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The Opening Scene of Nightflyers Blew Our Minds

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How do you get people interested in watching your show? Syfy’s new show Nightflyers has a very interesting, very unique, and very gruesome approach; killing the main character in the very first scene of the very first episode.

That’s what happens in based on the novella by George R.R. Martin. At the show’s San Diego Comic-Con panel, not only did the producers and cast show the brand new trailer, they showed the full opening scene that the producers had pitched to networks to try and get them to buy the show. This one scene, the first scene, was the one thing on the show they always knew could never change.


The scene starts with Dr. Agatha Matheson, played by Gretchen Mol, floating through a ship. There’s debris everywhere, inside and out, and she has to struggle in zero gravity to hold onto the walls to get into a room. Once in the room, she returns gravity and grabs a recorder. We notice that she’s bleeding, panicked, and something very bad has obviously happened.

She starts talking into the recorder and explains that the ship has sustained structural damages and fatalities. Then, she hears whistling. She gets quiet and hides under a table. A character named Rowan, played by Angus Sampson, is whistling and he’s got an axe. He comes into the room Matheson is hiding in, walks around the table menacingly, then leaves. She continues recording


“This is a warning,” she says. “This is not a distress call. Do not board the shop. Do not bring the Nightflyer back to Earth.” She stops the recording and tries to put in a a clear container so she can shoot it out into space. But as she’s doing it, she drops something. Then an axe is buried through the wall right near her head. Rowan’s back, and he attacks her, then drags her bleeding body along the floor. But as she’s being dragged, she grabs a pair of scissors and stabs him. She jumps up, finishes sending out the warning message, and runs to the other side of the room as Rowan tries to get back up. Then she grabs a small circular saw, turns it on, and instead of attacking Rowan, puts it up to her throat and kills herself.

Blood splatters on the window and the camera pulls out to see the ship, the Nightflyer, floating in space.

Showrunner Jeff Buhler then explained to the shocked audience that yes, that it may feel like a spoiler, but it’s the very first scene of the show; at any rate, he’s the one who decided to reveal it to the public. After that, he said, the show is all about figuring out how everything got to that moment.

We at io9 were already excited about the adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s sci-fi work, but watching this scene grabbed the hell out of me. Nightflyers airs on Syfy in the Fall.