Sunday, September 6, 2020

REVIEW: 'Away' - Everyone Desperately Tries to Figure Out How to Fix the Broken Water System on the Atlas in 'Spektr'

Netflix's Away - Episode 1.09 "Spektr"

Emotions run high as rapidly dwindling water rations on the Atlas leave the crew and Mission Control scrambling to find a fix before time runs out.

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.

"Spektr" was written by Jessica Goldberg and directed by Charlotte Brändström

The members of the Atlas crew are inconsistent when it comes to their opinions of their commander, Emma Green. Sometimes, they champion her as the one who has taught each of them how to have hope in their lives. Other times, they question her commitment to the mission. There hasn't been any rhyme or reason for these drastic mood swings either. It's mostly just whatever is most convenient for the plot at hand. One moment, Emma's leadership is questionable because she is sacrificing her water rations without telling anyone else. In the next moment, she is the noble hero who can embark on a space walk to save the entire crew from looming dehydration. It certainly doesn't help that romantic feelings are now entangled in this mess. Because he doesn't have any personal connections back on Earth, it's understandable that Ram would forge stronger bonds with the other members of the crew. However, that doesn't have to translate to a romantic fixation with Emma. The show has weirdly been suggesting that throughout the season. It has been odd and epically misplaced. The story suggests that sexual tension is between them. It's not apparent in the slightest. They see things that no one else - including the viewer - sees between them. It's awkward. Everything at Emma's core is about her family. She hallucinates Matt whenever she is down or uncertain about the mission. He lifts her up. He is the reason why she has to fight to survive. She has to return to her family. That has been her core driving principle. And now, the show wants to introduce some romantic intrigue by claiming that Ram feels confident and hopeful because of Emma. He associates that with romantic intrigue mostly because she shot down that concern previously even though he wasn't feeling it at all. The same dynamic is playing out on Earth as well. Emma and Matt are both so grateful that Melissa is around to help care for Lex. That's necessary support. She has become a maternal figure in Lex's life. Lex is forever afraid for what might happen to her mother in space. She is constantly dreading the news that the mission has failed and her mother has died. She connects with Isaac because he understands how these emotions feel when a child is worried about certain death for their parent. The uncertainty is truly devastating. However, the narrative also suggests that something could happen between Matt and Melissa. That was more apparent in a previous episode than this one. Matt told Melissa that she was deserving of love and happiness. She didn't have to sacrifice that portion of her life just to care for her daughter. That inferred some kind of intimacy. But again, the way the show is structuring this mess is completely misplaced. It doesn't belong because it contradicts with what the show overall is trying to do. It's all about the beauty of the mission to Mars. It's also about the horrors that can happen out in space. So many attempts to fix the water system go awry. The Atlas crew was hopeful that Misha could keep the backup working until they landed on Mars. They had reason to hope and forge ahead to the red planet at the conclusion of the previous episode. And now, they are quickly back at the despair that has plagued so much of their journey. The show highlights that depression. It's more apparent than the majestic wonder that comes from this scientific advancement. The latter is eventually felt during the final sequence here. It's wonderful to watch Emma and Ram embark on their space walk to water. The particles floating in space around them are beautiful. It's inspiring to see them find a creative solution to survive. But it's also just a powerful image that rewards science and all that is possible in the universe. It takes brilliant minds to keep people safe. It takes creative thinking. More of that is needed in the storytelling. A few fleeting moments at the end isn't enough. The narrative can be more than simply the dire proclamations constantly made about how disastrous this mission has been so far. The team can work together. They come together as Kwesi prays over the task at hand. They instinctively trust Emma's leadership when Ram drills a hole that compromises the living quarters. It's also unifying to read the message Lu writes as their final contact should they all die. It's not bad to have hope in life. This show just needs more of it on a consistent basis to feel like it is all building to something more meaningful. Right now, it's simply monotonous with the same character notes that were apparent early on. That's incredibly disappointing.