Netflix's new science-fiction drama is a riveting story of the Atlas, an internationally collaborated mission to Mars. AWAY Season 1 Episode 1 had the audience on the edge of their seats, as the crew prepared to launch from the Moon.
Of course, the journey to Mars tests the Atlas crew on various things, including faith, science, trust, and hope.
However, it certainly was not smooth sailing. The episode, titled "Go," depicted authentic life-threatening situations that affected each character's decisions.
AWAY Season 1 Episode 1 deals with the crew arriving on the Moon and preparing for the Atlas launch to Mars. Of course, the launch does not occur without several incidents beforehand. These incidents test the crew's decision-making skills and those working in Ground.
Reporter: Why should we care more about Mars than we do our own planet?
Emma: We shouldn't. Of course, we should care about social imperatives. But in the US alone, we spend a trillion dollars each year on the military, and mostly in case the countries represented here decide to blow each other off the face of the Earth. This mission, it costs a fraction of that, as we work together, repurposing those same tools of destruction for discovery.
Kwesi: At this very moment, there's a team of astronauts on the Moon, mining polar ice caps for fuel and water.
Misha: Water that will be pumped into the hull of our ship to shield us from radiation, allowing us to travel safely from the Moon to Mars.
Emma: Reaching Mars... might prove to be the greatest achievement. Not only for science, but for the future of our planet.
But first, we must discuss Commander Emma Green's complexity as a character.
It is not easy to introduce a character where the audience can immediately recognize their depth but AWAY did precisely that in one of the first scenes.
When Emma's psychiatrist asks her how she is, she answers by telling him that the ship was fine after an unknown incident. The audience only learns of this incident through brief flashes until later.
Emma was surprised when her psychiatrist says that he asked how she was doing and not the ship. Her reaction indicates that she is used to turning off her emotions, even if something took an emotional toll on her.
Emma wants to put this incident behind her and focus on launching the Atlas because she will doubt herself as a Commander if she thinks about what happened for too long.
It does not help when two other crew members, Misha, the engineer, and Lu, the chemist, do not trust her because of the mishap.
Eventually, we learn that Kwesi removed a panel that could trigger fire on the way to the Moon. Emma used her shirt to put out the substance before a fire could start, but it burst into flames.
Misha and Lu's quick thinking saved the day when they used a large water bag to suffocate the fire.
Emma quickly decided to use her shirt to stop the incoming fire, but as a result, she escalated the situation within a couple of seconds. This decision proved disastrous results, including Misha and Lu's distrust of their commander.
Misha and Lu distrusted Emma so much that they told their directors at Ground that they want Emma replaced with a new commander.
That meant Darlene Cole and George Lane, two scientists at NASA, had to decide whether or not to replace Emma with backup commander Jack Willmore.
But Emma had to make another tough choice that would affect the crew and her family, when her husband, Matt, endures an unexpected stroke.
Once the crew learns about Matt's stroke, emotions run higher than ever. Misha and Lu are more convinced Emma should go home, while Emma must make a life-altering decision: should she go to Mars for three years, or go back to Earth and be with her family?
The pressure to make a decision only intensifies when Matt goes into surgery. It does not help that everyone has varying opinions -- Darlene Cole is adamant that Emma should go to Mars, while Misha and Lu want her to go home.
How can you know what's best for me? I don't know what's best for me. I mean... the only thing I've ever known for sure in my life is that I want to be on the first mission to Mars.Emma
Emma leans more toward going home, especially since she thinks she failed her crew during the incident.
She may have saved Kwesi's life, but Emma still considers herself a failure. Despite training intensely for two years, what good is her training if she causes a fire to blow up before they even land on the Moon?
There are two potential outcomes of this scenario. The first being, Emma goes back to Earth, and Jack Willmore becomes the new commander. Once Emma is back home, she can help her husband recover, and she is there in person to support their daughter, Lex.
The first option is a sure thing, especially since the second is riskier with many unknown outcomes: go to Mars.
There are so many things that could go wrong if Emma chooses Mars. Not only are there a million things that could go wrong in space, but Emma can only be there for Matt and Lex minimally, even though Matt's life is on the line. No matter what she decides, this choice will define her.
Emma knows she must go home, and that is what she initially decides, despite Matt's successful surgery.
But Matt knows that Emma would not be true to herself if she chose to go back to Earth. He insists that she has to go to Mars because it is her job, and it is what she was born to do. Lex was initially reluctant, but she eventually agreed with her dad.
Yeah, but you gotta be the one that wants to take the shot!Emma
Ultimately, against all the odds, Emma decides to be Commander Green and go to Mars, defining her life for the next three years. However, she did not make this decision without serious debate.
Throughout "Go," we see glimpses of Emma's session with her psychiatrist, Putney. He helps her decide whether she should go to Mars or not.
These clips scattered throughout the episode demonstrate how AWAY highlighted the importance of making decisions by reminding the audience every few minutes how critical Emma's decision would be.
AWAY is a show about the choices we make and how they define us. These decisions create a fork in the middle of the road, and whichever path a character takes sets the course for the remainder of the show.
Now that Emma chose to go to Mars, it seems like the trip will be a rocky ride, especially since Misha and Lu still do not trust her. Misha and Lu deciding not to trust their commander could have devastating consequences. Or, they could turn out to be right.
This is Commander Emma Green here, on the Moon, which is obvious. But there are so many others who can't be here, at home and around the world. It's because of their work and sacrifices that we are standing here today. Getting to Mars might be the hardest thing that humankind has ever tried. It requires the best of us, from all of us. And maybe it's not 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. We've been grimly reminded of the extraordinary challenges that await us. But we will reach the surface of Mars, and we will return home.Emma
Only future episodes will tell whether going to Mars was the right choice for Emma and whether Misha and Lu were right not to trust her.
Over to you, Fanatics!
What did you think about the season premiere of AWAY? How do you think Emma's choice to stay as the commander will impact the trip to Mars? What are your hopes and expectations for the journey on the following episodes?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Sarah Novack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.