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