Away‘s fifth episode, “Space Dogs”, reaches hump day as the crew is halfway towards their destination and they need to make peace with what the future holds… for better or worse.
This recap of Netflix’s Away season 1, episode 5, “Space Dogs”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It’s a very special holiday episode titled “Space Dogs” for the gang in space. While I’m a little surprised NASA allowed storage and room for Christmas themed decorations (or a government-funded agency allowing the celebration of a non-secular holiday). Oh well, who cares, because Elvis Presley is playing on the radio as his mellow and poignant Blue Holiday melody plays across the tin can, Kwesi (Ato Essandoh) is hanging up some decorations and one can’t help but wonder if the tinsel is going to float through the cracks of the space shuttle panels, start a fire, and end the mission early. While floating around and putting up the final touches, his foot slips, his shoe comes off, and what might be the worst case of athlete’s foot we have ever witnessed, a bottom slice of his foot is seen floating past his horrified face. Yes, a Blue Christmas indeed in Away episode 5.
Ram tells Kwesi that certain parts of our body in zero gravity will come off in atrophy. Meanwhile, Ram gives Misha (Mark Ivanir) another eye test, and it has been getting worse. One would think if eyesight issues are so common for people going to space, with this being the first mission to Mars, they would have not thought to bring the only astronaut alive when Boris Yeltsin was still in High School. But there is no replacement for cosmonaut experience. If that wasn’t enough, Emma (Hillary Swank) gets to play doctor with Ram (Ray Panthaki), who asks her about her family, but she shuts him down quickly. He laments that he is sorry if he made her uncomfortable, sharing his family tragedy with her, but she has shut him out since, and that “doesn’t feel great.” Instead of telling him to mind his business and concentrate on the mission, she rambles on about wanting him not to get the wrong idea, and they have enough to worry about like being a mom, wife, leading the crew on a lonely holiday… we don’t need any complications. Ram is confused, but I am not, and the only one who seems to be flustered is our good old commander.
Matt (Josh Charles) is now home, getting ready for a family holiday dinner by preparing to smoke his Christmas brisket; also, let’s face it, is Matt not the world’s perfect guy? He is a former Air Force pilot, plays the piano, designed the space shuttle, can cook a mean brisket, and sacrifices his long-term health for his daughter’s immediate future—get the man a Klondike bar. However, this doesn’t give him any break from Alexis (Talitha Bateman) as she sneaks out of the house with her new crush Isaac (Adam Irigoyen) who is taking her to someplace mysterious and exciting. As they drive away, she gets nervous, wondering where they are going, and if she made the right choice to sneak out on Christmas Eve. He, though, is a better guy than we thought, as he pulls into a church parking lot to a midnight mass with his family (the balls on this kid).
Matt, in the meantime, wakes up for a call with Emma, and she has put on some lipstick for a bit of normalcy. She shows him how the house looks, asks her to play him a song on the piano, and after they say good night falls out of his chair trying to grab some decorations. He then hears the daughter he thought was sleeping in bed outside, coming back in from sneaking out and opens the garage door to catch her. “I just felt like it was too much. Like I couldn’t breathe,” she tells him the next day.
Away episode 5, “Space Dogs”, ends with each crew member saying their good-byes because they have reached the point where calls and messages won’t be timely as they travel farther into the great unknown. Misha tears up at his forgiveness from his daughter, but the real showstopper is Alexis finally letting all her feelings come tumbling out when she talks to her mother, letting her know she is mad at her, and she knows it is self. Emma comforts her, knowing this is part of the grieving process in a way, having to let go of the fear, and holding onto a bit of faith she will come home. After a bit of motherly advice, the connection is gone, leaving both crying and not knowing what the future holds… for better or worse.
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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.