[Spoiler alert: This story includes several spoilers about Season 2 of Alex Rider. Unless you want some confidential intel in advance, best to go binge the show first. You’ll want to anyway.]
Cool, cheeky and beyond-Bond fun, teen spy Alex Rider reports back for duty today with all eight episodes of Season 2 dropping on IMDbTV. And for his latest case, it’s almost a solo mission.
Still haunted by the events of last season, which saw the young Londoner (Otto Farrant) recruited to infiltrate a mysterious academy in the French Alps after the unexplained death of his uncle, Alex is now “in a dark place” and keeps seeing a stranger tied to his worst memories, says executive producer Anthony Horowitz, who penned the Rider novels. “He’s not well. I mean, he believes he’s hallucinating.” Making matters worse, his new therapist seems shady and all connections to the Department of Special Ops have vanished. He’s been ghosted, traumatized and potentially gaslit.
For the best-selling author, this PTSD development is both key to Alex’s evolution and “very important” for viewers to see explored. “Especially now, when young people have just been through two years that have done so much harm to their mental health and wellbeing,” he offers. “We can address these issues and say ‘Here is a hero who is like all of us, who has dark moments and who needs help.’ There is no doubt about it, Alex is at a very vulnerable position at the start of this series.”
The new season is based on “Eagle Strike,” the fourth book in Horowitz’s globally popular YA series, and the main arc, he explains, is for Alex to convince people that another threat has arisen. “He is stumbling onto a world conspiracy and a villain who is going to do terrible damage to the planet, but nobody believes it because of his mental state,” continues Horowitz. “Even his friends [don’t] really want him to get involved. They’re protective of him, so they’re going to say, ‘Look Alex, this is not your business in any way. And maybe you’re imagining it anyway.’ Alex is on his own and it’s a difficult place for him to be when he’s struggling with so much.”
Alex’s unstable condition, actually, is what leads his American caretaker Jack (Ronkę Adékoluęjo) to suggest a quick getaway to the surf town of Cornwall for some R&R with his bestie, Tom (Brenock O’Connor) in the opener. However, things soon take an explosive turn that kicks off a season full of twists and Bourne-caliber action linked to Alex’s search for the mystery man he fears is stalking him. Along the way, they also get caught up in the machinations of the book series’s popular villain, tech guru Damian Cray (Toby Stephens of Lost in Space).
“It’s a different take on the character,” offers Stephens, the father of a devoted Rider reader. “The one from the book is a lot more flamboyant and I think the one in the show is flamboyant, but much more contained.” Without ruining the fun of figuring out what this way-hotter Bezos-Musk mashup is up to, he offers simply, “I really liked the kind of backstory… who we perceive him to be is not really what he is.”
Figuring out Cray tests Alex’s MI6-honed skills and espionage savvy, while also challenging his ties to his his nearest and dearest. After all, both Tom and Jack went through hells of their own last season.
“I think for Tom, he’s also still dealing mentally with the fact that he attempted to kill an evil clone version of his best friend after being stabbed in the stomach,” observes Game of Thrones alum O’Connor, whose wisecracking, über-charming character falls prey to Cray’s addictive gaming plot. “There was a lot going on for them by the end of last series. So as exciting as it is to see Alex reclaiming power from the department [that has abandoned him] and taking the role of leader by himself… there’s also an element of, ‘Let’s just please call it a day?’ You know? Let’s just get back to school grounds!” he says with a laugh.
Adékoluęjo’s Jack — easily one of the coolest non-spy badasses ever — is also ready for some downtime and she may need it the most. Not only is she responsible for keeping Alex (and perpetual guest Tom) safe, she is now interning at a law firm with her eye on community advocacy. “For about four or five years, she was studying law in the U.K. and then she finished [and] it was time for her to go home to America,” the actress states. And while Jack remains devoted to Alex and definitely interested in whatever the Department, Cray and the rest of the craziness means, she has her eyes on another prize. “She does know she wants to be a lawyer… she wants to be a woman of the people who helps deliver justice in any way she can.”
With all of these players repositioned on the board — and a surprise return set for later in the episodes — the stage is set for another all-out thrill ride companion to the impressive first season. In fact, “the show finishes with a huge climax” akin to the Point Blanc storyline’s epic snowboarding escape, raves Horowitz. “It’s a massive action sequence that is in the book and they’ve managed to realize it on screen.”
Alex Rider, Season 2, Now Streaming, IMDbTV