• Dana Piccoli

Space drama "Away" will give you the feels with its tender queer love story

Contains spoilers for Netflix's Away




Get in gays, we're going to Mars! Well, ok not technically, but at least that's what the crew in Netflix's Away is doing. Led by Commander Emma Green (Hilary Swank), who is in charge of the first mission to Mars, Away may be a gripping space drama, it's also very much a story about family and relationships. As soon as Commander Green's team reaches the moon, her husband Mark (Josh Charles), a fellow astronaut back on Earth, has a stroke. At the same time, an incident happens on board that shakes the crew's confidence in their Commander. Joining Emma is cosmonaut Misha Popov (Mark Ivanir) from Russia, Dr. Ram Arya (Ray Panthaki) from India, Dr. Kwesi Weisberg-Abban (Ato Essandoh) from the UK, and Dr. Lu Wang (Vivian Wu) from China. The international mission includes representatives at NASA as well, including CAPCOM specialist, Mei Chen (Nadia Hatta).



Dr. Lu Wang (Vivian Wu) in action


Lu is one of the astronauts who doubts Emma's ability to lead but in Episode 3, Lu has other things to deal with that shake her to her core. Lu is in a loveless marriage of convenience back on Earth to her husband, but she adores her sweet son Zhang Lei. When she arrived in the US two years prior to the launch, she became close to Mei. The two women eventually fall in love but do not physically act upon the attraction due to Lu's concerns for her family and her career. However, right before Lu leaves for the three-year-long voyage, they profess their love and Mei gives Lu a ring with the engraving, "Women hold up half the sky." After spending their first and only night together, Lu leaves Mei a note in brush calligraphy, an art Lu had been teaching Mei.


Soon after the crew begins their trip to Mars, they are alerted that Mei has been replaced as CAPCOM by American astronaut Jack Willmore. In a panic, Lu reaches out to the Chinese attache only to be informed that her note to Mei was found and they thought it best to cease communications between the two. Looking at three years with no chance to speak to Mei, Lu is brokenhearted. When Jack spills the gossip to the crew, Mei lashes out at Emma, assuming it was her that told her colleagues. (Emma later tears Jack a new asshole for outing Lu.)


Feeling guilty over what he did, Jack figures out a way for Lu and Emma to speak on an unmonitored line and Emma helps connect the two. The women exchange a tearful and love-filled conversation, and Mei agrees to wait for Lu to return.



Mei Chen (Nadia Hatta) looking for her love in the stars


The episode is filled with flashbacks to when Lu and Mei first connected, and how their love affair grew. It's incredibly chaste, but their intimacy grows as they learn from each other and realize that they are meant to be, even if it feels impossible sometimes. Being so far from home and seeing her life played out in front of her pushes Lu to reach for what she really wants and needs.


You can watch the entire first season of Away on Netflix now.

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