Hilary Swank is going where no man or woman has gone before in her brand new Netflix series, Away.
Swank stars as Emma, a headstrong and passionate astronaut in charge of commanding the inaugural mission to Mars.
But achieving such greatness comes at a high price and sacrifice, as the streaming drama paints a clear picture of how difficult it is to juggle family and career responsibilities.
While most of us have never been presented with the opportunity to not only make a pitstop at the moon but then (wo)man a ship all the way to Mars, we easily relate to Emma and her frustrations and guilt.
She’s worked her whole life for the trip, but she’s plagued with the guilt of “abandoning” her family for three years followed by the possibility of never making it back home.
She’s making history, but she won’t be there for Lex’s soccer games — and by showing that scene prior to the big media Mars mission media day, the series aims to underscore how important both these things are to her.
The series has found a middle-ground by balancing the two things that mean the world to her.
Her feeling of guilt is only exacerbated when her husband suffers a stroke the day before the big launch and she finds herself at a crossroads: should she continue on with the mission or go back and be with her family who truly needs her?
“The further away I get, I’m actually just getting closer to being back to you.”
The series paints a working woman’s plight through many different avenues. Her husband, a former astronaut, is sidelined after being diagnosed CCM disorder. While he doesn’t hold it against her and encourages her to “be the best,” there’s a hint of resentment when he’s forced to stay behind and watch her accomplish what was also once his dream.
That resentment is quickly wiped away with pride as Matt is a good man who, despite just getting out of surgery, finds it in himself to convince his wife to “do her job” rather than come home to take care of them.
And there’s the workplace drama appeal that anyone can relate to without ever stepping foot into a spaceship. The entire world has agreed to work together and collaborate on this mission, and while the crew seems to get along with each other initially, the dynamic is fractured after an incident on the spaceship that the audience is made privy to through each member’s individual accounts.
They always say there are two sides to every story and then the truth. In this case, there are four sides to the story, and then what actually happened.
Since we don’t get as much information about the crew members as we do about Emma in the pilot episode, these scenes are crucial for getting a sense of who these people are.
Ram only saw the aftermath of the incident, but he has Emma’s back wholeheartedly and informs Darlene that Emma would never ever put them in danger or get rattled.
Kwesi, the man who was lightly injured in the incident, bluntly tells Darlene that Emma saved his life.
Problems arise with the Yu and Misha’s accounts of what transpired. Misha doesn’t seem to trust Emma and says that she “froze” when put in a dangerous situation. He doesn’t believe she’s a good leader nor does he think she has the necessary experience because an “experienced astronaut doesn’t remove the panel,” which allowed for the pretreat, an acid, to escape and burst into a firebomb. In his version, he claims that he came up with the idea to get the water and pour it on the pretreat, but this contradict’s Lu’s version of events.
While Lu believes Emma was reckless in how she handled the situation, she explains that since she’s the on-board chemist, she’s the one who told Misha to get the water thus proving that Misha’s motivations are self-serving.
Eventually, we hear Emma’s side of the story — Kwesi opened the panel just as she shouted for him not to. When the pretreat oozed out, she pulled him to safety and then disregarded Lu’s suggestion to use water and instead, took off her shirt and tried to capture it with her shirt not realizing that her deodorant would cause a reaction.
She informs Putney that her mistake could’ve killed the whole team. Putney is there to assess Emma’s ability to continue on with the mission as all hell is breaking loose at the command center with each nation urging NASA to pull Emma off the mission.
However, he argues that she dove headfirst into a dangerous and unknown situation to save them all without any regard for herself. That’s what makes her a good leader, and that’s the reason they chose her to command this mission.
“Maybe it’s not in our nature to work together. But the future demands otherwise. And we will come together now in pursuit of a dream that was once thought to be impossible. And if we can do this, we can do anything.”
With Putney’s words and her family’s support, Emma once again gains the confidence she needs to command her team, regardless of whether or not they trust her.
At the end of the day, they’re all in this together. There will always be colleagues who think they are better than you or know better than you. There will be those people that undermine you at every step. And while it’s annoying, it’s usually fine in an office setting, but if your workplace environment is jetting off into Mars to do what’s never been done before, you’re going to need everyone on-board. Ego has no place in space, which Emma makes very clear in her final message to the people of Earth.
They all have to work together to survive because the future demands it.
In the final moments of the episode, the crew successfully takes off on their mission to Mars, but this is just one of the many hurdles they’ll likely endure especially with the odds of survival set at 50/50.
The pilot may have dug a bit into Emma, but one of the best things about the series is that it features such a diverse cast. The crew members represent China, Russia, the U.K, and India, and it’ll be exciting to get to know them and discover what’s fueling their passions. We briefly got a sense of what matters to them with Misha boasting about his grandchildren, Lu mentioning her “friend,” Ram goofing off about his love of women, and Kwesi’s decision to bring along the Torah.
Plain and simple: it’s a stellar cast, a simple premise, a glimpse at the sacrifices needed the achieve greatness and a look at the possibilities that open up when people put aside their differences and work together.
What did you think of the series premiere of Away?
Away Season Finale Review – Did the Atlas Crew Make It to Mars? (1×10)
The final episode finds fans asking one question: did the Atlas crew make it to Mars?
But there’s really no question about it. If Netflix wants a second season, you know that the crew had to make it successfully to Mars. If the crew died, any hope of a second season would die right along with them.
The crew geared up to initiate descent on Away Season 1 Episode 10, which came with its own set of concerns. Admittedly, the dream scene at the beginning was a cheap way of throwing us off — it’s annoying when shows do that, but at least it painted a realistic picture of what could happen if one of the 42 steps in the landing sequence didn’t go as planned.
The hurdles Team Atlas has gone through up until now are othing compared to breaking through the atmosphere in a fiery can… which has a hole in it, might I add.
And then… touchdown.
As Neil Armstrong once said: “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The Atlas crew just did what no one else was able to do before them.
It was a victory not just for the U.S but for the world, which is why it was awesome to see that Lu decided to go against the international agreement and take a photo with the whole team.
None of us know what went into this agreement for her to be the first person to step foot on Mars with an iconic photo, but it’s crap. This mission wouldn’t have been possible without a joint effort, so why should one country get all the recognition? Especially when the country didn’t even want the woman who made the achievement to take credit as the CNSA asked her to put her reflective vizor down
What a way to stab the person in the back who willing to die to bring honor and pride to her country.
This is her moment, but it’s also their moment. And talking to Misha about how he adapted ahead of everyone else and was the “first Martian” convinced Lu that no one can take this away from any of them.
The series wasn’t without its flaws, which explains the harsh criticism from fans who were expecting a more space-centric series, but it was a show that united instead of divided and instilled hope. For that reason, I’m looking forward to a second season.
It was great to see the growth of each crew member as they gave a shout out to their families. We’ve seen so much of Emma’s interactions with Lex and Matt that it wasn’t as significant as Misha telling his grandchildren to be proud of their mother because he is (Lu’s suggestion), Kwesi thanking his mother for instilling in him the faith needed to complete this mission, or Lu telling her son to follow his passion.
Getting to Mars was just half the battle but now, Kwesi has to prove that this desert can sustain life by planting a garden. Their work is only just beginning.
At least now the crew has learned to get along and value each other in a way that allows them to work together cohesively. It’s not only promising for the future but also brings a fun dynamic to the team that we didn’t get to see previously.
Though, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not entirely sure where the series plans to go with the romantic tension between Ram and Emma. She attempted to make it clear that she didn’t share his feelings, but if that were true, she wouldn’t feel compromised as a Commander.
Emma would never cheat on her husband in normal circumstances, but three years is a long time. You begin to miss that physical connection with someone, so I can see them exploring some kind of emotional cheating, which yes, is still cheating. I’m not exactly opposed to Ram and Emma getting together, but I am opposed to it when you look at how secure her life with Matt has been.
Then again, maybe they have some understanding since they knew they would be separated for so long?
I’m also unclear about Matt and Melissa’s relationship. Why did she have to develop feelings for him and worse, tell him about it? I’m telling you, the minute you leave the planet, women begin moving in on your man!
Personally, Away would’ve been better off just keeping all romantic relationships out of the picture, especially after they spent so much time building up Emma and Matt into this solid unit.
Other big moments in the episode included Lex testing negative for CCM, admitting that she loves Isaac, and her dad finding out that she spent the night with Isaac on Melissa’s watch. All moments potential but fizzled out against the backdrop of a Mars landing.
What did you think about the series as a whole? Are you looking forward to a season 2? Sound off in the comments below!
Away Review – Spektr (1×09)
Atlas is inching towards Mars, but you didn’t expect them to get there without yet water system issue, did you?
On Away Season 1 Episode 9, it’s made abundantly clear how much NASA (at least the TV version of NASA) needs to improve its water filtration system. Without oxygen and water, the crew cannot survive. You’d think there’d be better ways of guaranteeing a backup.
You’d also expect a team of people who were smart enough to get jobs at NASA to provide some kind of solutions, but instead, it all hinges on poor Matt’s shoulders, who seems to be the only one who has any ounce of critical thinking skills.
Darlene and George gave up way before they should have, which is infuriating because they essentially gave up on their astronauts before they should have.
I can understand wanting to prepare for the worst, but that shouldn’t take precedence over finding a solution to the problem. Also, how great was their last message? “It was worth it,” perfectly sums up what the crew has been feeling throughout the trip.
If you didn’t realize by now, the water filtration system — the system that was supposed to get them through the remainder of the two-week journey — just gave out. Kaput, as Misha would say.
The fear of dehydration began to settle in as they realized they only had 72 hours before they began to experience symptoms that would affect their ability to get anything done.
Matt’s first plan was to drill through the walls of the ship and siphon out the water that’s shielding them from the radiation. You’d think they’d need that water to remain in place because, you know, it’s shielding them from radiation, but regardless, the plan failed as Ram drilled through the wall and air began to leak into the crew chambers as it depressurized. Yep, that’s definitely terrifying.
Realistically, I’m not sure how accurate any of this is, but it sure kept the episode dramatic and suspenseful, so from a viewer’s standpoint, it was fine.
After evacuating to safer ground, they began to come to terms with the reality that they would likely die before they even made it to Mars.
As Lu pointed out, she was prepared to die on Mars, but she couldn’t fathom dying on a spaceship en route. And I’d have to agree — out of all the obstacles, to die of dehydration due to a mechanical error when you could practically touch Mars from the ship is grounds for annoyance.
However, Matt, who was determined not to lose his wife, came up with one last plan that used static electricity to pull water out of the outside of the ship.
Of course, that required another… you guessed it, spacewalk.
How much hell can this crew go through? Ram and Emma were prepared to do anything at this point to secure their survival and really, this was their only option.
Again, I’m not sure if this would be possible in real life, but despite all odds, they made it work and secured bags upon bags of water.
Great. I’m more concerned with the romantic tension between Ram and Emma. One could argue that they were on the brink of death, or, at least, mentally convinced they were going to die in space, so Ram decided to get everything off his chest including his feelings for Emma.
And again, when they got back from the spacewalk and successfully collected water, you could blame the adrenaline rush for their near kiss. But I pointed out in my previous reviews that this seems to have been bubbling up to the surface way before, especially for Ram.
Here’s the thing — Ram could feel some type of way about Emma, but she didn’t seem to be giving off a vibe that she wasn’t into it. It was more along the lines of “we can’t do this” because it’s wrong rather than “I don’t want to do this.”
I find this concerning. I’m not a fan of the series diving into the love triangle trope when there’s so much more that could be explored.
Maybe it was just a heat of the moment situation because again, both of them thought they were going to die, but we’ll see.
Now that they both survived, Ram will have to deal with the repercussions of baring his soul to his Commander. Way to make things awkward, right?
Back on Earth, Lex was a mess as she worried about her mother’s survival. And honestly, it’s a hard thing for a teenage girl to have to deal with. Nothing about her life is certain right now and every time she gets a phone call or text or hears the doorbell ring, her mind immediately goes to the worst place possible.
It’s a good thing she made up with Isaac and he was able to get her mind off things for just a little while even if it was with church, chili and kissing.
Otherwise, she’d just be sitting there drumming up the worst scenarios in her head.
We’re almost at the finish line. How do you think it’ll end? Will the crew make it safely to Mars? Will they encounter yet another hiccup? Will Pegasus greet them with all the supplies necessary for their survival?
Sound off in the comments below!
Away Review – Vital Signs (1×08)
After a brief hiccup, the crew aboard the Atlas have found hope once again.
Much of their survival relies on external factors including the safe landing of Pegasus, the rocket carrying all of the supplies they need to live on Mars along with a backup water system.
So, naturally, when Mission Control lost all contact with Pegasus, they assumed it exploded or went off course. This meant that if the Atlas crew landed on Mars, they would have to wait five months for the next rocket filled with supplies to arrive. And with their backup system already rationed, they wouldn’t have enough water to survive.
At this point, everyone was faced with an important decision: how important is this mission?
Emma refused to risk the lives of her crew members and while no one actually wanted to die, no one wanted to fail either. They were supposed to be the first people to ever land on Mars!
Despite orders from Ground to abort the mission and slingshot around Mars to meet Pegasus 2 in transit to get their water supply, they were determined to land on Mars and survive.
Misha’s lack of eyesight opened up a world of possibilities through sound. It’s crazy how much you can learn just by relying on sound.
Lu realized that while they might not have visual contact with Pegasus, they could use InSight, a rover, to determine whether Pegasus broke through the atmosphere.
Instead of going to Emma with the idea, Lu and the team asked Ram, who is second in command, to help them out. This undermined Emma’s leadership and strained an already tense partnership. However, you can’t really be surprised that the crew didn’t fully trust her to be open to the possibility of fulfilling their mission.
Emma has continuously wavered in her desire to make it to Mars saying time and time and again how much she wants to go home.
Lu was even right that the decision to slingshot and reroute home came from Matt because they’d both prioritized that over landing on Mars. This realization, however, meant that Emma questioned aborting the mission. Sure, she was saving her crew, but was she doing it for the right reason?
It was a subtle coup by the crew but a necessary one that finally shook Emma out of her trance. She wouldn’t have come this far if she didn’t really want to get to Mars and it was clear that her fears and insecurities of the unknown were stopping her from going the distance.
There’s no doubt about the risk factor — it’s a risky decision to continue on with the mission simply because they heard a “boom.” It broke the atmosphere, but it could still mean that Pegasus was still knocked off course. Still, the chances are higher that it landed and in-tact, plus, they lose more by turning back around instead of taking the plunge. After all, there was no guarantee that they’d successfully connect with Pegasus 2.
Lu’s speech about hope is what really solidified Emma’s decision. It underlined what I said in my review of Away Season 1 Episode 7, Emma wasn’t growing as a character, she was regressing into a worse version of herself. We started off with this badass woman who had managed to juggle being a mom and a brilliant astronaut, who risked it all to achieve her dreams, and now, she’s become a shell of a human who is all too eager to play by the rules.
History isn’t made by playing it safe.
Emma realized that she needed to channel the same courage that her daughter, Lex, was channeling by taking the CCM test. We don’t know the outcome of her test, but whatever it is, they’ll get through it together. If I were to write Lex’s story, I’d want her to become a doctor to pursue a cure for CCM but that’s neither her nor there at the moment.
The series has been criticized for feeding into stereotypes surrounding the crew members, particularly when it comes to Lu and her family. In one of the episodes early on, you’ll recall Lu’s husband yelling at their son because he got a 98% on a test instead of a 100%, which fuels the cliche belief that Asian parents are strict, only care about grades, and aren’t proud of their children unless they are getting A’s.
This continued into Lu’s backstory with her father expressing disappointment that his wife gave birth to a baby girl. From Lu we gauge that he was never proud of her, which feeds into the narrative that Chinese families have long favored boy children over girls. However, as she points out, she’s going to do something that no man has ever done before.
You’d think even getting close to Mars is a feat, but the Chinese representatives at NASA were less-than-impressed and would only accept her landing on Mars as a victory. The actual quote she says is: “I’d rather she did a hero on Mars than return home a coward.” This once again proves that failure is shameful and disappointing in the culture and thus, explains why Lu is so headstrong, disciplined, and determined.
I’m not a fan of propagating stereotypes, so it’s at least nice to see Lu break the mold by becoming the first woman to do the unthinkable, do it from a place of hope, encourage her child to draw comic books rather than study, and fall for a woman in a culture that shuns the very idea.
And lastly, does anyone think it’s ridiculous that Emma is now allowing Misha to handle taking care of the backup with his eyesight totally shot? If she’s entrusting him with it now, she should have just let him fix the prime, to begin with, and they wouldn’t have this whole water situation to worry about.
Clearly, nothing has changed for him and yet, he has her full faith and is proving that he wasn’t lying when he said he can fix this system in the dark.
What did you think of the episode? How are you enjoying the series so far?
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