I’m not gonna BS you, I didn’t see that final 10 seconds coming. I did not see that moment rolling up to our viewing door and I’m delighted by that. However, having witnessed it – and we’ll talk about it down below – I have now formed a picture in my head about what The Ark is really all about. And if you’re humanity, you may want to look away.
Episode 106, titled “Two by Two,” gave us yet another fun race through panic and near-certain doom to reveal new heroes, burgeoning friendships and more juicy backstory. It also reinforced my joy at the work done by Pavle Jerenic and Tiana Upcheva. First, I like them because they are veterans of The Outpost TV series. Secondly, they have created a couple of characters (Felix and Eva) on the show that I think are polar opposites in terms of emotional makeup, but clearly so essential to the ship’s survival. I adore both. Every scene they are in keeps me interested.
We’ll get into some more of this below, but first I must issue a SPOILER ALERT if you are reading beyond this point. So, duly warned, I want to start with my theory about what The Ark is really doing in space. You ready? Let’s get to it then.
John’s Fan/Writer theory: The Discovery of Walter Trust and his wife in pods behind some hidden doors, combined with Lane’s discovery of a DNA warehouse, and then the sudden sight of another “Ark” apparently floating around a Yellow Dwarf Star, got my mind racing and I think I’ve nailed my thoughts down a bit. What these things add up to for me is that there will be no more Arks leaving the Earth. The Earth, it would seem, is beyond hope and help and would be completely rendered useless before Trust or others could load up and go on upcoming Arks. His talk of leaving on Ark 5 was subterfuge; he knows there will be only one Ark making this journey and the fate of humanity is riding tall in the saddle with Ark 1.
The truth is, that theory matches up nicely with what we’ve learned thus far. Earth is dying and the Ark project was and is man’s last, best hope for survival out in the stars. But the wasteland timeline was happening quicker than anticipated and that pushed Ark 1, the load of DNA, and Trust into the ship because there was no hope or time for any more. This also encapsulates the “Two by Two” title and all that that means.
And honestly, I had a bit of a Babylon 5 flashback when I saw Babylon 4 … er, the other Ark floating behind that small planet. Was that an early, experimental attempt to make the trip that failed? I would postulate a precursor to Ark 1 that ran afoul of that green crystaline substance, so it bares watching. But let me say this, Dean Devlin, that was a great reveal and perfect lead-in to talking further about this show. You wascally wabbit, Dean. That ghost ship, with vital fuel reserves and the menace of the crystalline entity raises so many questions. And who doesn’t like that?
I suspect that once Trust is roused from his slumber (and the discovery of another Ark should prompt this), we are going to find out that Garnet, Lane, Brice and the gang are it – the last and only hope for humanity’s survival. Talk about putting a little extra pressure on the proceedings, right? But that simply will ramp up the need to make things work and overcome the inevitable struggles that this crew seems to fall face first into regularly. But that ship? What’s that going to turn out to be?
There’s an old saying that goes “Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.” Sometimes man explores for the experience of exploring; sometimes that exploration will be forced upon them. In the hallways, cafeteria and bunks of Ark 1, I suspect our travelers are about to find out some horrifying facts regarding the humanity it left behind. If so, it could get ugly. What do you think? Love to hear some thoughts on that.
Onward. In this episode, Ark 1 deals with a need for a fuel component, something it locates on its current path – well sort of. Turns out the remaining fuel stores aboard won’t get it to the planet, so the seemingly weekly danger of being cast adrift in the icy cold of space rears its head again. Fortunately Brice and Eva formulate a play to get there early with the shuttle and suss out any danger, when they make the discovery of another ship, another Ark. I find that semi-irritated interplay between Brice and Eva to be good fun and through it we learn that Brice is suffering from a terminal illness. Hence, the suicide missions love he seems to have.
Eva is such a wonderful badass character and Upcheva delivers her with aplomb, passion and grit. She’s in over her head, but she’s gonna keep bobbing on the surface and make it to land. She’s become indispensable to the effort and, despite an early loss of a her lover, has proven sturdy and dependable – and she’s not a shit-taker. She was onto Brice and wouldn’t let it go, like an alligator’s jaws locked onto your aunt’s rump roast. Brice’s roguish charms are lost on her – for now.
As for security chief Felix Strickland, Jerenic and the writers have given us this wonderfully subtle, stoic, strong individual who can be intimidating and focused, or calm, caring and a helping hand in places you didn’t expect. His detective skills were dialed into our resident junkie doctor, Sanjivni Kabir. He could have stomped in and read her the riot act for her drug addiction, but instead recognized the moment, recognized the need, recognized the larger picture at work and simply diffused the situation.
He sent her to bed, he demonstrated some serious medical capability with Garnet’s solar burn, and earned the trust of yet another important crew member. Strickland is just a delightful character and I really like that the security chief, while dedicated and focused, is a man of soft words and mindfulness. He gets it and has an intuition for what each situation calls for. Brilliantly done.
It’s been fun to see this crew kind of experience some triumphs in the midst of a voyage that must have a constant undertone of terror. Angus Medford creates a special meal with the first veggies grown in his super manure garden; Garnet is able to fix a solar sail that was damaged and moved out of place thanks to her special clone formula; Garnet and Lane share some Glenn Verbog scotch that finds them continuing to forge a semi-bond.
Even Lane, who has found himself undercutting Garnet and her leadership on a constant basis, finally gets a taste of the “big chair” and admits he doesn’t know what to do. It’s a quick moment, a subtle moment that is also a teachable moment for Lane, which he clearly needed. There are good things developing aboard ship, but that threat of imminent space disaster is kind of the mortar that holds things together in a strange and frightening way. But within that, personal victories are possible and powerful. There’s a great message there.
And the message of hope and better angels of humanity continue to run through The Ark. It’s not always pretty, it’s not always pleasant, but that message is in there and we get glimpses of it regularly. It feels as thoough we are about to get another big twist or two coming our way and I’m for that. Hey, maybe my theory isn’t any good, but that’s part of the fun about these types of shows – the fan theories come fast and furious. Love them all.
I think Dean Devlin and Jon Glassner have fashioned themselves an interesting, intriguing sci-fi adventure that would seem to have the tools to make a multi-season run. I think The Ark hit its stride in recent episodes and there’s a wonderful rhythm to what we are seeing and what is being revealed.
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