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SyFy’s Ascension: Themes from Episode 2

(Spoiler Free)

I noticed quite a few major themes in last night’s episode of Ascension.  I don’t want to go into the plot twists and turns, because that’s a whole other post, really.  For now I want to focus on what life is like after spending 51 years in isolation, without any influence from the outside world.

Last night we learned that the inhabitants of Ascension were carefully selected.  Breeding is a selective process, as resources have to be allotted to each passenger.  Therefore no homosexuals were allowed on board; according to Harris, they are “superfluous” to the needs of the mission since they cannot reproduce.  Breeding is “regulated” so that the brightest offspring are produced.  In this case, Krista is one of those special offspring.

Ascension inhabitants have no idea about the Kennedy Assasination, the Civil Rights Movement, the sexual revolution, Women’s Rights, 9-11, Vietnam.  Sexual favors are exchanged for information.  The stewardesses are used as political spies.  Sex is a currency.

The people behind Project Ascension view it as a sociological experiment, though it has become “the best reality tv show never made.”  In that sense, it’s a lot like The Truman Show, where people live their lives in a totally contrived environment.  Indeed, this middle generation of inhabitants grows up with the forced understanding that they have no choice but to live out their lives on this ship with no ability to leave.  They will know everyone they will ever meet, and they will never see their final destination.

Harris believes that the people on the ship are happy to be where they are.  Or, more precisely, they are happily living in ignorance of the truth.  “Had you been born on that ship would you want to know the truth?” he asks.

As someone who studied both History and Political Science in college, I find the concept of Ascension to be fascinating.  These people are living in their own world.  They have been given the brightest minds and as many resources as possible, and so a little world has been created in which there is social strife (ie living life as a lower-decker) and a political hierarchy, but no crime (until now) and what seems to be a thriving communnity.  Of course, every Eden has its demise, and I’m sure that we’ll see this demise in the final chapter that airs tonight.

Are you watching Ascension?  What do you think?  Is such an experiment possible?