An astronaut returns to Earth to discover pieces of her life seem to be missing in Apple TV's moody slow-burn series starring Noomi Rapace.

With the possible exception of The Twilight Zone, television hasn’t explored too many space psychological dramas, content to let the big screen lead the way with Gravity, Solaris, Interstellar and The Astronaut’s Wife.

Apple TV+ series Constellation has a premise not too dissimilar to the latter with an astronaut returning to Earth to find things have changed….

The series by Peter Harness (Wallander, The War of the Worlds, Doctor Who) stars Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, You Won’t Be Alone) as Swedish astronaut Jo, working on an international space station, apparently in the near-present.

Working alongside a small team of other international astronauts, she is thousands of kilometres from husband and teacher Magnus (James D’Arcy), with whom she has been having some difficulties, and young daughter Alice (Rosie Coleman).

But an accident in space throws everything into peril, prompts an abandon ship and runs the risk of Jo not making it back to Earth.

Meanwhile former astronaut turned senior NASA man Henry (Jonathan Banks), who liaises with mission control bases in Europe and Kazhakstan, is less concerned with the personnel in jeopardy than in bringing home precious cargo.

Just what is he up to….?

But Jo has undergone inexplicable experiences during her final hours in space which sees her hallucinating -perhaps- or living in alternate states. These play upon her emotions and longing for daughter Alice.

Back on Earth she is still shook from the incidents in space, trying to rationalise ghostly experiences in her daily life and restore missing pieces of her life. There are also clearly government secrets being suppressed, particularly by the Russians under a wily mission control leader Irena (Barbara Sukowa).

All the space station sets look very authentic with their gravity-defying tech, and Noomi Rapace is suitably moody and calm which lures you into her fragmented and unsettling world.

I have no idea if Jonathan Banks’ Henry is seeking some miracle of longevity from beyond, but the series does seem to highlight his mortality. With his brooding presence and richly, resonant voice he surely makes for an ideal antagonist.

Yet the storytelling is uneven and sluggish. So while the visuals and cast are present, it remains to be seen if the story will be worth the destination.

Maybe that’s why film is a tighter, big screen forum for this genre after all? I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

Constellation three episodes Wednesday February 20 then weekly on Apple TV+.

2 Responses

  1. We’re up to episode two and it’s living up to your review. It’s slow paced and definitely builds the tension, but it’s not going at light speed toward its conclusion.

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