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Set in the not-so-distant future, when the earth experiences a water crisis and a crew must travel to an abandoned lunar base hoping to retrieve a mysterious sample to save humanity.
Based on director Choi Hang Yong’s 2014 short film The Sea of Tranquility, The Silent Sea boasts an impressive cast of acclaimed Korean actors including Gong Yoo (Train to Busan, Goblin) Bae Doona (Kingdom, Stranger) and Hae Sung-tae (Squid Game).
Netflix’s latest big budget K-Drama is a shiny, sci-fi epic with impressive cinematography, set design and storytelling. At its core, it delves into ethical dilemmas around human nature, posing the question: is the human race in fact the scariest monster?
The Silent Sea begins in a bleak world, as a global water crisis sees pets euthanized and elites hoarding water from the rest of the population. South Korea’s “National Committee for Human Survival Measures” launches a mission to the moon with a handpicked crew of astronauts, engineers and scientists including astrobiologist Dr. Song Ji-an (Bae Doona). The unlucky few are tasked with retrieving a sample from an abandoned lunar station, where mass casualties five years prior were blamed on radioactivity levels.
The crew, led by an excellent Gong Yoo (Train to Busan), quickly realize things aren’t what they seem, unearthing government conspiracies, betrayals and past secrets with deadly consequences. The tone of The Silent Sea is reminiscent of the 1997 sci-fi horror film, Event Horizon, in which a crew investigates what happened on a haunted spaceship years prior to their arrival. Like Event Horizon, The Silent Sea gives viewers plenty of jolting scares and an uneasy feeling throughout the story.
While supporting cast members Lee Joon and Kim Sung-young do what they can with underdeveloped characters, The Silent Sea is really a showcase for Bae Doona. Dr. Song is the emotional core of the series, carrying with her a tragic backstory and hidden intentions. Bae Doona’s understated performance is so full of life, that even in stillness, she lets the audience into an entire world happening behind her eyes.
The first episode is action packed, but midway through the series, the pace slows. By episode four, I felt like I knew where things were going. I was wrong. Stick with it as The Silent Sea unfolds. I’ll refrain from describing any more of the plot, as doing so would provide major spoilers, but don’t let the uneven pacing keep you from finishing the story.
The Silent Sea is a thought provoking series that will stay with viewers long after the end credits. The thrills and unfolding mystery are compelling, but the overarching theme of humans destroying the earth and searching for ways to exist using other planets’ resources feels all too real and sobering.
The moral: In the struggle for the survival of the human race, difficult moral and ethical dilemmas will arise. While the American film Don’t Look Up is getting a lot of buzz, Netflix viewers should also check out The Silent Sea for a different perspective on the future of our planet, and the role of our outer space in the search for answers.
Someone else! I binged all eight episodes alone and had trouble sleeping. Plus, it’s fun to discuss the unraveling mystery and try to figure out what’s going on together.
The Silent Sea has garnered unfair comparisons to 2021’s breakout hit, Squid Games. While each Netflix series was made in Korea and contains a plot revolving around desperate people, that’s where the similarities end. A better comparison would be Event Horizon, Ad Astra or Interstellar, although this series uniquely stands on it’s own.