Constellation review: A dark addition to Apple’s growing sci-fi range

Slowly but surely, Apple TV Plus has turned into perhaps the premier destination for streaming science fiction. (Or at least streaming sci-fi not mentioned Star Wars or Star Trek.) There are adjustments such as Silo And Foundation; original stories such as Invasion, For all humanityAnd Disconnection; and even a franchise spin-off with Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. There’s a nice range to the service’s offerings – and now it’s adding a new flavor with the premiere of Constellation. In the first few episodes, the show is dark, creepy and will mess with your mind in a way that makes it just the thing for those who are already missing True Detective: Nightland.

The first three episodes of Constellation premieres on February 21 and follows an astronaut named Jo (Noomi Rapace), who is part of a small crew working on the International Space Station. Also on board is a mysterious and experimental device from NASA – and once it’s called in for testing, all hell breaks loose. Something crashes into the ISS, and when Jo goes outside to make repairs, she swears she sees the body of an old cosmonaut. Ultimately, the rest of the crew aboard the ISS are forced to evacuate due to the damage, while Jo stays behind to repair an escape pod and hopefully return to Earth as well.

Jo eventually returns safely, which is a minor spoiler indeed, but also key to the show’s structure as the story jumps back and forth between her time on the ISS and her life after she returns to Earth. (And even though you know she survives, those moments are still there incredible stressful.) It’s a story packed with mysteries, the core of which is exactly what that NASA gadget actually is. The project is led by a legendary American astronaut named Henry (Jonathan Banks), who won a Nobel Prize decades ago but now makes guest appearances at sci-fi cons and is desperate to return to the forefront of scientific discovery. All we initially know about his research is that it involves finding another state of matter, one that is apparently only possible in a zero-gravity environment. Henry is so determined to unravel this mystery that he cares more about the results of his investigation. the test then all the human lives it ultimately costs.

Whatever it is, the experiment has some very noticeable side effects, especially on Jo. Initially, everything seems fine after her unlikely return to Earth; she is immediately reunited with her husband and daughter and tries to return to something resembling a normal life. But eventually it becomes clear that things are not normal.

Firstly, they are small details; Jo forgets what color the family car is and gets a friend’s name mixed up. Things get stranger – and darker – from there. When Jo makes a statement about what happened during the ISS disaster, her memory differs from the rest of the crew. Jo’s visions indicate a strange disconnect between her current self and who she was before, and Rapace’s performance almost makes it feel like you’re watching two different characters at times. At certain points, Constellation approaches psychological horror, with disturbing voices, blood and severed body parts floating around in zero-G, and constant time jumps that make it difficult to tell what is real and what is one of Jo’s hallucinations (if they are in fact hallucinations). And of course that’s exactly how she feels.

I raised Night country rather, because the shows share a similar atmosphere (and not just because they both feature key scenes of someone searching in the dark in a snowstorm). They’re slow burns, taking their time to share important clues and information, occasionally covering them up under bits of strangeness or horror. Of course, it is not yet possible to say whether that is the case Constellation actually delivers on all its creepy promises, and there are plenty of examples of shows that, shall we say, lost, during that process. But it’s off to a good start – and it gives yet another reason for sci-fi fans to check out Apple’s streaming service.

Constellation premieres on Apple TV Plus on February 21, with new episodes on Wednesdays.

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