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Netflix’s The Silent Sea (2021) – Review

Netflix’s The Silent Sea sees a crew of space explorers on a covert 24-hour mission to the lunar base – Balhae station amidst a major water scarcity on Earth.

The Sci-FI K-Drama has become the most-watched non-English series on the platform this week, according to Netflix’s official most-watched list. ‘The Silent Sea’ has been directed by Choi Hang Yong.  It is based on his 2014 short film ‘The Sea of Tranquility’. Set in the near future – a dystopian Earth, the eight-episode series is intriguing due to its great storytelling. The show sees worldwide desertification.

This has caused governments to ration water. The citizens are assigned a “water grade”, the higher level you are, the more water you get. It is based on social class or status highlighting the economic disparity and inequality in the society. This determines how much water they are allowed to access, and therefore you will see the citizens raising their voices to abolish the regulations as inequalities in water access intensify.

The opening scene of the show sets the tone for the bleak series of events when the spacecraft carrying the crew violently crashes on the moon’s surface suffering a system failure but it does not let the viewers know the complexities of their mission. Although it does not sound complicated when you know the mission is to retrieve a sample from an outpost research facility on the Moon. However, the secrecy does make you suspicious of both the nature of the sample, the authorities, and the Balhae Lunar Research Center.

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In the first episode, we see long queues of people waiting to receive their water as if they are standing outside an ATM. A world where fish don’t exist anymore due to the lack of rainfall and water scarcity caused by climate change. With no trees in sight, a barren and desert-like land, this is something we do see coming in the near future and even river beds drying up which poses a challenge for desalination plants.

The infant mortality rate sees an all-time high with the major causes being infections and diseases caused by the consumption of contaminated water. Even pets are forbidden! A news reporter says: “Illegal pet keeping remains a growing problem in many communities”. Some still keep pets even after the Government offers to waive fines and provide free euthanasia and among these is Dr. Song who also provides water to a puppy from her own stash. She is also seen looking after a wounded tiger (sitting right beside it) – what seems like the last of its kind.

This image provided by Netflix shows a scene from “The Silent Sea.” (Image via The Korea Bizwire)

Furthermore, she is also able to calm the tiger when Kim Jae-Sun (played by Heo Sung-Tae who was Jang Deok-su in Netflix’s most-watched series ‘Squid Game’) arrives to meet an ethologist and a former astrobiologist – Dr. Song Ji-an as they need an expert astrobiologist for an important mission. Dr. Song says she is no more interested in astrobiology but reconsiders when she hears the destination of the mission is Balhae Station and that she was recommended by Director Choi (the ‘In Her Place’ star Gil Hae-Yeon).

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The crew which consists of Dr. Song Jian (the ‘Sense8’, ‘Stranger’ and Kingdom’ star), Captain Han Yun-Jae (the ‘Train to Busan’ star Gong Yoo who among other Korean movies and shows also did a cameo in ‘Squid Game’), a doctor (Kim Sun-Young), the pilot, co-pilot and engineer, a design man Chief Gong (played by Lee Moo Saeng) who knows about the space station, two soldiers – one including Lieutenant Ryu Tae-Suk (Lee Joon) who make their way to the Balhae Station.

Not only is Dr. Song on this mission to possibly save humanity but also for a personal reason with Captain Han and her coming off as complete opposites in the crew. Han follows orders without asking any questions while the latter asks too many questions.

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Captain Han’s priority is to retrieve the sample from the space station to Earth, whereas Dr. Song wishes to investigate what really happened five years ago at the Balhae Lunar Research Center which would be permanently closed after this mission is completed. It is said that the entire crew working at the Balhae Station died due to a radiation leak five years ago, and since then the Station has been abandoned.

The story is well-paced or perhaps even fast-paced as loads of information is thrown at us in the first half of the series whereas the second half seems slow-paced making you feel like it is being dragged on for too long. It sees a skilled cast who perfectly embody their roles.

‘The Silent Sea’ has a great canvas and landscape and the moment the crew arrives on the moon you might feel creepy due to the eerie silence. We see the crew move through the ventilation shafts in their spacesuits and also how scary it can be stepping into the unknown, finding solutions to problems that endanger humanity. All in all, the series is a wonderful watch that the sci-fi fans will like watching and others may enjoy the mystery in it too.

Find ‘The Silent Sea’ on Netflix: HERE
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Featured Image adapted via What’s On Netflix

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