NatGeo’s Mars Season 2 catches up with the scientists from Season 1 five years later, as they welcome the first group of privately-funded travelers to the Red Planet. These newcomers aren’t just explorers, though. They’re corporate miners, and their radically different approach to Mars changes the game for Commander Hana Seung and the IMSF back home.
If you watched the first season, you’re already familiar with Mars‘ optimistic but grounded style. Part drama and part documentary, it moves back and forth between a Mars-based storyline and interviews with modern scientists and innovators. The switching shows the real-world events that affect the characters in the story part. Season 1 dealt mainly with space exploration, what humanity has done so far and what could happen next.
Mars Season 2 introduces a new source of tension: industry. The new miners are funded by Lukrum, a private corporation, so they aren’t subject to Commander’s Seung’s authority. Their focus is on the bottom line, not scientific curiosity. Over the season’s six episodes we get to explore what happens when science and industry collide.
It’s not as simple as “money bad, science good”, either. NatGeo does a great job of laying out the complicated balance between protecting natural resources and evolving as a global civilization. There are contributions from scientists, writers, corporate executives, and even librarians. Taken together, the interviews provide a well-rounded view of how we can (or should) move forward without leaving destruction behind us.
The story portion of Mars Season 2 is much more successful than Season 1 at being standalone entertainment. Though the first season had a really talented cast and high production value, it felt a little too “after school special” at times. This season fixes that. There’s better pacing and more engaging writing. Better yet, it hasn’t lost that edge of wonder that makes NatGeo stand out from more sensationalist science programming.
There is a lot of focus on the consequences of careless industry. No spoilers, but these miners don’t seem very invested in being good neighbors. They have a hardcore entitled attitude when it comes to Mars’ natural resources. Plus, they expect the science mission to cover for their own spotty planning. It’s hard not to get frustrated by the careless way they annex things (like water and power) that the explorers worked so hard to build. Hopefully they’ll find a way to be more cooperative as the season goes on.
There are only six episodes in both seasons. That is kind of a letdown this season with the better storytelling, but at least it’s super easy to catch up on. You can binge the first season over on NatGeo in a single day. If you’re already set, Mars Season 2 airs Mondays on the National Geographic Channel at 9 pm EST (8 pm CST).
Are you watching Mars? Stop by after the premiere to read our episode review and share your thoughts on the new season!
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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