Image credit: Diyah Pera/Netflix © 2020
“I want to be an astronaut!” reply millions of children across the world when asked what they’d like to be when they grow up. We also had similar dreams once upon a time, but we never truly understood the gravity of our wishful thinking – until we sat, wide-eyed and tearful, through the first season of Away. As the newest Netflix sci-fi drama series that follows the first trip to Mars played before us, we found ourselves levitating from planet Earth, along with a team of international scientists, and floating in outer space in the company of their brilliance. If you were wondering, we watched the entire 10 episodes in one sitting.
What struck us most is how we totally lost ourselves in impeccably-shot scenes of space that left us wondering if the series was actually shot in the vacuum of space. Despite coming from different parts of the world, each scientist on Atlas quickly became our pal. What united them together, and us with them, is how little their emotions felt alien to us. Who knew after years of wishful thinking that we’d find ourselves sharing so much in common with astronauts?
Away is propelled by the extraordinary acting skills of Academy Award winner, Hilary Swank, who plays Commander Emma Green, the leader of the mission. Green knows that there is a chance she may not survive the mission to Mars, yet bravely parts from her loving husband Matt (Josh Charles) and teenage daughter, Alexis (Talitha Bateman), to pursue the impossible dream. She is accompanied by the English botanist, Dr Kwesi Weisberg-Abban (Ato Essandoh); Russian engineer, Misha Popov (Mark Ivanir); Indian medic, Ram Arya (Ray Panthaki); and Chinese chemist, Lu Wang (Vivian Wu). Will their feet land successfully on the foreign planet? Only one way to find out; watch, and keep a box of tissues close by.
Conflicts frequently arise between the team members as they face dire situations that often draw them away from each other, but they manage to find their common ground each time through their shared dream. Every character has a unique way of handling crisis; for instance, Dr Weisberg-Abban relies on his strong faith in God, while Wang falls back on logic and common sense. Most importantly, Commander Green shows the world that her vulnerability can be her biggest strength, and not her enemy.
Created by Andrew Hinderaker, the transition from one scene to another felt effortless, although they were not necessarily chronological. Even when we were watching events that are happening miles and miles away, the connection between the characters on Earth and outer space remained powerful. The accompanying soundtrack smoothly played with our emotions like Mo Salah with a football, as it set the mood just right for each ascending slope of feelings, then released us tenderly when the onscreen tension had vanished. Bravo!
You will probably follow our footsteps and watch the entire season in one go because of how attention-grabbing the plotline is. The elements of continuity, coupled with a number of cliff-hangers, will have you gasping for air through certain make-it-or-break-it scenes, and you’ll find it very difficult to pause and continue watching later. We felt lucky to be privy of such ethical dilemmas that the show had posed before it had officially aired; almost like we had been told a few golden secrets. From the pilot episode, we were ultimately hooked, and by the time the tenth and final episode played, we wondered how we would ever go back to Earth and continue our lives. And when it happened, and we were back to real life, we found that our outlook on our planet, and the rest of the galaxy, had changed forever.
You can watch Away on the 4th of September here.