It seems nobody can stop talking about how awful 2016 has been. And sure, it’s been a rough year, but … well, there are no “buts.” Many people feel ready to just throw in the towel on hoping the future will ever improve, but that’s a choice of weakness. Staying hopeful in the face of fear is a must. As one-time Mars mission commander Ben Sawyer (Ben Cotton) asked future commander Hana (Jihae), “If we don’t try, what kind of people are we?”
The emotionally inspiring ending of the brilliantly crafted docu-series “Mars” couldn’t have come at a better time. Considering the current state of things — and after quite a devastating penultimate episode last week — the finale, “Crossroads,” ends the six episode mini-series on a positive, heart-lifting note.
Not that that’s surprising. It would be silly not to assume that one of the underlying ultimate purposes of this National Geographic Channel series was to drum up universal excitement for the space program. But even being aware of that, nothing is lost. You can’t argue with scientific facts. That encouraging closing scene could actually happen. And happy endings inspire confidence. Sad, depressing ones, of course do not. So why would you bother?
Not since The Challenger has America experienced a true, societal obsession with space exploration. Creating a truth-based scripted series, with access to all the current tools in production to make the journey to Mars a reality, was a genius move by Nat Geo and show producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. The best kind of entertainment subconsciously educates, without us ever noticing — and so, with life on Earth feeling like it could implode at any minute, this humbling story is the exact kind of thing we need to see right now.
Colonizing Mars is something that’s bigger than all of us. What humankind could learn and accomplish by becoming a bi-planetary species is immeasurable. It’s important to be reminded of just how much is beyond our galaxy, and how little we know of it. It’s hard to play devil’s advocate with “Mars.” Figuring out how to send people to live on Mars is not just a fun space project, it’s a necessary venture to save our planet and ourselves.
What if we discover humans used to live on Mars? What if another species from another galaxy lands on Mars first? The are a million what-ifs, some for which we can’t even prepare for because we don’t even know they exist yet. And that’s what makes this exploration both exciting and terrifying.
The journey won’t be easy. Getting there at first will most likely be an experience akin to your worst nightmare. Astronauts choosing to accept this mission will be no different than soldiers sent to war: Many lives will be lost. Numerous experiments will fail. And some will fail so terribly, the natural human reaction will be to abort all plans. To cancel the mission altogether.
But that would be the worst thing that could happen. Remaining hopeful is a must. If there’s one thing Buzz Aldrin, James Lovell and the late John Glenn all have in common, along with anyone who’s ever traveled outside the Earth’s atmosphere, they all possess this unceasing strength to overcome failure and remain positive. Their shift from defeat, to trying again, is immediate.
Anyone can just give up. And when it comes to traveling to what is known as the Death Planet, most people do. But thankfully, there are a handful of scientists who want nothing more than finally to plant an American flag on Mars, and further: To make it a second home. They’re the brave few who understand more than anyone what going to the Red Planet means for the world. It’s imperative.
And hopefully, so is the order for a second season of “Mars”! We cannot get enough.