Season 1, Episode 9
Date of airing: September 18, 2009 (CTV)
Many answers, a new back story, a third timeline, and a pair of characters pushed to the front of the Antares storyline, whom you were expecting to always be in the background. At least there is a reason why journalist Trevor and ground control member Arnell have been in front of the camera every once in a while. The scene they shared near the end is the prologue to an entirely new storyline about to uncouple itself from the Antares mission. Meanwhile, Jen’s inability to see the object (no answer is given whether she can hear the interstellar singing, or is unable to do that as well) highlights a character arc that has been teased previously, but is now about to be fired up. And all this while the revelation of the Beta object changes the show’s narrative (albeit not really), the characters’ interactions with each other, and essentially the goals for them, as well as their fates. To think that only four more episodes exists almost hurts my feelings, because the show really managed to pick up steam now. It’s about to change, and there are only four episodes left.
And the thing is, this episode feels like a slight reboot, even though it absolutely isn’t. Beta has always been the back story of the Antares mission, but the characters did not know about it, therefore they were living their lives and executing their mission like nothing was changing them in the background, like nothing was directing them. But Beta has been changing the genome of the astronauts, as it was also directing the mission from its little hiding place in Nevada, and who knows how long it has been on the Antares before the Venus burn (although when Donner and Ajay were communicating about what’s in storage, and who put the pod up there, it was mentioned that the corporation Eve works with loaded it up at the last second). Still, it has been directing everything that has been going on ever since it was found in the desert in Peru. This object really must have patience, although things might be a little easier when you’re able to communicate with your kind, even though you’re planets away. It’s certainly convenient.
Jen’s inability to see the object is definitely interesting. She helped give birth to Rufus the bunny a few episodes ago, knowing that she will have to keep herself busy getting her mind “on Rollie and off Ted.” She mentioned in that same episode she would be lonely, and it turns out she is quote lonely now, as she seems to be the only one unable to see Beta. Things will be getting weird and horrible for her, because she doesn’t know what everyone else will be talking about, what they will be connecting over, and all this will turn into an even bigger nightmare for Jen, for as long as she is keeping her secret a secret. Besides that, her decision to cut the fractal tomatoes makes for a good way to create a crazy person on the Antares, “seeing things” and “hearing vices”, even though in this case Jen neither sees things nor hears voices or sounds, while everybody else can, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be any less of a crazy person in the future. But would that crazy element in her character arc turn into an act of desperation at one point? Is that going to be her destination?
Explaining the hallucinations was also a good move, and associating those hallucinations with deep guilt was an even greater move to explain what the characters are dealing with when they aren’t part of the action right now. It seemed obvious already that the characters were facing their fears and failures with the hallucinations (Donner’s inability to save Sharon Lewis and Jeff Walker, Evram’s inability to save the girl in the rubble, Zoe giving up on the life inside her, the death of Paula’s dog, Ted and the unsuccessful Mars mission), but that still doesn’t explain Nadia’s hallucination, or why Jen and Wassenfelder never had one. Okay, with Jen you could tell yourself that not having hallucination was an additional part of the mission she can’t connect with her friends over, but the other two still stand. All this does tend to show that the writers knew what they were doing from the beginning. They knew the deeper meaning of the hallucinations, and they knew how to connect them to the Beta object and therefore the overall mystery arc. Although the question remains why Beta wanted the characters to constantly relive their deepest shame and guilt over past events in their life. Is it really about overcoming something? Is it about hitting rock-bottom at life, which is the only way to save the objects? Is it about turning into the person you are supposed to be when recovering the objects?
Best part of the episode: Paula did a Mantis during the flashbacks, when Mike Goss told the ascans to be extra smiley to the sponsors. Mantis put her mean face on in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR when asked, Paula put her special smile on when asked.
Worst part of the episode: All those lies. Finally those are being lifted by the truth, and yet a new lie was created. Jen, have you not come to realize that maybe opening up and not keeping secrets is best right about now?
Weirdest part of the episode: It seemed quite convenient that everybody on the floor at ISO was given a better and bigger security clearance, now that they have come to witness what the mission really is about. I guess all the other mission control workers won’t get the same treatment? Don’t they work in shifts?
Player of the episode: This time, it’s religion. Paula was definitely invested in looking up answers for her questions in the Holy Book, and I must say, it intrigues me. Paula as the only obvious religious character of the crew has some weight to carry on her shoulders now, as she will become the center of belief in the narrative. And as it turns out, putting religion into the story was super important, as you couldn’t have gotten out of the way of it. You’re dealing with higher beings and a higher purpose now, of course religious people will ask God what all of this has to do with them. Despite being an atheist, it turned out to be a great story development.