‘Constellation’ Series Review: A Failed Mission That Never Fully Took Off

Screenwriter Peter Harness enters the world of space in the Apple TV+ original series ConstellationThe eight-episode series stars Noomi Rapace in the lead role of Jo, an astronaut who returns to Earth after a failed space mission. James D’ArcyJonathan Banks, and twins Rosie and Davina Coleman also star alongside Rapace

Constellation follows the story of the International Space Station’s troubles after an unidentified object collides with the shuttle. Three of the surviving astronauts make an emergency evacuation, leading Jo (Rapace) into space to repair the space shuttle. Upon returning to Earth, Jo finds that parts of her life are missing or not exactly how she remembers them.

Noomi Rapace in Constellation. Image courtesy of Apple TV+.
Noomi Rapace in Constellation. Image courtesy of Apple TV+.

I am a massive advocate for Apple TV+ series as I believe they consistently produce excellent shows. Factoring that with being a fan of Noomi Rapace and Jonathan Banks, I felt we could be in for a real treat with ConstellationHonestly, if you sold the show to me on the pilot alone, this was a no-brainer because the intrigue they left you with after the first episode hooked me. 

Constellation suffers from lackluster writing

Sadly, from that point forward, this became one of the biggest disasters of a series I have ever seen. The series follows two intertwined stories, with Jo as both focal points. We see her dealing with what unraveled on the spaceship and life after what happened. The story becomes quite convoluted from the jump because everything they built within the first episode quickly becomes uninteresting. 

I love a show with good twists and turns, but Peter Harness tries too hard to deliver something fancy yet forgets to make it worthy of watching. Jo’s story is straightforward as she is an astronaut who returns from space with many issues. But the mystery within her story is the bits and pieces of figuring out what’s real and what isn’t. Harness purposely makes audiences unaware of what is happening so they can put his pieces together. Sadly, even when those pieces come together, you wonder why you invested so much time into the series. 

James D’Arcy in Constellation. Image courtesy of Apple TV+.

The actors did their best with what they had

You can have a bad script and have great actors bring it to life in a way that makes it enjoyable. However, no matter what Noomi Rapace does in this show as Jo, nothing she does makes it enjoyable. Rapace is good in the somber moments of the series, and you can feel the emotions of Jo’s struggle to figure out the reality of her life. That said, Rapace also has moments where you are puzzled at what she was trying to accomplish with Jo, but I mainly blame the script for that. 

The lone bright spot in the series was the twins Rosie and Davina Coleman, who played Jo’s daughter Alice. In this twisted and uneventful ride, Alice was caught in the middle of her mother’s twisted world. I won’t dive too deep into her character because she plays a vital role in the story. The twins do a remarkable job as Alice, even providing a much-needed emotional realm of the series we didn’t get with any of the other characters. At this young age, when delivering these types of performances, we can expect a bright future for these twins. 

A character that was a complete misfire was Commander Henry Caldera (Jonathan Banks). Caldera wasn’t a good guy by any stretch of the imagination, and that was on full display when we saw him care more about the return of his Data Core from space than the astronauts in space. The alternative motive for Caldera is where the series loses much of the steam with the character. Like Jo, we get two variations of Caldera, one being a menacing presence in the space station while the other is a grumpy old man living off the past; neither story comes full circle. Somewhere within the series, we are expected to care about his arc, but I never did. 

Constellation is visually pleasing

Everything in space was stunning and beautiful to look at. From the production team to the visual effects team to the special effects team, elevate the series by fully immersing you in space. Of course, when we leave space, everything begins to fall apart. 

Noomi Rapace as Jo in Constellation. Image courtesy of Apple TV+.
Noomi Rapace as Jo in Constellation. Image courtesy of Apple TV+.

Final thoughts on the series

Constellation is a rare swing and a miss for Apple TV+. Peter Harness’s continued attempt, episode after episode, to outsmart his audience proved to become something he couldn’t even manage in the end. Although the series’ ending begged for more ConstellationApple (which canceled the series) was like me and realized that any more of this would send all audiences on a space mission unworthy of going on. 

Constellation is now streaming on Apple TV+.

Learn more about the series, including how to watch it, at the official website for the title.

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