Defying Gravity (“Fear”)

Season 1, Episode 7
Date of airing: September 4, 2009 (CTV), September 6, 2009 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.16 million viewers, 0.6/2 with Adults 18-49, 1.7/4 in Households

The show is still young, the characters are still being fleshed out, the hallucinations have been upped the ante, and it seems like it now is time for the characters to learn the truth what the Antares mission really is about. It might not happen in the next episode, it might not happen in the episode after that, but as the Antares gets closer to Venus, so do the characters, who are nearing the revelation of the secrets the ISO suits have been keeping from them, and it all begins in this episode, with the astronauts realizing they are experiencing hallucinations, with Donner and Zoe sharing their months-long dream, and with Eve and Mike slowly realizing that the secret might not me a secret for much longer, after Beta essentially ruined the financing of science projects during the mission, which should even piss Mike off to the fullest. Mike might sound like he doesn’t want his mission to be directed by Beta, but the fact that he just lost $10 billion should anger him as much as it does Jen and Zoe on the Antares, and it should lead Mike to think about revealing the secret, simply because Beta can’t be directing the entire mission, and at one point the mission still has to be financed. If Beta can make money rain within the walls of the ISO, everything is fine, but I don’t think Beta is interested in making money available for the astronauts it’s manipulating.

Antares has a new passenger and only one eighth of the crew can see him.

This episode was fine. Some reactions to the hallucinations may have been off for me, but it was fun to look at six of the eight astronauts and one of the ISO commanders being stricken with guilt of their past, and how those hallucinations happened to finely define this Halloween episode of a science-fiction drama. The hallucinations were certainly scary, and the depictions of the Mars footprints in the airlock (which Donner saw), the constant creepy baby cries (which Zoe heard), and the Martian storm (which Ted faced when stepping out of the airlock) certainly had something horror-tastic, fitting well int a television episode that was also supposed to be a Halloween episode, although it did air in the wrong month. I wouldn’t be counting this episode among the better Halloween offerings of broadcast television, but it’s certainly not a failed effort.

This episode successfully managed to include two more astronauts into the world of hallucinations, with Paula and Nadia starting this process as well. Paula’s might have been a bit too convenient for my taste, since she even played out her hallucination, and fully believed she was witnessing Hector die yet again, but I guess that was necessary for this narrative, due to it having been filled up with hallucination developments already – at least one of the new ones needed to be introduced quicker, just so the viewers can follow the narrative and witness that the hallucinations are indeed becoming a potentially life-threatening issue for the astronauts. Still, Evram reacting to his and Paula’s hallucinations, while being able to communicate his inability to move to Claire on the ground seemed a bit off to me – when you are able to realize you are experiencing a hallucination, wouldn’t you be able to move past it, and forge your own path through the hallucination, to your own safety? Evram was experiencing a hallucination, but he knew he was, and he was able to both hear Claire on his comm, while he also saw the girl he has been haunted by these past few episodes.

Naked, color-coded men in the 2050s.

Paula looked like she wasn’t able to separate her hallucination from what was really happening, which contradicts what Evram was going through. Same goes with the hallucinating astronauts in the airlock, with Ted being forced to stand still on the spot, while Donner was able to communicate with the people around him, even though he was basically speaking to Sharon, even mentioning her name once. It looks to me like the victims handle the hallucinations differently, with some able to realize they are experiencing one, and others not even knowing that what they are going through is not natural, and definitely not real. I mean, shouldn’t Nadia have deducted that the person she was seeing was not real? Isn’t she the most neutrally smartest on the Antares? Or is her emotional disconnection from all the characters the reason she believes that the mysterious man in the hatchway is real. And with “emotional disconnection” I mean the fact that she was never interested in a proper relationship with Donner – she was always only interested in sex, and not the relationship stuff around it, which says something about her.

Even the air molecules want to be treated like a pet every once in a while.

Best part of the episode: Close to the end, at least two of the Antares crew members were lying about not seeing any more hallucinations (Donner still had a Martian-dusted helmet, Nadia still saw the mysterious man). Damn, those people keep secrets extremely close to their vest, and it happens to be extremely realistic, because they believe that speaking the truth would get them off this mission. They want to fly, but any sign of a weakness, and they believe the will be pumped with medication, unable to fly any longer. That’s a storyline the writers haven’t gotten into, but a quick succession of scenes involving Donner and Nadia still hallucinating shows that they don’t trust their superiors not to cut them from future missions on the Antares. Everyone is scared on this ship.
Worst part of the episode: I know the writers haven’t com up with half of the stuff why Jen and Wassenfelder weren’t going through this ordeal, but having them be normal throughout the hour and not react weirdly or shocked or worried that their colleagues and friends were definitely not well makes them look extremely bad. Jen and Wassenfelder: not helpful at all, when you have a hallucination. At least Evram followed Paula, and stayed with her (even if he couldn’t move himself).
Weirdest part of the episode: The candy commercial was supposed to air live? Damn, how is that possible, even 40 years into the future? Can someone explain this to me?
Player of the episode: Laura Harris was great during her final flashback scene, when her character was listening to Ajay talk about having made the right decision, and a path followed. I could honestly believe Zoe was in the middle of an emotional breakdown, believing she made the wrong decision, believing she will never have a kid of her own, believing that she ruined her life, because she rather wanted to fly than be a parent.

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