Original Air Date: Jul 12, 2017
Vincent Chia – Staff Writer
The ’90s movie Armageddon in tv series form? My interest is piqued. A government plan to save humanity has flaws and requires civilians from the private sector to help? Let’s see if there are any oil drillers involved.
We start the pilot episode with a billionaire technologist/industrialist giving a speech at M.I.T. His main topic is his plans to colonize Mars, not unlike a few real-life billionaires like Elon Musk. In the event Earth is destroyed by some calamity, we need a backup. This reminds me of the frequent criticism that people who bank on having a “spare” planet should really focus their energies on saving our current planet. Bill Maher recently did a rant on how Earth has food, water, and habitable temperatures whereas Mars is a barren wasteland. Oh, and Earth has breathable air too. Though, I would argue we should do both: protect Earth while also colonizing other planets.
Back to the story, an MIT grad student named Liam is late for the speech and catches the attention of both billionaire Darius Tanz and also a cute girl in the audience. Liam later runs into the cute girl, named Jillian, at a nearby bar. Jillian reminds me a little bit of Anna Kendrick. Liam deduces that Jillian is a science fiction writer. She enjoys speculative ideas about the future, but doesn’t like science enough to actually be a student at MIT. She also carries around a notebook with an Asimov quote on it. Liam’s current astrophysics research is an attempt to create a real time map of space using gravimetric data. Liam uses a lame (in my opinion) pickup line about how when two celestial bodies cross paths, their trajectories are changed forever. Jillian likes the line and the two of them hook up. Well done, astrophysicist Liam.
Early in the morning, Liam’s smartphone buzzes. There is some sort of critical information from his research that has just come in. Jillian stirs awake and watches Liam get dressed. Liam promises he will call her and runs out excitedly. Liam makes his way to his professor’s home and tells the professor about the major discovery. At first, Professor Malcolm Croft suspects Liam is excited over nothing, but once Croft sees the data that Liam has sent, Croft calls his friends in Washington to relay the important information.
The next morning, Professor Croft does not show up to class. Liam rides his bike over to Croft’s house and finds everything in disarray. He calls the police to report that his professor is missing. However, Liam notices a mysterious dark SUV across the street and flees the scene. He manages to escape. He locates Darius Tanz and tells Tanz that there is an asteroid that will collide with Earth in 186 days. Six months? That is significantly more time than Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck had in Armegeddon.
After viewing Liam’s data fed into a holographic projector, Tanz has his personal secretary Klarissa fuel up his private jet and they make their way to Washington, D.C.
Tanz and Liam visit the Pentagon. Tanz is on a friendly basis with Deputy Defense Secretary Harris Edwards. After a quick chat, Edwards reveals that NASA and the Pentagon have known about the asteroid for roughly three months. They named the asteroid Samson. Edwards calls his public relations officer Grace to join him. Edwards takes Grace, Tanz, and Liam to a secret underground bunker that houses “Project Samson,” the Pentagon’s plan to save the planet from the asteroid.(Tanz, Grace, Edwards, and Liam are pictured above. In that order from left to right). Less than 40 people know about Project Samson.
The Pentagon’s plan is to position a probe near the asteroid that will work as a gravity tractor and move the asteroid’s path away from Earth. One of Tanz’ Goliath 2 rockets will be used for the mission.
As Tanz and Liam walk out of the Pentagon, Liam expresses his opinion that the Pentagon’s plan won’t work. Tanz agrees and says he has his own plan.
At an embassy ball later that night, Tanz approaches Grace and tells her he needs her help. Tanz says he has a “real plan” but needs help from someone inside the Pentagon. Tanz convinces Grace to join him on a trip to a nearby Tanz Industries facility.
Tanz shows Grace and Liam a holographic model of one of his rocketships, called the “RIVA,” which stands for reusable interplanetary vehicle. The RIVA is a lifeboat designed to transport humans to Mars. Tanz’s plan doesn’t involve saving Earth. He wants to abandon Earth and continue the human race on Mars. The “minimal viable population” (or “MVP”) to continue the species is 160 individuals. (My previous understanding was that it was smaller than that, but what do I know?) Tanz’s plan was originally timelined for 7 years, but he now has to accelerate it. Tanz tells Grace that he could theoretically save thousands of people if he can build dozens of RIVAs. Tanz wants Grace’s help in diverting Pentagon resources to help him build more RIVAs. (But where is all the food going to come from? And the water? And the oxygen??)
Grace refuses Tanz’s request, calling it treason. She also insists on saving the entire planet, not just a few hundred people. Tanz says that the technology required to pull off the Pentagon’s plan doesn’t yet exist and the plan is doomed to fail.
Secretary Edwards arrives by helicopter to the Wallops Island Rocket testing area. When he is back in Washington, Grace asks him about where he was and Edwards tells her that the rocket test for Project Samson went off successfully. Grace has her doubts. She bribes a computer tech with baseball tickets and asks for satellite imagery over Wallops Island. She sees that the rocket test failed, as the rocket has exploded into fragments. Sadly for the computer tech, his computer has logged his access to the Goliath rocket files and he is later killed by a mysterious hitman.
Liam returns to Boston to spend the rest of his (possibly) short life with Jillian. They get drunk and have a fun time. While spending time chatting about the stars, Liam asks Jillian that if she were writing a novel about a character who had to choose between being with his girl or saving the world, which would he choose? Jillian insists that if the character were a hero and not a “loser,” the hero would sacrifice his own happiness and save the world. This would be especially true if the hero were deeply in love, as it would make his sacrifice more “real.” The next morning, Liam leaves Jillian while she is asleep.
Grace visits Tanz and challenges him to invent the technology necessary to save the entire planet. She asks Tanz to work with her at the Pentagon and she’ll give him whatever resources he requests. Liam also joins the team.
So, what did you guys think? Should they just land a couple teams of oil drillers onto the asteroid and detonate a nuke inside? I mean, that sounds like a pretty good idea. Ha.
I also wonder whether the team will come up with a Plan C. Or D, E, F, etc. Maybe he Russians and/or the Japanese get involved. Maybe other billionaires. The possibilities are endless.