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Series / Another Life (2019)

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Another Life is an American science fiction drama web television series created by Aaron Martin that stars Katee Sackhoff, Selma Blair, Tyler Hoechlin, Blu Hunt and Justin Chatwin.

The series follows the story of an astronaut and a space crew, who are on a mission to investigate the origins of an alien artifact that mysteriously appeared on Earth. As the crew attempt to search for alien intelligence, they face inexplicable horrors that might signal the end of their mission.

It premiered on Netflix on July 25, 2019. A second season is in the works.

Numerous tropes below provide mild spoilers simply by being listed. You Have Been Warned.


This show provides examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: It's not yet stated when the show is set, but its technological level is mostly the same as what we had when the show was released, with some notable exceptions. Smart homes are more prevalent, space technology has taken a serious leap even without factoring in the Salvare and its FTL drive, Artificial Intelligence exists, and life-like holographic projections are in widespread use.
  • Aborted Arc: Season 2 does this with August's pregnancy, as she and Oliver are incinerated by a plasma leak in the first episode.
  • Achilles' Heel: Achaian technology is made from a material invulnerable to damn near everything, but otherwise harmless neutrinos, at high concentrations, tear it apart on a molecular level and is likewise fatal to the Achaia.
  • Adult Fear: Having to leave your kid behind, not knowing if you'll ever meet again in person, certainly qualifies. And then Niko's and Erik's daughter Jana gets hit by one of the alien artifact's defense mechanisms that not only busts her eardrums and inflicts other internal injuries, it also gives her advanced leukemia out of nowhere. Erik is understandably horrified and pissed off by this turn of events.
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  • Adventures In Coma Land: One episode has Niko trapped in a dream caused by a malfunctioning soma capsule.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Albeit not intentionally, William ends up being this at several points. While he is designed to be helpful and protective of the crew, several very weird and counter-intuitive choices in his programming ends up rendering him a threat to them. The most egregious examples of this include:
    • William can initiate safety protocols without the crew or the captain's approval, would would be sensible enough in a situation where the captain or the crew is unconscious or otherwise unable to give him orders, but neither the crew nor the captain have the authority to override his safety protocols once he has first started them, which endangers both the ship and the crew when he malfunctions and decides to respond to a threat that actually isn't there.
    • William can respond emotionally to situations, which is, all things considered, a very good idea, since he is supposed to interact with a human crew, and it would certain help in such situation to come across to them as simply another human. The problem is that William doesn't simulate emotions, as one would reasonably expect; he actually feels them and cannot turn them off. This proves a terrible idea, when he falls in love with Niko, has "sex" with her (well, as close as an insubstantial hologram can get to having sex with a human) when she is high on drugs, and is rejected by her when she comes down from her trip and realizes that she was acting irrationally when she had a "tryst" with him. William responds by having an emotional breakdown over her rejection, and shuts himself down, becoming unavailable in a situation where his absence endangers the crew.
  • Aliens Speaking English: When the crew arrives on Zakir, the natives can't speak English, because their method of speech looks to be incompatible with human speech. One of their AIs, on the other hand, is able to speak English on account of decoding transmissions from Earth.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Well, the life-sustaining ones certainly are. Fortunately the show also visits celestial bodies that don't fit this description, keeping things interesting.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen:
    • The second episode has the Salvare crew dealing with the very first issue after almost getting cooked by a sun: life support malfunctioning and venting a significant amount of air, leaving them with five hours to find some place to mine for resources.
    • Sasha attempts to shut off all life support when he turns against the crew, but is foiled by multiple redundancies on each deck that are designed to prevent someone from doing exactly that, at least unless the entire crew deliberately puts their mind to it.
    • The rogue AI Gabriel does this to the crew in season 2, knocking them all out. He notes it will take a few minutes before brain damage to set in, long enough for Iara to disable him and restore life support.
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: Zayn has an androgynous gender expression, and is never called by any pronouns. While they're likely meant to be nonbinary, this hasn't been said onscreen yet. Zayn is portrayed by Australian nonbinary actor JayR Tinaco.
  • Anyone Can Die: Don't get too attached to any of the characters, even longtimers can die. In the first episode of Season 2 alone, Beauchamp gets crushed by a piece of Zakir, and Oliver and Summer are incinerated by the Salvare's plasma leak.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: All the Salvare's really advanced systems, especially the FTL drive and the Artificial Gravity, are powered by exotic matter that's produced by an onboard particle accelerator.
  • Artificial Gravity: Part of the deep space exploration deluxe package aboard the Salvare. Sasha claims that to someone not used to it, walking on AG plating feels like walking on a frat house floor, in that it feels sticky.
  • Artificial Intelligence: The Salvare has an A.I. called William who controls the ship while the crew is in somatic sleep. It interacts with the crew though the holographic projection of a human being.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The more you know about what the human nervous system actually is, the more ridiculous it becomes that you can rip it out through someone's neck.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: In the second episode the Salvare's oxygen storage needs replenishing. They scan nearby planets and head to one with 10% oxygen atmosphere for this. The oxygen the crew collects is in the form of crystals in the ground for unexplained reasons. This calls into question why the atmosphere matters in the first place. The composition of the planet's crust is a completely different matter. And if they have the means of extracting chemically bound oxygen from minerals, they should be able to use pretty much any space rock they come across, since mineral oxides are literally common as dirt in the universe.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: The crew has to expose themselves to gamma radiation to kill an alien disease they have, which causes them physical pain and makes them go sterile in addition to getting rid of the microbes. In reality that level of exposure to gamma radiation causes horrific burns at least, plus possibly cancer and bone marrow being unable to produce more blood cells. (Not that it can't cause infertility, but if you're exposed to gamma radiation, whether you can have kids after is really going to be the least of your problems.)
  • Artistic License – Physics: The show takes a lot of liberties with the laws of physics as we know them, but what stands out most is the Salvare's sensor array. Being able to map a complete solar system by analyzing the dimming of its star in seconds is highly unrealistic, and being able to zoom in on a planet's surface close enough to resolve individual trees from four light-years away, in real time, is stretching the Willing Suspension of Disbelief to the breaking point.
  • Asteroid Miners: Seems to be a lucrative occupation in the future. August's parents are mentioned to own an asteroid mining business on a personal asteroid that makes them enough cash to live a life of luxury.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Not asteroid per se, but the proto-comets in an Oort cloud are portrayed as being so densely packed together that they form an actual barrier.
  • As You Know...: Niko and Erik's introduction scene has the former reminding the latter of what his job is.
  • Balkanize Me: The dialogue implies that this has been going on, as while trying to communicate with the Artifact on the alien moon Sasha mentions that there are 213 nations on Earth, as opposed to the current 195. This happened despite other countries coming together, like the Koreas forming United Korea.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Short-lived astrobiologist Julian, upon realizing that the alien virus he's infected with is about to kill him horribly in a matter of seconds, screams at Bernie to throw him out the airlock before that happens. Bernie obliges very reluctantly.
  • Big Eater: Of all the people aboard the Salvare, Bernie is hit hardest by Niko's rationing of their supplies.
  • Body Horror:
    • Petra dies when an extraterrestrial virus pulls her nervous system out of her body through her neck. Yikes. The bloody heap then attempts to crawl off on its own before the atmosphere kills it.
    • Michelle's death by fatal exposure to exotic matter has her developing burns, black fingernails, blood bursting from under her skin in places, and while she is giving her last words she is skeletonizing. By the time Nico finds her, she's mostly melted into a puddle of bloody goo.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: August is incredulous to find out she's pregnant, because the crew had been told they were all sterile from radiation exposure. However, it appears that isn't the case for her and one of her partners.
  • Character Tic: Niko tends to fiddle with her wedding band when she's nervous while her husband Erik keeps muttering to himself under similar circumstances. The latter is also constantly toying with a ball pen while at work.
  • Chest Burster: The alien virus picked up on the rogue planet turns its host's own nervous system into an ambulatory mass that rips its way out through the neck. The scene in question is a clear homage to the original dinner scene in Alien.
  • Cleavage Window: August doesn't seem to own tops that don't have one.
  • Cool Spaceship:
    • The mysterious alien spaceship that kicks off the plot looks like a constantly revolving Möbius loop forged from a coppery metal. Then it touches down on a remote field, digs in and turns into an antenna that looks like a giant pile of cut diamonds.
    • The Salvare is also pretty nifty, mostly on account of being mankind's first FTL-capable spaceship on what appears to be its maiden voyage.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Ian Yerxa's plan in the first episode to have the Salvare slingshot around a sun with the FTL shield bubble deployed to protect it from incoming flares has a projected 11% chance of not working but Niko refuses because she thinks it's too high a chance. Yerxa is so sure that it's a workable plan that he spends a significant chunk of the episode undermining Niko's authority so he can implement the maneuver, finishing with a full-blown mutiny and tossing Niko in a soma chamber. But it ends in a surprisingly realistic way , however — sure, eleven percent sounded like low enough odds to make it worth trying, but when confronted with reality the situation becomes too unpredictable and the Salvare is nearly destroyed.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: A very stoned Niko attempts to have one late in Season 1 but is interrupted before she gets far.
  • Death World:
    • The rogue exoplanet the Salvare explores in Episode 2 looks innocuous at a glance but has a moon in such close orbit that its gravity pulls giant amounts of magma to the surface every time it passes overhead, turning the whole planet into a deathtrap at regular intervals.
    • The extrasolar moon where the Salvare stops to resupply foodstuffs. It has spores that make people stoned, which wouldn't be all that bad, if not for the fact that the moon also has very aggressive flora, and that there's a nasty breed of space bugs around.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Yerxa's plan to use the ship's FTL shield to protect the ship as it performs a slingshot around a blue giant suffers from one critical flaw. When the shield is overtaxed, it drains power from the FTL drive to compensate, and the ship is left in a decaying orbit with an inoperable FTL drive.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Oh, you managed to disable the weird alien artifact that landed on your planet? Hope you didn't need that planet anymore because the Achaia just blew it up.
  • Downer Ending: Season One ends on a bleak note. A significant portion of the Salvare crew is dead, Niko's daughter Jana is dying, the mysterious aliens are revealed to be bent on destroying us for reasons unknown, they don't hesitate to blow up whole planets that resist them, and a turned Harper Glass has just begun making their attack on Earth easier by spreading a false message of peace to all of humanity.
  • Dying as Yourself: Sasha, after being foiled in his attempt to destroy the ship, fights off the influence of the Achaia implant long enough to grab Zayn and force Bennie to kill him to save hir life.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Almost everyone aboard the Salvare has serious personality clashes with someone else. Apparently nobody conducted any kind of psychological screening when assembling the crew.
  • EMP: The alien spaceship's arrival in the pilot episode shorts out electronics in the general area. Doesn't seem to have longer-lasting effects, though, and there's no mention of serious problems or casualties caused by it.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Zakir, the planet orbiting Pi Canis Majoris, gets blown up by the Achaia in retribution for the Salvare disabling their local artifact antenna, ending the first season on a decidedly horrifying note.
  • Easily Forgiven: When she reassumes command after the attempted mutiny, Niko decides to forgive the mutineers who violently overthrew her, despite having every good reason to order them replaced and send back in stasis (which is an entirely open option; the ship is mentioned to have enough crewmembers in stasis that the mutineers could feasibly be replaced). Most egregiously, this includes Ian Yerxa, the guy who lead the mutiny, despite him staging said mutiny for entirely egoistical reasons and endangering both the ship and the crew during his brief time in charge, by causing the exact scenario Niko was attempting to prevent by refusing his plan in the first place. Ian even tells her that he wouldn't have done the same, had he been in her position, and later even tries to stab her In the Back.
  • The Empire: The first season finale reveals that the Achaian Realm stretches across hundreds of lightyears and controls 336 star systems and counting.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: It's a safe bet that wherever the Salvare crew goes, something will be out to get them immediately no matter how pretty, harmless or inviting the place might look from a distance.
  • Evil Is Petty: When the Artifact on Zakir is destroyed, the Achaia send five ships to completely destroy the planet, even though they had already killed nearly the entire population on it.
  • Eye Scream: When a possessed Sasha attempts to extract information on how to disable William and destroy the Salvare from Javier, he extends drills from his eyes to jab them into Javier's eyes. It's as disgusting as it sounds like, doesn't get an explanation on how it is supposed to work in the first place, and to make the weirdness complete, Sasha's father witnesses the whole scene from Earth via the alien artifact.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When the entire crew gets infected with a deadly alien virus, Niko activates an emergency protocol that calls for the complete decontamination of the Salvare including any and all currently awake personnel. Everyone complies without much fanfare and eventually convenes in an airlock to be spaced. Fortunately, William and Bernie discover a cure just in time to prevent that from happening.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The lone exoplanet from Episode 2 turns out to have a moon in lethally low orbit, something William completely failed to notice due to heavy damage to the Salvare's sensor banks. The resulting cataclysm almost costs half the protagonists their lives before Niko goes Big Damn Heroes on them.
  • Failsafe Failure: The manual coolant locks on the Salvare's particle accelerator can be remotely overridden on the bridge. Bernie has to physically stab the interface cables with a screwdriver to stop the saboteur from immediately undoing his efforts to save the ship.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Salvare can travel faster than light, originally expecting to cover the approximately 96.5 light years to the Pi Canis Majoris system in three months. Going by the visual effects, the prominent use of exotic matter and how the FTL bubble accumulates enormous amounts of energy at its front that is violently released upon return to realspace, it's all but stated to be an Alcubierre Drive of sorts.
  • First Contact: The humans attempt to do this on two fronts: on Earth scientists seek to communicate with the artifact, while the Salvare travels through space to seek to contact its creators directly.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: This is taken Up to Eleven: when Erik enters the Artifact, the Achaia communicate with him using one of his memories to provide a familiar setting.
  • Gaia's Lament: From what can be gleaned from the characters' conversations, sea levels on Earth have risen massively, probably as a consequence of global warming. Coastal population centers like Washington D.C. and Sankt Petersburg are mentioned to be completely flooded, and the resulting societal disruption seems to be predictably severenote .
  • Going Critical: The Salvare's particle accelerator almost does this at least twice in Season One alone. The first time results in Michelle's death by Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: William himself points out that he's thinking and experiencing things his creators never programmed into him, and he's quite confused about being able to be confused about this. For instance, he's beginning to resent the crew going into soma because he's feeling lonely without them. He eventually falls in love with Niko, has virtual sex with her, goes through a nasty breakup of sorts, reconciles with her, and unintentionally creates an A.I. daughter that considers William her mother.
  • Handicapped Badass: Niko temporarily losing her sight at one point doesn't prevent her from beating the living shit out of an Ax-Crazy Michelle when the latter attempts to throttle her in her quarters. Granted, Niko is a trained soldier while her opponent isn't, but it's still impressive.
  • Harmful Healing: The only way to completely kill the alien virus is to have the crew briefly expose themselves to direct solar radiation. The best cast scenario is that they all end up sterile.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Several, but Michelle's is arguably the most noteworthy and the hardest-hitting one.
  • High-Voltage Death:
    • Ian Yerxa leaves the stage as a Decoy Antagonist Starscream this way, courtesy of a kick by Niko and some arc electricity from malfunctioning instrumentation. It's not lacking in Body Horror, either — the entire upper half of Yerxa's body is carbonized and Bernie says four episodes later (a few days In-Universe) that the ship still smells of burnt flesh.
    • Bernie almost suffers a similar fate while trying to save the ship from yet another calamity.
  • Hope Spot: The Achaia are revealed to be omnicidal galactic conquerors with incredibly advanced technology, but their artifact antennas can be destroyed to break their hold on a planet, which the Salvare crew proves on Zakir. Just as they prepare to take the fight to other Achaia-occupied worlds, five Achaia ships warp in and utterly destroy the planet, demonstrating without a doubt what happens to anyone who defies them. Cue Cliffhanger for Season Two.
  • Human Popsicle: The crew of the Salvare is put into something called “somatic sleep” while the ship is traveling at FTL. It's unclear how exactly it works, but it's stated early on that it stops the sleepers' aging process.
  • Hypocrite: William comes close to destroying the Salvare through inaction while he's pouting over being treated as Just a Machine, but when a holographic simulation of Niko that he coded accidentally turns into a second, fully sentient A.I., he merrily orders her deletion once he has what he needed her for.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Nothing but, especially among the female cast. Niko is pretty much the only person aboard the Salvare that dresses sensibly most of the time, and that's probably due to her military background. The other women including the engineers tend to dress in outfits more suited to a fancy party than work on a spaceship. Zayn is introduced wearing heeled knee-high boots while on duty.
  • Idiot Ball: There are many examples.
    • General Dubois assigned Niko to command the mission, replacing Ian, but left Ian on board, despite his obvious and outspoken resentment at serving under his replacement. He mutinies at the first opportunity.
    • Despite the vital importance of the mission, no one apparently bothered to do psychological evaluations of the crew, many of whom are clearly unsuitable to working in a high-stress environment.
    • Even before the mission, the Space Agency did away with military discipline, creating a work environment where commanders can no longer rely on having their decisions implemented.
    • The crew of the Salvare repeatedly ignore basic precautions, such as maintaining the integrity of their suits when on alien planets
    • Ian commits mutiny in order to implement a high-risk plan. After Niko regains command, he tries it again, even though his plan proved to be a complete failure, for exactly the reason why Niko said it wouldn't work and he has no viable alternative.
    • The crew goes along with Ian's mutiny despite his only argument being that his plan is high risk and that his willingness to take risks is supposed to make him a more suitable commander.
    • Niko allowed Ian to walk around freely after his mutiny instead of putting him back in cryo-sleep.
    • When Niko reveals that she has accidentally killed Ian, she doesn't include the very important detail that the reason he ended up dying was because she was defending herself against him as he was trying to stab her In the Back. Instead, she just justifies his death by vaguely referring to him as "a threat". Her ambiguous wording only manages to make it sound like she straight up executed him in cold blood, making the crew distrustful of her.
    • The nearly-lethal incompetence surrounding the decision to program William with A) the ability to suffer debilitating levels of heartbreak over a one night stand and B) to give him access to hazardous safety protocols that the captain cannot override.
  • Inappropriately Close Comrades: Zigzagged. Romantic relationships between military personnel in the same chain of command seem to be as forbidden as they are today, but nobody cares much about the Salvare crew getting it on with each other. Niko even supports it since it allows them to blow off steam in their highly stressful situation.
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: The Salvare's EVA suits have large visors with internal illumination to make it easier for the audience to tell the characters apart.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Harper Glass runs an independent news blog that is one of the most respected outlets in the country. Erik has an extreme dislike of her due to how she treated Niko after the Saturn disaster, though he comes around to working with her later on.
  • It's All About Me: This is revealed as the main motivation of the Achaia. They're willing to grant paradise to those that take their deal, but they want space for themselves because they hate organic life.
  • I Want Grandkids: Given a dark twist when August reveals that her parents sent her to Canada to extract 26 eggs from her ovaries before she left Earth. They didn't spend the money to give their daughter peace of mind, but because they wanted to make sure the family line will continue even in case of August's death on the mission.
  • Jerkass: At the very least, Ian and Michelle are aggressively antagonistic when confronted with the slightest amount of stress.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual:
    • It turns out Oliver's girlfriend only exists in VR.
    • The same episode has William hooking up with Niko for a round of hologram-assisted intimacy. Niko's still stoned out of her gourd when it happens and therefore predictably disturbed the next morning when the recollection hits her. William, however, got exactly what he wanted until Niko orders him to delete all memories of the event from his data banks.
  • Lady Swears-a-Lot: Michelle is a... quite spirited woman who can barely utter a sentence without a hard cuss word in it. Her incredibly foul mouth and her temper are lampshaded repeatedly by various crew members.
  • Laser Sight: Cas wields an assault rifle at one point that's decked out with three red laser sights mounted around the barrel shroud, one per Picatinny rail. It's as useless as it sounds (especially since the three beams point in wildly different directions), but seeing how the whole segment is a Shout-Out to Aliens, a triangle of red laser dots is probably meant to evoke the related Predator franchise. Also, it's All Just a Dream. The same episode shows a pistol with a single laser mounted high above the barrel on a sort of periscope. While more sensible than the triple lasers, it is still a highly impractical way to mount a laser sight.
  • Lingerie Scene:
    • Cas spends a significant chunk of screen time in her first episode walking around in her sports bra and shorts (because she has just been brought out of soma sleep).
    • Episode four has Niko, Zayn, Michelle and August all in their skivvies along with her.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Even Ian Yerxa's name alludes to him being a massive jerk.
    • The alien Achaia is almost a homophone with the Achaeans, the proverbial "Greeks bearing gifts" from The Trojan Cycle.
  • The Medic: Zayn, who serves as the ship's medic and has a hard time dealing with the new diseases they encounter.
  • Mildly Military: The majority of today's astronauts/cosmonauts/taikonauts/etc. have a military background, and space operations follow stringent, more or less military protocol. It's a bit ambiguous who controls the Salvare mission, but its leader holds the rank of general, so it's safe to assume that the military is running the show. The Salvare's crew, however, is about as far from military as it gets. Uniforms and dress codes were abolished over a decade earlier, discipline is lax (to put it mildly), at least one crew member has never even been in space before joining the mission, and matters of leadership come down to public votes and personal loyalties much more than actual rank.
  • Mind Rape: Sasha's dad calls Erik's first direct interaction with the aliens a "mind-fuck". What Sasha himself keeps doing to the Salvare's crew in the meantime is even worse and much more invasive.
  • More Than Mind Control: The Achaia take over other species using implants that attach to the host's brain and then drive them to act in the best interests of the Achaia. The implants don't outright control them, but instead amplify thoughts and feelings that will make the host behave in a way that benefits the Achaia.
  • The Mutiny: The Salvare goes through one in the first episode, and its fallout ends up being responsible for most of the drama that follows.
  • My Greatest Failure: Niko lost half her crew, among them her lover, on an ill-fated mission to Saturn. She's still beating herself up over it almost a decade later, with the trauma informing much of her emotional instability during the Salvare mission. That she also heavily regrets leaving her family on Earth for that mission doesn't help at all.
  • The Neidermeyer: Ian Yerxa, the Executive Officer of the Salvare, was originally appointed to be the mission commander and clearly constantly resents Niko Breckenridge for accepting the job and taking over his position, posting an idea to slingshot the Salvare around an unstable sun that he believes is Crazy Enough to Work and Niko is weak for not accepting it. He leads a mutiny, the plan fails so badly that a significant chunk of the first season is spent struggling with the Trauma Conga Line that it causes (massive damage to the ship, Almost Out of Oxygen, infection with an alien virus when exploring a planet to replenish said oxygen, and the list goes on), and even if it remains fuzzy enough that Niko has a well-justified My God, What Have I Done? reaction and the people who decry her action have a Jerkass Has a Point stance, Ian still picked up a screwdriver and walked right up to Niko with all signs that he was going to stab her in the back and take over. He doesn't makes it past the first episode as a result.
  • Nepotism: The only reason Sasha was appointed the Salvare's civilian government representative is because his father, the US Secretary of Defense, greased a lot of wheels to make it happen, in order to pave the way for Sasha's future presidency. This doesn't go over well with most of the crew, especially because he gets to enjoy a lot of comforts that they don't, like a private cabin for instance.
  • No Body Left Behind: When Michelle dies, all that's left behind is a pool of blood and a small pile of dissolved organic matter on the floor.
  • No Gravity for You: Thanks to a stowaway space bug, Niko ends up trapped in the shuttlebay with no gravity and a fire she can't put out. Cas manages to force the door open, only to fall victim to the lack of gravity herself when she turns a fire extinguisher on without considering physics, which sends her flying into a bulkhead from the recoil. She put the fire out, at least.
  • No Seatbelts: Technically, the ship does have seatbelts, but the characters often don't use them—in the first episode, they start the incredibly risky slingshot maneuver while everyone is just standing in the middle of the bridge. Additionally, while the pilot's chair has a real harness, the crash couches only have lap belts, which aren't really enough for the kind of g's a spaceship pulls.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The tropical fruit "rambutan" is used as a stand-in for an alien fruit.
  • Oh, Crap!: This is exactly August's reaction when she learns that she's pregnant by either Oliver or Javier.
  • Poor Communication Kills: When Niko tells the rest of the crew that she killed Ian, she manages to make it sound like she summarily executed him in private for his previous attempt at mutiny and for risking all their lives by putting the ship through a hazardous maneuver. She completely misses telling anyone that 1) Ian tried to stab her and she was acting in self defense, and 2) she did not intend to kill him, but her kick knocked him into damaged equipment which electrocuted him. Understandably this makes the crew antagonistic towards her.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Killing the alien virus by exposing the infected crew to a nearby star's gamma radiation turns out to be this. Everyone will live, but everyone's now sterile and will never be able to have children. Keep in mind that with the exception of Niko, who already has a daughter, everyone aboard the Savare is in their mid-twenties, and several of these characters explicitly mentioned wanting to have lots of kids. August, however, ends up pregnant anyway, thanks to she and one among her two partners beating the odds.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: General Dubois, the leader of the Salvare mission, may be a bit rough around the edges but is a reasonable and pragmatic person. When Erik leaks classified intel on the artifact to Harper Glass, leading to some Child Prodigy cracking the problem of how to contact the artifact, Dubois does threaten to fire his ass and send him to prison for the next 50 years (justified, considering the scope of his transgression), but she still lets him continue his work because he gets results and is the most likely to succeed.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When Sasha tries to get more information on their contingency plans from Niko, reasoning that as the diplomat he should be let in on them, Niko bluntly shuts him down as a waste of space who is only on the mission because his father, the Secretary of Defense, lobbied so many people to get Sasha a spot that they agreed just to get the man to shut up. For what it's worth, his father actually confirms the whole thing to be a publicity stunt that will be a good stepping stone to making his son a future president.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Cas used to run with a professional kidnapping gang in Brazil before Niko brought her into the Salvare mission, and Javier apparently has a rap sheet full of illegal hacking activities.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Despite her fragile emotional state, Niko Breckenridge is the rational and collected blue to Ian Yerxa's brash and spontaneous red. Once Cas is awake and Yerxa is dead, this is switched around somewhat, mostly due to Cas' reluctance to make important decisions.
  • Sadistic Choice: Too many to list. Just about every episode has at least one example.
  • Schizo Tech: The Salvare is a spaceship with an FTL drive, Artificial Gravity, an Artificial Intelligence and omnipresent hologram projectors, yet its crew uses hilariously bulky tablet computers that look like the technology was only recently invented. Its engine deck is also full of clunky, old-fashioned machinery no different from what you can find on contemporary seafaring vessels. As far as firearms are concerned, Ray Guns coexist peacefully with good old-fashioned FN P90 PDWs and similar ballistic slugthrowers.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Distance: The Salvare can't fly blind through a few light-years of black-matter space because they might hit a planet. The odds of that happening are so infinitesimally low that they defy calculation. As a matter of fact, it's highly unlikely that there is a planet anywhere in there.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • Apparently the Salvare's primary strategy in case of confirmed hostility from the aliens is to hightail it back to Earth. Justified of course by the Salvare being a nominally unarmed research and exploration vessel, not a warship.
    • When William's declaration of love to Niko falls flat, he retreats deep into a simulated world to cope with the pain, leaving the Salvare mostly defenseless until Niko barely manages to snap him out of his funk.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Far down the cynical side. Earth is an ecological ruin, mankind is still constantly fighting itself regardless, and then aliens show up. Cue Season One and everything going From Bad to Worse.
  • Space Clouds: A massive cloud of dark matter is between Pi Canis Majoris and Earth. Simply flying through it at FTL is out of the question, because they have no idea what's inside and they could run into a shrouded planet.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Out of oxygen? Out of food? Any other trouble? There is always a handy planet a few hours away.
  • Spaceship Slingshot Stunt: The first episode has the crew considering a slingshot around several stars to bypass a cloud of dark matter between them and their destination. Niko calls it off when the first blue giant on their list proves too dangerous to slingshot around, but Yerxa mutinies to do it anyway because he thinks his plan to protect the ship will work. The fallout from it failing miserably drives much of the plot for the rest of the season.
  • Spicy Latina: Michelle. She's a very beautiful Latina who has a fiery temper (but with a soft side), wears sexy clothing and is quite tough.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Zakir look like giant, spindly, vaguely humanoid bats about one head taller than the average human. Predictably, their language is utterly incomprehensible to humans, and vice versa.
  • The Stoner: Bernie starts "self-medicating" from a vape pen to dull the pain of a serious leg injury. He seems to have brought a considerable stash of "oregano" along for the ride, but skips it in favor of the hallucinogenic blossom the crew found on the Earth-like moon where Bernie suffered his leg wound.
  • Subspace Ansible: The Salvare can communicate with Earth in real time, assuming its comm system isn't currently busted.
  • Tempting Fate: "I think I'm gonna like this planet", said Bernie shortly after reaching an Earthlike moon. Cue Worm Sign behind him and a host of additional trouble ahead.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: There's a threeway between August, Oliver and Javier in "How the Light Gets Lost". However, she's more into Oliver, with Javier being left out when they have sex again.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Threatened a couple times, performed a couple times as well.
  • Time Skip: There's a jump of six months between the alien ship's arrival and the introduction of the protagonists, followed by another one-month gap between the Salvare's departure and the actual plot kicking off.
  • Twofer Token Minority: The female cast is quite diverse. Michelle is Latina. Cas is Black. Azami is East Asian. The cast also includes Zayn, who's a nonbinary person of color (the actor's of Filipino-Australian background). August is also played by a Native American, though that isn't confirmed to be the character's ethnicity.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: The Secretary of Defense demonstrates he's an asshole from the first second he's on-screen in the latter half of the season by revealing he reassigned General Dubois and will take over the First Contact project. When Eric manages to open the monolith, the man forgoes sending in a second probe (or a volunteer) after the first one shorts out and assembles a fireteam to go inside with him as a member — and that is the least stupid thing he does.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: A black hole figures into the story at one point, and although it looks pretty cool, it's a far cry from what black holes are thought to look like according to current scientific knowledge.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The Salvare can focus the particle buildup from its FTL drive into a planet-busting laser. In the final episode of the first season, this is used at 3% power to vaporize an Artifact on Zakir.
  • Weaponized Exhaust:
    • The Salvare's FTL drive can be used this way by focusing the particles and energy collated during FTL travel into a beam that can destroy entire planets.
    • Oliver employs this tactic in the Season One finale to toast a mind-controlled Zakir trying to get into his shuttle.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction:
    • Surprisingly, the Salvare can be used as one by focusing the Weaponized Exhaust of its FTL drive into a coherent beam. According to Javier that beam at full power would be capable of vaporizing an entire planet.
    • Five of the alien ships together can blow up an entire planet.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Multiple characters die in the same episode that introduced them, but none gets it worse than Azami Ouchi, a software engineer who suffocates in her soma tube less than three minutes after her awakening, courtesy of a mind-controlled Sasha cutting off her oxygen supply.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: Once she gets pregnant, August isn't sure of who the father is, given she'd been sleeping with two men at once.
  • Worm Sign: Pops up almost as soon as the crew makes planetfall on the Earth-like planet in Episode 5.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: The planet orbiting Pi Canis Majoris isn't the Achaia homeworld everyone believed it to be. It's merely another world they conquered long ago, its native population virtually wiped out by the time the Salvare arrives. The true Achaia homeworld is well over 400 light-years away, deep inside an empire of hundreds of conquered worlds.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: A pretty dramatic inversion. After Michelle dies because of a Heroic Sacrifice and being fatally irradiated, Niko arrives to the room and Cas (who was there in her final moments and was on the way to help her) mutters between sobs "it should have been me".


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