Well, Christmas has arrived on AWAY Season 1 Episode 5, but it is an unusual celebration for the Atlas crew.
Of course, they are in space, millions of miles away from their families, but an approaching deadline lingers in the air. They must make their final calls to their families because they will soon lose service, only communicating through text or email.
There are different stakes for Emma, Lu, Ram, Kwesi, and Misha, prompting them to deal with their goodbyes differently.
Lu is not super worried. She seems at ease during her last video call with her son and her husband. Of course, she cannot contact Mei, but Lu does not show how she feels. If anything, she deliberately chooses to shut herself off from her heart, thinking that she would risk putting the mission in jeopardy if she does not.
Emma: How do you do it? How do you cope? How do you... how do you do it? I mean, you have your little boy down there, and a woman you love that you can't even talk to anymore. Yet you always seem so stalwart.
Lu: I may seem that way, Emma. If I think about three years without my son, my heart begins to break apart. And I may never... never get to be with Mei again. But we're going to be the first human beings to set foot on Mars. I look that way. You're looking in the wrong direction, Commander Green.
Lu correlates being overly emotional with destruction. Lu may have a big heart, but she always struggled to free it. Her decision to bottle up her feelings and only look forward shows that what she values most is the mission to Mars.
Looking back, it makes sense -- Lu initially accepted Mei's help with English, so she does not get replaced. Once she fell in love, Lu knew it was a messy time to divorce her husband and come out as the entire world was watching her.
So, Lu may seem at ease, but the reality is, her situation is far more complicated than that. The only way she can step foot on Mars is to focus on the future ahead and ignore her feelings.
Despite Lu's choice, she is not coldhearted. She may not value her feelings, but they are there whether she likes them or not. Lu, more than anyone, knows how powerful emotions are, but she puts the mission to Mars above all else, no matter what the cost, even if the price to pay is her own heart.
Kwesi's final video call with his mother was simple. He did not overthink anything too much, but perhaps that is because he has bigger things on his mind -- like the fact that his sole fell off.
He was already anxious because of several other symptoms he experienced, but when the skin on his sole fell off, his anxiety multiplied a million more times.
So, how can Kwesi be overly concerned with saying goodbye to his mother when he has more significant issues to deal with? It is Kwesi's first time in space, and the farther away from Earth he gets, the more his anxiety cripples him.
Up to date, Kwesi is the only character we do not know a lot about outside of the Atlas. A certain air of mystery surrounds him, but watching his first experience in space may provide some hints for a future episode.
Kwesi is not pessimistic, but it makes sense that he looks for something wrong in all of the symptoms he experiences, even if he is reacting normally for somebody who has never been to space before.
Okay, Kwesi, look. Here's the thing, space takes its toll on the body, right? And we're going further than anyone's gone before, longer than anyone's been away. We're finding out as we go the challenges it brings all of us, but everything you mention is completely normal. Your vitals are good, you're strong, you're a person of faith, and that's really gonna help you, okay? Look, I've seen a lot of people react to space, and I believe you're just gonna get stronger and stronger.Ram
Whenever we learn about his backstory, his anxiety might make sense in hindsight. Until then, we see how important his health is to him, and how he values it over anything else, except for his beloved plants.
Ram does not have anyone to say goodbye to, as we learned on AWAY Season 1 Episode 4, but he still has to deal with his illness's aftermath -- including Emma's sudden distance from him.
Of course, he does not understand, since he does not think their intimate conversation was a confession of his feelings, but Emma certainly did.
Now that Emma suspects he has feelings for her, there are a couple of ways Ram could approach this situation, and whatever he chooses will define his character and his relationship with Emma moving forward.
Ram could admit Emma is right to get Emma's rejection out of the way, or he could play nonchalant and pretend he has no idea what Emma is talking about.
Of course, Ram chooses the latter, as he would much rather suffer in silence than make Emma uncomfortable in any way. He always chooses his friends first, even at the expense of his own heart.
The characters with the most significant stakes on "Space Dogs" are Misha and Emma.
Misha has several issues that will affect his last video call with his daughter and grandchildren, starting with his vision rapidly worsening.
Misha is already insecure about his impending video call with his family. He struggles to figure out what to say to his daughter while ensuring the puppet show he planned for his grandchildren goes smoothly. So, his worsening eyesight adds more to Misha's troubles.
If they wanted someone with better eyesight, they could have chosen someone who didn't log more hours in space than any other man, woman, or monkey in the history of the planet.Misha
Now, we already know Misha cares a lot about work ethic, and an impaired vision would drastically impact Misha's work ethic. So, Misha chose to walk out of his eye exam because he was determined to focus on his family instead.
Misha has one last chance to make things right with his daughter before they are cut off more or less for two years, so he feels more pressure than usual.
But in the end, it did not matter what Misha said to Natalya, even when he was completely vulnerable to her. Although he created an entire puppet show loosely based on their relationship, Natalya was not ready to forgive Misha for breaking his promise.
Misha learned to value trust out of his own experiences -- Natalya cannot forgive him because it would mean putting faith in her father again. It is out of Natalya's pain where Misha realized how vital trust is; it is a significant factor in what drives his choices.
It seems that the more we learn about Misha, the more heartbreaking his situation becomes. He is practically blind, which puts him out of his engineering work, and he is officially out of touch with his family. We can only imagine how life on the Atlas will be for Misha in his unfortunate predicament.
Finally, Emma struggles with her goodbyes because she is close to her family. On top of that, there is tension between her and Lex.
It is especially challenging for Emma because she refuses to think about fatalities. So, Emma does not want to say goodbye to Matt or Lex, and she seems to plan their last calls to be like any other one.
Emma is currently not speaking to Lex, and she is in denial about being apart from her family for the next two years. Emma may value family the most, but it is at the cost of her wellbeing. What if she does not say goodbye to Matt or Lex, and then something terrible happens to her? Or them?
Misha: I'm prepping my last video call with my grandchildren. If I don't come back, I want them to understand --
Emma: But you will come back. Unless you know something I don't, I'm getting us home.
Misha: Yeah. Yeah. Every time I'm in space, I assume I'm not coming home. Plus, we are the first to go to Mars, and the first, statistically, have a tendency to die first, so...
Emma: I'm getting us home.
Misha: I believe you, I do. It's important to say your goodbyes. It's a good thing.
Emma may end up regretting her decision, no matter how badly she wants to pretend that the next two years are not happening. However, in the end, she does say goodbye to Matt and Lex, but after they lose their connection, we see her deep, emotional turmoil.
Considering that Emma values family first, this will undoubtedly affect her choices going forward, as she is now practically isolated from them. She might make good choices motivated by seeing Matt and Lex or again, or her ability to be the Atlas commander may be compromised.
Her next decisions will be the most critical ones she has ever made, and we cannot wait to see them play out on screen.
Now it is your turn, Fanatics!
What did you think of AWAY Season 1 Episode 5? Did you enjoy the Christmas themed episode? What do you think of how each crew member said goodbye to their families? Now that they have minimal contact with Earth, how do you think dynamics will change for future episodes?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
You can watch AWAY online, right here, at TV Fanatic!
Sarah Novack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.