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The Ark Season 1: An Evolution

by Transmute Jun

Warning: the article contains spoilers for The Ark, Season 1.

Fans of SYFY’s The Ark went through a wild ride over the first season. The show began with a gripping emergency, then briefly settled into ‘crisis of the week’ mode, before moving into deeper storylines involving the main characters. By the end of Episode 12, these characters had gone through significant changes as a result of what they have experienced on Ark 1.

Sharon Garnet was cautious of opening up to others, due to her unorthodox lab upbringing as a clone.  She was reluctant to explain herself, and simply assumed leadership of Ark 1. Undoubtedly, the people of Ark 1 needed immediate leadership during the initial crisis, but as time went on, Garnet faced more challenges to her position, particularly from Spencer Lane. Garnet learned to open up, and how to work as a unit, eventually earning the respect of her crew, and even of her enemies (such as Evelyn Maddox). At the end of Season 1, it felt as if she had a stronger connection to Lane, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this pair deepening their relationship in future seasons.

Lane was devastated by the loss of Susan Ingram, with whom he had been romantically involved before launch. He was inclined to mistrust Garnet, and even worked to depose her at various moments. Eventually, Lane threw his support wholeheartedly behind William Trust, only to be betrayed himself at a crucial moment. It was only then that Lane realized the value in teammates such as Brice and Garnet, who were above board and didn’t play games with him. This revelation led Lane to sacrifice himself on their behalf. In turn, his willingness to do this led Garnet to risk everything to rescue him. It was this act that truly showed how the crew of Ark 1 has banded together, becoming a team over the course of Season 1.

The character of James Brice became an instant fan favorite, with his sense of humor, his appealing accent, and his unquestionable willingness to jump into action in a crisis (and to minimize the time spent debating issues). The reason behind this seeming death wish was revealed when viewers learned that Brice had Clampkins Disease, which had been caused by a failed experiment of Trust’s back on Earth.  While the character’s popularity made me fairly certain that he would survive, I was still fully engaged by Brice’s experience placing his hand inside the jar of venomous spiders, and thrilled to see him admit to his feelings for Eva Markovic.

Markovic began the season witnessing the sacrifice of her lover, Dominik, and having to deal with her survivor’s guilt that she hadn’t been able to save him. As time progressed, she turned to Brice, partly because he was understanding of her grief, but also because he trusted her with the secret of his Clampkins. Predictably, their feelings became stronger, yet despite the obviousness of this relationship, it is still fun to watch it develop, especially as Markovic’s and Brice’s headstrong personalities seem to clash every other scene.

Alicia Nevins and Angus Medford initially seemed as if they would develop a relationship as well, being the (presumably) two youngest members of the Ark 1 crew. Yet I was a little surprised by the twists and turns this took, with both of them developing an interest in others: relationships that were ultimately ill-fated. This made it more satisfying for me when they finally (tentatively) admitted to having feelings for each other during the Season 1 finale.

Cat Brandice started the season as a throwaway character: a two-dimensional social media influencer who really had no place on Ark 1, which was otherwise populated by intelligent, hardworking people. Yet over the course of the season, viewers learned that Cat has suffered through her own demons, including losing her hair and falling in love with her best friend’s husband. While Cat is still somewhat shallow, she has evolved as a person when dealing with the crises of Season 1, and has owned up to her past mistakes. This was shown when she rejected Trust’s advance in the season finale, insisting that what she needed was a friend, and not a lover.

Felix Strickland is perhaps the character who changed the least over the course of the season. He both started and ended with a strong sense of duty and purpose, and unwavering devotion to his family. While viewers learned more about Strickland as the season progressed, such as his past relationship with the Trusts, and why he left on Ark 1, what has really emerged is his compassion. Strickland’s insistence on helping Dr. Kabir, both with her workload and with her drug addiction, highlighted the kind of man he truly is.

Dr. Sanjivni Kabir started the season as possibly the most stressed person on television, refusing any respite when she felt that she had to take on every problem by herself. Strickland’s assistance helped her see that she wasn’t alone, and by the end of the season she was clearly working with the rest of the crew to develop the cure for Clampkins. I just hope that she can find another assistant to help her in the medical bay in future seasons.

The big plot twist at the end of Season 1 was that Proxima B, which had long been Ark 1’s destination, was not suited for habitation, and the Arks’ attempts to resolve the situation led to the planet’s destruction. Now Ark 1, along with its new maybe-ally Ark 15, must find a new planet to inhabit. Since the next closest inhabitable planet (of which they are aware) is a significant distance away, there are certain to be many issues occurring during that journey, including the possibility of coming across other Arks. To add to the mix, Kelly Fowler is certain to cause problems for both Arks with her obsessive desire for revenge.

The Ark has been renewed for Season 2, and I know that many viewers, including myself, are looking forward to the return of this show.

Do you watch The Ark? Join the conversation on the FoCC forums!

Transmute Jun

Transmute Jun has an addiction to pop culture conventions, and attends as many as she can each year. When she's not traveling, she likes to stay at home reading a good book, playing a video game, or binge-watching a TV show. She can be bribed with pizza, Coke Zero and Belgian milk chocolate.