Season 1, Episode 5
Date of airing: August 23, 2009 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.66 million viewers, 0.8/2 with Adults 18-49, 1.8/3 in Households
In which the crew of the Antares is further away from Earth at the end of the episode than they were during the beginning of this episode, because the Rubicon point happened to be an important plot device for this show. As always, DEFYING GRAVITY is all about character strength, and the crew of Antares saying goodbye to their past, sacrificing parts of themselves, and also trying to cope with the fact that Earth is nothing more but a blue dot in the sea of black above their observation deck windows, was more important and necessary than working towards the next big reveal, or the identification of who or what Beta really is. In some instances, DEFYING GRAVITY reminds me more of LOST, as even that show back in 2004 was defined by the strengths of their characters during the first stages of the first season. Back then, the mystery of the monster in the forest was only teased upon, and it wasn’t even talk of the town among the survivors. Instead, they were dealing with each other. The same can be said about DEFYING GRAVITY, and while I grant you the fact that the crew of Antares doesn’t know about Beta (minus Ted), so there isn’t even anything to talk about when it comes to supernatural stuff around them, they also don’t talk about the hallucinations and visions they have been getting. Ted keeps his Mars trips a secret, Donner keeps the hallucinations of Sharon and Jeff a secret, and Zoe didn’t seem to be hearing the baby’s cries recently, which was probably due to the fact that the writers focused on Evram for a change, and his visions, although his could easily be explained by his alcohol withdrawal.
The passing of the Rubicon point showed once more that DEFYING GRAVITY wasn’t at all interested in pushing forward the narrative, and instead grow the characters first, before sending them into a shitshow of science-fiction and mystery, which is always something you should do with a genre television show. At the beginning I would always love to know everything about the characters, so I can feel with and for them when they get into the thick of the adventure, and their lives are suddenly in danger. And in Donner and Zoe’s case, I would love to know more about these two love birds, before becoming a bona fide couple on the Antares, which might or might not be the case in the future, depending on how the show’s narrative is going to allow a functioning relationship to flourish on board the Antares. Sex might be easy, because it’s in and out (except of course emotions are involved, but it always looks like Nadia isn’t able to have emotions like that), but a relationship is a whole ‘nother thing.
All of this and more happened while the crew of the Antares was working to get past the point of no return, and I was quite happy to see that an argument about returning the ship and “giving up” was being held, even if it was just between Donner and Ted. What would have been great if it had been a conversation between all eight crew members, it was at least part of the story here, and it needed to be, simply because it’s what you think about when crossing the point of no return. Still, I would have loved to hear Evram and Jen’s opinion on that, as both of them have reasons to just break it off and return home. Jen seems to get lonelier with each episode, and now she even stopped talking to Rollie, and Evram is probably currently being haunted by his own past, and would love it to take a bottle and down it with pleasure, just to take away from the pain of his failure to save the girl he sees in his hallucinations. Did these two characters had a larger point of view to discuss the point of no return than Ted and Donner had, who were arguing about it, because both saw visions they can’t explain?
A lot of plus points for Paula getting some attention in this episode, and the writers giving her some depth, even if it happened quickly, and pretty much without words. The question of religion has been quietly brought up before, but now that her belief has been established, DEFYING GRAVITY created the opportunity to be a bit more esoteric, to bring religion into the story, to have God account for the things that are happening here. Not that I am expecting for Paula to use God as an explanation for all the science-fiction mysteries that are happening, but now it becomes an argument, and it even becomes a conflict with the other characters – ether because the other seven crew members are not that religious, and therefore can’t connect to their belief system like Paula can, when things get a bit more complicated, or because the show is going to turn into a science versus faith duel, which by itself is also interesting.
Best part of the episode: It’s the notion that Donner tried so many times to lose the baseball, and it came back to him the same amount of times. He gave it to Zoe’s mother, she sent it back. He put it into the time capsule, Ted returned it. If Donner needed three times to get over the failure of the Mars mission, it really must mean something, and the writers put more importance on it.
Worst part of the episode: Wassenfelder made fun of Paula’s weight in the previous episode, about her puking in the episode before that, and now he is poking fun on her religion. Someone should take all the food away from the kid, because he clearly is an idiot.
Weirdest part of the episode: Ted and Donner knew something was off about the filtration system. They looked at all the filters, everything was nominal. Donner went back to filter five. He quickly tested the PH, which apparently took only seconds, and voila, it really was subnominal. Ted and Donner couldn’t have checked the PH of every filter to find out what’s really wrong?
Player of the episode: Zoe’s mom Bev was pretty cool. She didn’t talk down on her daughter’s decision, she didn’t berate her for being so stupid and getting pregnant, and she also didn’t make fun of Zoe’s apparent friends in the program, which she could have done after she probably realized Zoe and Donner were a little too close for comfort. Bev is one of those mothers in scripted television I feel envious of, because I never had that kind of mother, and I’m getting jealous of all the fictional characters who do.