Review: Space Force: Season 2
Space Force: Season 2
Created by Greg Daniels and Steve Carell
3 Arts Entertainment
Broadcast on Netflix: 02.18
When space force premiered in May 2020, my review said it didn’t quite accomplish its mission, but it certainly got off the ground. Many other reviews were harsher than mine, and while the first season was flawed, it was ambitious. There were fun times, and at a time when the theaters were closed, space force felt like a full-scale movie, a glorified police academy film, yes, but a film nonetheless.
Space Force: Season 2 resumed with General Mark Naird (Steve Carell) and his crew of misfits and underdogs face the music after defying attack orders, as their arrival on the moon coincided with an unannounced Chinese mission that came dangerously close to an international incident in space. Naird and his team, including Dr Adrain Mallory (John Malkovich), Captain Angela Ali (Fawn Newsome), Dr Chan Kaifang (Jimmy O. Yang) and social media director Tony Scarapiducci (Ben Schwartz) are all required to testify before the chiefs of staff and to justify their actions. While Naird is allowed to remain in command, he has four months to prove to the new administration that the Space Force is productive, efficient, and worth any kind of operating budget.
This is the configuration for space force season two, and it’s not a bad start, especially with Tim Meadows of Saturday Night Live and mean girls giving a stage-stealing performance as the new Secretary of Defense. Unfortunately, the abbreviated seven-episode season is lost on the show’s premise now that it’s no longer a military comedy in the context of the Trump administration, and it also overstates the attempt to correct course against legitimate criticism: too much son intrigue, that some of the political satire was too broad, etc. Season 2 fell flat in this regard because its solution was to neutralize the satirical element entirely, giving us only the thinnest line of a narrative. Hell, the season could have been titled Space Force 2: The Search for a Conspiracy. The series also appears to have cut its budget and production value significantly, which is likely a response to both tentative feelings about the show’s future and the realities of filming under COVID-19 restrictions.
Space Force: Season 2 plays out like an average workplace sitcom with added F-bombs. The likeable cast makes the show quite enjoyable to watch, especially with performances by Schwartz, Malkovich and Diana Silvers like Erin Naird, the General’s daughter, who has an internship at Space Force. Newsome’s Angela Ali gets a character arc that’s a solid idea but is comically restrictive, and that dampens her presence a bit this season.
guest star Patton Oswalt is a highlight as a crazed, restless astronaut who’s been in space for a while, is heading to Mars on a mission that’s been aborted, and his interaction with Silvers is a delight. Being adrift on a mission that’s no longer relevant is a perfect metaphor for the state of the series. By the time episode six rolls around and it still doesn’t feel like it’s all going anywhere, there’s a small fire lit under the show runners. They pull out a nice little plot development that saves enough momentum to wake up the show and focus the final two episodes.
Space Force: Season 2 worth watching if you enjoyed the first season enough to feel an attachment to the characters – I count myself in that camp – but don’t expect any real story progression. It’s almost as if these episodes were just thrown together to stall while Carell and Greg Daniels tried to come up with a better premise for Season 3; it seems unlikely that they even need to worry about this much longer. It is with mixed feelings that I say that I would be surprised if the whole mission was not abandoned. – Patrick Gibbs