We’re two weeks out from landing on Mars and you know the Atlas is due for at least one more catastrophe. As Misha has stated many times, the back-up water system the crew is currently surviving on wasn’t intended to be used this way or for this long, and it’s a miracle it’s even lasted this long. And then it dies.
The crew takes one last bag in a hopeful exercise to see what’s left for them, and end up with a measly 24 ounces of water to split between the five of them. It’s not enough to get through two days, let alone the two weeks they have before attempting their landing. Kwesi, who became fixated on water after watching his birth parents die of dysentery, gives the crew the rundown on what’s about to happen to them and suggests they should let Ground know that since they’re all about to go out of their minds like Emma demonstrated not too long ago, if they have a complicated procedure for them to perform to possibly save their lives, they should get it to them in the next six hours.
Oh, they have some ideas all right. Remember when I said that there was no way that info drop about the walls of the ship being lined with water to protect them from radiation was by accident? Well, we’re drilling into the walls now, people. The easier way to do this — and please remember in space “easier” is extremely relative — is to drill from the inside into one of the bladders of water. Making the astronauts go outside to drill for water is much more dangerous for a whole host of reasons, including, say it with me: spacewalk!
But drilling inside the ship isn’t without some grave risk. Misha, ever the calming force on Atlas, relays a (true!) Russian “ghost story” about the space station in 1997 when one of its modules, Spektr, was hit by a freighter during a docking exercise and the astronauts heard the hissing of air leaking into space, knowing it meant it was only a matter of time before their brains exploded. I mean, they were able to seal Spektr off before that happened, but just the thought of it is disconcerting. And it is one of the very real dangers the crew of the Atlas faces as it drills into the wall of the crew quarters. The wall is only one inch thick, so it is very reasonable to worry that they puncture the wall and let their oxygen into the vacuum of space. If that happens — if they hear that hiss — they need to get the hell out and seal off that part of the ship. Each crew member has a few minutes to grab their most prized possession from their pods in case that happens.
Oh, it happens. Of course it happens! Poor Ram, so nervous, punctures the wall and the team has to get out as quickly as possible. The crew quarters are lost to them. The outlook of their situation is dire. Everyone is grappling with the impending death of the crew of the Atlas.
Well, except for Matt. Matt’s been working on ideas for drilling from outside the ship, and his first plan literally goes up in flames. But after the failure in the crew quarters, and seeing the heads of the joint initiative gathering to put together speeches about the loss of the crew — giving up, essentially — he drops a hard F on the Mission Control floor and then gets shocked by a little static electricity. It gives him an idea so insane it just might work.
Meanwhile, up on the Atlas, the crew is accepting their imminent death. Embarrassed, Misha has to admit that in the few seconds they had to grab things from their pods, he grabbed his space dog and not his homemade vodka, which would’ve been very useful at this time. He’s worried he’d be kicked out of Russia if anyone found out. Everyone erupts in laughter, as people do in times of high emotional stress. Everyone, that is, except Emma, who you know is just the biggest fucking buzzkill at parties. Before things get too bleak, a message comes in from Matt: “Don’t lose hope, I have an idea.”
When presenting this idea to the people in charge he acknowledges that it amounts of a fourth-grade science experiment, but it really could work: They send out two astronauts, use a machine to give their space suits a static charge, open the valve where the water is on the outside, the water will turn into crystals because it’s pretty much absolute zero out in space, and the crystals will be attracted to the negative ions on the suit, letting the astronaut guide all the crystals into the water bags, which they can fill up and then toss on the ship. As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s the only option left. Bring on the static electricity.
Emma and Ram are the two astronauts going out on this Last Chance Spacewalk. It’s Ram’s first, so that’s fun. Earlier in the day, he made a comment to Emma about how maybe the silver lining of being alone is that “you can’t destroy any lives if you die.” Which, honestly, is such an awful thing to say to someone angsting over her choice of leaving her husband and teen daughter behind! Like, that offers no comfort to anyone. Emma’s response was to reassure Ram that his “death would destroy a life or two.” First of all, I really hate that turn of phrase. Second of all, if Ram was content to stuff down any feelings he had for Emma, I think they became very unstuffed in that moment. And then, as the two of them are sitting in the airlock waiting to go outside, Ram officially makes his feelings known: He tells Emma that before he thought that dying for a cause greater than him would be the sign of a life well-lived, but that’s not how he feels anymore. When Emma asks what changed, Ram lays it all out there: “You,” he says. When she tells him he can’t say things like that, he tells her that given the likelihood of death, he had to say it. Out in space, they’ll be fighting for survival and he’ll be “fighting to remain in a world with [her],” he confesses. I feel like there should be a No Talking in the Air Lock rule. People need to stop making declarations, whether positive or negative, before these spacewalks. There’s enough tension in that room, people!
Emma has no response, but there are a lot of conflicted looks. Then they go outside. It’s just the two of them out there and their job is done in awed silence. Matt’s plan works, and Emma’s surrounded by ice crystals that follow her over to Ram where the two catch them in bags. Once they get back in the airlock, they stare at each other like two big ol’ dummies who know they’re not about to die. Okay, Ram’s look might also be one of pure love — Emma is very hard to read — but dang, are they happy. “We’re gonna live,” she says. Ram steps closer to her in a very romantic way but they just continue to stare at one another. They know what they just shared together out there. Man, if these guys actually make it to Mars there’s gonna be some explaining to do!
• What a wholesome little teen love story we’re getting on Away. Isaac shows up to apologize for bailing on Lex after the accident and during the Pegasus situation, but it all reminded him too much of his dad. Thanks to his mom, he realized he needed to be there for Lex, not hide from her. When she tells him that on top of everything, she got tested for CCM and could very well have it, he isn’t scared off. He spends the day trying to make her forget, just for a little, all the things that are stressing her out. His first two attempts, church and chili, don’t really do the job. His third attempt — making out in the back of his truck — works perfectly, however.
• Uh-oh, when Matt calls Melissa to see how Lex is doing, she lies and says she’s totally fine when in reality, Melissa hasn’t been able to get a hold of Lex all day. Will this lie come back to bite Melissa?
• Emma gets another message from Matt right after he sends the static electricity plans and Emma weeps once more thinking about how she might never see him again. I’m here for their great love story, but this cannot be healthy!
• Misha tells Emma he’s sad he can’t be out there on the spacewalk with her, and knows he’ll never do one again. Emma’s honored she was the one with him for his last one. They’ve come such a long way, what a thing to see!
• I thought I could not love Kwesi any more until he said the sentence “I have an obsession with all things water.”
Lu’s perfect final words she sends to the heads of the Joint Initiative: “It was worth it.”