Into the Darkness

Title: Mars
Network: National Geographic Channel
Airs: Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific
Starring:   Jihae, Alberto Ammann, Clementine Poidatz, Sammi Rotibi
Rating: TV-PG
Reviewer: Kaitlyn Carter
FA Scorecard: B

Episode three takes us halfway through National Geographic’s Mars, a blend of science and science fiction that spans two planets and the space between. Challenges are contrasted and compared between the future of the human race here on earth as well as the possibility of relocating to the planet next door.

Tensions are mounting quickly now and taking its emotional toll on the inhabitants on the Olympus Town colony and their for-profit neighbors at Lukrum Industries. Hana, the colony’s commander, reeling from the sudden death of her twin sister while en-route to join her on Mars, becomes bitter and withdrawn from her team. Marta, the team’s lead scientist, turns indignant, spewing her hatred for Lukrum Industries at every turn. She begins to spy on them, particularly interested in the information the industry slipped about locating an ice shelf. Desperate to test the ice for signs of life—life that must be protected at all costs, Marta swears—the scientist goes behind her team’s back to take matters into her own hands. But when a solar flare blows out one of Olympus Town’s transformers, all human life on Mars is put at risk.

After episode 2’s emotional conclusion, I was ready for more. However, episode three, in my opinion, was much less engaging. The plot of Marta’s desperate attempt to seek and protect life on Mars at the extraordinary lengths of alienating her own team without even attempting negotiation with Lukrum Industries seemed a poor fictional portrayal of the desired idea. In the real world, National Geographic follows a team of scientists in northern Greenland on a desolate ice shelf as they study changes in the ice. The location, an extreme for planet earth, is flat, harsh, and isolated. Our team of “big thinkers” explain the nature of being a scientist in such a climate—of their determination, desperate need to seek answers, and resilience. One such scientist explains their use of problem solving skills, overcoming frustration, and his love of the extreme isolation. Now, this may merely be the speculation of a non-scientist viewer, but surely not all scientists are built alike in this opinion of isolation and Marta’s actions in a harsh and desolate planet seemed foolish compared to the precautions taken by the scientists in Greenland. When the crisis has been averted, even Lukrum Industries tells Hana that they would’ve shared samples if Marta had only asked. Of course, perhaps I am being too harsh, but it was far easier to root for the real world heroes than the fictional ones in this particular episode.

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