Ulysse

Missions1967: The first Soyuz spacecraft, returning to Earth with cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov aboard, fails to deploy its parachute after re-entry – the last in a series of technical glitches that have plagued the mission. But history records that this is the fault that will doom Komarov to a fiery crash into the ground. The last thing he sees, however, is a blinding light streaming in through the capsule’s porthole…

2027: Just ten days away from launch, a multi-national mission to Mars is struck by tragedy, as the crew’s on-board psychologist dies in a helicopter crash en route to the launch site. Behavioral psychologist Jeanne Renoir is tapped to assume that position on the Argos mission. Ten months into the mission, as Argos approaches Mars, she has her doubts that the crew is capable of functioning as a team under the pressures of life on another planet. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that William Meyer, the financier of the mission, installed himself as a crewmember from the outset, and he’s not prepared to listen to Renoir’s recommendations. (The fact that Renoir herself has been having an affair with mission commander Martin Najac since leaving Earth – despite his wife’s presence as a fellow crewmember – may make her psychological assessments less than reliable.) Only 24 hours from landing, Meyer and Najac reveal to the rest of their crew that a nuclear-powered private American mission, Zillion-1, put a man on Mars ahead of Argos after only three weeks’ travel time from Earth – and that it sent only one message after landing, warning them that Mars is too dangerous to visit. When landing shuttle Ulysse fails to detach from Argos, Martin performs a spacewalk to manually release the latches, but the resulting movement when he does release them sends him tumbling into space, beyond his crew’s reach or their fuel capacity.

Download this episode via Amazonwritten by Julien Lacombe
directed by Julien Lacombe
music by Etienne Forget

MissionsCast: Hélène Viviès (Jeanne Renoir), Clément Aubert (Simon Gramat), Mathias Mlekuz (William Meyer), Jean-Toussaint Bernard (Yann Bellocq), Giorgia Sinicorni (Alessandra Najac), Côme Levin (Basile), Adrianna Gradziel (Eva Müller), Christophe Vandevelde (Martin Najac), Arben Bajraktaraj (Vladimir Komarov), Tiphaine Daviot (voice of Irene), Yasmin Bau (Jeanne’s assistant), David Clark (Astronaut 1), Menage Fleury (Sports Reporter), Nicolas Traino (News Reporter), Franka Koareau (voice of Russian Soyuz Operator)

MissionsNotes: Vladimir Komarov (1927-1967) was a real cosmonaut who not only flew solo aboard the real Soyuz 1 mission in 1967, but had previously commanded Voshkod 1, the first spaceflight with more than one crew member aboard, in 1964. In real life, the Soyuz 1 mission was rushed to launch in order to meet an artificial deadline, both to show up the American space program (which had suffered its own tragedy with the death of the Apollo 1 crew on the launch pad in January 1967) and to ensure the presence of a Soviet spaceflight in orbit during the celebrations of the anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birthday (April 22nd), despite many engineering problems persisting that should have kept the vehicle grounded until it was safer to fly. As depicted in this otherwise fictitious telling of events, Komarov did have significant problems orienting the MissionsSoyuz, exacerbated by the fact that its left solar “wing” never unfurled to provide the vehicle with sufficient power. (The opening scene of this episode shows the wing fully deployed, which never happened, an oddity since many of the major details of Komarov’s mission as used in this story are factually correct.)

Produced by and for French streaming service OCS (with “Martian” location filming in Morocco), Missions’ dialogue is entirely in French, with the exception of subtitled scenes involving Komarov (speaking Russian) and the distress call from the doomed American mission (speaking English). Series creators Henri Debeurme, Julien Lacombe and Ami Cohen were reportedly inspired by the ambiguous mystery storytelling and backstory-via-flashback structure of the American series Lost. The end credits show everyone who appears in the entire season; an attempt has been made with this guide to credit performers for their appearances in specific episodes. The Amazon streaming link included above is for the English-subtitled edition of the series.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Mars

MissionsUlysse has come down for a rough landing in the middle of a Martian dust storm, landing intact but instantly starved for power. The main battery is a casualty of the rough landing, and the the onboard computer, Irene, fails during descent. Emotionally stunted Basile, an awkward outsider among the crew whose only meaningful relationship during the trip to Mars has been Irene, is tasked with rebooting Irene in a power-saving safe mode; if he accidentally restarts her in a mode requiring full power, she’ll drain Ulysse’s power reserves almost instantly. Now in command of the mission, Simon Gramat assigns Renoir and geologist Eva Müller to accompany him to look for the wreckage of the doomed American mission, in the hope that batteries or solar panels can be salvaged and connected to Ulysse, but first, Meyer insists on documenting the first steps of humankind on Mars – his own. But during the search for the Z-1 wreckage, Gramat and his landing party discover that another man walked on Mars first…a man in a Soviet-era spacesuit that predates even the first robotic Mars missions. The man in the suit is still alive, and is rushed back to Ulysse. He identifies himself as 40-year-old Vladimir Komarov, cosmonaut, pilot of Soyuz 1, and when his photo is transmitted to Earth, his identity is confirmed…despite the fact that history recorded Komarov’s death in 1967…meaning he should be 90 years old.

Download this episode via Amazonwritten by Julien Lacombe
directed by Julien Lacombe
music by Etienne Forget

MissionsCast: Hélène Viviès (Jeanne Renoir), Clément Aubert (Simon Gramat), Mathias Mlekuz (William Meyer), Jean-Toussaint Bernard (Yann Bellocq), Giorgia Sinicorni (Alessandra Najac), Côme Levin (Basile), Adrianna Gradziel (Eva Müller), Arben Bajraktaraj (Vladimir Komarov), Vincent Londez (Ivan Goldstein), Tiphaine Daviot (voice of Irene), Avant Strangel (Scientist), Ian McCamy (Adjunct Scientist), Lan Hoang Xuan (Goldstein’s nurse)

Notes: As Missions debuted on a French streaming service, all ten episodes share the same “airdate” since they were dumped as a full season, Netflix-style. The Amazon streaming link included above is for the English-subtitled edition of the series.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Survivant

MissionsThe Ulysse crewmembers, their trust in each other stretched thin, debates over whether or not the spacesuited Russian they have found on the Martian surface can actually be cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, believed to have perished in the cataclysmic impact of Soyuz 1 in 1967. The numerous emergencies since landing on Mars have left them in need of sleep, but when they awaken, the man claiming to be Komarov and his spacesuit are gone. Gramat, Renoir, Meyer, and contentious astronaut Yann Bellocq venture out in Ulysse‘s rover to track Komarov down. As they close in on his position, they are contacted by Earth: a blood sample taken from Komarov after he was found on Mars reveals that his DNA has a triple helix…meaning he’s either not human, or something more than human.

Download this episode via Amazonwritten by Julien Lacombe
directed by Julien Lacombe
music by Etienne Forget

MissionsCast: Hélène Viviès (Jeanne Renoir), Clément Aubert (Simon Gramat), Mathias Mlekuz (William Meyer), Jean-Toussaint Bernard (Yann Bellocq), Giorgia Sinicorni (Alessandra Najac), Côme Levin (Basile), Adrianna Gradziel (Eva Müller), Arben Bajraktaraj (Vladimir Komarov), Tiphaine Daviot (voice of Irene), Avant Strangel (Scientist),
Ian McCamy (Adjunct Scientist), Manon Giraud-Balasuriya (young Jeanne)

Notes: The Amazon streaming link included above is for the English-subtitled edition of the series.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Stone

MissionsAfter leading the expedition from the Ulysse to a stone artifact obviously constructed by someone, Komarov returns with the crew to their ship, just in time for them to see another spacecraft arriving on Mars. Much like Z-1, the new arrivals were launched by the private aerospace corporation Zillion with NASA, but unlike Z-1, the Americans who have just landed on Mars are belligerent – and armed. The mission commander, Edward Doisneau, reveals that Z-1 had a black box recording device…and that its transponder has led them to Ulysse. Meyer hands over a box that was found alongside Komarov, which seems to placate the American expedition; though they do not offer any help to the Ulysse crew (still stranded on Mars unless they receive additional fuel), they promise to return. Renoir proposes hypnotizing Komarov to regress through his memory and find out what happened between Soyuz 1’s fall to Earth and his discovery on Mars. Eva and Basile discover that the stone artifact contains design elements, heiroglyphics, and dimensions corresponding to Greek and Mayan architecture, and is composed mostly of a metal never before seen by humankind…as well as the same kind of DNA that makes up the third helix of Komarov’s DNA.

Download this episode via Amazonwritten by Julien Lacombe
directed by Julien Lacombe
music by Etienne Forget

MissionsCast: Hélène Viviès (Jeanne Renoir), Clément Aubert (Simon Gramat), Mathias Mlekuz (William Meyer), Jean-Toussaint Bernard (Yann Bellocq), Giorgia Sinicorni (Alessandra Najac), Côme Levin (Basile), Adrianna Gradziel (Eva Müller), Arben Bajraktaraj (Vladimir Komarov), Natasha Andrews (Gemma Williams), Nathan Willcocks (Edward Doisneau), Shane Woodward (Adam Wayne), Vincent Londez (Ivan Goldstein), Tiphaine Daviot (voice of Irene), Avant Strangel (Scientist), Ian McCamy (Adjunct Scientist)

Notes: The Amazon streaming link included above is for the English-subtitled edition of the series.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Alliance

MissionsAs Renoir hypnotizes Komarov, he returns the favor, regressing her to memories of her childhood home, and beginning to ask her questions about whether or not she believes humanity has a future at the rate it is consuming resources. As he continues questioning her, he reveals she has a destiny tied to both Earth and Mars. A visit from Meyer confirms this: Renoir’s own face is embedded in the rocks and soil of Mars, something which led him to recruit her for the mission. Meyer’s old nemesis (and Zillion founder Ivan Goldstein’s right-hand woman) Gemma Williams visits Ulysse, with engineer Allan Brody in tow, and Meyer’s crew debates over how much to tell her about what they’ve found on Mars. She quickly discovers that the DNA found in the stone altar is a storage medium. She also learns that the Ulysse crew is hiding something or someone who had previously been interrogated – violently – by the Z-1 crew…and she believes that Komarov killed them.

Download this episode via Amazonwritten by Ami Cohen
directed by Julien Lacombe
music by Etienne Forget

MissionsCast: Hélène Viviès (Jeanne Renoir), Clément Aubert (Simon Gramat), Mathias Mlekuz (William Meyer), Jean-Toussaint Bernard (Yann Bellocq), Giorgia Sinicorni (Alessandra Najac), Côme Levin (Basile), Adrianna Gradziel (Eva Müller), Arben Bajraktaraj (Vladimir Komarov), Natasha Andrews (Gemma Williams), Ben Homewood (Allan Brody), Tiphaine Daviot (voice of Irene), David Clark (Astronaut 1), Etienne Guillou-Kervern (Astronaut 2)

Notes: The series creators tip their hand of their love for the American series Lost when Gemma Williams jokes that the data encoded in the stone altar’s DNA is “the numbers from Lost” (presumably referring to Hurley’s lottery numbers). The Amazon streaming link included above is for the English-subtitled edition of the series.

LogBook entry by Earl Green