“I have to fix this. Save the ship. Save the rest of the crew. Or I’m gonna die trying.”
The final battle for control on this ship wages between Niko and not-Sasha while, on Earth, Erik is willing to do anything to save his daughter, even if it means making a deal with a potentially hostile force.
If there’s one thing Another Life has excelled in, is capping nearly every episode with harrowing cliffhangers. Disappointing as it was, the last five minutes of “How the Light Gets Lost” were amazing, a perfect springboard for “Heart and Soul”. The chaotic first half of the show is a race against time as Niko, Cas, and the others battle not-Sasha and his control of the Salvare. Time is closing in as the Achaia-possessed Sasha looks to overheat the particle accelerator and make the big ship go boom. It’s here where Sasha’s willingness to participate in the Achaia’s plans to destroy the ship comes into question. Is he in full or partial control of his actions? Why would he be so compliant in destroying the ship when he himself will perish? Did the Achaia promise him something that the series has erroneously left out? It’s a major question and one of the few issues in an otherwise tension-heavy episode that re-establishes the positive swing of Another Life after the cavernous drop in quality from last episode.
A major impediment to Niko regaining control of the Salvare is William’s absence. It’s not just that he’s on the fritz, rather not-Sasha used the AI’s janky response to Niko’s rejection to have William turn himself off on the promise of a system-cleansing reboot. Obviously, that does not happen but, after ordering the waking crew off the boat when not-Sasha’s plan to steer the Salvare into a black hole becomes clear, Niko makes a desperate attempt to contact William using the soma tube.
Somehow she’s able to reach the AI as his stands on a beach in serenity as waves lap against rock and shore. Their conversation plays out like all-too many dramas: one person apologizing to the other for breaking that person’s heart. Yet too much of their relationship is overly melodramatic, with Niko proclaiming how sorry she is (something she does way too often) and the spurned William lost in his feelings, unable to separate them from his need to do the damn job. In some ways, it’s very human of him but also shows that blinding weakness in his programming. In the case of William, there is truth to being ‘too human’ and the programmers’ inability to draw safeguards in case this one-of-a-kind AI would be overwhelmed by emotion is a major swing-and-miss. Complaining aside, Niko’s able to pull William from the depths of his despair and he regains control of the ship. His relationship—as it is—with Niko may be forever damaged, but so long as he does his job, it doesn’t matter.
Back on Earth, Erik is still dealing with Jana’s illness. The poor girl’s rapid onset of leukemia has stumped doctors and her only hope is a bone marrow transplant. It’s still somewhat mind-blowing that a society which has cracked the faster-than-light equation doesn’t have the medical capabilities to scrub a bit of cancer from a little girl! It’s another one of those things that are in such diametric opposition. But it has to be that way, otherwise there would be no reason for Erik to plot with not-Harper (she too has become one with the Achaia) to free her so that she can make good on her promise to cure Jana. Her suggestion that the aliens liked him or that the injury they have set upon Jana was an accident, while sounding sincere, just feels as if it’s only part of the story. Any way you look at it, Erik’s going to risk it all and whether that is good or bad for humanity is an answer the finale will hopefully provide.
- This was the boost we needed to get to the finale after the stinker that was episode 8. “Heart and Soul” had issues, no doubt, but did a fine job keeping the tension fairly high for most of its 39 minutes. Ten episodes is a fine length for much of what the series is doing but then there is the William narrative arc that, despite my problem with his relationship with Niko sometimes resembling that of a Lifetime/CW melodrama, there are some deep, pondering questions that would have been better served in an extended season. Or perhaps, if the writers had focused more on his evolution instead of the useless romantic liaisons of certain characters as well as limited Erik’s screen time, the William component and outcome would have been much more satisfactory.
- I’m a fan of speculative logistics and travel time in shows. While it’s not a deal-breaker for me in the least (Game of Thrones was really bad at this, especially in the final few seasons), the more credulity these things have, the more engrossed you can become in the drama. There have been several issues with Another Life in that regard and though “Heart and Soul” seems to stumble over the same branch, it’s not where I initially thought. When not-Sasha integrates with the Salvare systems, he’s able to navigate the dark matter expanse in moments, evidently knowing the proper course towards the black hole. That makes sense; what doesn’t is the shuttle that Cas pilots (on Niko’s orders) towards Pi Canis Majoris. While they are much closer to the star now that not-Sasha has lined them up towards said black hole, the thought that a star would be that close to a black hole and a shuttle designed for planetary landings and is limited in its navigational capabilities to come up on the destination that quickly? That’s about as likely as Dany getting the message to come to Jon’s add North of the Wall and reaching them in time. It makes for a cool scene but it’s absolutely shatters the parameters of credulity.