The twists and turns of Ascension’s three-night mini-series flight landed the earthbound space ark’s most Right Stuffy space hero and the story itself in a mysterious place strewn with wreckage and reminders of other stories. And more mystery! In the final minutes of part three, we learned that Dr. Harris Enzmann (Gil Bellows) was using the decades-long psych experiment started by his father to trigger “punctuated” evolution and produce a next-gen X-Man—a “star child”—possessed with “morphic resonance” (i.e., telepathy, telekinesis, super-powers) capable of manipulating the vast energies located within the nuclear powered “Panopticon” to do even more amazing things, like… actually send someone across the universe! Why take a slooooooooow-boat generation ship when you can just grow a magic sea monkey in a skyscraper-sized fishbowl? NASA, you’ve been doing it wrong!
Enzmann found success in the form of young Christa (Ellie O’Brien), part Marvel Girl, part Firestarter, part Space Guild navigator from Dune. In the final moments, she used her abilities to channel the energies of a Glowglobe to produce a Holtzman effect and save Aaron Gault (Brandon P. Bell) from a baddie’s beat-down by instantaneously teleporting him to… a distant, dark planet? Another Enzmann simulation? The only thing we know for sure is that Ascension is perhaps best understood not as a response to the myth of the ’60, as I argued pretentiously on Monday (sorry). It is something very post-modern, a self-aware sci-fi saga born from an accumulation of sci-fi sagas over the past 50 years, and perhaps full of pining for better, more hopeful, more serious-minded sci-fi: I found something meaningful and provocative in the last image: Gault, a “space hero” with the Right Stuff, rising to his feet amid that trendiest, most dismal of things, a dystopian wasteland. A charitable read: Ascension was challenging a genre to dream better. More hope, less “No Future” cynicism. More big new ideas, fewer hyperlinks trapping us in old ones. More mind-expanding space odysseys, less self-absorbed geeking… like this review.
That’s what I got out of the interesting mess that was Ascension. How about you? READ FULL STORY