Friday, September 4, 2020

REVIEW: 'Away' - An Infectious Disease Strikes the Atlas and Leaves the Crew Worried About Their Health in 'Excellent Chariots'

Netflix's Away - Episode 1.04 "Excellent Chariots"

Emma puts herself in harm's way when Ram unwittingly endangers the lives of everyone on the Atlas. Matt must make a wrenching decision about his future.

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 next episode of Netflix's Away.

"Excellent Chariots" was written by Ellen Fairey and directed by Bronwen Hughes

People make sacrifices for those they love. It's a part of human connection. They don't give up even when things seem hopeless. Life may seem dire all the time. It only takes a small amount of effort to show up and be valuable. The sheer idea of standing by someone's side can be empowering. This show fundamentally suggests that these characters are drifting further away from one another. Emma does her best to be a part of her family's lives. She wants to help Matt make his decisions about physical therapy. She wants insight into what is going on in Lex's life. And yet, she isn't physically there with them. And yes, virtual connection can still be meaningful and life-affirming - as everyone has essentially learned in 2020. However, it's also clear that Lex is spiraling because she has been forced to grow up quickly without having the time to actually process her emotions. She goes out to have fun instead of take a test. Matt and Emma essentially see that as a cry for help. Her getting a C on a test is unacceptable. That is a lot of pressure they are putting on her. Sure, it's teenage drama planted into a prestige show with big themes that doesn't always correlate with everything else that is going on. Emma is essentially the only member of the Atlas crew who is allowed to still have these personal connections. The rest of the crew is tormented by their inabilities to have personal relationships on Earth. Misha is estranged from his daughter because he broke a promise to her a long time ago. Lu has no passion in her marriage and has to wait for the great achievements of her career to be accomplished before allowing herself to pursue love and connection. And now, Ram is plagued with hallucinations of his brother who died when they were children. Ram has told mission control that they should only contact his family if he dies. They have been distant for a long time. Of course, not every family unit is the same. People around the world face a variety of struggles. The American cultural experience is so much different than the areas the other members of the crew come from. Some things are universal. The crew understands that they have to act quickly in order to treat Ram before he infects all of them. They have to take so many precautions. They also have to be willing to risk it all in order to save one of their own. Their bonds are growing stronger. They have sacrificed so much for the good of the mission. This journey to Mars has been seen as the strongest definition of their lives. It's the best thing they could ever hope to achieve. They have encountered numerous problems so far. It has made the show essentially follow a rigid formula in the hopes of introducing these characters. It's not the most nuanced way of doing things. It may get the job done in the long run. This episode provides the information that Ram's family imploded when his brother died. They shared the dream of going to space. He is now living that. He appreciates that Emma never left his side either. He sees just how strong a commander she actually is. He has that clarity and trust for her. The crew are still learning about each other. It's crazy that all of this new information is coming out while they are in space. They almost seem like they knew nothing before this mission began. That doesn't seem all that smart. Meanwhile, Matt leaves the hospital because he feels compelled to be there for Lex at home. He has felt absent because of circumstances out of his control. He can't throw away the chance to make up for it now. People have to respect that others will evolve and grow though. It's their responsibility to acknowledge that and grow alongside them to ensure everything remains solid. This core family unit is in a constant adjustment period. They still have years of this being their lives. They don't know what to expect or how they should operate. They ask each other for their opinions. But they are all on separate journeys as well. Ones that don't always compliment each other. Emma commands herself on the Atlas. She wants to connect with Matt and Lex as well. And yet, the distance and suddenly spotty connection means that she won't know everything that is happening. That disconnect devastates her even though the show basically acknowledges that things are still perfectly fine for everyone. It's personal drama that people believe is a big deal. It is in terms of helping the audience connect to the situations. But it's still rather basic in terms of grand ambitions for exploring human connections across time and space.