Well, this is a true nightmare scenario, huh? Obviously the first manned mission to Mars is going to run into some bumps in the road during its three-year journey into deep space, but the crew of the Atlas has been hitting some really big bumps, no? And now, three months in, Ram is floating around the ship in the middle of the “night” (what is time in space anyway?) looking very unwell (the beard still looks great, we must acknowledge) and is unresponsive when Jack and the folks from Mission Control try to figure out what he’s doing. And then he tries to open the airlock … to the outside … which, may I remind you, IS ACTUAL OUTER SPACE. This is bad. Like, the most bad.
Ram is hallucinating, and once the crew gets there to sedate him before he kills them all, they realize he has an extremely high fever. He’s sick, and now they’ve all been exposed to whatever he has. Cool, cool, cool. No reason to panic here or anything.
Ram has highly infectious mono and a fever of 103.5. He is hallucinating his face off and if the antivirals the entire crew has to take don’t help this virus run its course very quickly, Ram will be sick — and contagious — for months. No one would ever want to be the person responsible for infecting some or all of the members of the mission to Mars, but Ram especially panics once he is lucid enough for Emma — who is braving exposure to help her crew member — to explain the situation. And that’s because, tragically, something like this has happened to him before.
Through Ram’s hallucinations, we learn that he was extremely ill with typhus as a child, and his older brother Rohit refused to leave his side. We see Rohit tell young Ram a Hindu epic poem about a “vimana” — a flying chariot — that goes up into the stars and to Mars. Going to Mars was their dream. As Ram confides to Emma later, he survived but Rohit caught typhus and died. And now the same thing could happen. Can you even imagine? No wonder Ram tells Emma that if his fever doesn’t break in 48 hours, she should put in him the airlock and shoot him into space. No wonder he begs her to stay away. The whole thing is just so, so awful. Dear lord, everyone on this spaceship is so sad.
Of course, Emma won’t just abandon Ram — protocols be damned! She even sits outside his room, waiting for his fever to break. We’ve seen Emma look a bit panicked before, but this is really the first time she’s looked scared.
Don’t think it can get any worse? What show have you been watching? Ram hallucinates Rohit walking into his room on the ship and gets up to stop him, only to fall and slice his back open on the way down. Mission Control can see his vitals completely plummet as he lies in a pool of his own blood. The whole team starts banging on his door and, as Ram assesses his injuries — yeah, he’ll need stitches — he tries to assure them that he can handle it. No one’s buying it. Emma goes in first, but is quickly followed by Kwesi and Lu. They’re a team, you guys! Is this possibly dumb for the mission? Maybe! Am I moved nonetheless? Yes. So much.
And just when you think Misha is totally going to be that dude who runs the other way for fear of contamination, he comes bounding back into the room with a stapler and quickly (and brutally!) staples up Ram’s wound to stop the bleeding. Before you worry too much about a scar, know that Emma comes back to nicely stitch up the wound, now that the bleeding has stopped. Once again, risking exposure to save her crew member and giving him time to confide in her about his brother.
Ram is still touch-and-go after that incident, but eventually Kwesi arrives at Emma’s door with good news: The fever has broken, and it looks like Ram will be okay. Emma is almost in tears at the news; she can finally breathe.
Emma goes to see Ram, who is exhausted but still able to wholeheartedly thank Emma for not shooting him out of the airlock. He opens up even more about Rohit, and (as if this story couldn’t get any sadder) he tells her that, once his brother died, his parents shut down and he lost his entire family. We’ve known something was up with Ram’s family because, during this crisis, the head of Indian Space Research Organization back on Earth reveals that Ram gave them explicit instructions not to reach out to his family unless he died. Things are, well, estranged.
Perhaps because his defenses are down from exhaustion (or because he just went through a near-death experience in the middle of outer space), Ram goes on about how incredible it is that people like his brother and Emma chose to stay by his side through such hardship. He follows that up with the thought that if he’s “ever lucky enough” to have someone stand by his side like that, he “won’t be afraid” and he’ll “never let her go.” Now it seems like Ram is talking about a hypothetical great love in the future, but by the uncomfortable look on Emma’s face, she might be taking that in a different, “did he just confess his feelings for me?” kind of way. Or maybe she is confronting some feelings of her own? I mean, space can do unexpected things to a person — as we just witnessed. Think about it.
• Matt has a huge decision to make: He’s told by his fellow patient, Travis, that he’d be much better off if he fails the physical test he’s about to take to determine if he can go home or not — staying full time at the rehab facility leads to a much faster recovery than doing it outpatient, no matter what the doctors say. After he learns that Lex walked out on a makeup exam, he decides it’s more important to be with her, regardless of what it does to his recovery. Matt’s going home.
• Lex is struggling a little bit. Although, who blames her? She gets a C on a Science test, which sends Emma into a tizzy — even though she has much more important things to worry about! — and then ditches the make-up exam to go hang out with Isaac, that cute boy who was staring at her in the cafeteria. She learns that Isaac’s dad was in the military and died not too long ago, so he might understand her a little. He seems nice, but also immediately gets Lex onto his dirt bike, so the jury’s still out on that kid.
• “If my mom wanted me to have support, then she wouldn’t have gone to Mars!” Obviously this fits in within the context of the show, but on its own, what an insane sentence. I treasure it.
• “Congrats again on the erection.” No amount of context makes that less insane.
• Wow, that sensory-deprivation exercise Kwesi describes as being zipped into a sleeping bag and locked in a dark closet sounds pretty awful, huh? It was nice to see Misha pay Ram — who lasted two hours during the exercise because he took a nap — a compliment: “He acts like this sensitive playboy Casanova, but he’s stronger than he seems.” I guess it’s a little backhanded, but this is Misha we’re talking about.
• Remember when Emma went to see Ram and said “Hi, you”? Mmm-hmm.
• Say what you will, but I am a sucker for montages set to moving choral music, okay? Lex finding an escape with Isaac, Matt leaving rehab to be home with his daughter, and young Ram at his brother’s funeral? Yeah, I felt things! I am only human!