Spoilers for Netflix’s The Midnight Club.In each episode of The Midnight Club, the terminally ill teens at the Brightcliffe Home hospice tell horror stories to one another. Created by Mike Flanagan, the Netflix series is an adaptation of Christopher Pike’s 1994 novel of the same name, yet the individual stories told by the Brightcliffe patients, which provide most of the Midnight Club episode titles, are actually adaptations of other books by Pike. Each story stands alone, like a short film, but also has deeper meaning pertaining to the character telling the tale as well as the show’s overreaching plot.
There are seven Brightcliffe patients in The Midnight Club season 1 who tell stories: Ilonka (Iman Benson), Anya (Ruth Codd), Kevin (Igby Rigney), Spencer (Chris Sumpter), Sandra (Annarah Cymone), Natsuki (Aya Furukawa), and Amesh (Sauriyan Sapkota). Cheri (Adia) is also part of the club but never tells a story. The same actors portray the characters of The Midnight Club and the characters in the stories, creating direct parallels. There are 10 stories in total, two of which are split into chapters across multiple episodes. While the meanings behind some stories are obvious, others are more enigmatic, but they each reflect the inner thoughts and feelings of their storyteller.
The Midnight Club season 1, episode 1, “The Final Chapter,” shows Ilonka listening to part of Natsuki’s horror story. Natsuki tells of Ren (Chris Sumpter), a boy who is being watched by the residents of a spooky street while he walks home at night. Then, a girl in a school uniform (Aya Furukawa) screams at him in a series of jump scares. The connection between this story and the characters in the main narrative of The Midnight Club isn’t as obvious as with some later stories. On the surface, Natsuki’s story serves the purpose of showing the audience and Ilonka what the Midnight Club is all about. But on a deeper level, it shows how Natsuki, who has clinical depression, feels about herself. This is one of the few stories that doesn’t feature the storyteller as the main character. The actor who plays Spencer plays Ren and the actor who plays Natsuki appears as the screaming schoolgirl. Due to her depression, Natsuki avoids talking about herself, her past, and her feelings. So, she casts herself as the villain/monster because that’s how she sees herself.
The first story Ilonka tells in The Midnight Club is of Julia Jayne (Larsen Thompson), a 1960s Brightcliffe patient who was “healed.” In this fictionalized account, Julia suddenly disappears for a month. When she returns, she says she never left the house. Her tumors start to shrink, and she’s allowed to go home, but not before accurately predicting the death dates of two other patients and an orderly. The truth about Julia — as Ilonka later tells Kevin — is that she only disappeared for a week, but she did miraculously heal upon her return. In The Midnight Club episode 2, “The Two Danas,” Ilonka meets Shasta (Samantha Sloyan), and in episode 9, “The Eternal Enemy,” she realizes Shasta is Julia. Ilonka’s Julia Jayne story shows how she sees herself in Julia/Shasta. She would do anything to heal herself and her friends, and she came to Brightcliffe hoping to find whatever healed Julia. The power to predict death dates is related to the terminally ill patients counting down to their deaths, even if they don’t know the exact time it will happen.
The Two Danas
Anya tells “The Two Danas” in The Midnight Club episode 3. Dana (Ruth Codd), is a ballerina who works hard but also wants to party. She makes a deal with the Devil to split herself in two. One Dana stays home, continuing her studies. The other Dana goes off to have a good time. Both can feel what the other feels. While this is initially exciting, it comes crashing down, leading to the two Danas trying to kill each other. One survives, but even Dana doesn’t know which one she is. As Anya explains to Ilonka a few episodes later, she was also a ballerina, so it’s clear Dana’s story is a supernatural version of her own. Anya also has the same broken ballerina statue that Dana has in the story, which was broken when she threw it at her best friend Rhett (Daniel Diemer, who also plays Dana’s best friend in the series). She reveals that she blames herself for her parents’ deaths because they were out looking for her at the time. The story shows how Anya struggled with two different sides of herself and now carries guilt about her past and little hope for the future. Like Dana, she doesn’t know who she is anymore. One of the Danas dying also foreshadows Anya’s death in The Midnight Club episode 7.
The Wicked Heart
“The Wicked Heart” is the only story in The Midnight Club told across three episodes, unfolding as its creator, Kevin, evolves. It’s a tale about a teenage serial killer named Dusty (Igby Rigney), whose first victim is Nancy (Emilija Baranc, who also plays Kevin’s girlfriend, Katherine, in the overarching plot of the show). Afterward, he begins to date Sheila (Iman Benson). The story is a clear reflection of Kevin developing feelings for Ilonka while drifting away from Katherine. Dusty ends up locked away, suppressing the voices telling him to kill Sheila. Kevin all but says this is about his guilt for hurting the people he cares for. But as Ilonka tells Kevin, “I don’t know if it’s possible not to hurt the people you care about.”
Gimme a Kiss
“Gimme a Kiss” is told by Sandra as a way to apologize to Spencer, who is the only Midnight Club kid whose illness isn’t cancer. He has AIDS and was rejected by his religious mother for being gay. Sandra is Christian, and her frequent speeches about God make Spencer uncomfortable. In the story, through a series of detective noir clichés, Alice (Annarah Cymone) kills her ex, Kirk (Igby Rigney), and friend Sharon (Iman Benson). She also apologizes to her best friend, Jake (Chris Sumpter), as she dies. Sandra then apologizes to Spencer, which he accepts by giving her a kiss on the forehead. In addition to paralleling Sandra and Spencer’s friendship, “Gimme a Kiss” foreshadows Kevin and Ilonka’s relationship. In the initial lie that Alice tells to a detective (Heather Langenkamp, who also plays Brightcliffe’s Dr. Georgina Stanton in The Midnight Club), Sharon killed Jake as revenge for Kirk’s death. While Ilonka wouldn’t resort to murder, she will likely be inconsolable when Kevin dies.
See You Later
“See You Later” is Amesh’s story, told in The Midnight Club episode 5. It stars his actor, Sauriyan Sapkota, as Luke and Natsuki’s actor, Aya Furukawa, as Luke’s love interest, Becky. In the story, Luke meets a game designer he admires and helps him with a video game that simulates the end of the world. He later learns that the designer is himself from the future, the designer’s girlfriend is Becky, and her current boyfriend, Ray, is the future president who will cause the end of the world. Becky accidentally kills her younger self, but it changes Luke and Ray for the better, so they don’t let the world end. Luke and Becky are obviously stand-ins for Amesh and Natsuki, who like each other but haven’t begun a relationship by this point in The Midnight Club season 1. The story is more deeply about Amesh dealing with his “death day,” a time determined after doctors told him he had a year to live. Amesh lives past his death day, as does Luke in the story. It helps him realize that he can’t stop living life because it could end at any time for anyone. He and Natsuki then begin their relationship.
The Midnight Club episode 7, “Anya,” seems to cut forward to a future where the title character is fully cured of cancer but struggling with living now that all of her friends are dead. She realizes after encountering characters from other Midnight Club stories that this is just a dream. Over the recovery room intercom, the Midnight Club tells Anya a story in which all of them are cured and leave Brightcliffe. Anya and Rhett get married and have children. The rest of the patients live on the same street, and they all grow old together. While the dream presents a life Anya doesn’t want and a death she dreads, the story shows her that she’s not alone. It’s only with her friends around her that she’s able to pass away peacefully.
Road To Nowhere
Natsuki tells part of “Road to Nowhere” to her roommate, Tristan (Jenaya Ross), in The Midnight Club episode 1. Tristan passes away soon after, and Natsuki then tells the complete story to Amesh in episode 8. “Road to Nowhere” is about Teresa (Aya Furukawa), a young woman dealing with depression — Natsuki’s own version of the living shadow that other Midnight Club members encounter. She goes on a drive at night and picks up hitchhikers Freedom Jack (Henry Thomas) and Poppy Corn (Alex Essoe). In the end, it turns out Teresa is dying from carbon monoxide poisoning in her car. Freedom and Poppy represent her depression and her will to live, respectively. She chooses to live. Natsuki tells Amesh that this is a version of her own story. Doctors managed to save her, but they discovered her cancer. Since then, she has been haunted by her decision to keep living only to find out immediately after that she was dying. Like Amesh with his story, “See You Later,” Natsuki uses “Road to Nowhere” to represent how she wants to live life to the fullest while she can.
The Eternal Enemy
Spencer’s story in The Midnight Club, “The Eternal Enemy,” follows Rel, a college student who falls in love with his peer, Christopher. Rel also discovers that his VCR records newscasts from the future and sees a report about Christopher’s death. When Rel tries to save him, he meets a cyborg version of Christopher from the future who reveals that Rel is a robot that he designed. Rel had gone back in time to kill Christopher but lost his memories. Christopher thinks Rel is defective because he feels fear. Rel lets future Christopher kill him but leaves a message for young Christopher, who learns that people aren’t defective. Spencer uses “The Eternal Enemy” to tell recovering Midnight Club member Sandra to make the future something good. The story is also his way of accepting that he’s not defective just because he is gay or sick. He, and the rest of the Midnight Club, are “perfect.”
Ilonka tells “Witch” in two parts across episodes 6 and 10 of The Midnight Club. The story is about Imani (Iman Benson), who looks into the future and sees the death of a boy she instantly loves. She meets up with her friend Scottie (Ruth Codd), who introduces her to Ben (Igby Rigney), the boy from her vision. Imani tries to stop Ben from going into the store where he will be killed. Scottie goes in instead, gets shot, and ends up in a coma, foreshadowing Anya’s brief coma and death after the Midnight Club attempts the Paragon ritual. Ben is ultimately killed anyway while Imani uses her magic to heal Scottie, killing herself in the process — but she and Scottie have one last talk. When Ilonka isn’t able to finish the story on her own, Cheri and the others join in. They describe Imani’s friends holding a funeral at a lake, similar to the funeral the Midnight Club held for Anya. The story is a way for all of them to process what they have gone through and reach closure about Anya’s death. It’s a fitting ending to The Midnight Club season 1 because it shows Ilonka’s growth from wanting to cure her cancer to accepting that she can’t change the future; she can only live in the present.
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