Season 1, Episode 13
Date of airing: October 23, 2009 (Space)
I don’t know whether I’m happy or not that the show was over for good after this episode. I don’t know if I could have handled everything that was intended to come following this episode, according to James Parriott. I don’t know if the show would have kept the mixture of partially hard science-fiction and esoteric storytelling with religious undertones, which made this one and only season such an interesting television drama. Because this episode kind of showed a downturn in that regard, as the narrative became something else with the collection of the Gamma object. It became an object filling in the blanks of your very own miracle slash fantasy. It became a life saver, as it kept alive Zoe for long enough to join the Beta object on the Antares. It became a plot device to the astronauts’ changing genomes, which by this point could mean anything, but will definitely mean that Zoe was fated to survive the experience of being almost fried to death on this hellish planet called Venus. It becomes the way for writers to explain things happening on the show, whether it makes sense or not, and all of this begins with Paula’s miracle was being filled in with the cold hard facts of her being sexually abused. Not that the objects weren’t guilty of uncovering most of the characters’ back stories already, but it seemed quite convenient that the Gamma object would show Paula what memories she has been repressing, and it’s convenient that those memories would have served to become the plot device in her character arc. And with that, the writers would have used the fractal objects more often for sudden changes in character development, whenever the writers were having a great idea and needed to get it into the show pronto.
It was an intriguing hour for television, but I think that is only the case for the few dozen people who have come to adore this show and its characters, the story and its mysteries, the esoteric mixed with religion and fate. It’s intriguing, because something was off during the narrative, and something made the experience watching it kind of weird. Four episode ago we got to learn what Beta really was, and the writers decided to focus on the mystery of it all. But it was still not explained what the objects really want from humanity, and thanks to the early cancellation of the show, it will never be explained whether humanity is about to embark to its darkest hour, to its more difficult life. The comparisons of Zoe carrying Gamma to Crossbow, and Paula and Evram talking about Job were definitely punching their way through the episode, and you can certainly say that DEFYING GRAVITY is something of an adaptation of God’s trials for Job, but that wasn’t really part of the show’s narrative before the Venus landing, yet it happens to be the main reason for the objects’ existence after the Venus landing. As a non-believer I don’t have a problem with religion in scripted programming, but when it becomes the main focus, then there might be a chance of the show losing itself – especially when the writers were about to marry the hard science of this science-fiction show with the religious subtones of some of the characters, as well as their explanations of the objects’ existence. I don’t know if we would have come to accept this kind of show, and I don’t know if it would have been the death of it, if it had survived another run or two.
With all that in mind, the episode continued to focus on Zoe and Donner, kind of making this episode part 2 of the two-part season finale. It’s noticeable with the flashbacks, which continued right where they left off at the end of the previous episode, as if there wasn’t a cut at all. The thing is just, the episode focused a little too heavily on Zoe and Donner. Again I wondered if their relationship was the one to rule them all, and if the other characters were a little less interesting and important in comparison. Paula’s miracle moment was placed at the end of the episode, Jen was between yes and no when it came to “Can she at least see the Gamma object?”, Nadia was emotional, and with that Florentine Lahme became a bit worse in her portrayal of the character (or it might just be the fact of her, as a Native German, acting in another language), and the rest of the character pool wasn’t at all developed. It was all just Zoe and Donner. It was all that one relationship, which happened to be working since the beginning of the show, and maybe the writers noticed, so that’s why they gave those two lovebirds the season send-off.
But hey, at least Donner’s realization that he was a father for a few seconds worked to perfection. His face, the quick flashbacks to “Bacon”, and his decision to stick around until Zoe is in the lander, or else he will perish on this hell planet like Zoe, who, by a miracle, did not stumble over her feet and fell down, making it much harder for her to continue walking. You know, that scene in SUNSHINE that had Capa flipping out inside his Kenny-style suit, while the clock of payload separation was running out.
Best part of the episode: Paula’s reaction to her narration of the fairytale, right after Wassenfelder lowered the camera, signaling the end of the broadcast. It’s almost like she was about to break out in tears for sort of having gone against her belief here.
Worst part of the episode: Zoe was 100 meters out. Next cut, she seemed close to the lander. Next cut, her suit had a breach. Next cut she stumbled onto the lander. How fast did she manage to go those 100 meters?
Weirdest part of the episode: What exactly was it that made this finale so anticlimactic and underwhelming in hindsight? I don’t know what it is, but it makes for a weird viewing. It probably would have made for a weird second season, because in a way, this episode was defining the rest of the show.
Player of the episode: Gamma wins this round, for successfully leading Zoe to it, and back to the lander. That fractal object really wanted to be saved, and it did all that it could.