Seriously, Ridley Scott loves reusing ideas.
It’s the 22nd Century and Earth has been destroyed by war between a cult-like religion and the atheists. Two androids, Mother and Father (Amanda Collin and Abubakar Salim), escape to planet Kepler-22b in order to raise a new collection of humans specifically as science-based atheists. They use Mother as an incubator and birth a number of frozen embryos into children. One by one the children die from illness until only one, Campion (Winta McGrath), survives. However, it turns out that the androids weren’t the only ones to escape the Earth. They are soon discovered by a group of refugees from the religious faction. Soon, Mother manages to bring several of the religious children (Jordan Loughran, Felix Jamieson, Ethan Hazzard, Aasiya Shah, Ivy Wong) to the planet, continuing the conflict between the two factions.
This season is 10 episodes long and feels, at most, like the first act of the story. It almost feels like Lost in the way that the show keeps adding mysteries and elements without really giving us much in the way of explanation. At the end of the first season, the last episode alone gave us like five different new mysteries, including in the last shot. It’s a bit frustrating for a streaming show to do this kind of thing, particularly on this scale and particularly since the second season didn’t get picked up until after the show had debuted.
In counter to this, I will say that the acting and the visuals are amazing. Amanda Collin’s portrayal of Mother is one of the most distinct performances I’ve seen in a while. She is an android who is discovering her own emotions despite not believing herself really capable of true humanity. She is capable of massive amounts of compassion and dispassionate violence. As the series goes on she keep discovering more and more about herself and every time Collin nails the revelation. All of the child actors give performances beyond their years, whether it’s McGrath as the kid who has experienced massive loss and lived as the only person on a planet or Loughran as the child who has been abused to the point that she can no longer have her mandated faith. Despite the situation being so removed from reality, they all come across as believable. Niamh Algar and Travis Fimmel, who play the parents of one of the abducted children, undergo a wide variety of character changes and would be very difficult for many actors, but they do a great job throughout the show.
As for the visuals, the shots of Kepler-22b are all beautiful. Ridley Scott has always had an innate talent for landscapes and wide shots that truly earn him the superlative “visionary” and this show is no exception. The aesthetics of everything from the outfits to the sets to the sci-fi characteristics are all striking. Scott retains his previous love of androids who have a milky substance instead of blood, which continues to make the blood that we do see even more pronounced.
Overall, I still ended the season a little disappointed, but if you are a big fan of Scott’s work, then you’ll probably enjoy the ride enough to merit the investment.
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