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The Noomi Rapace Renaissance Is Upon Us

12 years after Prometheus, the underrated sci-fi star is back with a new show on Apple TV+ that you probably missed.

Noomi Rapace in "Constellation."
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In 2012, the landscape of sci-fi TV and movies was very different than it is now. Just one month after The Avengers hit theaters, Ridley Scott took a big chance with his alien prequel Prometheus, easily the wildest and most divisive movie of the entire saga. But that film put one fantastic actor into the sci-fi spotlight forever: Noomi Rapace. Twelve years later, Rapace has made an impressive sci-fi comeback in a series that is not only better than Prometheus but is an underrated gem in its own right.

On March 27, the Apple TV+ sci-fi thriller Constellation dropped its Season 1 finale, which means, you can now binge the entire show. Here’s why you shouldn’t sleep on Constellation, why the season finale is gripping, and how this show has some serious sci-fi cred; from the stars to the brilliant writing.

Mild spoilers for Constellation ahead.

The stars of Constellation

Tension at Mission Control with Jonathan Banks and Barbara Sukowa.

Starring Noomi Rapace as astronaut Jo Ericsson, Constellation is, essentially, a space horror show that disguises the fact that it’s really an alternate universe show. After experiencing a horrible accident on the ISS, Jo returns to Earth but finds it isn’t the Earth she remembers.

The tagline of the series is “Reality is a conspiracy,” and if that sounds a little over-the-top, don’t worry too much. Constellation was created by Peter Harness, who has a lot of impressive credits, but for sci-fi fans, all you really need to know is that he wrote some of the best mind-bendy Doctor Who episodes in the Peter Capaldi era (specifically, the “The Zygon Invasion” and “The Zygon Inversion” in Season 9, and “The Pyramid at the End of the World” in Season 10). So Peter Harness knows how to do sci-fi conspiracies.

Constellation also co-stars Jonathan Banks (of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad fame) in the dual role of Henry and Bud, because yes there are duplicates and doppelgängers on this parallel universe show. In addition to Banks, you’ve got William Catlett (from Black Lightning), James D’Arcy (Howard Stark in the MCU), and Barbara Sukowa as Irena. For fans of the Terry Matalas-led, SyFy Channel version of 12 Monkeys, seeing Sukowa in another prominent sci-fi role where, once again, she has the keys to several twisty plot details, is simply delicious. Saying anything more about what Irena’s whole deal with is too much of a spoiler to drop if you haven’t seen the show.

Why Constellation is unique sci-fi

Jo (Noomi Rapace) faces an impossible world in Constellation.


Saying Constellation is a slightly more realistic Doctor Who premise may sound like a backhanded compliment, but the tension between prestige drama and gonzo sci-fi is exactly what makes this show so great. Although the show has contemporary astronauts and dueling interests between NASA and Roscosmos, Constellation is nothing like Apple’s other big astronaut show — the excellent For All Mankind. While For All Mankind will 100 percent shy away from zany sci-fi tropes (like time travel or suspended animation), Constellation goes full tilt into the intersection between parallel realities and realistic space travel.

This is the unique cocktail of Constellation. It has the small, human grit of For All Mankind, but it's not afraid to have the geeky, beating heart of a Doctor Who story, complete with a hint of what Black Mirror could be like if it ever did a season that was serialized. The entire cast is fantastic, but Rapace is truly what makes it all work. You believe Jo is devastated by her predicament; which begins by finding a dead 1960s cosmonaut skeleton in a space suit, and ends with a deceased version of herself from another world, possibly still alive.

But the reason we buy all of this is because Rapace shows us the moments where Jo is actually questioning if any of this is real. The show also plays with the chronology a bit and makes us wonder how Jo could be hearing cries for help from her daughter when we see her daughter seemingly asleep and safe. A straight-up horror movie version of this premise might never really answer the question but just be content to scare the sh*t out of us. Constellation is scary as hell, but it is also brave enough to actually explain to the audience what is going on. This alone makes it one of the best sci-fi shows on TV right now: thrilling, but generous with the audience, too.

Will Constellation Season 2 happen?

Peter Harness and Noomi Rapace worked together to make Constellation into the subtle, yet, bold series that it is.

Michael Buckner/Variety/Getty Images

Although Apple has not publicly renewed Constellation yet, the final moment of the last episode of Season 1, “These Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruin,” does end with a pretty big twist. Basically, without totally ruining this moment for new viewers, a version of one of the characters who we thought was dead turns out to be alive. Clearly, there’s room for Season 2 to happen. The conspiracy involving astronauts entering alternate universes is also revealed to be much bigger than we thought.

In a recent interview with TVLine, Noomi Rapace said of Season 2: “I hope so!” She also revealed she and Peter Harness collaborated on several aspects of the show’s story, and that “the very last image was not set in stone.”

Harness also made it clear, in February, that “there’s a long way to go with these characters,” and that “there’s a bigger story to tell about space, about the history of this..”

So, clearly, there’s a plan in place for multiple seasons of Constellation. And once you binge all eight episodes of Season 1, you’ll want to find yourself in an alternate reality where Season 2 is already streaming.

Constellation streams on Apple TV+.

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