(Warning: This post does contain spoilers from Netflix’s “Away”)
Netflix’s “Away” ends Season 1 on a pretty hopeful and triumphant note: the five astronauts make it to Mars in one piece. But when we see that shot of the first foot making an imprint on that red Martian sand, it’s hard to tell who’s foot it is.
The next thing we see is Misha Popov (Mark Ivanir) talking to Dr. Lu Wang (Vivian Wu), and it seems like he’s walked a little bit farther than her, which would indicate that he might have been the first man on Mars. But it’s hard to say for sure, based on what we’re shown, who was really the first to take that famous step — so we asked showrunner Jessica Goldberg to clear things up for us.
“Well, we know who it is,” she told TheWrap. She was actually surprised that it wasn’t obvious to viewers because conversations in the writers’ room had been very clear about the choice.
“The idea is supposed to be Misha is the first, and then they decide as a community of people who have evolved on this mission to be one united group of people that are the first.”
Hence the picture of all five astronauts smiling together on Mars.
We know from earlier on in the series that Lu, who represents China on the mission, was originally supposed to be the one to take the first steps on Mars and soak up all the limelight for her country. But then her affair with one of her female co-workers, Mei, goes public, and the Chinese government harshly punishes them by firing Mei and disgracing Lu.
As a result, Lu is instructed to keep her visor up in the official picture, concealing her face from the public. But, being the badass that she is, Lu takes Commander Emma Green’s (Hilary Swank) advice and breaks those orders after China refuses to honor her demand to reinstate Mei in exchange for blocking out her face in what will likely become one of the most iconic images of all time.
“We wanted to make this larger statement about their evolution,” Goldberg said. “It’s very important on the ground who it is. From the beginning, it was decided it will be China, and then she makes a decision up there, and it’s all of them… the only reason that any of them are the first is because of all of them. For us, it was the most hopeful way to end Season 1.”
Goldberg said it wasn’t the writers’ intention to keep the identity of that first step-taker a mystery, but it’s a pleasant surprise to work with when they (hopefully) start writing the next season.
“We know in the room very clearly that it was Misha and a decision was made. But you know, I don’t always know how people who have not been in the show for years are seeing it. I find that really exciting to hear because we plan to talk about that more in a possible Season 2. So it’s kind of nice if it is vague.”
Well, there you have it, folks. And congrats to Misha.