Oasis Review – A new chapter of human exploration

Since the mankind can think people try to explore new places, continents and even planets. We live in a time where it is quite difficult to explore unexplored areas – most of the earth is explored and our technologies to reach the stars are quite limited. Amazon Video launched with the Pilot of Oasis not just another show, but a thought experiment which aims on the very near future of the human race and all its challenges. The story is based on Michael Faber’s Novel: The Book of Strange New Things, which got mostly good critics by the common English newspapers (The Guardian, The Independent).

At the beginning of the first episode the problems we’re faced with seem quite familiar with award-winning movies like Interstellar: the mankind is on the edge of a precipice, challenging the lack of resources. But we won’t get any further information about the exact circumstances. Instead England is presented as a preapocalytiptic Country which suffers from mass immigration, short supplies and social inequality, that even leads to euthanasia. As a matter of fact an international corporation called USIC reached out into space creating a colony on a foreign planet.

On the earth the colony is praised as a new inspiration and the endurance for the survival of the human race in an Eden like place called Oasis. In the middle of the mess on the earth Peter Leigh (Richard Madden), a chaplain, tries to stand in for his human values and try to help as many people as possible in his church. He disagrees with everything concerning the colony Oasis, but as he finds himself in a personal crisis when his wife dies, he is persuaded by the leader of the colony, who asks for a man of god deep in space.

He is getting into the spaceship to Oasis very fast, together with a bunch of engineers, botanists and other useful people who should expand the colony. They arrive in a sandstorm on the planet, and get into the facility, which isn’t really like the paradise which it should be. In the very beginning Peter notices three gravestones outside, and we get the first hints for his reason to be there. In the facility itself everything is about functionality, as there is a lack of resources as well. Even the water is short due to accidents at the drill, which resulted in the death of three workers.  David Morgan who called for Peter is missing since a few days, and Peter realizes that there is something fishy about the whole colony.

He decides to investigate on his own, and offer everyone an open ear. He soon finds out, that the people find themselves in personal lucid hallucinations, which leaded to the accidents and their death. But these incidents has been covered up by the medical department of the facility as long as Peter tried to reveal the truth. They all come to the conclusion that an unknown force on the planet notices and influences their presence.

As Peter examine the traces of David Morgan (Jonjo O’Neill) who is still missing, he discover strange cryptic messages and the coordinates of a location on the planet, which is written on the wall of Morgan’s Room. He drives to the coordinates with a jeep and isn’t even stopped by the Head of Security Sara Keller (Antje Traue), because she is also experiencing strange hallucinations of her daughter. As he arrives at the site he finds a cave with a little fountain and weird voices – in front of him some strange shapes in robes, which appears to be the native population.

Director Kevin Macdonald creates powerful scenic images, like the sterile and futuristic compound, or even the desolate and dark cities on the earth. The visualisation of the hallucinations are simple but stunning and sometimes also quite scary. The background music fits to the scenes, and the sound effects create unease and a mystery air.

The setting give some analogies to the present situation in Europe which is also shaped by the refugee crisis and the lack of resources in poor countries. Also the private space company USIC reminds somehow of SpaceX, which also offers private space travel and launches private missions.

Concerning the Plot, Oasis is nothing new, but it sets new accents in the relation between humans and space. The story have a huge potential, and there are still many open questions regarding the native population of the planet, the fate of Morgan or the development on the earth. But also the funny constellation of a priest who travelled through the sky and reached new frontiers is unusual and could create interesting story lines.

In Conclusion Oasis started with a strong pilot, a well-known setting, intense images, and a quite innovative approach to a story of human exploration and colonization in space which is paired with a mystical flair and a set of existential, ethical and religious questions relating to the characters. But there is a danger that the story loses its context and focus too much on personal stories than the bigger picture, as it happened in similiar productions before. The next episodes will show if Oasis can keep the promises.

You can watch the Pilot Episode of Oasis on Amazon Video.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber on Amazon.

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