Another Life

The Salvare crew land on an uncharted moon to replenish their food stores and examine a second, older Artifact while, on Earth, Erik speaks to the teen who may have cracked the Artifact’s communication language.

Landing on the beautiful, apparently virgin habitat of the unknown moon, Niko and crew quickly split up to achieve their assigned tasks: Bernie and Zayn for the food and water resupply, the obstinate Sasha attempting contact with the Artifact, while Niko and Cas head deeper into the forests only to discover broken pieces of the Artifact awaiting them.

Niko’s away team lands on the verdant moon though, considering Bernie’s luck, maybe he shouldn’t be a member of said away team next time out.

It should come as no surprise that the strongest facet of “A Mind of Its Own” is the Niko and Cas arc. The tension that has been building between the two since Cas was awakened explodes when she discloses her relationship with Yerxa. The angry confession disrupts Niko, though she offers her friend a heartfelt apology. But emotional wounds this deep don’t just disappear after an “I’m sorry”, no matter how earnest. So how to work through that and other subjects they haven’t broached?

Enter the perfectly placed poppy (like) field where the two women find themselves as high as can be. The convenience of the mood-altering vegetation aside, the giggly conversation the two have, pointing out each other’s flaws is a bit loopy but an important step for the two solidifying their relationship. In fact, Niko’s declaration that Cas doesn’t trust herself is put to the test when Sasha is cornered by the ground-dwelling spider-like creatures that call this moon home. Niko doesn’t hesitate to defer to Cas’s firearm prowess and the latter lands a pinpoint shot, saving Sasha and possibly taking a step towards dispelling her own personal insecurities.

Apart from the Niko/Cas dynamic, much of “A Mind of Its Own” falls disappointingly flat. Though there are some curiosities—Bernie and Zayn have a few moments of bonding, and Sasha’s experience with the Artifact—that may bear interesting fruit, the Salvare drama holds little relevance. This can’t be more clear than the forced and wholly unnecessary scenes with August, Oliver, and Javier. This love triangle plot point, which all but confirms they’re about to have a threesome party, plays out like a bad CW drama, replete with eye-rolling water fights and uninspired music. Nothing about this trio, their characters or performances, makes me excited for more. B-story line it may be, that’s still time taken away from much more interesting and important narrative points vital to the series as a whole.

On Earth, Erik and co-worker Singh (Parveen Dosanjh, Supergirl, Arrow, Travelers) accompany Harper Glass to meet Marcus (Dion Riley, iZombie, The Magicians, Supernatural), the young genius that’s cracked how to communicate with the Artifact.  Importance of this narrative notwithstanding, the subpar acting and uninspired writing cause these moments to lose steam. It’s parallel with the episode itself.

Despite the obvious issues, the storytelling through the first four episodes was tight enough that the flaws did not drag down the narrative. “A Mind of Its Own” fails in that regard. Though it sets up interesting plot lines heading into the second half of the season, it also arrests some of the momentum Another Life had gained. Depending on how the rest of the season fares, “A Mind of Its Own” may be seen as nothing more than a blip in the journey or the chink that signaled the beginning of the end of a once promising show.

Towards Infinity

  • Though Sasha’s plot line gave no real answers, it does create some exciting questions. Is the version that returned to the Salvare the original or, like some sort of pod, did the Artifact replicate him as a Trojan horse to send onboard the ship? And even if it is the original, he may now be infected, like a computer system exposed to some foreign malware. It also suggests that a sentience exists within the Artifact and it’s not just some communication beacon. Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t bode well for the crew.
  • Once again, I have to question the efficiency of William’s sensor suite. Despite the extensive scans of the moon, he didn’t pick up ANY of the underground activity by these alien spider-creatures? Worse still is that the decontamination process didn’t identify the foreign baby spider-creature that got on board the ship? Inconsistencies like this, written in for the convenience of plot drama, hampers Another Life’s overall effectiveness and exacerbates the notion that these scripts could have used a few more passes before the series starting filming.