While The Rain season 1 was a post-apocalyptic tale of survival, season 2 is an exploration of superpowers and identity.
Though I like both seasons equally, I was trying to figure out why this season of The Rain felt so different to me compared to the first season. After all, both stories are ones of survival, both seasons focus tightly on a small group of survivors, both narratives have the the sibling bond between Rasmus and Simone at their heart.
However, there’s a distinctly different feel to this second season, one that made me initially form the opinion that while equally as well-written and well-acted, this season wasn’t as thematically focused as the first season.
It was only when I started thinking about why that might be that I realized that the difference between the two lies in their central character. While the first season is very clearly Simone’s story, this one is very much Rasmus’. Simone’s season was a story of survival and what that means; Rasmus’ season is about identity – who we are, what we are, and how much we really get to choose.
In season 1, it is Simone who is the main driver of the plot. She moves the story forward, first by her knowledge of the bunkers, then in her quest to help Rasmus, then by her drive to find her father. While the world is post-apocalyptic, her story – unlike so many post-apocalyptic stories – is not a grim one of survival at any cost.
The theme of that first season is so tied to the character of Simone – who is above all things hopeful – so that the central question that it asks isn’t: what must we kill in order to survive? Instead, the theme of The Rain season 1 is: what must we save in order to live?
(Mild spoilers for season 2)
I watched season 2 of The Rain all in one sitting (again) and thinking that it was still going to be Simone’s story and a continuation of the post-apocalyptic survival narrative.
However, as the season went on, I realized this isn’t Simone’s season at all – it’s Rasmus’. While Simone still carries a lot of the screen time and storytelling, it is Rasmus who pushes the plot forward and Rasmus’ character arc which we follow over the course of the season.
And because it follows Rasmus, this is no longer a straight post-apocalyptic tale of survival – it instead shifts genres and becomes a comic book story about superpowers. Rasmus is not just host to the virus, we find out that he is in fact patient zero — which means that his body interacts with the virus in an entirely new and different way.
In the first season, the virus was a nebulous concept, everywhere and nowhere at once. In the second season of The Rain, the virus is an entity — something specific to fight against, to learn about, and to control. It is ravaging the world around our intrepid group of survivors at the same time that it is changing within Rasmus — and changing him.
Within Rasmus, the virus has become weaponized, protecting itself and its host from danger, lashing out at those it perceives to be a threat — including any attempts to cure its host from it. Which means that in The Rain’s second season, Rasmus is no longer a wide-eyed teen exploring a world he hardly knows, but someone with the ability to use (or, perhaps, be used) the virus at will.
And because The Rain shifts genres and switches its central focus from Simone to Rasmus, the theme no longer hinges on the topic of survival but on ideas of identity.
Many of the characters in this second season are forced to confront the question of: who am I? And, equally as important and much more difficult to deal with: who am I without — this virus, or my brother to protect, or someone to love, or my guiding star?
Each of the characters has something central ripped away from them in the course of the season and must figure out who they are in the wake of that loss.
For Lea, her search turns inward, as she finds hope once again in herself and in the good that she’s seen. Martin falls back on old habits – leaving, going it alone – but he (and Patrick, to an extent) realize that they are no longer the ones who leave, they are the ones who return, the ones who stay.
Rasmus’ has spent so much of his life either sick or locked up, and now he’s come to find that that which made him better is also the same thing that makes him incapable of being close to other people. But it is also a thing which makes him more powerful than other people.
For Rasmus at the end of The Rain’s second season, he chooses to believe that his abilities — to weaponize the virus, to heal instantly — mean something. That they make him special, separate, destined for greater things. They must, in his mind, otherwise he is nothing but a monster.
By the end of season 2, we see what Rasmus has chosen, at least for now. We also see what Simone has chosen — a decision so profoundly counter to her entire life’s mission that it shatters so much of the identity that she’s built for herself.
If we get a season 3 — and I’m really hoping that we do — I believe that the focus will once again switch back to Simone. In that season, we’ll get to see who she is and what she chooses to be when she has to protect everyone else from Rasmus.
And I can’t wait to see that.