Reviews | Written by James Hanton 31/07/2019

ANOTHER LIFE

REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (ALL EPISODES) | WHERE TO WATCH: NETFLIX

Another Life is not just about aliens finally making themselves known on our planet. It is also about the other life lived when you are billions of miles from home in a claustrophobic ship. Such is the experience of Niko Breckinridge (Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff) and her crew that includes, among others, a fully sentient AI named William (Samuel Anderson). Their mission is to discover the homeworld of an alien race who have left gigantic crystal structures on Earth, while those back home scramble to work out what exactly the structures do.

Sadly, Another Life feels frustratingly unsettled. For the first five episodes it seems to leap between everything from sci-fi horror to psychological thriller, pulling off neither particularly well. One later episode doses out far too much steamy romance (must be all that space weed… yep, space weed). All the time the show is throwing tropes at you in the fleeting hope of something sticking. Alien, in particular, feels tiringly over-referenced. Another Life has slow tracking shots of empty corridors, a small crew lost in the vastness of space visiting a new planet, and even a spin on chest-bursting, to name just a few similarities. Combined with a script too trigger happy when it comes to introducing new characters (at the expense of explaining some of the finer details), Netflix’s latest mission gets off to a stalling start.

When the show does settle down, however, it manages to feel more purposeful. One of its greatest assets is one of the most unique representations of AI in recent years. William is by all accounts and purposes human, seemingly capable of feeling emotion and disobeying direct orders. His relationship with Niko provides one of Another Life’s most compelling elements, Anderson impressively balancing strong emotional bonds with an inescapable sense of detachment and distance. Also great to watch is Sackhoff, who even in Niko’s weakest moments seems to give a performance of real strength and determination. Bizarrely this is Sackhoff’s first-ever lead role in a TV series, and she rises above the rest of the show to make the most of the opportunity.

As the crew move closer to their destination, Another Life finally starts to reach something like its potential. The Earth-based storyline starts to feel increasingly secondary, almost a distraction, but in space at least the final three episodes come alive and leave the series ripe for a second season. Another Life takes too long to shirk off what could be considered amateurisms for a big Netflix release, but finishes on a high note. If another season can shine as brightly as this one ended, there is big potential for something more.