Spoilers ahead for the October 13 episode of Next on Fox.
Next debuted on Fox as a brand new sci-fi drama, featuring Mad Men vet John Slattery as star and a rogue AI as the villain of the series. Throw in an evil Alexa and characters realizing just how much technology impacts their lives, and Next can deliver some good old-fashioned horror to go with the sci-fi. That said, after only two episodes, I'm already wondering: has Next given itself an expiration date already?
After the series premiere ended with the NEXT AI escaping the supposedly inescapable server room at Zava, LeBlanc and Shea were on the defensive to try and stay ahead of NEXT until they finally found a way to fight back. Following a harrowing conversation between young Ethan and the manipulative NEXT via Eliza, they traced the signal back to a person in Dartmouth, New Hampshire.
Finding that location doesn't mean they're safe, however, and LeBlanc disabling everything from GPS devices to smoke detectors is proof of how massive of a threat NEXT poses. Complicating things even further is the fact that LeBlanc suffers from sporadic fatal insomnia, which not only means that he hallucinates, but also that he only has about five months left to live.
Although Shea and her family have been at the center of Next from almost the very beginning, John Slattery's LeBlanc in clearly the star of the series, and arguably the only character who is absolutely essential to the fight against NEXT. Shea, Ethan, and Ty are the heart of the series, but LeBlanc is the brain, and it'll take a big brain along with his unique experience to take down NEXT.
And that means that the sporadic fatal insomnia poses a very big problem for the series. If Next moves forward with the disease rather than delivering a miraculous and regenerative cure or going the Empire route and revealing that he was misdiagnosed, then his days are numbered, even if Next doesn't move forward in real time, a la Breaking Bad. The disease is degenerative, and he'll only get worse, and that's not good when he was firing a shotgun at hallucinated drones in just the second episode!
Since miracle cures happen a lot more often on TV than in real life, I won't assume that LeBlanc will indeed die from his fatal insomnia. Still, the people who are fighting NEXT are already on the run, and currently on the wrong side of the country from Dartmouth. I can't imagine LeBlanc or Shea is willing to board an airplane to fly thousands of miles, considering Paul was smashing the console of Shea's car for their brief drive to her house.
NEXT seems like it couldn't get much more powerful, so they need to defeat the AI sooner rather than later. Shea is a target, along with her family. The big bad is so big and so bad so quickly that I don't know if NEXT is sustainable as a villain, and that's tricky when the show is literally called Next. They can't not defeat NEXT, because technology is everywhere. Short of the show delivering a twist of everybody moving to an off-the-grid life in the woods somewhere, Next may not be able to stretch its story.
That said, there is no need to proclaim that the show is doomed to run out of twists when only two episodes have aired. The show could have plenty of tricks up its sleeve, and not even LeBlanc knows what NEXT will do next. Find out when new episodes of Next air on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox. For more viewing options now and in the coming weeks, check out our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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