Syfy’s event series Ascension is the vanguard of the network’s quest to redeem itself to all those fans it’s alienated in the years since it was the home for beloved shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, and Stargate. Since then we’ve been through a name change, quite a few bad “reality” shows, and plenty of fun but largely forgettable fluff like Eureka. Now Syfy says they want to be in the business of making serious genre entertainment that can compete with the likes of HBO and AMC. That’s bold talk from the makers of Opposite Worlds, but we do have to admit: things are looking good the more we see of Ascension. Check out the latest trailer below.
If you’ve somehow managed to miss our talking about it for the past several months, Ascension posits a top secret space mission launched some 50 years ago. If you’re bad at math, that put it right in the hottest part of the Cold War, when fears that we might nuke ourselves into oblivion were very real and pressing. Since, as the Interstellar trailer taught us, mankind was born on Earth but never meant to die there, the Ascension project loaded up 600 people inside a massive “generation ship” and launched them on a 100-year voyage to a distant but habitable alien world called Proxima. Halfway through that journey — so, now, in other words — the ship is rocked by its first murder ever, “one which causes the ship’s crew to question the true nature of their mission.”
There are a couple of things worth noting in the latest trailer, aside from the fact that it looks pretty great. For one thing, there’s the curious moments that open the trailer, where we see Gil Bellows as the son of the Ascension project’s creator, back on modern-day Earth. I’m very curious to see how his story will connect with the one playing out on the ship. Maybe it will just be used as a framing device to take us into the world of Ascension. Or maybe he’ll find some way to communicate with the ship and find out how his father’s work is faring. But then again…it makes me wonder.
It makes me think about that line from the synopsis, the one about the crew questioning “the true nature of their mission.” What exactly could the nature of that mission be, if it’s not the stated goal of colonizing another world so our species doesn’t have all its eggs in one planetary basket? What sort of curve ball could they be saving to throw at us? This is pure speculation, but…what if the Ascension never left? Could it just be a Truman Show-style experiment playing out on a grand scale? After all, a simulation of that sort of grand space mission would have been a lot easier to set up in 1963 than the real thing, and a long-term simulation with a crew that wasn’t in on the gag could let you learn a lot about what such a mission would require, and what it would do to the people embarking on it.
I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen, and I honestly hope they don’t go that route because it’s the sort of twist that’s been done a lot before, but still. It makes me wonder.
It’s also worth noting that the ship itself seems to have undergone some major upgrades in the past few months. Here’s how the ship looked in the first teaser we saw:
And here’s how it looks now:
At any rate, Ascension is definitely getting our hopes up, with this latest trailer showcasing some massive, gorgeous sets and a what’s been called a “Mad Men in space” retro style for the world that’s evolved aboard the ship. The cast includes BSG veteran Tricia Helfer as the beautiful and manipulative wife of Captain William Denninger (Brian Van Holt). It was created and written by Philip Levens, who previously worked on Smallville. Will the show have what it takes to prove that Syfy is back to what it always should have been? We shall see. In the mean time you can check out more on Ascension in the featurette below.
Ascension will premiere December 15 at 9/8c on Syfy.