Another Life season 2, episode 5 recap – “A Better Earth” colonization

October 14, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 1
Netflix, TV Recaps


“A Better Earth” is a head-scratcher, undermining not only its characters but also its themes.

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“A Better Earth” is a head-scratcher, undermining not only its characters but also its themes.

This recap of Another Life season 2, episode 5, “A Better Earth”, contains spoilers. 

“A Better Earth” is something that most of us have longed for at one time or another, but I like to think that if we thought we’d found one, we wouldn’t be as eager to make ourselves at home there as Cas and company are in this episode. First impressions are good, at least. The atmosphere is breathable and free from pathogens. But as with anything, first impressions aren’t everything. The limits of what you can see aren’t necessarily the limits of what’s out there. The fact that nobody considers this is an odd flaw in the show’s writing that at this point I can’t say I’m surprised by.

Another Life season 2, episode 5 recap

A lot was made of Cas and co. being marooned at the tail end of the previous episode, but by factory resetting William and fixing the FTL drive, it’s an intriguing dilemma subverted pretty much instantly. The real issue becomes whether or not the planet can be colonized, whether or not it’s safe. There are some bizarre assumptions made here, such as that the entire planet only has one apex predator and it’s a pretty tame thing that humans could easily overpower. As I’ve stated before, picking at scientific accuracy really isn’t my thing, but this is such a preposterous view of basic ecology that it undermines all these characters, who’re ostensibly smart.

This is all building towards Paula launching the colony pods and heading down there to just… live, I guess, but she almost completely derails the entire mission in the meantime. And it’s such a terrible idea. Paula has already displayed she’s perfectly willing to open fire on a creature quite clearly trying to communicate. It’s very hard to see this whole thing as anything other than a cheap way to try and manufacture some drama, to drum up a conflict for Niko to preside over. As if there isn’t enough going on.

I can respect Another Life for really trying to hammer home the idea that humans shouldn’t implicitly be the most trustworthy species in the galaxy just because we recognize them. While Paula is messing about like this, the Achaia are once again proposing peace on Earth, gifting Erik a healing orb – further to Jana’s healed… everything – on the proviso that humanity doesn’t explore beyond their means again. It feels earnest, which makes the deliberation over whether the Achaia can be trusted feel like typical human arrogance. They’re different, and we don’t understand them, therefore they must be lying – if that sentiment isn’t integral to our nature, then I don’t know what is.

Paula and then Iara’s mutiny, resulting in Niko’s self-sacrifice in allowing the half of the Salvare that doesn’t include her to wormhole their way back to Earth, seems designed to illustrate this point. But the worthwhile theme is constantly undercut by wobbly execution.

You can stream Another Life season 2, episode 5, “A Better Earth”, exclusively on Netflix

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1 thought on “Another Life season 2, episode 5 recap – “A Better Earth”

  • October 16, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    I think she shot the alien because she didn’t want it to give more indication that it was not a “wild animal” or some stupid 20th century binary s**t about the exceptionalism of peoplehood over beasthood even tho science has repeatedly pushed back against that idea and that it will very probably keep pushing back against it by the time we could possibly get the tech to colonize other worlds..

    I did find that quite funny that in the same episode, there’s a guy saying humanity learned from their mistake and then the leader of the colon being smug about dominating apex predators and not having any problem about destroying ecosystems to build housing and have an agriculture instead of trying to find a desert with as little life as possible and terraform it..

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