Monday, September 20, 2010

Movie Queue Monday: "Defying Gravity"

"Defying Gravity" is a television series I watched last year, but have been wanting to write about for a while because it was so intriguing.  I like science fiction and Ron Livingston ("Band of Brothers", "Office Space") so I thought I would give this a shot, despite the fact that the show was canceled after only one season. "Defying Gravity" follows a crew of astronauts in the not-too-distant future as they embark on a six-year journey into space. What they plan to be a straight-forward and scientific exploration of space actually becomes something quite different as a series of unexplained events threaten their sanity and (literally) change the course of their exploration. 

While the main plot of the show was interesting and a little scary, it was really the romance between the two main characters and the social context of their relationship that really caught my attention. Apparently, in the future it is customary for the crew (the male crew members at least) to be sterilized before embarking on these long missions. If that weren't enough, each crew member has to take pills on a regular basis to inhibit any sexual desire. This, as you can imagine, sets up the show for all sorts of drama (especially since most of the 4 female and 4 male crew have had intertwining relationships before). 

Enter Zoe Barnes (Laura Harris), a geologist crew member who, as we learn from a series of flashbacks, had a fling with Maddux Donner (Ron Livingston) back on Earth.  Discovering she is pregnant (despite the fact that Maddux was supposedly sterilized) during training, Zoe agonizes over what to do since she will be dropped from the program if they discover she is pregnant. Interestingly enough, abortion is illegal in the future, so her friend encourages her to obtain an abortion pill from the black market. It really is painful to see Zoe deliberate over her decision and unfortunately, she decides to take the pill. Maddux knows nothing of the pregnancy or the abortion and is completely surprised when Zoe collapses in his arms, dying from the effects of the pill. Tragically, Zoe wakes up in the hospital to discover she has lost not only the baby, but her chance at having children ever again. 

Telling Maddux nothing, she continues with training and leaves on the mission, but not without a deep sense of regret and guilt that manifests itself in eery ways during the mission. I won't give away too much, but it is the unspoken, but deep connection she has with Maddux and the love for her lost child that determines the course of the whole mission and gives her strength to do the seemingly impossible.

Reflecting on the show afterward, what struck me a central theme of the power of life-giving love between a man and a woman. Albeit in this case, you see the beauty mixed in the broken and tragic lives of the characters. Maddux and Zoe have a deep connection, but their love isn't brought to its full potential in faithful commitment and is cheapened with casual sex. Maddux sleeps with other women despite loving Zoe. Despite all attempts to thwart it, a new life is created only to be killed in Zoe's decision to have an abortion. Through all the pain, misunderstanding, and grief,  you are still able to get a  glimpse of what their lives would have been like if they had made better choices. I was able to take away a sense of hope in the end of the show that the characters began to have a sense of awe for true love which is not selfish, but self-giving.

Overall, I would give it a three out of five stars. Recommended with reservations.

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