Married couple Franklin (J.K Simmons) and Irene (Sissy Spacek) York are growing old together, living a seemingly quiet life. However, they share a secret: their back yard contains a portal to another planet.
"How about we go see the stars tonight?" says Irene to Franklin in the first present-day scene of episode one. Right from the off, 'Night Sky' does not hold our hand. We're immediately witness to a mystery that this couple have been trying to get to the bottom of for decades.
Since their discovery, the couple have regularly travelled to watch the stars. Franklin takes wheelchair-bound Irene down to the chamber, where they are transported to what seems to be a living room, complete with sofas and decor. Together, they look out through a giant window at a deserted planet, wondering why they were chosen to guard over it and what their role is in all of this.
One night, as frustration seems to boil over about what they're to do with their secret, an enigmatic man named Jude (Chai Hansen) appears as if from nowhere, pulling them into an even greater mystery.
Not much is explained in the first episode, like how this interplanetary dimension came to exist, or who exactly Jude is. But, as the series goes along, we get threads of information as to how the Yorks came to their discovery, and how they've guarded it for years along with their grief.
Although slow to start - episode one is a little bit of a slog - the beautiful on-screen relationship between Spacek and Simmons, accompanied by a wondrously atmospheric score keeps us intrigued enough to power through. From there, the world opens up. We're introduced to new characters and, like a jigsaw, things start to fall into place.
While the Yorks are trying to get to the bottom of their secret, over in Argentina, Stella (Julieta Zylberberg) and her daughter Toni (Rocío Hernández) are dealing with one of their own. The mother and daughter live in an isolated farm outside of the city that Stella refuses to leave due to a promise to her family. Their storyline adds another layer of intrigue which constantly leaves one wondering how it will all link back to the Yorks.
It feels both refreshing and slightly frustrating that the show is intentionally slow to give anything away. It is a mystery in the truest sense of the word. After each episode, the questions pile up, with some left unanswered. The deliberate reveals are almost dream-like. The quiet setting of the York's house in rural Illinois seems stuck in time. The isolation so beautifully underpinned by the spacey score. Yet the unfilled silences and drawn out scenes sometimes spoil the atmosphere.
By far the best thing about the show is the two leads incredibly strong performance, making the couple's decades-long marriage seem so real and complex. Time is a major theme in 'Night Sky', and both Franklin and Irene are battling against it. The couple are contemplative of their remaining years on earth and both share worries about each other. Their existential fears are handled with grace by two incredible actors.
One line in particular from episode one stands out beautifully. While the Yorks are sitting in their kitchen, discussing what they should do with their secret before they pass on, Franklin emotionally says "promise me you won't think about dying until we're 100, because I want those years."
While 'Night Sky' is about a secret interplanetary discovery and the mysteries surrounding it, it's also grounded in reality. It's about keeping hold of something special that bonds two loved ones together. That even when facing the latter years of life, one is still so desperate to keep it sacred, even if it's as simple as just seeing the stars.
'Night Sky' releases on Prime Video on Friday, May 20.