Stowaway questions whether we should put science over humanity

After The 100, I’ve been itching for a space-based sci-fi thriller. While the trailer for Stowaway reminded me of Passengers, I wanted to watch it anyway. Anna Kendrick is one of my lady crushes — totally shipped her with Rebel Wilson’s character in Pitch Perfect.

Stowaway, released on Earth Day 2021, regards the path of a spaceship crew headed to Mars, for whom an unexpected passenger literally falls from the ceiling. Too far from Earth to turn back, they continue on their path despite dwindling resources — and decide in favor of a grim outcome rationalize for survival. Medical researcher Zoe Levenson (Kendrick) plays the devil’s advocate.

Spoilers ensue. Wasn’t gonna, but it feels a bit like racial bias in play so I had to.

Black man and white woman sitting inside spaceship window looking out over Earth
© Netflix

I’m going to preface here by saying movies are not totally my thing. They’re long — a large commitment. I’m not great commitments, especially those that require me to stay in one area and pay attention for longer than 50 minutes at a time. I have to move, to stretch — worst couch potato ever, but it is what it is. I need snacks, have to pee, wow brownies sound really good right now…fuck, gotta wash the dish — ya feel?

It is precisely 50 minutes into the movie that Toni Collette’s character Marina Barnett, the ship commander, has decided alongside someone named Jim — who speaks to her through a headset, so we never see him on screen — that the Black guy, Michael Adams (Shamier Anderson), who fell from the sky ceiling, must die. But wait. That’s not what we see.

David Kim (Daniel Dae Kim) and Marina approach Kendrick Zoe about this revelation, after discussing with each other — Marina approached him, to explain things, all the while keeping this Jim guy updated on the spaceship happenings. Zoe isn’t feeling the Michael-free spaceship vibes because it’s a literal human being they’re talking about. Marina is focused on the mission, stressing the importance of science. David doesn’t seem to agree with Marina, either.

Neither are to tell Michael.

They have ten days to determine a solution other than the murder of a Black man.

Alone in her chamber, Marina speaks to Jim.

Jim, for their safety, they need to try this… We have a five-month trip there, plus the trip back. I still need this crew to be able to perform critical tasks… No, they cannot do that if they are devastated by guilt.

She tells him she’s taking the ten days.

Jim sounds more and more like a white man whose pockets are lined with the cash of white supremacists — and is it horrible that I am down for them moving to another planet and letting us take care of our home one? Like, they’re gonna fuck it up major. Zenon would agree.

Three days later, their company Hyperion hasn’t figured anything out. David’s losing hope, says they’re endangering themselves — so is he in on it, too?

Like, fucking sidebar: I understand the importance of science and the human body’s innate will to survive — but are we truly supposed to think only of ourselves and science, only in the event that we are highly essential to the science itself?? BECAUSE IT WOULD MAKE A LOT OF SENSE AS TO WHY THE SCIENTIST AND I DID NOT WORK OUT. Her science-related work was deemed more important than me, all the fucking time. She legit told me it was cute that I wanted to help people like me feel less alone through creative expression/outlets.

Cute.

CUTE.

cute.

Completely: That’s cute, babe.

Afterward, she sexted me something that gave me uncomfortable pants feelings that, to this day, do not make me any bit of comfortable.

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What’s David to do?

He gets into some fridge area with what I presume is medicine, because he appears to be setting up a syringe. Michael’s watching a tablet with some headphones on that med bay bed. They’re gonna “talk”, because David has something difficult to say.

For some reason, the closed captions aren’t working now.

So David is also on the side of science, team Science Kru.

What is the mindset of a person who has decided their life is worth more than that of another’s, of a person who — I just had to restart Netflix because no closed captions means I can’t watch TV — thinks it’s better for less people to survive than all people in a group to survive? This is what I’ve struggled to understand my entire life — as an autistic person who constantly has to prove her right to exist, as a kid who watched the death penalty process on One Life to Live and was met with “so bad people are okay to you?” as a response to questions about why it was legal.

I’m reminded of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 and the Donner Party.

David gave to Michael an eternal sleep spell out of guilt. They had seven days. Have they not seen The Ring?? A lot can happen in seven days.

The only member of Science Kru who promised to do no harm is Zoe, and I feel highly that scientists should also have to swear oaths to do no harm.

Solar storm drama lama

bowl of popcorn in front of a deer-like animal chewingLe gasp. They’ve 20 minutes to make it back to the spaceship before a solar storm featuring heavy radiation affects them. Marina and David insist going back without the second oxygen canister they’re waiting to fill up, but Zoe says they need it for Michael — so they stay and fill it.

Getting back is a struggle. Drama. Lovely, lovely drama. The canister is lost, and she’s fallen back onto the oxygen tank platform. I think she realizes the brevity of the situation. Both make it back, but everyone knows what this means.

Three is still the magic number. Solar storms last hours? Someone takes one for the team anyway, for the oxygen tank is leaking and must be salvaged. If they don’t make it back, only two will be able to survive. The radiation is affecting them, — everyone has concluded this is it — and it’s one of those sad, savory moments in movies where you’re supposed to be serious as an audience member, but all I can think about is how daylight is peeking from the night sky, the fact that I need to do laundry next week, and how much oxygen they’ve used for this side mission alone.

Unanswered questions & various random thoughts

  • WHY was Michael forgotten on the spaceship?
    • HOW could no one have known he was on the ship?
    • Why the fuck was he viewed as the problem when he obviously didn’t want to be on the trip, anyways?
    • Leaving a WHOLE PLANET is a colossal difference from just leaving your hometown, especially when you don’t even get a chance to say goodbye. He had a sister, whom I presumed to be little.
    • He shouldn’t have to pay the price of someone else’s fucking mistake.
  • Romance isn’t touched at all, which is fine, but there is a tiny moment when I feel a tinge of David’s romantic feelings for one of the women.
  • What even is the way the spaceship actually looks? Because it doesn’t make sense when they’re outside, how it’s set up and the human sacrifice is looking at the captain.

A satisfactory conclusion does not grace the audience at the end, for it is much more a question of what? than it is presuming how they might survive. Why did the sacrifice not go back into the spaceship? (Radiation?) The voice-over before the credits went unappreciated by me, for I personally loathe the idea that anyone who is not a heterosexual, white, and/or male person must do extraordinary things with extraordinary sacrifices in order for their lives to have any meaning.

Add this to the list of movies that are not my jam.

P.S. I made the brownies. 💁‍♀️

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