Netflix’s latest thriller drama series, “Two Summers” (or “Twee Zomer” in native Flemish), seems to bring humanity on a microcosmic level and dissect how nobody is ever perfect. Choosing to stress most on human flaws, it picks on a tremendously serious issue of contemporary times, as a group of friends face blackmail over their horrible secret of sexually assaulting one of their own thirty years ago. Although “Two Summers” does provide a somewhat gripping and tense watching experience, for most of its six episodes, how the series ultimately deals with its characters and their judgment is perhaps (and arguably) out of sync with what the present world needs at the moment.
‘Two Summers’ Season 1: Plot Summary – What Is The Netflix Series About?
The series begins with seven childhood friends, all now near the age of forty-five to fifty, coming together to spend a weekend together after thirty years of a similar celebration. Rich and established Silicon Valley executive Romee, and her husband Peter invite all their old friends to their vacation house on a private island in the French Riviera. The group of friends includes Didier, a commercial pilot; his wife, Sofie; Saskia, a single mother of a boy with special-needs; Stef (or Mowgli, as he is teasingly called by his friends), a renowned government official; Peter’s younger brother Luk; and Luk’s current partner, Lia. Only Lia had not been in the friend circle till she started dating Luk, but she had known Saskia and Sofie through their common yoga class. Another way she knew Saskia was that the latter had been earlier married to Luk, and it was their son Jens whom Saskia raised with love and care. Luk also provides all his love and attention to Jens, despite having separated from his mother. Once the party is first flown in a private jet from Antwerp and then taken to the island by boat, the picturesque location of their upcoming weekend is established, with only one downside: the island does not have any cellular network, and any communication to the outside world is possible only through emergency flares.
As the friends start to settle in, they fondly remember the last time they had spent such a time in 1992, when they were in their late teens or early adulthood. The summer of ’92 had been spent at the lavish country house of Didier’s family, and the narrative often jumps to this timeline when the young men and women spent their days basking in the sun, amidst drugs and alcohol, and experiencing romantic inclinations. Luk, who had just gone through chemotherapy beating cancer back then, had also arrived with an old video camera with which he taped a lot of idyllic and insignificant footage. However, it was also this video camera that had been witness to a horrific act, as Peter soon reveals to Stef privately. One night in 1992, all the men in the group other than Luk had either participated in or witnessed and videotaped a session of sexual assault on Sofie, as the woman lay unconscious, drunk, and drugged. Although the perpetrators had apparently gotten rid of the video cassette the very next morning, somebody has now got hold of the video, thirty years later, and has started to blackmail Peter over it. Stef and Peter, very panicked about the consequences of the resurfacing of this deep-buried secret, now start to look for clues as to who the blackmailer might be, as they are almost certain that it is someone inside their own friend circle.
Meanwhile, a very short scene also shows a file arriving at the office of a government investigating judge two months after the events at the private island. The file contains a photograph of the friends, suggesting that something sinister must have happened on the island for an investigation to be held.
What Are All The Secrets That Are Gradually Revealed Among Friends?
Peter and Stef quickly decide to let Didier in on the secret as well, and the pilot is even more scared and panicked as he has remained married to Sofie for all this long while and yet has never spoken to her about any of it. What exactly had happened is also not clearly presented for some while, as the three men recall the incident in their own way and also try to prove their roles as only witnesses and not participants, to each other. Finally, only when the video is mysteriously played on the big-screen television in the house and Romee gets to see it, that the entire incident is presented to the viewers, as Peter explains the existence of such a pathetic video to his wife. On that day during the summer of ’92, the friends had decided to take a sleeping pill supposedly used commonly as a drug, on the insistence of Didier, who had gotten hold of it. The group back then also included a brash young man named Mark, who died soon after, and Mark is presented by all the friends at present as the one to have started it all. After almost half a day of heavy drinking and pill-popping, all of them were worn out by night and under tremendous intoxication. Romee was the first to pass out, and she was helped up to her room by Saskia and Luk. These two were at the very beginning of their romance at this time, and they immediately went off to spend some intimate time in their own room. Sofie was alone in the company of her four male friends when she passed out, too, and it was Mark who suggested that she could be taken advantage of. Only a little while earlier, the woman had intoxicatedly expressed to Peter how she was extremely aroused, and when he tells this to the other men, a crooked and cruel plan gets into action.
Mark, Didier, and Peter held their friend and took her to one of the bedrooms, while Stef drunkenly started recording the whole thing on Luk’s video camera. Didier had already started to develop a romantic interest in Sofie at the time, but he chose not to say anything to his friends when Mark and Peter undressed her and took advantage of her unconscious body while Stef kept recording. There was visible guilt and fear on Stef’s face, and then on Didier’s and gradually Peter’s as well, and they now pushed Mark (who still kept going) away and brought an end to the horrible night. The next morning, they had apparently decided to come clean to Sofie, but hushed away when the woman herself did not say anything, and the men believed that she did not remember anything. They had then asked Stef to procure the video cassette from the camera, and all four had stood and burnt it in a fire. Despite all of them still believing that Sofie had no idea that something like this had happened to her, the woman at present is seen watching the same video on her personal phone, suggesting that the blackmailer has reached her too. Even if she did not receive the wretched video, Sofie, of course, could understand or at least guess that something odd had happened to her the previous night. After she woke up vomiting and with an ache all over her body, she was also asked by Romee whether she was fine and if something strange had happened with the boys the previous night. But Sofie could hardly remember, and whatever guess she had was wrongly but understandably suppressed by her fear, guilt, and denial; she too kept quiet about it for all these years.
Other than this incident, there were plenty of other secrets that soon started coming out among the friends, like clothes tumbling out of a wardrobe. It is revealed that the friends’ summer of 1992 had ended when their country house had accidentally caught fire from old faulty wiring, and they had somehow managed to escape the burning building. However, Mark, who was staying in a room on the third floor, could not come out in time and had died in the accident. It is now, thirty years later, that Luk reveals a guilty secret of his own that he had been struggling to live with for so long—on the day of the fire, Mark had abused Luk’s ailment, and in return, he had locked the door to Mark’s room; so, when Mark might have tried to escape his room that night during the fire, he could not as the door was locked from outside. Although the friends are shocked to hear this, they sympathize with Luk, and Peter also lies that Mark’s autopsy had revealed that the man had died from suffocation in his sleep. Another secret revealed around the same time is about Luk’s current partner, Lia, who is a nurse by profession. But Lia had struggled to procure money for her education, and around ten years ago, she had worked as an escort in Belgium. During this time, Didier had been her client for some time, despite the man still posing to be in a very happy marriage with Sofie, and he had never told his wife about this either. While Luk provides support and care to his partner (he had known about Lia’s past profession), when he gets to know of her history with Didier, Sofie is understandably livid as she had no idea of her husband’s adultery. During all this time, Stef and Saskia spend time with each other on the island, rekindling an old passion that they always had. Stef had always liked Saskia, and had even once tried to express his feelings, but was swiftly turned down by her. Saskia herself had her own tangled history, as she had initially been with Peter before he dumped her, and she then found interest in his brother, Luk. She had soon married Luk, had a son with him, and then got a divorce after some years. Finally, Stef and Saskia reconnect and start a romantic relationship. While one new relationship blooms, though, another existing one crumbles, as Romee suddenly announces that she wants to end her marriage with Peter, saying that she had misjudged him as someone different and can hardly tolerate him now.
Who Was The Real Blackmailer?
As the three men run out of potential suspects as the blackmailer, Peter privately asks his brother if he knows anything and shows him the video. He is shocked with Luk’s reaction, though, as the younger brother asks him where he got his video, suggesting that he did know about its existence. Luk then reveals that he had known about the video for some time, as he had found the cassette a few months back. Thirty years ago, he had shot a video of Saskia and him having a conversation, and the intoxicated men had continued to shoot their disgusting video on that same tape. As Luk cherished and treasured the video of Saskia, he had stored the cassette safely away from others that very night after he rescued his camera from a drunk Stef, and therefore it was protected from the friends as well as the following fire. However, Luk himself had learned of a horrible secret some months ago, when he tried having a child with Lia but could not. Test reports clearly stated that he was infertile, and with raging doubts in his mind, he had run clinical tests on Jens, the son he always believed to be his and Saskia’s. Luk had now found out that Jens was actually the biological child of his brother, Peter, and had instantly tried to confront Saskia, but the woman did not respond. Out of anger and feeling betrayed, he had thought of a plan to blackmail Peter with the video, and had even shown it to Lia. Despite admitting to having had such a plan, though, Luk keeps insisting that it is not he who is actually blackmailing the men, and suspicion now lands on Lia. Peter confronts his ex-lover about Jens’ parentage, and Saskia admits the truth, saying that she never revealed the truth to Peter because he would have forced her to get an abortion, and she was scared of its almost illegal status in the 90s. Meanwhile, knowing that Romee is the only one among the women to have knowledge of Sofie’s rape, Stef tries his best to convince her not to make any mention of it to her female friends, talking of both their high professional reputations and how such news might affect their careers. He even tries to tell her how guilty and remorseful he feels about the whole incident, but Romee correctly questions his decision to have kept shut about it for all these years.
Finally, as was becoming more apparent, it is revealed that the blackmail was not done by any single individual but rather by all four women in the group. As the women explain to their male friends and also to the government investigator two months later, the whole ordeal began when Lia saw the video of Sofie’s assault. Despite knowing Sofie from her yoga classes, she had decided not to tell her about it, until she saw Didier pick her up from the gym one day and realized that he was her husband. Owing to Lia’s earlier profession, she had seen Didier at an intermediary period between the present and thirty years ago and had instantly recognized him as the young man who was present in the video. She had now understood that Sofie’s husband had not just known about it but had also silently watched it happen, and that he had also cheated on his wife by sleeping around with her. Lia had now approached Sofie with the video. After recovering from the initial shock and dismay, Sofie had shared it with Romee, her closest friend, and they had gotten Saskia involved in the plot as well. Romee, with all her expertise in technology, had sent the blackmailing messages to her husband, and now they all decide to confront the men. Saskia, now finding herself in love with Stef, the one who had shot the video, tries to talk her friends out of the plan, asking for it to be dropped as it was getting too serious with the men. The three women realize that Saskia might become a problem in their plan, and so they confront the men at a time when she is not around.
The men keep pleading their innocence and guilt with their own accounts of what had happened, but none of them shows any convincing remorse for having done such a thing. Peter claims that despite it looking like he forcibly had sex with the unconscious Sofie, he was actually posing to do so with no real penetration involved, because he believed faking it would be better in that utterly toxic-masculine moment than rejecting to do anything. He and Didier keep putting most of the blame on the now conveniently-dead Mark, saying that it was he who kept instigating and he did the most harm. Stef, too tries to prove that he had only borne witness to the incident without partaking, but he provides the sincerest apology and remorsefulness among the three for not stopping his friends from raping another friend right in front of his eyes. Things get very heated as the friends now express other disappointments in each other—Luk expresses his anger and grief for Saskia and Lia, respectively, the first for never telling him about his son’s real father, and the second for not telling him about their elaborate plan of blackmail. Romee also expresses her disbelief and frustration at Saskia for never having told her that her husband was Jens’ biological father, despite their being such close friends. Saskia’s plea of wanting to keep Romee out of any harm or misunderstanding falls on deaf ears. Stef, too, is very hurt, knowing that his newfound lover, Saskia, had been involved in this act of blackmail, which had taken his night’s sleep away, and it is with Stef that the afternoon filled with outbursts comes to a halt. Out of anger and frustration, Romee lies that she has already sent the video to three leading press journals in order to make the men frightened after she feels that none of them are showing any remorse. This drives Stef to a hasty decision, as the government official fears that there would be tremendous slander on his name when the video is released. With a rifle present in the house, he shoots himself dead.
‘Two Summers’ Season 1: Ending Explained – What Is The Fate Of The Rest Of The Friends?
As the police take away Stef’s body and the others from the island, an investigation is also launched by the government, which indirectly reveals the fate of the other friends. Romee lives by herself, now divorced from Peter, but with the guilt of having lied about the video sent to the press, which had led to Stef’s suicide. Peter, who had never done any significant work in life and had only lived life on his rich wife’s money, now struggles to stay alone and has a difficult relationship with his brother as well. On the final afternoon at the island, Luk had told Lia that he could not bear the fact that she had hidden such a huge truth from him, and questioned whether he could trust her in any serious matter again. The two are, however, seen staying together again, but perhaps a little farther apart than they had earlier been. Luk remains in touch with Saskia, as he spends time with his son. Sofie decides to maintain her marriage with Didier, even after everything is revealed, perhaps because she finds her husband to have real remorse and guilt for all that had happened thirty years ago. The investigating officer finally tells all of them that they will receive letters notifying them whether the prosecution will decide to file a criminal case regarding the death of Stef. The officer and her assistant are seen a bit confused about whether to actually file the case, and then the letters are seen arriving for each of the characters. What the letters read is not shown, as the series ends with a crying Sofie being consoled by her husband. Perhaps what it tries to suggest is that no matter what the investigator’s decision is, it is going to be grief for Sofie either way. If no case is lodged, then a brutal history of sexual atrocities against her will go unpunished. But if they indeed file a case, then all her friends, her husband and she included, would come under severe investigation for their actions from thirty years ago as well as the crime of blackmail in the present.
Although it might be argued that the plot itself tries to bite much more than it can actually chew, the plot and actions of the characters might still be gulped down, despite a climax heavier than necessary. It is in what the series ultimately tries to signify that it becomes quite divisive, and in my honest opinion, a bit questionable as well. “Two Summers” does not obviously say any of this out loud, but there is the implication of how much of dark history should be revealed and to what effect. There are multiple mentions by the characters of how Sofie’s rape ultimately did not affect her well-being, meaning her health, social status, etc. Her decision, at the end, to not leave Didier also seems to suggest that she herself might not have been as affected by the acts as her female friends were. The last episode also directly leaves an after-taste of how wrong Romee was in pushing Stef towards suicide, as she herself pleads her guilt. But is her fault in lying about a leaked video as culpable as a man who killed himself from guilt and fear of a social fall of grace for intoxicatedly filming a sexual assault on his friend by his other friends? In the larger scheme of things, “Two Summers,” very wrongly, seems to present a subtle slight press of letting dark pasts remain buried underneath. Any argument of the series not meant to be seen in the larger scheme of things can also be easily dismissed as the male characters themselves talk about the #MeToo movement and its scary effect on many men with cruel pasts.
“Two Summers” is a 2022 Drama Thriller series streaming on Netflix.