“Negative Return“ is a much stronger effort that, forgive the pun, hits the right notes on the gravity of the situations the team finds themselves in.
This recap of Netflix’s Away season 1, episode 2, “Negative Return”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
As Away episode 2 opens, Lu whispers to Misha, in Russian (she is a fluent one) before he goes out on his spacewalk, “Don’t let her kill us.” While, at the same time, Emma (Hilary Swank) gives Ram (Ray Panthaki, sporting the greatest beard since Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz) a wry smile after he whispers words that are like sinful comfort food: “I have complete faith in you.” Shortly after Emma orders Misha to switch to a private line after they wait to be let out into the great unknown; “You have to trust me,” she tells him. Misha responds, “Trust is earned Commander.”
That’s the grey cloud that has hung over the mission since the middle of the pilot. The team’s leader and the most experienced member just can’t get along. Well, Emma acts as professional as possible, Misha arrogantly busts her balls every chance he gets. Misha still talks down to her, even in front of subordinates. He continues to insert himself as the authority in every decision, which doesn’t help matters when he is right all the time. Of course, when they go outside to fix the ship because they can’t afford to lose any more panels, Emma asks Misha to trust her and earns his respect when she pulls a Tom Cruise by untethering herself from him, flipping over a panel, and begins a truly tense and nerve-racking scene when she tries to untether a metal cable that is preventing the panel’s mobility, so they can deploy the array. Swank loses her grip when she moves the cable, with Misha springing into action, asking her to trust him and untether from the panel, so he can pull her in — trust is earned indeed.
“Negative Return” continues to use the device of flashbacks that can sometimes feel like filler by revealing significant character backstories For example, Misha hints at the great sacrifices he made to get to the point of having the most hours logged in space. He missed his own wife’s death and funeral because, after all, men like Misha are driven by their work. Unfortunately, his daughter, even though very young at the time, still remembers and has not forgiven him (as a satellite call with her tells us). The device in the pilot was structured in a way that reminded me of some West Wing’s season premieres, but this episode settles in Lost-like reveals. The problem is these really offer nothing in a way that’s as satisfying as it nearly could be.
Speaking of family, Matt (The Good Wife’s Josh Charles) gets some news that equates to a glass half full or half-empty variety — he has made a good recovery, but he will be hospitalized for at least two months. This means Alexis (Talitha Bateman) will have to stay with the family, Melissa (Lincoln Rhyme’s Monique Gabriela Curnen, even though she will always be Detective Beaumont from The Unusuals to me). At we can’t help but wonder if Matt doesn’t pull through by the time Emma comes home, will she hold the same grudge Misha’s daughter is holding against him?
Away season 1, episode 2 is a much stronger effort that, forgive the pun, hits the right notes on the gravity of the situations the team finds themselves in. While Misha and Emma have come to small, mutual respect, how long will that last once something even more serious endangers the team?
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M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.