imagine that almost all of humanity had, indeed, been wiped out in an instant, killed by an electromagnetic pulse designed to scramble our insides. Okay, I didn’t see ragtag bands of gun-toting survivors hunted by oddly low-fi robodogs, but you get the drift.

Bleak viewing, the slow-burn story of humanity’s desperate push-back – starring Gabriel Byrne and Léa Drucker – was also incredibly thrilling. It hooked you in with morbid fascination, only enriched by the French–British co-production lending the drama a bigger picture view. 

The jaw-dropping season 1 finale delivered one of the curliest curveballs of all time. Questions, we have a few, before season 2 begins on Wednesday 18 August.

If you’re not there yet, it’s time to check out. Seriously. You have been warned. There be SPOILERS ahead…

What’s going on with Emily?

Arguably the biggest mystery of season 1 is what’s the deal with London teenager Emily? Played with convincing angst by Normal People star Daisy Edgar-Jones, when we first meet her, she’s feeling for her life with mum Sarah (The Night Manager’s Natasha Little) and younger bro Tom (Tolkien’s Ty Tennant). She was blind, but then her sight came back. That surprise seems to be connected to the twist that she senses the approach of the massacre-happy robodogs. She also started having pretty racy visions of aggro French teen Sascha (Mathieu Torloting, Sink or Swim), who’s currently making his way to London from the other side of the Channel.  

All of which led her, in the season 1 finale, to enter an alien spacecraft submerged in the Thames, much to the consternation of her actual lover, refugee Kariem (Bayo Gbadamosi). Particularly when she says to him, “I have to go to them. It’s the only way to find out what’s happening to me... they want my help.”

Whose side is she on? 

What is going on with Sascha?

If we don’t know where Emily’s loyalties lie, consider us even more troubled by Sascha. I mean, the dude is legit creepy. Merde, even his mum Chloe (Stéphane Caillard, Bastille Day) is freaked out by him. Granted, there’s complicated history there. Season 1’s darkest plotline revealed that she was raped by his now deceased father, Guillaume Gouix’s Noah.

“He should never have been born,” she says to Emily’s dad Jonathan (Downton Abbey’s Stephen Campbell Moore). “I’ve tried to protect him from the truth, but I see his father in his eyes and I hate him for it. He is so like him.”

Oh, did we mention the coincidence that Jonathan was in France when the attack occurred, and he just so happens to have fallen in with Sascha and Chloe? Somewhat cosily with the latter, and less so with the kinda murder-y former. Yup, Sascha deliberately closed a door on Noah during a robodog attack that led to his heinous dad’s death. Not super sympathetic tbh, but we’re not convinced Sascha won’t let others die, or get more proactive about it as season 2 progresses. He’s certainly not letting on about those mutual visions with Emily, having stolen a photograph of her from Jonathan and clicked their connection. 

What’s Bill gonna do about Emily?

ZeroZeroZero star Gabriel Byrne plays neuroscientist Bill, and he is not having a good time. Sure, he may be humanity’s best hope of figuring out how to defeat the as-yet-unseen enemy, but any solution has already come at a great price. First, they killed his political aide son. Then a robodog murdered his ex-wife Helen (Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey) just as they were getting cosy again. We’ll just skip over the fact he kinda killed his successor. All’s fair in love and war, after all.

What does any of this have to do with Emily? Well, she was having a mental chin wag with the robodog what did it for Helen, and Bill is mighty pissed. He clearly suspects her motives. There may be trouble ahead.

Has the battle already been won?

Meanwhile, somewhere in the French Alps… Bill isn’t the only one on the case of wiping out the alien invaders. Custody star Léa Drucker’s Catherine is a fellow boffin and the first person to figure out the wavelength the baddies appear to communicate on, and that a song sent out into space most likely brought them here in the first place.

She’s in love with A Prophet star Adel Bencherif’s soldier Colonel Mustafa. The final episode saw their attempted rescue of a bunch of civilians holed up in a ski resort go horribly awry, when an army of robodogs attacks. Her recently reappeared sister Sophia (Emilie de Preissac, Savages) is shot in the desperate stand-off, prompting Catherine’s last-ditch attempt to use the alien signal against them. She manages to cross the robodog’s wires, so is she our last, best hope?

Are we our own worst enemy?

Look, there’s a lot of bad behaviour on the human side, but the real doozy of that stunning season 1 finale was the revelation that we may be at war with ourselves.

Forget the tentacled aliens of previous incarnations. When Emily enters the decrepit alien vessel, she gets a lot more than she bargained for. In one of the most hair-raising moments of recent televisual history, she passes a bank of kidnapped babies in incubators only to enter the cockpit and discover, much to her horror, that the pilot (on a ventilator for even more pandemic realness) looks exactly like us.

Are the invaders humans from our distant future? And why, exactly, does the none-too-well-looking dude have the exact same tattoo on the palm of his hand that Emily got done in episode 1, before the attack occurred?

We refer you back to question one: What is going on with Emily?

Tune into season 2 of War of the Worlds when it begins on SBS and SBS On Demand Wednesday 18 August at 9:30pm for the answers. Or maybe just a whole bunch more questions… Catch up on season 1, now streaming at SBS On Demand.

Jump to season 2, episode 1:


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