Warning: Fullspoilersfrom Ascension’s “Night Three” event to follow.
Going back to the old-school ’60s vibe, Ascension’s final two-hour block kicked off with the Birth List ceremony — or the “Ostara” — which included a few surprises right off the bat. After seeing Christa’s display of power in the last two episodes, it wasn’t all that surprising that communicating with the dead was also one of her abilities. Here, we heard Enzmann refer to this as “morphic resonance” (the idea thatmemory is inherent in nature), which would make sense given what we’ve seen of Christa’s powers so far. This also happened to dovetail with a humiliating video of Denninger and Lorelei popping up at the celebration, which marked a major setback for Denninger and Viondra’s plans –seemingly, anyway.
IGN’s Ascension: “Night Two” Review
It was pretty cool to see the star couple’s back-door dealings finally pay off. The video was obviously a step backwards, and it was interesting to get hints about what happened in the past — for example, Viondra falling in love with Denninger in light of their “bargain.” From this we saw a loyalty between them that went far beyond love and into a deep, mutual trust. While it was kind of obvious that Denninger was setting Jackie up to report back to Rose with false info, it was still great to see Rose have the rug pulled out from under him at the Council hearing, revealing one of Rose’s own colleagues to be the father of the unclaimed.
That said, the first half of tonight’s episodes was a bit slow in other parts. James and Nora’s continued conversations over fate and love were a little more tolerable than in the last two episodes — if only because they were more forthright in the way they talked to each other. But again, their scenes were a little too “Attack of the Clones-y” for my taste, and featured the episodes’ worst dialogue. I admit, though, I was intrigued by James’ line about destroying the Birth Computer to incite change on the ship. A storyline about that could be neat, should Ascension go to series. (Plus, it would give James something useful to do.)
There was also the stuff between Emily and Duke, who I’d almost forgotten were characters. Since Gault and Emily’s affair had been so downplayed in previous episodes — they’d had, what, two scenes together? — it was hard for me to get invested in their storyline. Theoretically, that could change, especially if Emily continued her affair with Gault, but the two guys’ bro-down at the beach wasn’t exactly the climax I was hoping for. Really, it’s only significance was that it happened at the same time Christa let out that surge of energy, disabling the ship. And that’s when things really kicked into high gear on-board the ship.
Conversely, things heated up pretty quickly on the outside. These episodes did a good job of making Enzmann seem a little more sympathetic than the last go-round, emphasizing his desperation to see the project through. Admittedly, Warren and Enzmann’s back-and-forth slowed the pace a little bit, but Krueger working with Stokes was a pretty rad storyline. Brad Carter’s acting here was particularly strong, as he was met with revelation after revelation: seeing the ship’s exterior for the first time, seeing the sun and moon with his own eyes, and being overwhelmed by the sheer convenience of a convenience store. It was all really well played. I also liked the dynamic between Stokes and Krueger, specifically their scene at the motel when Krueger said she wanted balance, and Stokes posited the idea that one action doesn’t make up for another. This I think was a reference to his own misgivings early on and maybe even shaping his future in potential episodes to come.
Of course, one of the big moments to come out of that storyline was the return of Eva Marceau, the conspiracy theorist Krueger briefly encountered in the last two episodes. It was such a bummer when Eva betrayed and killed Krueger, leaving Stokes on his own — I was really starting to like the idea of the three of them going “full Snowden” and working to expose the project from the outside. At the same time, I was caught completely off guard by the twist, so in that sense I guess it was effective. I only wonder how long Stokes can last on his own.
As for the surge, I thought it was a great way to give the last half-hour a real sense of urgency. (Never underestimate the value of alarms and blinking lights!) Here, we got some of the episodes’ finest moments, including Gault and Denninger going back down to the lower levels to get the air systems running again. It was a nice touch having Enzmann explain that the star field outside had been hardwired into Ascension’s design, so as not to shatter the illusion. This in turn solely left it up to the crew to save themselves, which helped make the situation feel more dire, despite the fact they weren’t actually in space. (Also, those shots of the crew experiencing rain for the first time? Good stuff.)
However, the real payoff for Viondra came when she was promoted to captain, which was a huge moment for her character. Granted, her power brokering had been somewhateffective already, but only to the extent that it kept her husband in the captain’s chair. Honestly, it wasn’t until she assumed the role of captain herself that Viondrareally came into her own (and, frankly, gave Tricia Helfer a reason to stick around). By far the most awesome scene here was Rose trying to take over and Viondra yelling back at him, “Get the hell off my bridge!” (Right on!) The question is, now that Viondra’s frozen the chain of command, do you think she’ll let Denninger take back his rank? Hmm…
Leading up to the final moments, during the fight with Globus and Gault (dude gets his ass kickeda lot, doesn’t he?), we again saw that giant orb of light — which I suspect is the “Star Child” Eva was referring to right after she shot Krueger. (Goofy 2001 name, but let’s roll with it.) More importantly, Christa seemed to have some control over the orb, or she was at least able to communicate with it. In any case, Christa now pretty much knows that Ascension is a hoax, which begs the question: will she let everyone else know on the ship? I feel like she can’t really yet, as that would pretty much end the show as we know it.
Gault also seemed to have a connection with the orb, as he was seemingly guided by its cosmic energy. (Heis presumably of that third generation, like Christa.) And that final shot of him teleported to the alien planet was pretty wild! Especially for viewers who were disappointed with the end of the first episode — i.e., no space exploration — it looks like interstellar travel is still very much in the cards. In fact, going off of Enzmann’s comment at the very end, FTL travel seems to be the exact endgame. Now, it’s just a matter of whether Ascension will get more episodes from Syfy…
Ascension’s two-part finale offered a rousing conclusion to the Syfy miniseries, while also opening up the doors to new possibilities. While the show still has a few kinks to work out — particularly with some of the less important characters — these last two episodes were entertaining in their own right and had plenty of fun reveals to keep things interesting.
Ascension: “Night Three” debuts Wednesday, December 17 at 9:00pm ET/PT on Syfy as part three of a three-night event.
Max Nicholson is a writer for IGN, and he desperately seeks your approval. Show him some love by following @Max_Nicholson on Twitter, or MaxNicholson on IGN.