Sunday, September 6, 2020

REVIEW: 'Away' - The Latest Problem May Change the Core Directive of the Mission to Mars in 'Vital Signs'

Netflix's Away - Episode 1.08 "Vital Signs"

A problem with Atlas' supply ship jeopardizes the mission and sparks questions about Emma's commitment to landing on Mars.

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.

"Vital Signs" was written by Chris Jones and directed by Charlotte Brändström

Is it more important for the Atlas crew to land on Mars or return home safely? For some, it's all about the glory of achieving this incredible goal. For others, it's all about getting back to the loved ones who are terrified every day that they won't. Those two ideologies clash over and over again. Part of it extends from the cultural backgrounds of the characters. Lu was raised to believe in duty to one's country. She refuses to return home as a failure. She knows that her country will antagonize her and label her as a coward if the ship is forced to return home now. They spent so much to ensure this great visual of success. China put up so much of the money and negotiated for Lu to be the first human being on Mars. It's an achievement she desperately wants as well. She needs it in order for her father to believe that she is extraordinary. For her entire life, he has been disappointed that he had a daughter instead of a son. She has sought validation and approval from him. She understands that she is unlikely to ever get that. That is especially true given his declining mental state. She still seeks it out though. She comes up with the brilliant plan to use an old piece of equipment on Mars to decide if the supply ship landed safely. Mission control is willing to write off the journey completely. The Atlas will have gotten closer than ever before to landing human beings on Mars. They will instead slingshot around using the planet's gravity to join with the second supply ship. That will begin their journey home. Lu rightfully deduces that Matt is the one who comes up with and suggests this maneuver. Emma has her doubts. She doesn't believe that Matt has that kind of power and influence at mission control. She always tells him everything that is going on aboard the ship. She trusts his judgment. In this instance though, he is desperate for her to return home. He needs her. Lex is spiraling because she seemingly has no control or certainty over her life. She is worried about her mother and the many ways this mission could end disastrously. She fears that mission control losing contact with the supply ship means certain death. It doesn't. Everyone is fighting for the best possible outcome. Some simply have different priorities. Again, that central question has to be asked. What is the core directive of this mission? Glory will come should the mission be successful. However, everyone is starting to doubt whether or not Emma has the right mindset to lead this crew. That appears to be the pinnacle of the season. She has been working for this her entire life. And now, she feels as if she has abandoned her family. She wants to be with them. They are fighting for her to return to them safely and quickly. That comes across as a betrayal to the Atlas crew. It leaves them believing they have to go to Ram in order to get the access codes for their possible salvation. She agrees with the plan Lu suggests. She may not have needed the motivational speech Lu was willing to give. And yet, it was still crucial to hear. Lu has never lived her life based on hope. That is a luxury she can't afford. It's not a guiding principle that allows her to believe the next thing to occur will be positive. She has had a firm grasp on what this mission is. She has prepared to die should it come to that conclusion. She also acknowledges hope. The Atlas doesn't know the status of the supply ship. However, they do understand that it broke through the atmosphere of Mars. So much else could have gone wrong during the landing. It's still a complete unknown. Everyone is full of hope that the mission can still forge ahead as strong as it has ever been. Emma's leadership is questioned. This is something she still has to do though. She is proud of her daughter and the courage she has displayed in having a genetic test done. Sometimes it is better to have answers. Lex's life has been in a holding pattern because she could never feel confident in anything that she does. This will hopefully help her find a better path. One that allows her to breathe and accept the life she has been given. Meanwhile, Emma is so close to Mars. The crew has to reach out and touch it. They have to prepare for the landing. They refuse to give up. That is inspiring. They all have their various reasons for why they want to achieve this grand goal. They want to be remembered for these actions and not just for being the crew that gave up. Death isn't something they are planning for or are allowing themselves to accept. Their trust in one another isn't always strong. And yet, moments of brilliance happen that allow them to be inspired and clear about what the future holds. They recognize what they can possibly achieve while working together. Ideologies may clash. However, they can still inspire and reward each other. Emma learns that lesson here. She is a leader who is still evolving. That is admirable even when the show treats her concerns as much more valid than the other members of the Atlas crew.