[Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers from Season 1 of “The Innocents,” including the finale.]
“The Innocents,” Netflix’s British/Norwegian series that puts a supernatural twist on the star-crossed romance, concluded on quite the cliffhanger. After eight episodes in which young lovers June (Sorcha Groundsell) and Harry (Percelle Ascott) ran away from home only to discover she’s a shapeshifter, their adventures came to a violent, disastrous end.
In the action-packed episode, after secrets are revealed and sacrifices are made, two people end up dead, one person is in police custody, two people are rendered comatose, and June is mortally wounded. IndieWire spoke to the cast and crew of the series about the finale and whether or not Season 2 is in the cards. While creators Hania Elkington and Simon Duric couldn’t confirm the series will continue, their caginess was perhaps the best indicator that a second season seems likely.
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Below, check out what the cast and creators could say to help demystify “The Innocents” and hint at its future:
Bendik Is Dead
The only definitive outcome was that Bendik Halvorson (Guy Pearce) was indeed dead. In the finale, everyone converges on Sanctum, the Norwegian commune/laboratory Halvorson started with his shapeshifting partner Runa (Ingunn Beate Øyen) in order to provide sanctuary to other shifters and study how their unique condition could be managed. Runa’s daughter Freya, who now calls herself Kam (Abigail Hardingham), appears up wearing the body of Sanctum ally Steinar (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) to reveal that Halvorson had abused her abilities to shift through the use of electric shocks, which is why she eventually runs away to London.
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Ben’s tests on Kam and now bringing in June are his solutions for saving Runa, who’s been undergoing some sort of degeneration, possibly a form of Alzheimer’s. June has the ability to retain the thoughts and memories of the person she shifts into, and Ben believes that having her shift into Runa is a way to preserve Runa’s mind. Of course, this would take over June’s life, and Runa’s body would just be lying there, comatose. Sickened by all of his lies and the horrifying lengths he’d been willing to go to, Runa shoots and kills Bendik.
“He’s a real bright spark, but at the same time, I think he’s kind of immature when it comes to having a handle on what he’s capable of, and what his responsibilities are,” Pearce said about his character. “Even though we see what we see with him in Episode 8, the point where he’s losing control and locking [Harry] up, I don’t know that he was aware that he was capable of that in Episode 1, 2, or 3, for example.”
“You get into a bit of trouble and you try and solve that, and you get in a bit more trouble and you try and solve that. Before you know it, you’re up here and things are just out of control,” he said. “That battle between your humility and your hunger for power, and your sense of control and who you are in all that, is really complex and messy and dangerous.”
And even though he dies offscreen when the camera shows only Runa pulling the trigger on the rifle and jerking from the recoil, Duric confirmed that Bendik is truly dead.
“I thought it was much more powerful to see the woman pull the trigger because of everything that happened to her in that relationship,” Duric said. “I’m still convinced that that moment of realization in Halvorsen, where — ‘How the fuck have I got here? How has this happened? How have I become this person? Please, please, please, please–‘ and then he’s gone — I always felt that seeing Runa make that decision was more important than seeing someone shot.”
A New Kind of Shapeshifter
The particular type of shapeshifting, which is triggered by experiencing a strong emotion and then touching someone, on “The Innocents” was born of the Berserker mythology from the Vikings.
“I was a mad fan of Norse mythology and Greek mythology, and there’s lots of shapeshifting happening there, so we tried to find the little kernel of an idea that could inform our story,” said Elkington. “The piece that we landed on eventually was the Berserker warriors, who were pre-Medieval Norse warriors – fearsome, very bloodthirsty – who wore the pelts of animal skins. Legend holds that before battle they would work themselves up into a frenzy, they would shake, their faces would transform, and ultimately they would shapeshift into the animals whose skins they wore. So if you look at pictures from the time of the Berserkers, they’re depicted as bears and wolves streaming down hillsides to decimate villages. So we thought why don’t we take that piece of all-male war-based cultural history and folklore and make it modern, make it female, make it empathetic and emotional.”
This used to be a condition only affecting men, but in recent years, it switched to a females-only condition. (Have the geneticists explain that one!) It also usually skips a generation, but in the case of Runa and Elena (Laura Birn), they each had daughters – Kam and June – who inherited the shapeshifting ability with a significant mutation. Not only can these girls physically become another person, they somehow mentally and emotionally become them as well. Hence, Bendik’s crazy scheme.
While so much of the season has focused on June, Kam holds the key to understanding their abilities better because she’s in full control of her shifting. Unfortunately, she also abuses her power, has limited empathy, and doesn’t seem to care about consent. She even tried to have sex with June by shifting into his body without permission. This created one of the most frightening scenes of the season.