Date: February 2nd, 2017
I have been fascinated by Mars for a few years now. This blog was about Mars for a while. (This blog went through many phases, which is why the domain name has nothing to do with…anything.)
Mars is so fascinating to me because in many ways it’s just like Earth, but without any protection available. Same type of rocky ground. There are even weirdly similar landforms (I say weird because when you think of it the universe is a giant crap game, we’re lucky, but it’s kind of strange), like plateaus, canyons and mountains. With the right equipment and a good sense of time, you could go hiking – as a purely recreational activity. There’s enough gravity that you don’t fly off. In some places on Earth, you can look outside your window and go, “Hey, look. It’s Mars with a blue sky and some clouds.” But on Mars, your body is so tiny and so frail. The only thing keeping you alive is something purely external – your spacesuit, the walls of your home base. It doesn’t matter that “your lungs are still working, or would be, if not for…” You don’t matter on Mars. Throughout the Mars series, they repeat the metaphor that Mars is actively trying to fight them. That’s not how I see it. Mars just doesn’t care about you, your friends, your family, your old life; the elementary school you went to, your favorite color. Earth is a living, breathing organism. Not in the technical sense, no, but you have to admit something’s up – on Earth, everything…works. The systems in place never stop functioning – or at least they never used to, but we’ll see where global warming takes us – every single thing on the Earth is for itself and everything else. Mars, on the other hand, is apathetically failing. I am drawn to that type of planet, and the people willing to go and live on it.
Mars the series is quite the opposite of “apathetically failing.” It is sympathetically succeeding. Sympathetic in that you cheer when the characters – and real people, on the other side of the series – do, and the surreal, fast-heartbeat feeling hits all of you as they step on to that rocket for the first time. Successful in that Mars caught the attention of all the big news sources (think Forbes, WIRED, Variety, The New York Times) including this article from screenertv.com, titled “Is Nat Geo the next HBO?” (Click title for link to article.)
Mars is cool. One of the main reasons is that JiHAE is really, really cool. (Kidding, favoritism isn’t my thing.) The cast fits so well.
JiHAE is so good at portraying someone who wasn’t really supposed to be the leader, but had to step up. You felt the difficulty in every decision, and you felt her humanity. I’m describing both sisters. Joon and Hana Seung were both dreamers who grew into almost bitter pragmatists, and you have to respect their journey.
Ben Cotton is amazing as Ben Sawyer. I wanted to give him a big hug as he was dying. He cared so much about the others, and even when he was in pain, he put them before himself. He sorta reminds me of me. Or the Tenth Doctor (Doctor Who).
Alberto Ammann is, as they say in the fandoms, “my smol son.” I absolutely loved the “lavender moment.” And I like how pissed Javier gets at the smallest of things. It makes me laugh.
Clémentine Poidatz is wonderful, as the other half of Javier, and a beautiful (inside and out), intelligent woman herself. She’s good at what she does, so much so that she would be the one I’d trust to take care of me in space.
And Anamaria Marinca is so adorable. She reminds me of Felicia Day (seen on Supernatural as the the Queen, Charlie Bradbury). If Marta Kamen were real, she’d be my new best friend, and we would go out for ice cream and chat about science and our favorite TV shows.
Sammi Rotibi’s Robert has the bromanciest of bromances with Javier, and without him, the team just wouldn’t be the same. He is “the rock” and “the leaf.”
What I like about the cast is: not only is the cast “good,” the cast is realistic. Different colors, races, nose shapes, eyelids, smiles, personalities…they all compliment each other in the way real people do, and they’re all so dynamic – the cast of Mars is a great hypothetical stand-in for the waves of actual astronauts responsible for colonizing Mars in the future.
Here are some of my favorite moments from Mars:
1. Ben Sawyer, Dying And Dead (And Alive!)
Ben Sawyer is my new “character crush” (as opposed to celebrity crush), as is evident from my various pet names and exclamations during the duration of the first two episodes (“Nooooo honey no!” “My precious baby nooooooo!” “Aww, baby!” “NO BEN NOOOOOO!”). At first, he appears authoritative in the bad way, as though he will judge your every move. Then it is revealed that he is just as charming, cheerfully optimistic, and frankly…”cute” as the rest of them. Not only that, but he loves his crew, he loves his crew from the bottom of his heart and he hates to put them at more risk than they’re already at. He gives the regular speech about it (“you could die, yada yada yada”), but then makes it clear that he cares about his crew more than anything else, and that to me is so, so sweet…I love him. He sat and contained his pain for hours, helping them get to – relative – safety. And – yes – he is so handsome…I love him so much.
2. The Lavender Moment
Javier and Amelie are so cute together. Amelie helps the hilariously, constantly pissed Javier calm down. Javier is a good mechanic (is that what you would call what he does?), and he has a heart of gold inside of him. Lavender is now my favorite word in the entire universe. (That’s a slight exaggeration.) Lavender lavender lavender. Awww…
3. Paul Goes Bonkers
First of all, do not hire someone who talks to his plants.
This scene is trippy, and surreal, and heart-wrenching, and kinda awful – and I love it. It’s an example of what I was talking about earlier – you are not the special snowflake you were on Earth, and you can get killed via the wrong door being opened. John Light (Paul) is so innocent in his portrayal of Paul (Paultrayal, for those of you with an interest in portmanteaus) that you just can’t blame him, not really, but it’s always in the back of your mind that they shouldn’t have brought him along.