‘Insomnia’ Season 2 Predictions: Did Emma Finally Get Rid Of Her Family Curse?

Not many horror and thriller ventures approach sincerity when delineating mental illness, trauma, and isolation through their narrative, but Paramount+‘s psychological thriller series, Insomnia, seemed to be one of those rare ones that do, at least from the first four episodes. The eerie, ominous visuals, coupled with a captivating score, realistic depictions of mental afflictions, and emotional family dynamics, made the majority of the viewers feel quite convinced about the series’ potential brilliance. However, by the time the finale of the first season came to a close, the drastic change in tone and treatment, which diverted so much from the initial approach as to end up changing the genre of the show itself, will surely have resulted in the expectations of the viewers being hampered. Despite that, there’s still a chance for the changes to be rectified with a continuation of the series, as hinted primarily by the ending of the first season.

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Spoilers Ahead


Did Emma Finally Get Rid of Her Family Curse?

The central narrative of Insomnia revolved around the generational hereditary psychological affliction of the Burnett family, or as they occasionally referred to it, a curse or having the ‘Bad Blood’. It was believed by the Burnett family that the second child of each generation is doomed to be a victim of a peculiar schizophrenic, insomniac, or manic disorder from which there is no escape. Emma and Phoebe’s mother, Patricia, had suffered from this since before her 40th birthday, and she almost ended up killing Phoebe while in a trance-like state. It goes without saying that a young Emma, who witnessed the horrendous incident unfolding, was extremely traumatized by it and bore deep resentment for her mother. This incident separated Patricia from her children, and up until her death, their relationship with her remained on a terse note.

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However, as the second child of Patricia, Emma started showing similar symptoms during her days spent in the orphanage, and Phoebe, who was protective of her sister, tried to defend her by pretending herself to be afflicted by mental illness. The so-called family curse, or hereditary psychotic ailment—whatever viewers might want to call it—shaped their destinies. Later, as Emma approaches her 40th birthday, the symptoms of the ailment started to resurface, and like clockwork, it almost seemed like she had followed in her mother’s footsteps. At the same time, the ambiguity regarding whether Emma is really afflicted, or is it her deep-seated fear of turning out like her mother is what turning her worst dreams into reality – made the entire situation unpredictable. If we go with the latter explanation, the entire ordeal can be interpreted as the burden of motherhood overwhelming Patricia, resulting in a midlife crisis, which led to severe mental illness that gradually worsened. Traumatized by a display of her mother’s affliction, Emma fell victim to a similar situation, as her fear of avoiding such a fate almost worked in accordance with Murphy’s Law. In this context, Patricia was quite an unfortunate and tragic figure who needed an understanding perspective.

However, the series swerves off from this interpretation at the last moment, as Emma considers Patricia’s actions and her following in the footsteps of her mother to be a mystical premonition from the past to warn against the dangers of the future. Phoebe congratulates her for breaking the cycle of curses, as the sisters feel they are finally free from the psychotic afflictions that had plagued their family. Unfortunately, it is revealed that the so-called curse is still latched on to Emma, as her son, Will (also the second child), displays symptoms of similar affliction, unbeknownst to his family members. Throughout the season, Will’s changing mental state was hinted at through several clues, and the narrative made viewers believe that it was due to Emma’s nightly routine of sleepwalking. The ending makes it clear that Will’s mental state was inevitably deteriorating, irrespective of Emma’s actions. This means Emma’s assumption that her mother’s ailment is a warning to future danger is possibly wrong, and she is once again back to square one. If the series gets a continuation, the complexities of motherhood will gain prime focus as Emma tries to help her son overcome the same tribulations she herself had to endure. 

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What Does the Future Hold for the Phoebe, Caroline, and the Sandford Family?

Emma’s sister Phoebe offered an interesting perspective in the fourth episode, as it was suggested that, as a neglected elder sibling, Phoebe was trying to get back at her much more fortunate sister. Once again, the ambiguity regarding whether she was trying to help Emma or trying to take over her family, like Caroline later did, was really intriguing—until the sudden revenge motif plotline was shoehorned in. Even though, at the end, Phoebe and Emma seem to have reconciled after remembering their past a bit more clearly, the chance of Phoebe taking a darker path is still there. 

Speaking of Caroline, her psychopathic tendencies have a somewhat similar root in childhood trauma, much like Emma, but her violent streak has made it impossible for her to get into a better mental state. For the time being, Caroline remains imprisoned for her past actions, and a second season might bring her back to her vengeful rampage once again. 

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It was kind of ludicrous to see Julian Sandford dying at the hands of Caroline within the compounds of Emma and Robert’s house, and the incident doesn’t even get mentioned in the aftermath. Father of a young son, Julian cheated on his wife with Chloe, the daughter of his family friends, Robert and Emma, and this contributed to a major issue in the context of the narrative. However, during the final moments of the finale, neither Julian’s death nor his family’s present condition get mentioned in any way. We are hoping that if a second season gets made, Julian’s family will be a key part of the narrative due to their shared experience of trauma. 


Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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