That Awkward Moment when a TV Show Loses You in the First Episode – Ascension

I was excited for this show when I first heard about it a few weeks ago, and in fact I almost missed its airing on Sky 1 because I figured it would be on Syfy. Anyway, I managed to catch up with the first episode, all wide-eyed with anticipation. Ascension is a miniseries set on a space station launched 51 years ago, the idea being that the US government covered up the launch. Its voyage is 100 years so they’re a little over halfway through, while back on Earth a grad student is convinced that the project happened and is trying to uncover the truth.

The episode beings with a murder, instantly sucking me in. The aesthetic is vibrant, colorful and distinctive. Tv sets are used as monitors, so although it’s futuristic its still rooted in our past, and it gave me a bit of a Star Trek vibe, as in the original pilot The Cage there was a television in the Captain’s Quarters!

At a little over an hour the first episode has a lot to cover, introducing a great many characters. As such I found it difficult to keep track of their names, but their positions on the ship were pretty clear and so too were the nature of their relationships. There’s a lot of betrayal and deceit going on. Throughout the episode hints are peppered as to the structure of the society, like that fact that marriages are made based on genetic compatibility rather than love, leading to some marriages being more like business deals.

There’s a clear divide between the two classes as well, and a marked hostility between the people who work in the manual labour section and the rest of the station. There were a few hints at a deeper mystery as well that were intriguing, and the scenery of space was eye-catching. At one point they pass through an ion storm. It’s a pretty tense and exciting sequence.

Back on Earth, a grad student approaches the son of one of the leaders of Project Ascension, and tries to convince him that his father’s legacy does actually exist and was the victim of a cover-up. This adds another layer of mystery to the story and although I was looking forward to a series wholly set on a space station I thought it was an interesting twist that nobody actually knows of this great achievement.

Up until the last few minutes it was ticking all my boxes and I was looking forward to seeing how the mysteries and relationship would unfold and develop over the course of the series. Then, however, there was a revelation in the final few minutes that completely killed any enjoyment I had for the series, ripping apart the initial premise that caught my attention. So I will not be watching anymore of it.

I’d love to know if anyone else felt the same way, or have their been any other shows that you were excited for, only to watch the first episode and realise that actually it’s not what you thought it would be?

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