Another Life season 2 review – one life too many second chance

October 14, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, TV Reviews
2.5

Summary

Another Life feels like one too many for the second outing of this derivative sci-fi drama.

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2.5

Summary

Another Life feels like one too many for the second outing of this derivative sci-fi drama.

This review of Another Life Season 2 is spoiler-free. 


Just like you could never underestimate Another Life’s ability to contrive another scenario in which Katee Sackhoff had to be in her underwear, you can never underestimate the appetite for science-fiction. Thus, a show that wasn’t particularly well-received critically or even amongst the general audience received a second season, and, well, here we are. A good idea? Not exactly. But just like with the first season, you can’t fault Another Life for its pulpy, energetic sense of self, even if you can fault it for basically everything else.

The idea of casting Sackhoff, a beloved queen of Nerddom, as a get-s**t-done morally ambiguous space captain, remains a good one. She carried most of the first outing on her healthily muscled back, making the tough choices Ellen Ripley style and even getting some of her crewmates killed in the process. It was exactly the kind of role Sackhoff seems born to play, and she plays it so enthusiastically that you’re willing to overlook a lot of wobbly science, thin characterization, and questionable plotting. However, nobody is good enough that you’d be willing to overlook all of that stuff – at least not all at once.

Ten episodes are just, let’s be frank, far too many. Not too too many, but objectively too many, such that every plot and character turn is dragged out just a bit too long every time. Admittedly this second batch of ten episodes is shorter overall, so the experience is breezier, but it lacks that engaging sense of mystery the first season has because the threat and the stakes are much clearer. That makes room for even more sci-fi tropes that Another Life collects like Funko Pops, but the journey is still a bit too rough to keep them all neatly in a row.

Speaking of the stakes, the second season finds the crew of the Salvare having witnessed the destruction of an entire planet by the Achaians and, after a daring but somewhat implausible escape through the resultant debris, finding themselves the only thing standing between peace and potentially planet-destroying war. It’s a big deal, but it doesn’t feel like much of one, since the vast majority of problems in this show are solved by standing around and having arguments, and now and again we indulge in what is basically a space-case-of-the-week standalone outing – an obvious consequence of having more episodes than plot to fill them with.

The messiness of the plotting isn’t just in the high-level stuff but also in the simplest dynamics and interactions between the crew; development only really occurs as a way to fill time between the action, and the action is largely calibrated to keep people bingeing, mostly by wheeling out cliff-hangers that have simple resolutions in the next chapter. It’s the Dan Brown school of narrative design, and it’s especially transparent when you can see the plot’s seams.

It looks okay, or at least the exterior shots do, but the interior of the Salvare just looks and feels like a set to me, which is a bit distracting, as are the obvious references to other sci-fi stalwarts in the plotting and the set-pieces. All genre media works like that, obviously, but you can have too much of a good thing, especially if it’s fed to you in an artless way. Another Life Season 2 is nothing if not derivative, and while it’s watchable enough, it never quite manages to rise above that level.

You can stream Another Life Season 2 exclusively on Netflix.

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