THE ARK — “Everybody Wins” Season 1 Episode 12 — Pictured: (l-r) Christie Burke as Sharon Garnet, Richard Fleeshman as Lt. James Brice, Reece Ritchie as Lt. Spencer Lane — (Photo by: Aleksandar Letic/Ark TV Holdings, Inc./SYFY)

Review: Finale Gives Us Wins, Losses, Uncertainty – Ep. 112

As Garnet, Brice, Eva, Lane and the others on the bridge of Ark 1 stood looking out into space while Ark 15 hovered in the distance, the first season of The Ark came to a close. In those shocked eyes of uncertainty, I knew exactly what they were feeling. And that’s about as high a bit of praise as I can give a show.

Dean Devlin and Jon Glassner didn’t serve us up the typical cliff-hanger ending in episode 112 (“Everyone Win”). They dished up a nice slice of ominous uncertainty. It wasn’t a finale filled with gunfire, fights and blaze-of-glory action with someone hanging from a building with one hand before the fade to black and credits roll. It was a capstone episode that took things completely out of Ark 1’s hands – and thrust them into the hands of someone, who until some moments before, wasn’t to be trusted. The Ark’s first season didn’t end with a bang, it ended with something better – complete surrender to a fate they can’t imagine in the tender caress of Evelyn Maddox.

THE ARK — “Everybody Wins” Season 1 Episode 12 — Pictured: (l-r) Tiana Upcheva as Eva Markovic, Richard Fleeshman as Lt. James Brice — (Photo by: Aleksandar Letic/Ark TV Holdings, Inc./SYFY)

How deliciously juicy. How unexpected and so thoroughly welcomed. Oh, there were explosions and the Klingon pain stick applied to those who needed it, but this ending wasn’t that slam-bang finish we have so come to expect from TV. Instead, it came somewhat quietly, almost sneaking up on us a bit as Ark 1 leadership stood on the bridge, powerless to control their own fates. And, it gives us pause to imagine a season 2 that could provide some really interesting dynamics. Let’s talk about it, shall we?

But first, this is your SPOILER ALERT. There are SPOILERS ahead. No, this isn’t a William Trust trick, it’s a legit warning.

My feelings about The Ark’s season finale was that it was a wonderful cap to an interesting and well-developed season. When all was said and done, when Proxima B had burst into a billion tiny pieces (methane on the dark side of the planet? Who’d a thunk it?), when fragments had crippled Ark 1 moments after saving Ark 15 from a Trust-induced trickeration, it became very clear that the end of this season wasn’t going to blow us away with action.

THE ARK — “Everybody Wins” Season 1 Episode 12 — Pictured: (l-r) Stacey Michelle Read as Alicia Nevins, Pavle Jerinić as Felix Strickland, Paul Murray as William Trust — (Photo by: Aleksandar Letic/Ark TV Holdings, Inc./SYFY)

No, it was going to put us in the minds of people like Trust, Lane, Garnet and the others with one overriding thought – now what happens? And that’s a cue to you and I to theorize our little hearts out about that very question. What does come next for these folks?

The trade I predicted last week did come to fruition. Brice was finally cured by not a serum, but by going directly to the source – the spiders. Again, why did it have to be spiders, though it works well in this case. Brice is saved, Garnet now has a pair of bargaining chips in the cure and in Trust’s ability to restart the planet’s rotation. She leverages those to broker a deal to share the cure with Evelyn in exchange for Lane, and insist there’s plenty of room to share the planet. Mankind, she reasons, should stay together to survive.

Despite the suspicion and animosity between the two groups, Evelyn shows up with Lane, gets her spider bite on (man, she just stuck her hand in there like a boss, didn’t she?), then wonders what we’re all wondering – why on earth would you allow Kelly a bathroom break with only one guard? Kelly had stowed away with one overriding goal – find Angus and administer her particular brand of justice. A woman scorned is one thing, but a nut-job woman scorned is quite another.

THE ARK — “Everybody Wins” Season 1 Episode 12 — Pictured: Jelena Stupljanin as Evelyn Maddox — (Photo by: Aleksandar Letic/Ark TV Holdings, Inc./SYFY)

I  have to admit, as much as I loathe the Kelly character, she’s grown on me in that evil, twisted, unloved sort of way. She’s so desperate for affection of any type that she’s completely warped her sense of reality. Seeing her mom give her an open palm across the face really just solidified for me that Kelly was put on this path long ago and, for better or worse, I feel some compassion for her.

Oh, not when she had her hands around the throat of Angus, of course, but at times. Kelly’s choking out Angus, Alicia arrives with a shovel to the head (Kelly seems to draw metallic objects to her head, doesn’t she?), and the love story we all want can now start (cue harp music). Or will it? I sense struggles for these two are still to come.

In my mind, this little incident could prove problematic as, despite her coldness to her daughter, the sight of Kelly lying prone on the floor with blood escaping her head puts Evelyn in a less gracious mood. They evac Kelly to Ark 15, which has better medical facilities and everyone waits. Despite everything that comes after it, this is kind of big moment because the goodwill that Garnet and the Ark 1 folks had earned with Evelyn could very well evaporate in a mother’s pain. And that leaves that planet-sized hole of doubt over the final moments of the show. Did seeing her daughter bleeding out fire some motherly instinct in Evelyn? If so, could it be dangerous?

THE ARK — “Everybody Wins” Season 1 Episode 12 — Pictured: (l-r) Pavle Jerinić as Felix Strickland, Christie Burke as Sharon Garnet — (Photo by: Aleksandar Letic/Ark TV Holdings, Inc./SYFY)

There can be little doubt that Trust wasn’t done being an unscrupulous twit before the episode was over. Now, I have to admit that his plan to lure Ark 15 closer to the surface when he started his planet rotation device was a bit of a genius move. Looking for revenge on Maddox for his wife’s death, he’d hoped to catch Ark 15 in a gravity vortex and crush them on the planet’s surface. Let’s face it, Ark 1 had enough people to successfully start to repopulate a planet, so the math worked, right? Garnet, Alicia and the gang swoop in for the save and all’s well, right?

It’s all good and fun revenge until you realize the planet you started spinning on its axis is actually a fireball awaiting some sunlight. Cue flames and an exploding planet. So we can check Proxima B off the list of possible habitable planets, right? In all that maelstrom, both Arks manage to escape the fireball that was Proxima B, but Ark 1 sustains some critical damage via debris that leaves it floating helplessly in space. Ark 15, however, was more fortunate. And that’s where the questions in our leaders heads had to start churning.

THE ARK — “Everybody Wins” Season 1 Episode 12 — Pictured: (l-r) Stacey Michelle Read as Alicia Nevins, Ryan Adams as Angus Medford — (Photo by: Aleksandar Letic/Ark TV Holdings, Inc./SYFY)

The Brice and Eva love story was a nice side arc, as is the impending snuggling of Alicia and Angus, but it was right there, on that bridge looking out at a fully functioning Ark 15 that things got really interesting and immediately turned my attention to season 2. Yes, Evelyn sent the shuttle with medical personnel towards Ark 1, which on the surface may seem like a goodwill gesture, but if what is going to happen does happen, things get very interesting. I don’t think it beyond the realm of reason to speculate that season 2 could be held aboard Ark 15 with a mixed company.

And with that, Evelyn, who has never met an opportunity she couldn’t exploit, has them all on her turf. Just seeing the extent of damage to Ark 1, which now has the only functioning FTL, it doesn’t seem likely that repairs are going to do the trick. Then what? Combine the crews, install the remaining FTL, and make a mad dash for the next habitable planet. And if Kelly survives and finds Angus and Alicia on the same ship? Well, it makes one shudder with anticipation, doesn’t it?

This season’s finale left me with the very distinct feeling that that lonely stretch of space between and badly damaged Ark 1 and possible salvation through Ark 15 was far larger than one might imagine. I can’t emphasize enough I much I enjoyed this “cliffhanger” of an ending that was absent so many of the hallmarks of a traditional cliffhanger at the end. Instead, nervous contemplation of what the future might bring was on the mind of not only our command crew, but the viewers as well.

Spencer Lane (Reece Ritchie) completes his redemption during episode 112 of The Ark. — (Photo by: Aleksandar Letic/Ark TV Holdings, Inc./SYFY)

This thing went from saved to uncertain in the snap of a fingers and now, inexplicably, so much rests in the hands and heart of one Evelyn Maddox. Talk about a wild card finish. When I think about that situation, I am struck by how perfect it is that Ark 1’s uncertainty is dependent on a woman whose actions are impossible to anticipate. Does she have malice on her mind and tyranny in her heart? Makes one wonder, doesn’t it?

A few quick hit thoughts:

Dr. Kabir: I was delighted to see the good doctor get an important win. It was important for the curing of Klampkins, but moreso for Kabir to start to feel somewhat whole again. Since the medication addiction and subsequent detox, she’s been unsteady, unsure and in need of a reminder of her skill. I thought this character got lost in the latter portion of the series before reemerging at the end and I was delighted to see her with that Klampkins win.

Prelude to a trade. Evelyn and Kelly aboard Ark 1. — (Photo by: Aleksandar Letic/Ark TV Holdings, Inc./SYFY)

William Trust: Okay, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m starting to like this character more than I should. Yes, he’s unscrupulous, petty, narcissistic, delusional and completely without a moral compass, but I just find his brand of self-righteous egomania mixed with a bit of snarkiness kind of fun. As noted by Garnet, he’s good at convincing himself he’s the “good guy,” when in fact he’s usually on the side of self-interest. Paul Leonard Murray does a good job of this character in terms of an extreme personality tinged with a little bit of whimsey at times. I dig it. Without his wife whispering emboldening BS in his ear, how does he develop moving ahead?

Spencer Lane: The redemption of Lane is, on the surface, complete. He’s made up with Garnet, gotten his commission back, and is again part of the club. It will be interesting to see how all that happened in season 1 manifests itself in season 2. Are there lingering doubts about Garnet, about his place in the hierarchy, and what about that little moment between he and Garnet? Is there romance in the air? I was rooting for Lane to turn it around and in the end, he came through. Well done, Reece Ritchie. Well done. Oh, and his hero play to destroy Ark 15’s FTL? Talk about an “I don’t give a damn what happens to me” moment. Magical.

Eva Markovic: While I’m delighted that Brice has kicked Klampkins, I’m probably more delighted to see Eva smile and find joy again. The series began with her lover dying and her being thrust into an engineering role that she, like many, weren’t sure she could handle. It was a tough time and she draped that roughness around her like a cloak. But bit by bit, she has come out of that darkness into light. Brice has helped, but I think, like so many others aboard Ark 1, she’s carved out her place and importance within the ship. Tiana Upcheva has done a fantastic job of shepherding this character through the season. She’s another one that has seen tremendous growth this season. Been fun.

Kelly (Samantha Glassner) tries to exact her revenge on Angus, but Alicia (Stacey Read) is on the case. — (Photo by: Aleksandar Letic/Ark TV Holdings, Inc./SYFY)

Evelyn Maddox: I think she now becomes the most intriguing character of this series heading into season 2. Suddenly, she appears to be in control of this entire situation. Ark 1 is sitting there essentially at her mercy. Does the good will Garnet engendered with the cure and saving Ark 15 from Trust’s trap carry any weight with her? Her pronouncement of being a friend with Garnet were merely words, though she declared once that she keeps her word. I just think this character, incredibly well-played by Jelena Stupljanin, is the large shadow that season 2 will be under – at least initially. And the possibilities are endless. Cannot wait.

And with that, the first season of The Ark is in the books. As I’ve said before, I thought this show built nicely, characters had a nice run of development and the story had enough twists and turns to keep me interested episode to episode. Yes, there are some sci-fi tropes floating in and around this, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think part of sci-fi is suspending disbelief so that you enjoy what you’re seeing. I think the series found it’s footing about the midway point and built nicely to the finish. Now, let’s hear those theories about season 2.

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