Teen drama has proved to be one of the most successful categories for Netflix, and the genre has done particularly well this year. With the return of ‘13 Reasons Why’ and the entry of new shows like ‘The Order’ and ‘The Society’, it looks like the streaming service isn’t done with its teen audience yet. ‘The A List’ is another teen-supernatural drama that tackles the issues of rivalry, friendship and revenge amongst teenagers. Set on a secluded island, it follows the story of a girl who discovers that their summer home harbours dangerous secrets and the danger is lurking in their camp dressed as one of them. If you haven’t yet seen the show, head over to Netflix.
Summary of the Plot
The story of ‘The A List’ begins with a group of students arriving at a desolate island to spend their summer. Mia is a confident and beautiful girl, a prom queen for every sense and purpose. The moment she steps on the island, she has her eyes set on Brendan who reciprocates the interest. It seems like a lovely summer romance is set to bloom. But a hitch in the plan comes when another girl enters the picture. Amber is another queen bee who doesn’t take much time to establish a rivalry with Mia. She too becomes interested in Brendan and hatches a plan to ruin Mia’s reputation. One by one, she turns everyone against her. She takes away her friends and Brendan.
Mia becomes increasingly desperate to leave the island, but there are no phone signals, no Wi-fi connection and no regular ferry system to take them away. Mia begins to suspect something off with Amber. She doesn’t sleep, she has everyone wrapped around her finger, and she has the tendency to show up at places unexpectedly. The investigation progresses when other students begin to notice the changes. Mia forms an unlikely alliance with a loner, Alex, to uncover Amber’s secret and find a way out of the island.
Who is the Narrator?
As we follow the story of the campers on Peregrine Island, a narrator gives us the perspective of the events. We jump from one character to another, wondering who is telling the story, but we don’t chance upon them until the last couple of episodes. While running away from Amber and her followers, Mia, Alex, Harry, Petal and Brendan see her memories radiated in the forest. They see each other, as they were last summer; they see Midge’s funeral; and in the end, they see a mirror. At first, the image inside is that of Midge. But it soon turns into Amber, and the narrator is confirmed to be Midge.
Her name first comes up when Mia tries to find out Amber’s dark secret. She must have done something horrible to go as far as to erasing everyone’s memory. When Luka takes her to the signal location, she is able to place a call to Lils. She asks her to look for the time for the next ferry but discovers that it has been a year since the ferries stopped coming to the island. In fact, the camp that Mia is in isn’t even supposed to be there. It closed down last year after the death of a girl.
At first, Mia believes that the deal girl is Amber. Her being a ghost explains a lot of things. Before Lils can tell her the name, Mia’s phone dies. Later, when she and Alex come across each other at the shack, the phone lights up by itself and she receives the screenshot that Lils had sent to her. It tells them about a girl called Midge. Mia realises that the shack had letters written by Midge, and jumps to the conclusion that Amber must have killed Midge, which is why she doesn’t want anyone to find out about her.
The mystery behind Midge continues to darken as Dave burns all her letters and other stuff before Mia and Alex can get to it and find out what really happened. Alex’s first thought is to find Midge’s remains and give her a proper burial. But with Amber’s story tangled with hers, they try an Ouija type session to talk to her. She responds with “I’m still alive”. While this would normally mean that she is not dead, it soon turns out that the words might not make sense if taken literally. Along with Harry, they find a secret lab where the scientists were supposedly studying the behaviour of plants on the island. They discovered that the plants communicate with each other through chemicals. If Midge had died, then her body would have decomposed and gone into the soil. Now that she is a part of the ecosystem of the island, she can use the same channels used by the plants to communicate with others. Later, they are proved wrong.
What Happened Last Summer?
All the bad things happening to Mia and her friends has its roots in the previous summer camp. They don’t remember it, but they have been on the island before and have forged relationships that are resurfacing in the form of their attraction to each other. They arrived at Peregrine Island a year before. Mia was a popular girl and got to be the summer queen. She chose Brendan as her king, and that was when they got together. Kayleigh and Zac too dated each other, and everyone was pretty much the same as they are now.
The one difference was Midge. She was the loner of the group. No one paid attention to her and she didn’t have any friends. No one was mean to her, but they were cruel because they never acknowledged her existence. She had a crush on Brendan and asked him out, but he was in love with Mia so he politely turned her down. Midge was heart-broken, but it was nothing she couldn’t survive. She was jealous of Mia and her friends and would have even detested them because they were a group of Mean Girls. They would have made fun of her in passing comments, talking about her dressing style or any other thing.
The worst blow came to her on the last night on the island. It was the day of the Peregrine Hunt. She was a dove and hid well for a long time. Too well! When no one came to find her even after it got dark, she came out to see what was happening. She found Kayleigh and Zac who told her that Petal had won the game and it was over some time ago. When she said that no one found her, Kayleigh, as a matter of factly, stated that they simply forgot about her. She tells Midge that everyone else is out partying by the cliff. Midge heads over there, but it is too dark for her to see and she falls over the cliff.
Where Did Amber Come From?
Midge was given a proper funeral and everyone believed that she was dead. In truth, she was found by Mags and her team, who took her to the secret lab and started treating her with an experimental method. When she fell over the cliff, her blood got mixed with the chemicals used by the plants to communicate with each other. Mags and her team saw that she was brain dead and tested a new treatment on her. It worked wonderfully. Midge was completely healed and she got back to normal.
But then changes began to appear in her. This new thing gave her exceptional powers, which she could wield in the form of mind control. The change wasn’t just internal. As she realised her power, she transformed physically and took over the body of Amber. Instead of stopping her or reversing the procedure, the people in charge decided to keep an eye on her, to study her from a distance. They placed Mags with the kids, under the guise of their new instructor and a drone circled the island to keep an eye on everyone.
Mags says that a Jekyll and Hyde sort of thing happened with Midge, which turned her into Amber. Midge had been an outcast. She wasn’t liked, not because she was a bad person, but because no one cared about her. No one fraternised with her because of the way she looked, because they didn’t consider her beautiful enough, fun enough. She wasn’t popular enough. This discrimination is nothing new in teenagers. The popular ones often separate themselves from the nerds or anyone else they consider a loser.
This is what happened with Midge. She was made to think bad of herself, which is why she must have dreamed of not being herself. She must have wished for a better face, a better body, a better personality. She wanted to turn into someone who could become popular. When she was treated with the experimental drugs, her newfound powers allowed her to get exactly what she wanted. She turned herself into a thin blonde who could easily attract the attention of boys and the envy of girls. Now she could not just be like Mia, but she could be better than her. They had never paid any attention to her before, but now, they wouldn’t be able to get her out of their head.
Who’s the Bad Guy?
The moment Amber enters the story, we know that something is wrong with her. We know that Mia is no saint herself. But the more Amber turns everyone against her, the more we begin to root for the underdog. It is one thing to be a mean, stupid teenager and completely another to be an insomniac mind-controlling psychopath. We don’t as much hate Amber as we are scared of her. (Don’t tell me you didn’t think what you’d do if you were in Mia’s place!)
Mia is completely abandoned by her friends, who now follow Amber like sheep. She is messing with everyone’s head and no one believes it when Mia tries to tell them. Even the ones who are supposed to be their guardian are not ready to think about it. Every time Mia tries to run away, every time she thinks she can escape the island, her plans are foiled not by Amber but by the people who are supposed to look after her and the other kids. Amber is definitely the bad guy. That is until we get the whole picture.
Mia cares so much about Midge only because she thinks it has something to do with Amber. Had there been no such problem, she probably wouldn’t have thought twice about the missing girl. She isn’t keen on unlocking mysteries unless she has a rival racing her for it. When the truth does come out, it turns out that Midge was her victim. They might not have pushed her off the cliff, but it was their insensitivity and their cruelty towards her that led to her death. In the presence of Amber, Mia is an outcast. She is the one that no one wants to be friends with. She is tortured because the popular girl has turned her life into a living hell and she is trapped with her. But turn back the clock one year, and Mia is Amber and her place is taken by Midge.
Back then, Mia was the diva, and as Alex puts it, she might not be the ruining your favourite dress type, but she is the one who tortures you into an eating disorder. She knew that Midge liked Brendan. Even when he told her that he had declined Midge’s offer, she is still insecure. Who’s to say that she didn’t tease poor old Midge about that? She might have been the protagonist of this summer, but the last year, she had been the villain. She plays tricks like not inviting certain people to her party and dressing up to woo others and get favours from them. Considering her actions, and that of the rest of the group, they created their own monster.
The A-List Ending
Of course, being emotionally tortured by your peers doesn’t mean you should kill them. As Amber, Midge got the girls that followed Mia to follow her. She tortured Mia by playing her own tricks on her. She had been interested in Brendan, which explains her obsession with him as Amber. For a long time, everyone believes that Midge is Amber’s victim. They believe that Midge is caught in Amber’s body. Then they discover that they are the same. Mags presents them with a remedy which can get Midge back to normal. In the final scene, Alex succeeds in doing so. They believe that they have freed Midge and now everything should be back to normal.
A horrible realisation descends when Amber says “Midge is gone”. And she seems relieved. Then, out of nowhere, Midge climbs back up on the cliff and smiles malevolently saying “you’ve no idea”. What possibly happened there! The only logical conclusion that we can draw from this scene is that Midge is bad. After getting the powers, she turned into an evil supervillain. We were told that she had morphed into Amber, but now, it seems like she and Amber were different people. It could be that Amber was just another normal girl, and Midge possessed her body in order to survive. All this time, it wasn’t Midge calling for help. It was Amber.
The A List Season 2: What to Expect?
For the most part, it seemed like we had figured out this show, but there are still so many questions, especially after that last scene. The second season of ‘The A List’ needs to answer a number of things. First of all, where did the kids come from? After their summer last year, they must have left the island. Why would their parents send them back when they knew that a girl had died there? Moreover, the newspaper reports that the camp is closed and no ferries go to the Island. Then who brought them there? When exactly were their memories wiped? Was it done on board or after they landed onshore? Did they ever even leave? Have they been on the island for the past year?
Another mystery we would like addressed is the “they”. Mags refers to them, the ones keeping an eye on the island, the ones who send the codes, the ones who are coming to rescue them. Who are they and what have they been up to? Are there others like Amber/Midge, the people with superpowers? If Midge possessed Amber’s body, then who is the real Amber? Where did she come from? And why couldn’t she control Mia? We saw that before taking control of everyone’s brain, she would offer them reprieve from the hurt and pain. She basically asked for their consent. When she didn’t get consent from Petal, who broke down after her failed attempt, Amber got weak. But then she came back more powerful, and despite Alex’s resistance, she was eventually able to overpower her. But she didn’t even try with Mia. Why? What makes her so special?