play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Ray Panthaki as Ram Arya and Hilary Swank as Emma Green in Away. (Photo: Diyah Pera/Netflix)
Ray Panthaki as Ram Arya and Hilary Swank as Emma Green in Away. (Photo: Diyah Pera/Netflix)


4/5 Stars


American astronaut Emma Green embarks on a treacherous mission to Mars in command of an international crew, leaving behind her husband and teenage daughter.


"Away shows that sometimes to reach for the stars, we must leave home behind," reads one synopsis for the new Netflix series starring Hilary Swank (as Emma Green) and Josh Charles (as Matt Logan).

Emma and Matt are a loving couple and both NASA astronauts who are extremely committed, not only to their jobs, but to exploring new frontiers as well. Together they have a 15-year-old daughter Alexis "Lex" Logan (Talitha Bateman).

When Emma gets recruited to lead an international crew on the first mission to Mars, she has to leave her husband and daughter at home for an extended amount of time – a decision she finds nearly impossible to make.

As her journey into the unknown finally takes off, tragedy strikes and Emma is left struggling with her decision to take on the mission.

According to showrunner Jessica Goldberg, the relationship dynamic between Emma and Matt was inspired by a well-known couple - former US first couple Barack and Michelle Obama. This real-life inspiration is distinctly visible in how the NASA power couple supports each other in their positions of power with grace and extreme compassion. This very personal and profoundly emotional bond becomes the axis around which the series revolves.

The 10-episode drama unfolds both in outer space and on Earth and tells the backstories of each cast member through detailed flashbacks. To understand their present, we must have knowledge of their past and the decisions they took that ultimately led them to where they are today – on a dangerous and possibly deadly mission that no human has attempted before.

The premise of the show makes for a very detailed and technical story that is instead surprisingly told with an abundance of warmth and heart leaving the viewer with that comforting cinematic experience one feels when watching a well-made film.

A lot of the prestige of the show rests heavily on the shoulders of its two-time Oscar winner lead who handles the pressure with incredible power and poise. Hilary delivers a gripping performance and pulls together a story that could easily have floated off into the darkness.

All-though written and filmed before the pandemic broke out, the show is surprisingly accurate in how it captures our current reality marked by isolation, uncertainty, and the fear of the unknown.

In an interview with Channel24, Hilary addressed the eerie parallels between the show and the current state of the world amid the pandemic: "I mean, from the virus that broke out on the ship, or we were afraid would break out on the ship, all of it. We wrapped up the show about a week before everyone had to go into self-isolation. So, we really got in, in the nick of time.

"It's just a totally different world in which we're living in right now," she reflects, before adding: "I think it's really changed what our priorities are and made us look at things very differently. It's horrible that it took something of this nature to do that."

For Ray Panthaki who takes on the role of Ram Arya, an Air Force fighter pilot from India, it was the theme of loneliness that struck him most while working on the show. He says in an interview with Channel24: "I didn't realise how much of a pandemic it was and how many people in this world are lonely and have nobody to speak to. It's given me a newfound respect for people. I'm more aware of lonely people that I'm surrounded by and people in my world. I try to make an effort with people that I feel are lonely."

A show about space could so quickly become a cold shell of a story filled with technical jargon and fancy special effects, but not Away. It's got a beating heart at the centre of it that will have you gripped until the end and a thrilling storyline that will keep you glued to your screen. 




Meeting Hilary Swank in my living room 

Josh Charles - Will we find ourselves again after the pandemic?

Ato Essandoh and Ray Panthaki: We have the incredible ability to survive the extraordinary

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24