Im­pend­ing doom: Mul­ti­ple threats plague sea­son 2 of ‘Sal­va­tion’

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - CHANNELS - BY K.A. TAY­LOR

Science fic­tion is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing science fact. The dreams of golden era writ­ers and direc­tors, while per­haps a bit ex­ag­ger­ated, are more preva­lent now than ever be­fore. Space ex­plo­ration is ad­vanc­ing, with mul­ti­ple groups and or­ga­ni­za­tions vow­ing to es­tab­lish a new home on Mars. This might ex­plain why so many of us are cap­ti­vated by in­ter­ga­lac­tic what-ifs, and why many summer TV view­ers are tun­ing in to the sci-fi drama “Sal­va­tion,” now in its sec­ond sea­son, with a new episode air­ing Mon­day, July 16, on CBS. “Sal­va­tion” takes place in present-day Amer­ica, us­ing mod­ern tech­nol­ogy and a dash of fic­tional lib­erty to set the stage. Liam Cole (Char­lie Row, “Red Band So­ci­ety”) is a highly in­tel­lec­tual MIT grad­u­ate stu­dent whose re­search has been de­voted to map­ping the un­known parts of space. What Liam didn’t an­tic­i­pate, how­ever, was that his pro­gram would un­cover a se­ri­ous, im­pend­ing threat to the en­tire planet: an as­ter­oid set to col­lide with Earth in 186 days. Anx­ious to get the data to the gov­ern­ment, Liam reaches out to his pro­fes­sor, but af­ter the pro­fes­sor goes miss­ing, he turns to his one other op­tion: sci­en­tific ge­nius Dar­ius Tanz (San­ti­ago Cabrera, “Big Lit­tle Lies”), a re­cent speaker at MIT who’s still — thank­fully — in town.

Armed with this new, time­sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion, Dar­ius and Liam head to the Pen­tagon and de­liver the news to the De­part­ment of De­fense’s deputy sec­re­tary, Har­ris Ed­wards (Ian An­thony Dale, “Hawaii Five-0”). Har­ris and DOD pub­lic af­fairs press sec­re­tary Grace Bar­rows (Jen­nifer Fin­ni­gan, “Tyrant”) have no choice but to let these two skilled sci­en­tists into a covert op­er­a­tion called Samp­son, re­veal­ing that the gov­ern­ment was al­ready well aware of the threat but had cho­sen to keep it hid­den in order to pre­vent mass pan­de­mo­nium.

The thrilling con­clu­sion of sea­son 1 saw the pres­i­dent re­in­stated, TESS’s source code given up to RE/SYST and the group di­vided, await­ing the im­ped­ing likely demise of the East Coast. Har­ris and Grace, along with the rest of the se­lected crew, are all stowed away within a hangar, ready to board the Ark if nec­es­sary, while Dar­ius and Liam work from a se­cure lo­ca­tion to try to de­ter­mine an­other way to pre­vent Earth’s de­struc­tion.

With the sec­ond sea­son now un­der­way, it’s clear to see that the danger is com­pound­ing. RE/ SYST is threat­en­ing nu­clear ac­tion, the as­ter­oid’s im­mi­nent col­li­sion con­tin­ues to present a dire out­look for hu­man­ity, and nei­ther sit­u­a­tion can be re­solved with­out global co-op­er­a­tion. Mean­while, Har­ris and Grace are strug­gling to quell po­ten­tial chaos within the hangar as the newly in­formed cit­i­zens learn to ac­cept their fate.

In a re­cent in­ter­view with KCAL9 CBS Los An­ge­les, Fin­ni­gan touched on the grow­ing ten­sion of a dis­as­ter-bent nar­ra­tive. The ac­tress notes that, while “the show is mostly about this im­ped­ing as­ter­oid — the sort of scar­ing, im­pend­ing doom of that,” peo­ple are “still liv­ing [their lives],” as the truth makes it dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to ac­cept, which leads them to set out a course of ac­tion that re­veals what’s truly im­por­tant to them. Now that “the pub­lic knows” and “the secret is out ... peo­ple go bananas.” An event such as this will no doubt “bring out the best” or to “bring out the worst [in us],” but ul­ti­mately, Fin­ni­gan be­lieves that the most re­al­is­tic de­pic­tion — some­thing that the se­ries strives to ex­hibit — is where the best and worst in us col­lide.

As sea­son 2 of “Sal­va­tion” pro­gresses, the price of loy­alty will in­crease in value. As the as­ter­oid con­tin­ues its jour­ney to­ward Earth, Har­ris, Grace, Liam and Dar­ius will do all they can to try and main­tain a sense of calm while un­cov­er­ing a means by which dis­as­ter might ul­ti­mately be pre­vented.

“[Now that] the secret is out ... peo­ple go bananas.” - Jen­nifer Fin­ni­gan

San­ti­ago Cabrera in “Sal­va­tion”

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