Friday, September 4, 2020

REVIEW: 'Away' - Emma Finds Herself Tested During the First Days of Commanding a Mission to Mars in 'Go'

Netflix's Away - Episode 1.01 "Go"

As the mission launches, Emma finds her mettle as commander tested by an onboard accident, a divided crew and a family emergency back on Earth.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Netflix's Away.

"Go" was written by Andrew Hinderaker and directed by Ed Zwick

Years of sacrifice are required in order to be an astronaut. The missions are so intense and could go awry at any possible moment. Emma and Matt have been devoted to the Mars mission for a long time. Lex was just a baby when Matt got the devastating news that a new health condition would prevent him from going. Lex is a teenager now. The mission is finally happening. It is almost cruelly taken away from Emma too. That is the essential premise of this premiere. It depicts the first mission to Mars. It's a global project with the astronauts coming from around the world for this collective goal to advance the human race. But it constantly questions Emma's leadership and her devotion to the mission. Situations arise that cause divisions amongst the crew and within Emma's own head. She constantly has to make the choice to move forward. This is the mission she has been working to lead for a long time. She is close to achieving that goal. It just means having to sacrifice her family for three years. She lands on the moon and her husband has a stroke. It's emotionally grueling and devastating for her. All of the elements are in place for her to be removed from this mission. The questions started during an incident that occurred before landing at this pit stop. That mystery is teased throughout this hour before Emma gives the definitive telling of events. Kwesi is appreciative that the commander saved him. Misha and Lu question her foolish heroism. Ram offers some support but doesn't have much clarity on whatever happened. Emma wants to be a hero. It's a role she is comfortable stepping into. She is clearly inspirational. However, the sacrifices she has to make are more deeply felt because of the gender dynamics of it all. She feels the need to be at home with her husband and child when tragedy strikes. She is given the opportunity to actually turn around and return to them as well. The mission isn't too far gone already where the choice is inevitably made for her. It still is to an extent. The show wouldn't establish its premise of Emma commanding the first mission to Mars only to have her pull out during the premiere. That is a narrative trope often implemented by writers to establish a premise. It never really works. However, it is more successful here simply because of the emotions at play. The intimacy is felt and the audience is swept up in the decision that Emma has to make. Some of her crew members are empathetic. Others had their doubts and see a convenient excuse to make a change they believe is for the best. As such, the character dynamics are informed by international relations. The world is trying to come together for a common goal. They've all invested in this project for years. They have trained together. However, their allegiances may always be to their home countries. It's all about bringing glory and elation back to the place they call home. It's an achievement for the citizens of the world. But the divisions amongst civilizations are still apparent. Every decision is questioned and scrutinized. Emma doubts her ability to lead as well. She failed. She isn't perfect. That makes her human. She has to accept that and still command her team through the next phases of the mission. She can't give up. Matt doesn't want her to. He supports her no matter what. Things are going to be even more perilous on Earth. Lex will have to grow up even more than she was expecting to. She has to bear the brunt of the family's overall sacrifice as well. She can still be proud of her mother though. These don't have to be conflicting emotions. It's disappointing while acknowledging how uplifting the overall pursuit actually is. Emma speaks about the world needing to come together to overcome the biggest challenges. She speaks to that common sense of purpose. People are stronger together than they are apart. Divisions shouldn't prevent us from reaching out and acknowledging someone else's humanity. That final speech proves Emma as a leader who can inspire. She may not feel comfortable. Her team may have their doubts. But they are on their way to Mars now. This is the mission. These are the set conditions for these characters. They commit to them fully here. And now, the intensity is only going to increase as the narrative begins. This premiere has a heavy focus on Emma and her family situation. It's effective. The rest of the season needs to flesh out the other characters on the mission so that their stories are just as powerful and grounded. Everything could go wrong at any second. The audience needs to understand everyone's motivations to make the drama all the more sweeter.