Saturday, September 5, 2020

REVIEW: 'Away' - The Atlas Crew Prepares to Deliver Their Final Goodbyes to Their Loved Ones on Earth in 'Space Dogs'

Netflix's Away - Episode 1.05 "Space Dogs"

As Christmas approaches, the crew prepares to make their final calls home before communication grows spotty. Matt and Lex adjust to their new normal.

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.

"Space Dogs" was written by Jason Katims and directed by Bronwen Hughes

Lu gives Emma the advice that she is looking in the wrong direction. She needs to be focused on the mission ahead. They will be the first humans to land on Mars. It's exciting. It's a huge achievement. It's important to look back every once in awhile. However, that constant motion can't be used to build a sustainable future. Life moves ahead. If one is too busy regretting the past, then they won't notice and truly appreciate the present. Everyone feels the urge to make their possibly final moments with their loved ones special. These conversations have kept them grounded and connected to the world they left behind. It's been an important structural device for the show as well. It has made it seem like the astronauts haven't actually left their lives on Earth. They are still a part of that ongoing drama. They can still offer insight even while knowing they are millions of miles away. But now, the connection is becoming more sporadic. NASA knew this was coming. The astronauts knew as well. They are preparing for these final goodbyes. It's a structure that has allowed the show to start the season with the mission without having to jam all the important personal relationships into the premiere and hope that's enough for the audience to care about them. The ongoing conversations Emma has with Matt and Lex have been important. They've established a priority even though the focus should be more on the Atlas crew bonding together during this important mission. That is apparent in spades during the final sequence of the episode. They come together to help Misha put on a show for his grandchildren. They are also excited by the prospect of homegrown vodka and vegetables. Those are significant achievements. They can celebrate them as a team. They aren't held back by the personal drama on Earth or having to await orders from mission control. It essentially opens the narrative up to more freedom. It won't have to be burdened with the melodrama of knowing the cost of this mission for everyone involved. Of course, this episode also breaks from the pattern that was apparent in the first four episodes. One would have assumed that there would be some situation on the ship affecting Kwesi that would then reveal more about his personal backstory. And yes, part of his foot falls off and he celebrates Hanukkah with his mother. However, that is the extent of those details. He freaks out justifiably. However, the narrative spreads the storytelling wealth around. Emma and Misha are the ones having the difficult conversations with their loved ones back on Earth. Misha recognizes that he has failed his daughter. He wants to rationalize it by saying he sacrificed for his country or he knew he couldn't be the parent she deserved. She still doesn't know how to forgive him. She can't offer him the emotional clarity that he seeks in this moment. It's important to speak truthfully about one's feelings in the moment. Matt has a tendency of bottling things up. That then runs the risk of exploding at inopportune times. He still wants to do everything he used to do. His body isn't there yet. He is back home with his daughter. He believes that's for the best. She may be getting more clarity from her dynamic with Isaac. That though comes across as typical teenage drama. It's played up as a big deal. However, it's mostly distracting from the more successful drama happening elsewhere. Again, space is where the intrigue has always been. Matt and Lex are important characters within the show as well. Losing connection now will ensure that they become even more tangential to the narrative. However, the story will likely grow stronger with the Atlas crew focusing on the mission ahead. It's painful. They don't always know how to cope with the ever-changing circumstances of their lives on the ship. But they have each other. The show fleshing out those bonds more will help make the story more special and entertaining. Right now, the various corners of the ship host different drama. Drama that doesn't always compliment each other. This hour is necessary to suggest that the scope is changing for the second half of the season. That makes it transitional in nature. The emotions are becoming more and more difficult to translate in a way that works. Most of it has become melodramatic and forced. But there are still those brief moments aboard the Atlas that suggest a more hopeful and compelling future even though Misha is being stubborn and refusing to admit his eyes may be failing him now.