Just when you thought the adventures of the International Mars Science Federation (IMSF) were completed upon finding life on the red planet, it’s time for a new season of drama!
Mars was one of the highest rated shows on National Geographic last year, prompting six completely new episodes of the hybrid drama/documentary (Mondays @ 9 PM/8 CT). I’m thrilled, and after watching the first episode of the second season, think the show has chosen a fantastic topic to explore: How do two groups of people co-exist on a new world with completely antithetical hopes, dreams, and plans?
Set five years after the end of the first season, much has changed for the group of scientists calling the planet home. The declaration that life exists on Mars (at the end of Season 1) turned Olympus Town into a reality and brought more scientists to the planet for research. But they knew it was only a matter of time before science brought about industry wanting a lucrative place in the terraforming of the planet, not to mention lots of money. It comes in the form of Lukrum Industries, run on Earth by Roland St. John (Esai Morales), an enterprising businessman, and led on Mars by Kurt Hurrelle (Jeff Hephner), who eschews standard convention and pushes as many boundaries as possible, often stepping over them with absolutely no remorse. The IMSF, now led by Amanda Richardson (Cosima Shaw) from the first season, is hesitant to create any partnership with Lukrum. She makes the decision to help even though the mining company arrived completely intent on using the good graces of the scientists to provide them with water and electricity. This frustrates the commander Hana Seung (Jihae) and the rest of her staff, who anticipate difficulties going forward.
It seems the drama portion of the show has been ratcheted up a notch, as we begin to see the struggles of the main characters manifest themselves. Robert (Sammi Rotibi) is tired of not putting his skills to use (having built the city); Spanish Mission Specialist Javier (Alberto Ammann) feels that his love, French doctor Amelie (Clementine Poidatz) has lied to him as she reveals she’s leaving in a few months due to losing her mind; and the Russian biologist Marta (Anamaria Marinca) is frustrated that there have been no other scientific discoveries in five years. Add in the act-first-and-apologize-later mentality of Lukrum, and things are going to boil over at some point.
I’ve always appreciated how well the documentary portions of Mars have meshed with the dramatic ones, and this season is no exception. It does feel like there’s less documentary, but I somehow don’t feel bothered by that fact. The first episode relates the situation on Mars to drilling for oil in the Arctic—there’s nobody around; it’s dangerous; and simply existing is a goal at times.
The ending of the first season of Mars was, in my opinion, way too abrupt. Thankfully, Executive Producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer seem to have fixed that problem in the opening episode, leaving the viewer with a cliffhanger regarding if unity is even possible with the two groups. Here on Earth, we have enough tensions and challenges for a lifetime—between countries, between companies, between individuals. Paul encouraged the one of the New Testament churches to “[b]ear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13-14 NIV). If only these words were put into action, perhaps we could start the process of restoring relationships, which can lead to so many other good things.
I know the folks on Mars could use this advice. Otherwise, the animosity and tension is going to possibly spiral out of control. We’ll have to find out.