Beacon 23 Review: Where Space Lighthouse Meets Human Drama
“Beacon 23” emerges like a distant star in the ever-expansive sky of science fiction TV shows, offering a glimmer of something familiar yet strangely unique. Set in the 23rd century, this MGM+ series, adapted from Hugh Howey’s novel, orbits a space lighthouse, an intriguing symbol for guiding one through the unknown. The series stars Lena Headey and Stephan James, whose performances are pivotal in navigating the show’s fragmented cosmos.
The story crash-lands us into a world where Halan, an ex-soldier turned lighthouse keeper, encounters Aster, a survivor of a crashed ship. This setup launches a narrative brimming with secrets and lies, as neither character is who they appear to be. This element of mystery is one of the series’ stronger points, setting the stage for an intriguing game of cat and mouse.
However, as the series progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that its journey is as uneven as the deep space it portrays. While the series features clever world-building and is rich in atmospheric tension, it is marred by its lack of character depth and narrative momentum. The storytelling often stumbles, with episodes fluctuating between compelling and aimlessly drifting through its own created universe. The production design, dominated by metallic greys, mirrors the series’ struggle to fully color its expansive world, often feeling as cold and detached as the void of space it is set in.
What stands out are the performances of the main cast, particularly Headey and James, who deliver their roles with an emotional depth that often transcends the script’s limitations. Their dynamic is further complicated by the inclusion of two AI characters, BART and Harmony. Their presence adds a unique flavor to the story, albeit reminiscent of iconic AI figures from sci-fi classics.
Despite its promising start, “Beacon 23” often veers off course, becoming bogged down in narrative deviations and dense exposition. Its portrayal of Halan’s experience as a keeper and Aster’s interactions with him often feels contrived, lacking a substantial exploration of their backgrounds. This leads to a struggle to grasp the dynamics between the protagonists.
Interestingly, the series is most compelling when it deviates from its main characters. Episodes that explore the history of the beacon or focus on other characters offer glimpses into a more layered universe, suggesting the potential for a more robust narrative in future seasons. The show’s visual motifs, like the portrait of a man outside a lighthouse, add to the thematic depth, exploring themes of loneliness, trust, and the human condition in the face of technological advancement.
“Beacon 23” is a series that, while ambitious and conceptually intriguing, fails to hit the mark consistently. It’s a show that teeters on delivering something worthwhile but often gets tripped up by its own narrative labyrinth. It’s a constellation of brilliant ideas and missed opportunities, deserving of recognition for its approach, yet also critique for its inability to fully navigate itself.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5.0.
Beacon 23 is now streaming.