In space, no one can hear you scream that your AppleTV+ subscription has run out.

Better re-up or you’ll miss one of the most suspenseful shows of the year so far: Constellation. Lavish in budget, the eight-part drama premieres February 21 on AppleTV+.

Noomi Rapace stars as Jo, one of a small team of astronauts aboard the International Space Station. When disaster strikes, the shaken Russian and Americans on board have to cram into a Soyez capsule and scramble back to Earth. The bad news is that there isn’t room or oxygen for everybody. Jo takes charge, calls her own number and stays behind on the damaged space station.

Complicating things is that the crew were engaged in a top secret experiment contained in a small capsule just before all hell broke loose. One of the top NASA bosses back at Mission Control, played by Jonathan Banks (even crustier since his brooding Breaking Bad days), cares way more about the potential life force inside that experimental capsule than any of the lives aboad the damaged space station.

It is the race-against-time elements in the second half of the first hour that really steps up the suspense on Constellation. Jo has more tasks left than oxygen, with a very slim chance at survival. Director Michelle MacLaren takes us back and forth between Jo’s crisis and the astronaut’s young daughter (Rosie/Davina Coleman) and concerned husband (James D’Arcy) back on Earth.

There is a science fiction element to Constellation that adds another sneaky level of suspense. Viewers will be as confused and disoriented as Jo at times. The anxiety is purposeful, and there are several, “don’t-go-down-that-dark-space-tunnel!” moments.


Creator, executive producer and writer Peter Harness adds plenty of scripted complications. There’s something going on between Bank’s character and the top Russian space boss (Barbara Sukowa), both of whom keep popping little red and white pills. By the second episode, we learn that there may have been a little NASA noodling going on between Jo and her astronaut trainer.

Then there is the whole space-time continuum thing, a golden rule that may have been broken, resulting in some parrallel lives action.

Fans of such previous space epics as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Aliens,” “The Martian” and “Gravity” will want in on this mission. This has elements of all those films with plenty of Hitchcockian twists. Add a 24-like time crunch and some X-Files-ish conspiracy edge. Is that one or two genres too many? Perhaps, but the first two episodes I viewered added up to a very effective space thriller.

Kudos as well to the production team. The weightlessness in space effects are very effective, as is the ‘chopper and jeep budget on the ground.

Rapace, however, is the reason to watch this series. As great as the effects are, it is the close up shots of her face that tells much of this story. She is an ordinary hero, a ferociously protective mom, a woman on a mission. It is a performance both down to earth and over the moon.

Write A Comment