Away is an American Science Fiction series created by Andrew Hinderaker and inspired by an article by Chris Jones in the American men’s magazine Esquire. It premiered as a Netflix original series on the 4th of September 2020 and ranks first among the top 10 Canadian Netflix movies. This suspenseful series starring Hilary Swank as Emma Green beats great action movies and series like the blacklists Lucifer, Venom, Cobra Kai, Jurassic Park, Skyscraper, Hercules, etc.
I’m still in the second episode and would base my appreciation on the preliminaries. The series is about a mission to Mars termed Joint Mars Initiative. It regroups international astronauts consisting of a Chinese female chemist (Vivian Wu), a Russian male cosmonaut (Mark Ivanir) who holds the world’s highest record in space, and a medical officer astronaut from India (Ray Panthaki). It also includes a British African botanist (Ato Essandoh)). An American female astronaut, Emma Green (Swank), commanded it.
It is described as a “being ‘about hope, humanity and how, ultimately, we need one another if we are to achieve impossible things’. However, from the beginning, we observe a diverse group, with the crew members having incompatible personalities and apparently different missions in mind.
The series commenced with Emma observing the installation of the Atlas spaceship on the moon. It then turned into an investigation into an accident a day before their departure. Inexperienced Kwesi (Ato Essandoh) faced his first air baptism when a gas leak nearly got him killed. And Emma, who will be revealed to have a charismatic tendency to dive in headlong to save any of her crew members in danger, took a miscalculated risk that nearly jeopardizes both the mission and its entire crew.
Already in the first episode, we start having an insight into the life of the actors. Emma, the protagonist, has the highest trouble, creating tension among the crew and raising the suspense of the entire series. In the first and second episodes, we are also given a little insight into the life of both Lu (Vivian Wu) and Misha (Mark Ivanir). And while the former appears to be reserved about her family, the latter seems to be fighting to regain the pride of a family that appears to have passed through hard moments. And our two other friends, it appears, will need the subsequent episodes to open up to their family background.
But what intrigues me most of all is the presentation of Kwesi (Ato Essandoh) as a very religious man. He was seen entering the spaceship with his Bible clutched in his hand. And from the beginning, it is visible that he is inexperienced and unsecured but firm in his faith. He shows his readiness to help and even volunteers to pray for Emma and Misha when they are forced to embark on a very delicate spacewalk to rectify a mechanical problem threatening to put an end to their mission. His being portrayed as a man of faith intrigues me. And as I wait to watch the next episodes, I cross my fingers, hoping that they do not continue to present him as a black man of faith but as a scientist. His presence in the space is not to show how strong his faith is. But whose intellectual capacity brought him into this international crew propelled into space to advance our human community?
Yet, his story, just like that of the other crew members, is all necessary, I believe, for the successful completion of this mission, which has proven to be complicated and challenging both technically and psychologically.