Balhae Lunar Research Station
Episode 1 of The Silent Sea begins with alarms wailing. Internal pressure loss in the ship sees oxygen levels start to decline. Dr. Jian Song awakens, still strapped to her seat, as the crew work out exactly where they are. They’re 7.6 kilometers away from their destination, which happens to be the Balhae Lunar Research Station.
With the whole system crashing and communications down, Dr. Song realizes that there’s a leak aboard and they need to try and fix that. However, that’s easier said than done as the camera pans out and shows where the ship actually is. It’s resting precariously on the edge of a massive chasm.
We then cut back in time and see what’s really going on here. Earth is reaching breaking point. Sea levels are falling, predicted to drop as far as 40% in the next decade. Even worse, infant mortality rates have spiked to an all-time high while food shortages are a very real threat. Of course, this brings about regulations too, which sends people out into the streets protesting.
Jian meets Mr Kim when he shows up at her research station. She’s been working a lot on astrobiology and been getting a lot of attention for her efforts. He’s simply buttering her up for his latest project, which she outright refuses to engage with.
Director Choi recommended her for this mission though but there’s a catch – she needs to accept before actually hearing all the details. Mr Kim does drop the news that Balhae Station is the destination, which certainly piques her interest.
Now, Balhae Station is a Lunar project created by the Republic of Korea, although five years back it suffered a horrible accident that took the lives of 117 crew members. A radiation leak wiped them out, so it’s a pretty precarious situation.
Anyway, at the space center Jian shows up and meets the captain for the project, Han Yunjae. Joining them are fellow crew members Taesuk, Heesun and Soochan. Jiyoung happens to be the co-pilot, although she’s swapped out at the last second for a brash guy called Gisu. Doc Hong rounds out the group.
Their mission is to retrieve an important sample in a capsule to bring back to Earth to help with their research.
If the capsule is in good condition then retrieval should be easy but if there’s even a small defect then they need to be careful. There’s not a lot of other details to go on, which concerns many of the crew. They don’t know what they’re dealing with here, which is why the brilliance of Jian has been added to the mix.
Jian is in charge of the sample while Captain Han is the one leading the actual mission. The water situation on Earth is bleak and there’s actually a class system in place to decide who gets more water. With an A grade giving you access to more, all the way down to (presumably) F, then it gives these astronauts an incentive to fly up to Balhae Station.
After all, once they’ve completed their mission and touched down on Earth, they’re all going to be bumped up to a higher grade. A higher grade means more water, so it’s one heck of an incentive.
As the group fast approach the moon, a problem with the shuttle looks set to catch us up to the moments at the start of the season. They release the Landing Module while their ship is pulled in by the moon’s gravitational pull.
Skidding across the ground, the crew eventually work together to free themselves from their predicament. With the ship resting precariously on the edge, it begins to slip into the deep chasm below. In a scene that feels reminiscent to that in Jurassic Park: The Lost World, Jian slips through the window and finds herself clinging on for dear life. Thankfully she’s saved and the guys manage to make it onto the surface of the moon.
There’s no communication with SAA and with the station 7.6km away (not to mention their ship falling into the abyss), they have little other choice but to press on. Captain Han is convinced that the rescue ship will be along to save them but first up is a perilous trek. It’s a difficult situation, especially as oxygen deprivation is a very real worry.
Mr Hwang begins to suffer badly from this, doubling over and breathing hard. With their oxygen levels all hitting 9% or so, he begins to fade, collapsing against a rock. Bone fragments have punctured his lungs, thanks to his earlier injuries, and he’s out of water.
Captain Han fills his water up but Hwang stops him, coughing up blood and selflessly telling Han to save it for them. Unfortunately he fades, dying right there on the surface. However, they leave him with a capsule of water in his lifeless hand. Why do this? Wouldn’t they need that?
Anyway, with the oxygen levels at 1%, the group make it to Balhae Station as Soochan holds his nerve and opens the door. With the crew struggling, gasping for air, they manage to make it inside and shut the airlock just in time.
The Episode Review
The Silent Sea gets off to an exciting start here, introducing our main characters and finally portraying a group of astronauts that aren’t all bickering and engaging in melodramatic feuds (looking at you, Mars, Star Trek Discovery and Another Life). There are a few contrivances here, like leaving the water for the deceased Hwang, but largely this chapter does well to establish the threat on Earth and how these astronauts can help save them all.
I’d imagine that this Balhae Station holds some form of extraterrestrial sample that can help solve Earth’s problems, potentially introducing some form of filtration system or food source that’s unknown to us. But that’s just a guess at this point, given we’re writing these recaps as we’re watching along!
In the meantime, this show has an absolutely stacked cast and there are famous Korean faces all over the place. It’s a real joy to see so many of these big stars come together and the visual effects, alongside the good acting and interesting screenplay, make this a really enticing project. Now that the group are aboard Balhae Station, the real mission is about to begin.