The Acclaimed Hybrid Series, Executive Produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Returns starting Sunday, November 11, 2018, with Veteran Showrunner Dee Johnson at the Helm. Expert ‘Big Thinkers’ Including Elon Musk, Bill Nye, Ellen Stofan, Naomi Klein And Stephen Petranek, Weigh in on the Conflicts Between Science and Industry as Humans Terraform This Brave New World
The prospect of Mars has never been more palpable. The idea once was considered science fiction, but in the blink of an eye, we’ll be there. Season 2 of National Geographic’s acclaimed series MARS – dubbed impressive, inspiring and scientifically honest by critics – returns starting globally, Sunday, November 11, with a six-episode arc continuing in last season’s unique hybrid format: alternating scripted and documentary sequences to predict what life will be like on the Red Planet forecasted by what’s happening today on Earth.
National Geographic partners again with Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Michael Rosenberg of Imagine Entertainment, as well as co-creator and executive producer Justin Wilkes and executive producer Jon Kamen of RadicalMedia to envision what might happen when Earthlings become the planet’s first Martians.
This season on MARS, the story delves into the boundaries between science and industry on an isolated, unforgiving frontier. Throughout history, there’s been a constant tug of war between human motivations and interests with profitability on one end of the spectrum and exploration on the other. When becoming interplanetary, can humans break the chain, or are they doomed to repeat the same mistakes in this new world?
MARS picks up five years after the conclusion of Season 1, following the successful maiden mission to the Red Planet when the original International Mars Science Foundation (IMSF) crew struggled to safely land on and create an initial settlement. It’s now the year 2042, and IMSF has established a fully-fledged colony, Olympus Town, but they cannot finance the Mars expedition alone. Doors of opportunity have swung wide open to the private sector, but tensions arise among original mission-driven scientists and miners sent by the for-profit corporation, Lukrum Industries, which create a new world of challenges for everyone on the Red Planet.
On the scripted front, the series tackles seemingly everyday occurrences – pregnancy, break ups, new romances, epidemics, breakdowns, power outages, injuries, exercise, mealtimes and socializing. But when they occur approximately 54.7 million isolated kilometres from Earth – where there is no escape – they are anything but ordinary. And while the mission-driven scientists, who first set foot on Red Planet nine years earlier, initially are alarmed by their new neighbours, some soon find themselves understanding and comingling with ‘the other side.’ Life on Mars intensifies when scientists who are searching for new life get upended by Lukrum’s mining mission; the worst natural disaster hits home; the first-generation Martian baby enters the new world; and when loved ones draw their last breath.
The MARS cast is comprised of returning actors from Season 1 along with several newcomers, including JiHAE (Mortal Engines), Jeff Hephner (Chicago Med, Code Black) and Esai Morales (Ozark, NYPD Blue).
On the documentary front, present-day vignettes draw parallels to the future happenings on Mars by looking at some of the dire issues facing Earth’s last frontier – the Arctic. This includes a spectrum of events that currently are compromising life on Earth – and could plague us in the future as we become an interplanetary species: drilling, glacial melting, rising sea level and indigenous health epidemics which surface when the permafrost melts.
On-camera experts – dubbed our ‘Big Thinkers’ – once again navigate the audience through the struggles and opportunities awaiting humans on Mars. This elite group includes some of the biggest names in human exploration, technology, the environment and social science, such as Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO; Ellen Stofan, former NASA Chief; Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and futurist; Casey Dreier, director of space policy at the Planetary Society; Antonia Juhasz, leading oil and energy expert; and Naomi Klein, bestselling author, activist and award-winning journalist on climate change.
In addition to the Big Thinkers, MARS’ scientific advisors give the scripted drama some heft. In this role, Stephen Petranek, award-winning author of How We’ll Live on Mars; Mae Jemison, former NASA astronaut; and Robert Braun, professor of aerospace engineering sciences at University of Colorado Boulder, guide the futuristic story on the Red Planet, assuring that everything is grounded in reality.
“Last season, we envisioned getting to Mars, so now, we’re shifting the conversation to what will happen once we’re on a planet where everything is alien and extraordinary,” says MARS Season 2 showrunner Dee Johnson (Nashville, Boss, ER). “Mars is a pressure cooker — there’s a constant push-pull between science and industry, and as a result, emotions run high. Although conflicting, their agendas are not mutually exclusive; with the advancement of science and exploration also comes industry and money making.”
“The series underscores how human nature doesn’t change when we become Martians, but navigating how we harness our instincts, emotions and behaviours on Mars is uncharted territory,” says Justin Wilkes, co-creator and executive producer of MARS, RadicalMedia. “MARS delves into how we’ll cope with heartbreak, mental health, illness, contamination, death, the first pregnancy and first baby on Mars, natural disasters and the quest for the planet’s natural resources, like water, which we often take for granted on Earth.”
“In MARS, everything as simple as the quotidian, like personal hygiene and meals, requires greater effort and is exponentially more difficult in this foreign frontier of limited resources where new rules are often written on the fly,” says Stephen Petranek, MARS’ co-executive producer, scientific advisor and Big Thinker. “Leaving Earth insures long-term human survival, and we have the technology and spirit to get there, but what will it actually take to live there? MARS is a six-to-nine month trip one way…so before we get there, we better make sure we can permanently make it our own.”
Directors Stephen Cragg (Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder) and Ashley Way (Doctor Who, Homeland) join returning director Everardo Gout (Days of Grace) for the second season.
MARS is produced by Imagine Entertainment and RadicalMedia for National Geographic. For Imagine Entertainment, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Michael Rosenberg are executive producers. For RadicalMedia, Justin Wilkes is co-creator and executive producer, and Jon Kamen and Tommy Turtle are the executive producers. Dee Johnson serves as the executive producer and showrunner with Taimi Arvidson and Meredith Kaulfers serving as supervising producers, and Jen Isaacson is the co-producer.
Episode 1: “We Are Not Alone”
After almost a decade alone on Mars, scientists at the International Mars Science Foundation’s (IMSF) fully developed Olympus Town settlement prepare for the arrival of a group of highly skilled astronauts working for Lukrum Industries, a for-profit corporation specializing in natural-resource extraction. Tensions arise when the miners from this new colony, led by Commander Kurt Hurrelle (Jeff Hephner), request IMSF’s aid without prior warning, forcing Olympus Town Mission Commander Hana Seung (JiHAE) to determine how to ensure a peaceful coexistence. In present day on Earth aboard the world’s northernmost oil platform in the Arctic, extreme conditions make for a Mars-like work environment. A worker shares the struggles of being away from his family for three weeks at a time.
Episode 2: “Worlds Apart”
IMSF and Lukrum, now sharing a common water and power source, have established a tenuous coexistence that threatens to dissolve when Kurt (Jeff Hephner) and his crew make unexpected headway in their mission to mine the planet, and Hana (JiHAE) works to maintain diplomacy between the two camps—until tragedy strikes. Mission physicist Amelie Durand (Clémentine Poidatz) prepares to leave on her return journey to Earth—without love interest Javier Delgado (Alberto Ammann), Olympus Town’s hydrologist and geochemist. Meanwhile, on Earth, Dr. Leslie Richardson (Cosima Shaw) asserts her authority as the new IMSF Secretary General. In present day, Greenpeace activists take to the seas to protest Arctic oil drilling in the Barents Sea, and the effectiveness of such tactics are examined.
Episode 3: “Darkness Falls”
When a solar flare strikes the planet, knocking out communications between and within colonies, the Olympus Town team races against the clock to locate exobiologist/geologist Marta Kamen (Anamaria Marinca), who becomes stranded on the surface during a rogue research expedition. Meanwhile, the colony is bracing for its first-ever pregnancy on the Red Planet; tragedy strikes Hana (JiHAE); and Amelie’s (Clémentine Poidatz) plans to return to Earth are thwarted. In present day, a scientist and his team on Earth brave harsh and dangerous conditions in the pursuit of data that will help predict the effects of glacial melt on global sea levels.
Episode 4: “Contagion”
Marta (Anamaria Marinca) convalesces as a mysterious illness sweeps through Olympus Town and Lukrum Colony. When IMSF realizes one of their own has died as a result, they race to determine its cause, origin and mode of transmission before time runs out—and more lives are claimed. Back in present day, Vladimir Chuprov, a Greenpeace activist, sheds light on an indigenous health crisis being kept quiet by the Russian state to benefit their Arctic oil endeavours.
Episode 5: “Power Play”
Lukrum strikes a deal with Russia for exclusive mining rights. Uneasiness spreads over Olympus Town as LT. Commander Mike Glenn (Gunnar Cauthery) undermines Hana, endangering the members of Lukrum Colony as a result. And, a new baby – the first-generation Martian – arrives early by two months! In the Arctic Circle in present day, nations attempt to work together to reign in corporate interests, protect fragile ecosystems and preserve indigenous lifestyles while fossil-fuel companies prioritize their own profit over the public good.
Episode 6: “The Shakeup”
Lukrum pushes their corporate interest too far and unintentionally jeopardizes the safety of both colonies. IMSF springs into action to stabilize the situation, but for some, it will be too late. In the current climate on Earth, human activity has destabilized the natural world. NASA’s Operation Icebridge studies Arctic sea ice in an attempt to bring awareness to global warming and the dramatically changing state of our planet, the only home we have… for now!