Another Life series premiere recap: Across the Universe


Another Life is the latest show on Netflix, with Katee Sackhoff playing the lead, Niko, who is on a mission into space, but her ship veers off-course.

Netflix show Another Life revolves around the age-old fictional premise of being lost in space. Starring Katee Sackhoff and Selma Blair, the show begins with the latter playing a social media influencer rejoicing at her good fortune when the world is invaded by… a UFO. It floats above the ground before creating a crystalline tower. What is this Artifact’s purpose? Dive into this recap of the series premiere ‘Across the Universe’ and find out if this show has what it takes to scratch that space ‘itch’ so many of us sci-fi fans have.

The Salvare

Six months later and still on Earth, Niko (Sackoff) and her family are moving because of her husband’s job, but she’s been asked to lead the Salvare on a deep space mission to investigate the destination the Artifact has been communicating with. Her husband, Erik (Justin Chatwin) is disappointed, but Niko is afraid that the mission will fail without her. Next we know, she’s up in space.

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The mission was supposed to take six months – three months to Pi Canis Majoris and three months back. Assuming all went according to plan. When Another Life returns to space, it’s a month into the journey and Niko is awoken from Soma sleep. She’s been awoken because the Salvare hasn’t yet reached Pi Canis Majoris.

Apparently, the scientists on Earth got the incorrect coordinates for the system – it will now take around seven more months to get there. William (Samuel Anderson), the holographic computer, informs Niko of all this. It’s time to wake the rest of the crew.

Ian Yerxa (Tyler Hoechlin) was the previous captain of the ship, so there’s a bit of tension around the leadership now that Niko’s been put in charge. Most of the rest of the crew have worked under Ian and are ‘feeling a little awkward’ with this new situation.

While chatting with Erik long distance, Niko is interrupted by William. The ship is circumventing Sirius A and the star doesn’t seem to take kindly to the ship being in proximity. Though Ian insists the ship can handle the star, Niko decides they have to fly away.

Leadership Battles

The argument about the ship’s course upsets some of the crew, especially Michelle Vargas (Jessica Camacho), who feels that Ian should challenge Niko more. The crew can’t seem to get along with each other, forget with their new leader.

Niko seems too cautious, deciding to go the long way around to get to their destination instead of risking more damage by Sirius A, and this means their mission will take longer to complete. Ian and the ship engineer have come up with a plan to create a shield that should protect the ship against the star, but there’s an 11% chance the plan will fail. Niko won’t budge from her decision.

Ian is sure that the longer they take to make first contact with whatever aliens are on Pi Canis Majoris, the greater the risk that the people of Earth will be attacked by the same aliens. But Niko’s fear is that taking unnecessary risks may cost Salvare the mission, which will really put the world in jeopardy. Seems like Ian is looking at it from a personal point of view; Niko, on the other hand, is burdened by the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Unfortunately for Niko, the crew backs Ian’s play – they stage a mutiny and put her into Soma sleep. Niko puts up one hell of a fight and it was only Ian’s backhanded tactics that got the better of her.

Ian threatens William, the computer, into following his orders. In fact, Ian seems to have considerable sway over most of his crew. Zayn Petrossian (JayR Tinaco), the ship psychologist, isn’t given much choice in declaring whether Niko is unfit to command or not. Sasha Harrison (Jake Abel), the government representative aboard the ship, is put on the spot to recognise Ian’s leadership. It’s all hasty and rash, and despite William’s attempted rebellion, he must follow Ian’s orders now.

Sirius A

William changes course towards Sirius A and Ian commands the engineer, August (Blu Hunt), to engage the shield. Though the shield works, the flares damage the FTL (faster-than-light) drive and the ship is basically unable to fly away from the star. While Niko is peacefully dreaming of being back home with Erik and her daughter Jana, the Salvare is being torn apart.

In a panic, August wakes Niko up and she immediately takes control of the situation. Banishing Ian from the bridge, Niko takes manual control of steering and slingshots off the star to safety.

Niko may have saved everyone, but the ship has sustained plenty of damage. All comms are down (meaning Niko can’t get in touch with her family any more) and the Soma system is offline. There are replacement crew members asleep, and they aren’t affected, but no new chambers can be activated.

New Beginnings

Since Ian can’t be put to sleep, he’s back as second-in-command. On William’s advice, Ian will be answerable for his actions only after the mission is complete. Niko informs the crew that she’s back in charge and they’re just going to have to deal with it. Shame that it took the virtual destruction of their species to whip them into shape. Is Another Life trying to make a statement about how hard it is for women to earn respect in senior positions?

Back on Earth, Erik has been hard at work attempting to communicate with the Artifact. He’s tried everything, including using birds as a source for inspiration. He finally makes a breakthrough. Erik discovers that a signal was sent from Earth to Pi Canis Majoris in the 1960s, and relays the same message again. It’s a piece of music and the Artifact recognizes it and replays in kind. But what does this mean for the humans?

The Another Life premiere ends with Niko and Ian attempting to fix the ship together. He insists that his actions were to ensure the safety of the people on Earth, including Jana, but Niko doesn’t buy it. Still seething over having to eat humble pie, Ian makes another foolish decision – he tries to stab Niko in the back, but she’s got quick reflexes and kicks him straight into a live electric conduit. Now Ian is dead, so what is Niko supposed to do with his body?

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The premiere is certainly intriguing but the storytelling is by the numbers. Hoechlin’s Ian is written as a one-dimensional villain, which is eye-roll worthy. Sackhoff’s Niko is very much a maternal version of Starbuck (which no one asked for), and she lacks dimension. So far, Another Life feels like a derivative homage to every other space film and show we’ve seen before. Will it become more innovative from here onwards?

What did you think of the premiere of Another Life? Let us know in the comments!