Another Life: Season 1 discussion
July 29, 2019 2:40 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Another Life centers on astronaut Niko Breckinridge (Katee Sackhoff) who is focused on searching for alien intelligence. She leads a crew on a mission to explore the genesis of an alien artifact. As Niko and her young crew investigate, they face unimaginable danger on what might very well be a one-way mission.
posted by KTamas (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm somewhat conflicted about this show because it's just... so bad in so. many. ways. and yet strangely I enjoyed it?

Let's start with the good bits: both Katee Sackhoff and Justin Chatwin make the best of this mess of bad writing they find themselves in. I missed Katee from television since the end of BSG, though a cursory wikipedia shows that she's been busy.

I liked how they didn't end the season around episode 9, which a lot of shows do these days, making the first season essentially a prequel to the rest of the seasons. I mean, they still do that but we do get some payoff and some answers (aliens = real bad mmkay?).

The love triangle thing was kinda cute and I liked the pregnancy twist, though like so many things in this show the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

I liked the doctor, though underdeveloped. If this show ever gets another season (lol) I hope they get more character development.

They were also not afraid to kill off a bunch of people that you expected to stick around.

Oh and the AI of the ship is a pretty great character, dare I say somewhat original with their feelings and all.

And now for the bad stuff... where do I start? How much time do I have?

I mean this is just a fucking mess, that's what I come back to. It's clear that the creators were really into Arrival, and they make a half-assed attempt to copy it.

Selma Blair's character is just... meh. Annoying, mostly? We're in the near future and she's an Influencer and Influencers will become very powerful. Social media is powerful! WE GET IT.

(amusing aspect of being in the near future: in episode 1, a character is using one of the tablets and you can clearly see iOS 12 for a second, so idk how far into the future are we, really)

Random things come and go. We're at least a couple decades into the future because climate change clearly fucked with Earth but it just gets a passing mention and that's that. There is/was a water shortage but that doesn't really get explored much either, though there is the flashback to Cas. Cas, at least gets some backstory but even that feels sort of shoehorned in.

Niko killing Ian at the end of episode 1 is just really fucking weird, but what makes it even weirder is that you can clearly see a knife in his hand before Niko electrocutes him and somehow she never uses that fact for her defense?? Instead it's a setup for the fact that Niko has PTSD and she has Shit To Deal With.

The tonal changes are jarring at times, like when they have the dream sequence in Ep 4 and it goes straight to horror for a few minutes.

Soma sleep/waking up rules seem completely arbitrary.

I kind of get what they were going for with the William falling in love with Niko at the same time what engineer in their right minds programs an AI that can fall in love and when rejected just almost kill everyone?

CGI is mediocre at best.

Sasha/Evil Sasha is so one-dimensional it hurts. He's stupid and then just evil because uh the aliens make him evil and that's that.

All in all, they use every trope possible and then somehow get lost between them, instead of picking a few and really exploring them.

I could go on but this post is long enough as it is... again, despite everything I somehow enjoyed it, and even want it to get another season, which will very likely not happen. So I just hope someone else will write a *good* scifi for Katee to star in.
posted by KTamas at 3:05 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Niko killing Ian at the end of episode 1 is just really fucking weird, but what makes it even weirder is that you can clearly see a knife in his hand before Niko electrocutes him and somehow she never uses that fact for her defense??

Even worse, it was a really shitty drop kick. Come on, take a lesson from Elijah Wood (which apparently there is no gif or YouTube clip of or anything - now I have to watch "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore" again).
posted by Literaryhero at 4:07 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

I couldn't finish the first episode--so Starbuck kills Mr. Toxic Masculinity? Good! So they got one thing right.

Why is this crew staffed with a bunch of 20-somethings that clearly did not have to undergo psychological exams? Why did the foul-mouthed girl have perfectly blown out hair after a month of cryo-sleep? This crew has spent a year together but the clueless guy didn't know the engineer's brother had been killed in some accident?

I mean. Love triangles, pregnancy scares? They're on a do-or-die mission to save the planet and can't even muster up the barest professionalism? Starbuck deserves better. Time to rewatch BSG.
posted by orrnyereg at 9:07 AM on July 29, 2019 [5 favorites]

I dug this show. I love a good space crisis and this show was nothing but space crises.
posted by yonega at 9:49 AM on July 29, 2019 [6 favorites]

This feels like someone rich had money to develop a pet project but wrote all the scripts while high and drunk at the same time. And yet, there's also a nonbinary femme character, and that alone makes me want to finish watching the whole season.

Representation is important, so I'll do whatever I can to reward it when I see it.

I came here mostly to give props for the awesome opening titles and sound design, since I've had to straighten all the pictures in my living room after each new episode starts auto-playing.

Also, I was excited for like 2.5 minutes to see Jessica Camacho (Gypsy from The Flash) on the ship's crew. This quickly turned to disgust at the shrillness of her character, and the crew's cringe-worthy dialogue in general.

The real MVPs of this show are 1) Niko's ripped physique accentuated by her health-goth-in-space wardrobe, and 2) my own surround sound system.

Ship design also looks nice, despite its total disregard to the laws of physics.

I made it halfway through ep4 before switching over to NOS4A2 (I've been couch-bound for 8 weeks now recovering from tib-fib fracture surgery and will watch almost anything at this point).

I'm going to try and finish it this afternoon, god help me. FYI: Apparently Katee Sackhoff isn't just starring in this; she's a producer and has input into the storyline as well, according to DigitalSpy.

Going back in to finish the remaining eps now.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:06 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

There was a brief moment when I thought Ian (? I think... agro guy, former captain) was intentionally giving her an out to kill him, but then midway through the fight I realized that I was giving this show way way too much credit.

I don't know. It was just a terrible mess from beginning to end, but I still watched the whole damn thing over the weekend and I may have actually enjoyed it.

I guess I'll keep going with it if they make more.

On the plus side I didn't realize that Muse released music last year and I had something new to listen to on the way to work.
posted by NormieP at 11:47 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Why is this crew staffed with a bunch of 20-somethings that clearly did not have to undergo psychological exams?

Because otherwise they're be stuck on Earth in their jobs as hairdressers and phone sanitizers?
posted by happyroach at 3:43 PM on July 29, 2019 [5 favorites]

Why did the foul-mouthed girl have perfectly blown out hair after a month of cryo-sleep?

Why is the only way to exit crypto sleep to fall on the floor in a heap? Like even Austin Powers has a better unfreezing process.

Why did they say there were no uniforms in episode 1 but then by episode 4 everyone is wearing uniforms?

Man, I think I actually like this show.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:25 PM on July 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

i agree with all of ya. it is terrible, but totally addictive. (i love sci-fi so much i hate-watched all 3 seasons of Helix. this is not as stupid as that show. but it's also not quite as gloriously bonkers.) i do dislike how often the male characters interrupt or talk over the female characters, but the worst offender got fried to a crisp at the start. so that was gratifying. Katee Sackhoff is a good actress, but she always looks like she just smelled a fart. yet, that's better than all the pouting and hair flipping of the rest of the crew. and the Earth folks are just as bad. i cannot believe the husband's character, at all - there is no chemistry between that actor and Sackhoff, and his character is another of the mansplainers. other than Niko and her daughter (that little one is actually a really good actress) i hate every character! but don't hate watching it? i suppose that makes it kinda fun when they kill someone off. i'm about half-way through and i will say, at least it keeps moving. there are some little things that are good, and yes, hooray for the non-binary femme character - of color! that's great.
posted by lapolla at 4:55 PM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

The 20-somethings are obviously on their first jobs or doing an internship. Nothing else explains how terribly they all act.

Ep 5 is the best of the series so far: getting high with your mentee, making out with your junior employees simultaneously, really bad CGI, a "space fire," and going without suits on an unknown planet AFTER you just got the entire crew infected for doing the same thing on the last planet.

Also, their decontamination procedures are for shit.

Why exactly do they give Niko such a hard time for having a job outside of being a mother. I have to FF every 10 mins to get past all those stupid, overblown scenes. You can love your kid AND still have a job AND everyone is fine with it. Gah.

Loved William.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 7:46 PM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

making out with your junior employees simultaneously,

I don't want to get my hopes up too high (I am only up to episode 5), but I feel like there is a possibility that Niko is going to make out with the ship. (Yes I know that some comments above say this isn't going to happen, but *fingers in my ears* nyah nyah nyah)

For pure ridiculousness, if William and Niko had a relationship this whole show would be worthwhile.
posted by Literaryhero at 8:00 PM on July 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

Okay, I finished it. For several more episodes I was like, what is even happening? rewind, rewind, oh wait. No careful watch and paying attention can make this more coherent for me.

But honestly? The last 2 episodes really were good. The science got better, and the cliffhanger ending was *kisses fingers*

Where the hell was THAT show this whole time? I cautiously applaud them for giving Selma Blair a good, believably evil role despite her current challenges battling MS, too.

I... crap, I think I flipped from hate-watching it into like-watching this by the end? I don't know how I feel about that.

If it gets canceled, well, we all know why. If it's renewed, I'll give it a shot.

And yeah, I also watched all of Helix and secretly loved that too, lapolla. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ People like us keep the SyFy channel alive!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:28 AM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

If it gets canceled, well, we all know why. If it's renewed, I'll give it a shot.

There are like 50 fanfare comments over 3 threads for this show. I know that isn't a great metric, but I think it means people are watching it.

I watched episode 6 last night. How did the 'exotic material' melt Michelle into a puddle of goo but Cas, who entered the room like six seconds later was perfectly fine?

Also, is it common practice to recruit kidnappers to become astronauts after like a 30 second conversation? Lindbergh baby, here I come!

Oh, and Niko's adamant refuses to do a hard reset on William was pretty weird. She is totally going to make out with the ship.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:51 PM on July 30, 2019

Oh, and Niko's adamant refuses to do a hard reset on William was pretty weird. She is totally going to make out with the ship.

Me: Laughs non-stop at LiteraryHero.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 7:27 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I would watch a 2nd season. Maybe. The Data callout could be interesting but the fixation on parenting is a bit much.

The whatthefuckness of the exotic material is overridden by the instant pregnancy and accompanying symptoms. At least accurately use the sci-fi trope by throwing out some babble out aliens causing accelerated pregnancy!

How is birth control not automatic? Do they REALLY envision a nursery and such on a dangerous mission?

This is like the great, great, great, grandchild of The Tripods vision (after it was dipped in a vat of I-need-to-express-my-issues-around-parenting-so-I-use-my-writing).
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 7:40 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I hated the first episode and ranted about it but after reading this thread I'm terribly confused. Apparently, if I force myself to watch more episodes I'll still hate it but keep watching anyway and at the end I'll be massively ambivalent yet be at peace with that.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:35 PM on July 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ivan, it helps if you've broken your leg and have a lot more hours to fill than you normally would with passive entertainment. That's my only excuse for chugging onward.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:15 PM on August 1, 2019

Just finished the first episode. Does the husband die? Because I am pretty sure I can't tolerate him for very long.
posted by biffa at 9:35 AM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Not only does he NOT die, he's responsible for making shit worse and he's a terrible father.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 8:31 AM on August 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I hated it so much that it further cemented my ability to just admit that I’ve come to hate science fiction as a genre despite a childhood of literally nothing but science fiction, and I laughed my way through every hateful, stupid, Katie-Sackhoff-pursed-worrylips moment of it like I was in a mint green shirt and 46.1% of the electorate voted for it to exist. It was a pure and hateful thing, right down to the cave with the frightened creature that they plucked right out of terrible TNG episode. Oh my effing god it’s so insanely horrible I feel like I want to have a slap fight with it like Krystal and Alexis until we fall off a balcony and die.

I watched it wanting HAL to lock me out of the ship, oh my.
posted by sonascope at 4:26 PM on August 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

I think you're all being too harsh. I wasn't sure if I would like it based on some comments here but I was out of things to watch and gave it a shot and ended up just binging the last half today.

The hand-wavy sci-fi stuff isn't worse than any other similar shows, we spend half the threads complaining about similar terrible decontamination protocols for Star Trek or The Expanse too.

I don't think the show is very hard on Niko as a mother. The guilt she feels about leaving Jana behind is from her only. Nobody else on the show puts that on her. And also her PTSD is from the death if the last crew, which is understandably hard to bury when you just killed a crew member, even in self-defense. And only like two crew members got angry at her for killing Ian, Michelle and Oliver, because they were his crew, and everyone else said she made the right choice even if they don't like it, even Case who was his girlfriend. (Anyways I'm glad Ian died though because Tyler Hoechlin needs to be Superman in this season of Supergirl).

Harper was annoying because... she was supposed to be annoying. Basically a knock on social media "journalists". But her turn to be unwitting carrier for evil invaders was interesting to see. I think she made a good contrast for straight man Erik, who I was meh about but I like Justin Chatwin in general so watching him wasn't so bad. The daughter getting cancer thing was eye-rolling convenient plotting though, I wish that but wasn't so lazily written, but it's not a deal breaker.

The melodrama on the ship was alright, again it's not worse than anything else we've seen. The crew being 20 year olds was not too out there either, they all have experience and many didn't have much attachment on Earth. What was great was the representation. I didn't know what they were going to do with Zayn because these types of shows usually don't give non-binary characters much to do, but making them the ship doctor was a great choice, and then giving them a relationship! How wonderful! The threesome was not surprising but still good to show such sexual freedom. And of course they're not going to use protection, they're horny astronauts who got told that they all got sterilized by radiation.

Like most of you I thought the relationship between Niko and William was the most interesting. It's fun to watch an AI experiencing heartbreak for the first time. When he told Niko that he wanted Sasha to kill her I was like "yep, we've all been there buddy".
posted by numaner at 10:38 PM on August 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

I regret to inform you that the show has been renewed for a second season.

(For those of you who enjoy the show, I instead am pleased to inform you of the above)
posted by Tabitha Someday at 1:59 PM on October 29, 2019

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