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Space Force (Netflix)
Space Force (Netflix)

Television

‘Space Force’ Season 2 review

The second season of ‘Space Force’ ends up being more of same, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It’s been almost two years since the first season of Steve Carell’s military workplace comedy Space Force was released on Netflix. The series wasn’t anything earth shattering (or moon shattering), but still a lot of fun.

This Friday, Space Force‘s second season hits Netflix with all seven episodes available to watch at once. Before we dive into our mostly spoiler free advance look at things, here’s where we left off back in May of 2020:

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  • General Mark R. Naird (Steve Carell) conspires with Space Force chief scientist Dr. Adrian Mallory (John Malkovich) to thwart a planned military strike on a Chinese moon base, which was ordered in retaliation for them destroying the American flag that resides on the moon.
  • Mark has Captain Angela Ali (Tawny Newsome) disable Space Force’s weapons so they won’t be forced into starting a conflict that could result in nuclear war on earth.
  • On orders from the president, General Kick Grabaston (Noah Emmerich) has Mark arrested and commands the United States Space Force to proceed with an assault on the Chinese base using wrenches.
  • The Space Force team attacks the Chinese moon base only to return to their habitat and find it completely disabled/destroyed. Grabaston is totally fine leaving the U.S. astronauts on the moon to die. He also has Naird arrested.
  • Naird escapes captivity to rescue his daughter Erin (Diana Silvers) in a helicopter from a bunch of drug dealers. He also ends up picking up his wife, Maggie (Lisa Kudrow), who escaped from jail with her lover, Louise (Carolyn Wilson). As you might imagine, this creates quite the awkward dynamic within the aircraft. We also still have no idea why Maggie Naird was incarcerated in the first place.
  • Mark hears about his team being stranded on the moon and turns around to go find a way to rescue them.

Based on the recent trailer for Season 2, we know that Space Force is going to continue under General Naird’s leadership for the time being. What we don’t know is how the massive fallout of an international space conflict will intertwine with Naird’s out of control personal life as things move forward.

Let’s take a mostly spoiler free look at all seven episodes and see if Space Force is still worth binging for a few hours this weekend.

The Story

Space Force (Netflix)

Space Force (Netflix)

Yes, the crazy cliffhanger from last season is dealt with. Unfortunately, it’s all quickly forgotten to make way for new plotlines involving the treacherous bureaucracy that Space Force must navigate to survive. The only fall out that ever gets explored beyond a surface level is Captain Ali’s PTSD from the moon incident — and even that doesn’t feel like nearly enough.

As opposed to last season, this year’s narrative is much simpler. Instead of congressional hearings, training exercises, and joint chief meetings, things primarily take place among the characters we already know within the confines of Space Force’s command center. This (and the lower episode count) might have been due to COVID. Whether it was or not, though, the smaller scale is extremely noticeable.

Don’t get me wrong — the show is still mostly good/funny. It just feels surprisingly limited in scope for the second season of a successful show.

Space Force (Netflix)

Space Force (Netflix)

There are still a few interesting plot lines that the series uses to set up its best moments. Also, just like last season, things end on a very big cliffhanger. This time, however, there’s no way they’ll be able to hand wave it away to start season three.

At least I certainly hope there’s not.

All those gripes aside, Space Force still manages to be highly entertaining, this time due to the expected hilarity of its cast along with some very unexpected character growth.

The Characters

Space Force (Netflix)

Space Force (Netflix)

It was a safe bet going into season two that Carell and Malkovich would be brilliant. What I did not expect was to like Diana Silver’s portrayal of Erin so much. General Naird’s daughter works as a constant foil and she shows an ability to be both introspective and empathetic about how her actions affect others. She’s still all types of sarcastic, but not in a way that simply makes her seem mean.

Erin also gets a chance to show the smarts and capability that was always alluded to before her family moved to Colorado. She doesn’t become a surprise rocket scientist or anything, but there are definitely times when she’s the smartest person in the room — or at least the one with the most common sense.

Space Force (Netflix)

Space Force (Netflix)

As good as Erin’s arc was, F. Tony Scarapiducci’s was even better. Ben Schwartz somehow manages to make his character genuinely endearing and sympathetic without losing an ounce of his trademark smarminess. The laughs he generates are also much better, working on the same level that you’d expect from the show’s heavyweight leads.

I know it sounds impossible (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) but F. Tony Scarapiducci might be the best character this season.

Space Force (Netflix)

Space Force (Netflix)

There weren’t nearly as many substantial guest roles as we got last time around. Ginger Gonzaga’s scene stealing turn as Anabela Ysidro-Campos (a very thinly veiled parody of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) was sorely missed. Other returning guest stars like Jamie Lynch as the Chief of Naval Operation didn’t get nearly enough screen time.

Thankfully, the ones we did get were great. Tim Meadows does a fantastic job as the Secretary of Defense, making him sufficiently different from the one played by Dan Bakkedahl without appearing any less callous. Patton Oswalt portrays an astronaut trapped on a failed Mars mission, making us laugh uncomfortably while simultaneously breaking our hearts at his plight.

There’s another big cameo I don’t want to spoil, but it might be the most perfect casting I’ve ever seen. It also turns a funny moment into something much more impactful than expected.

Space Force (Netflix)

Space Force (Netflix)

The rest of the supporting cast was very good despite having to overcome some odd story choices. Captain Angela Ali and Dr. Chan Kaifang didn’t have anywhere near the chemistry the script wanted us to think they did, but Tawny Newsome and Jimmy O. Yang were still too good not to enjoy their performances.

JayR Tinaco barely got any screen time as a new member of the Space Force team, but was great whenever they did. On the flip side of that, Don Lake finally got a chance to make General Brad Gregory more than just an annoying side character and made the most of it.

Oh, and the whole deal with why General Naird’s wife Maggie is in jail gets plenty of discussion. Just remember to keep your expectations low and your tolerance for B.S. high.

The Verdict

Space Force (Netflix)

Space Force (Netflix)

The most frustrating aspect of Space Force is its untapped potential. For two seasons now, it’s provided consistent chuckles and a moderately interesting story instead of the big laughs and fascinating narrative that it could have. This show should be much closer in quality to Only Murders in the Building instead of The Santa Clarita Diet.

That being said, Space Force is still entertaining (as is The Santa Clarita Diet). Each episode had at least one moment worthy of an audible giggle instead of that smile and exhale thing we actually do when typing “LOL” to someone. The characters might not have as interesting stories as last year, but their interpersonal dynamics and organic growth make up for it.

If this is how things will be in the upcoming third season, then I’ll definitely still be watching and expecting to enjoy it. Let’s just hope the massive conflict facing our heroes at the end doesn’t get mostly solved before the premiere.

Space Force (Netflix)
‘Space Force’ Season 2 review
'Space Force' Season 2 review
The second season of 'Space Force' ends up being more of same, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
As expected, there are plenty of genuinely funny moments in every episode.
Characters who were little more than amusing plot devices last season are given actual arcs without sacrificing any laughs.
Once again, the guest stars are great.
The scope and scale of the series feels much smaller.
The storylines aren't nearly as interesting, although the characters' interpersonal dynamics and growth help make up for it.
Last year's incredible cliffhanger was resolved far too easily.
7.5
Good

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