Equinox premiere recap: What happened to the missing grad students?

Equinox Episode 1 introduces us to a terrifying mystery as Astrid tries to find out what happened to her sister years ago.

Netflix’s latest Danish mystery-thriller promises to be a compelling, creepy mix of Stranger Things, Dark and The Society — at least that’s the vibe I got by the end of Equinox Episode 1.

Equinox doesn’t waste any time introducing us to the show’s core mystery. In 1999, a group of graduating students board a bus set for a fun, celebratory adventure. Most schools have some kind of post-grad celebration. For me, we had an all-night festival at a local community center. For these kids, they go off to spend the night in the woods or something.

Among the 25 students aboard the bus is Ida, the sister of our protagonist, Astrid. Astrid and Ida seemed to be close, based on our brief introduction to the family. But tragically, Ida never returned and vanished that night along with 20 of her classmates. Only three of them came back.

We then skip forward several years into the future. An adult Astrid is raising a daughter of her own now and runs a podcast that revolves around dissecting superstitions. It seems like she’s moved on from the tragedy, but soon cracks begin to show.

Astrid is plagued by nightmares for starters, something we learn has been recurring since her sister’s disappearance. Her marriage to her husband David is also strained; although we don’t learn exactly why in the first episode, the implication is that Astrid’s past still has a tight hold on her.

One day while recording her podcast, Astrid gets a strange caller on-air from a man claiming to be one of the students that returned, Ida’s old boyfriend, Jakob. At first, Astrid thinks he’s playing some kind of sick joke on her, but he mentions that he gave her a magic coin as a kid. She still has it. Then he starts rattling on about how he saw something that night and that “they” came took the students into a parallel reality. He also warns Astrid that it’s going to happen again. Chills.

Before Astrid can learn anymore, her co-worker disconnects the call. But it’s enough to open pandora’s box as Astrid dives headfirst back into the mystery of what happened that night all those years ago.

Equinox Episode 1

Equinox Episode 1 — Photo Credit: Tine Harden/Netflix

Equinox Episode 1 recap: What do the three students that returned know?

Astrid decides to create a radio program about the case. She leaves her family behind to stay with her dad and his new wife in Copenhagen. Her dad is completely against Astrid going down this road because he’s spent years of his life doing the same thing. The case is closed, despite never being solved, and he thinks they need to leave it at that so they can move on.

Astrid is not so easily dissuaded. Her first goal is to track down Jakob, but the closest she gets is his older brother Mathias who lost touch with Jakob years ago. Astrid leaves him her contact info anyway, should he suddenly turn up. Then she turns to the case’s original investigator, Harald Birch, a man who became so obsessed with the case he was eventually taken off of it. Now that he’s put some distance between himself and the investigation, he’s willing to hand over everything he has to Astrid so she can pick up where he left off.

The former investigator shows Astrid three specific tapes from the three students who came back, including Jakob. In Jakob’s interrogation tape, he claims that the truck crashed and when he came to, the other students were gone. He also says he hit his head and blacked out. His disorientation and the chaos of the evening is why they never contacted the cops. But Birch thinks Jakob is lying because he had no cuts or bruises on him, as evidenced by the footage.

The other interrogation tapes show Amelia and Falke’s interviews. Amelia didn’t have much of importance to say while Falke claims that he and the other two ended up on an island because of Jakob. He says it was all due to Jakob’s “book.”

And in the opening moments of the episode, just as Ida gets off the bus to greet her family, you can hear two teenagers arguing about a book nearby. Bearing that in mind, I’m assuming this book will become important later.

Overall, Birch says that it’s impossible to compose an adequate theory on the case, but there is one thing he knows for sure: Amelia, Falke and Jakob know more than they were letting on.

Equinox Episode 1

Equinox Episode 1 — Photo Credit: Tine Harden/Netflix

Equinox Episode 1 recap: What’s the deal with Astrid’s visions?

On the surface, Equinox seems like your average crime thriller. It’s the addition of Astrid’s sleepwalking, visions and nightmares that make it clear this show is going to veer into some weird territory. Throughout the first episode, Astrid is haunted by sinister dreams and foreboding signs.

As a kid, she had a dream of herself walking through a dark forest. There, she saw the missing students embedded in the trees, calling out for help. Young Astrid then came face-to-face with a Devil-like horned creature. In reality, Astrid sleepwalks into the rainy night and her father finds her and jerks her awake.

Toward the end of the episode, Astrid hears the dog barking at her dad’s Copenhagen flat. She looks out the window and sees a man preparing to jump off of the roof of the adjacent high-rise. She rushes outside, screaming, but it’s too late. He leaps. Except when Astrid looks around to see if he survived somehow, there is no one there and the people on the ground below look up at her like she’s crazy. Was it just in her head?

Later that night, Astrid gets a call from a distraught Mathias. He wants to know what Jakob said to her on the phone. Not that it matters now, Mathias informs her that Jakob has committed suicide. He jumped earlier that day! Did Astrid somehow see Jakob commit suicide???

In the final moments of the episode, adult Astrid is thoroughly shaken by Mathias’s phone call and goes to the restroom to calm down. In the mirror, she suddenly sees the horned demon monster emerge from the shadows behind her! And just like that, I’m completely hooked.

What did you think of Equinox Episode 1? Will you watch the entire season? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

The first season of Equinox is now available to stream on Netflix.