Ascension, a three night event on SyFy was emphatically uneven. It was utterly boring at times, and edge-of-the-seat exciting at others. It was predictable while being unpredictable. It was disgustingly sexist but a paean to women by the end.
Major spoilers ahead!
The situation was a set-up. The previews showed a space ship launched from Earth in the 1960s, with some tracking still going on back on earth.
The people on the space ship were actually lab rats in a lengthy and elaborate high tech experiment right here on earth. They thought they were in space to save the human race but they were not. Their every fight, sexual act, library check out and weight gain were monitored from mere feet outside their metal cocoon.
This Petri dish with 600 lives on board was headed by Captain Denninger (Brian Van Holt) who ran the ship, and his wife Viondra (Tricia Helfer) who ran the social life of the ship with the help of a crew of prostitutes. Everyone was striving to improve their lot in the world on board the ship, from the workers on the lower decks to the elites at the top.
The Captain’s opposition came from Councilman Rose (Al Sapienza) who was the smarmiest lech from the 1960s you’ve ever seen. Lord, did he need a dose of women’s liberation enlightenment.
Speaking of women’s liberation, the women spent most of their time nearly naked or completely naked, as you see in this photo of a massage from a semi-dressed woman. The men weren’t the only ones in sexist parts.
Okay, enough complaining about the state of women’s lib in the 1960s. There were some good parts to Ascension.
The action scenes were exciting, the special effects looked great, the ship itself was fabulous. Great sets. There was attention grabbing excitement at moments.
The characters and parts that Gil Bellows and Lauren Lee Smith played were my favorites. However, if this show makes it to series, which seems to have been the aim of this 3 part opening, these two may not even be there. Sigh.
Cliffhangers Everywhere You Look
Might as well talk about the possibility of going to series. There were many so cliffhangers at the end of the 6 hours, that SyFy must be thinking of keeping on with the show as a series. Teenager Crista (Ellie O’Brien) has some sort of powers that can transport people to other places with mental effort only. The man in charge of the experiment on Earth, Harris Enzmann (Gil Bellows), keeps saying Crista is the purpose of the whole social experiment. There is one small issue – her mental powers put everyone in danger because her brain blows up just about everything on the ship.
Samantha (the Lauren Lee Smith character) gets one of the men from the ship, Stokes (Brad Carter) off the ship and out into the wilds of 21st Century America with its seedy motels, quick stop liquor stores, and a full moon. We don’t know how he’s going to fare.
By the end of various disasters on the ship, Viondra is in charge, not her husband. If the show does become an ongoing series, I could certainly applaud the idea of a female captain.
A security officer who is smarter than your average cop, Aaron Gault (Brandon P Bell), is somewhere undisclosed – sent there by Crista and her superbrain.
We don’t know if Harris will still be in charge, if Crista will fly them all to Alpha Centauri on brain waves, or if Stokes will spill the story of this elaborate experiment to the world.
In short, the six hours we saw in 3 nights on SyFy were basically season 1.
Although I was a bit put off by some of the early parts of Ascension, I liked it better and better as it went along. If it does become a series, I’ll watch. Bring on season 2.