“The Immortals” is the best episode in ‘Cosmos’ we have seen since the early episodes. Told in a very human perspective, “The Immortals” seeks to answer difficult scientific questions with all the awe, wonder, and dread that the cosmos can offer us.
It starts in a very Joseph Campbell style ( a la “A Hero with a Thousand Faces”), telling the tale of Gilgamesh and the ark he built to survive the floods. It’s the earliest recorded story of the flood, and has been rewritten and retold by other cultures and civilizations until now, where we know it as Noah’s Ark.
This, Tyson surmises, is a lot like life. He then goes on to talk about how some microbriol life can survive the harsh environment of space, and how despite the many interruptions of meteors that vaporized all life on earth, the ejected rocks from such an impact with microbes eventually reentered Earth’s atmosphere and continued on as if the world hadn’t been destroyed at all.
The episode was as informative as it was speculative. It spends the last five minutes speculating on how long it will take us as a species to combat global warming, and defeat poverty. Then, it suggests where we humans might be when the sun begins to die, replete with incredible special effects.
Still, with this hopeful note, it still echoes the warning that Carl Sagan states in the original ‘Cosmos’: “If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.”
Touching on the irreversible melting of the polar icecaps, and the effects of global climate change now, Tyson doesn’t pull any punches. It is too late to change anything, all we can do is adapt. In that regard, though, Tyson is hopeful, but in the shadows of his words are the episodes theme “Will we be immortal?”
Meaning, will humans survive our own catastrophes as life has before.
All in all, a fantastic episode, rich in information and imagination.