The Silent Sea is an eight episodes Korean Netflix original based on the short film The Sea of Tranquility, also directed by Choi Hang-Yong. It is a sci-fi, thriller series that follows a group of space explorers on a mission as they try to retrieve an undisclosed sample from an abandoned research facility on the moon. It is now streaming on Netflix.
The Silent Sea is set in a dystopian future world, which is in the midst of a drought induced global food shortage. Inequalities in water access has intensified and government, private corporations and scientists are trying to find ways to reduce water usage and increase water supply.
The Space Aviation Administration (SAA) is recruiting a team to go on a 24-hour mission to the Balhae Lunar Research Station to retrieve samples of something important that is undisclosed. This station was left abandoned because of a tragic incident that took place five years ago, where an entire crew of 117 researchers passed away due to a radiation leak in the facility.
From the moment they reach the moon, eerie things start happening. The spacecraft system failure requiring an emergency landing, the abnormal readings of radiation detectors, bodies getting discovered with their cause of death being drowning, a crew member contacting some type of disease where he is vomiting water uncontrollably and the supposed presence of an intruder in the station.
On one hand few of the crew members try to investigate and find answers about the cause of these suspicious deaths and on the other, few others try to fix the station comms to be able to communicate to Earth.
Dr. Song Ji-an (Bae Doona) and Captain Han Yoon-jae (Gong Yoo) are the two main characters driving this space mission. They both have a personal reason for joining this mission. Their performances cannot be considered outstanding but nonetheless it is quite stable and reliable. This has more to do with the way their characters are written, which is mostly one dimensional.
Other crew members that shine in moments are Ryoo Tae-seok (Lee Joon) and Hong Ga-young (Kim Sun-young).
The performances of all the other characters are hard to distinguish as they are written so blandly and are just there to serve the purpose of moving the plot ahead.
The concept of space explorers going into the unknown, exposed to various threats and unravelling many secrets is quite thrilling and interesting.
The show is visually stunning. Back on Earth, the colour palette chosen perfectly emulates a dystopian world falling into ruins. VFX heavy sequences are well orchestrated like the spacecraft landing and crew members walking on the surface of the moon. The interiors of the Balhae Lunar Station are also constructed in a very detailed and precise manner.
The theme music of this series rightly used in high tension situations surely heightens the thrill.
The pacing of the show is uneven. The first episode is fast paced and so the world building process seems rushed however from the second episode onwards almost all the sequences feel too drawn out with each episode focusing on one specific situation or person.
The series resorts to cheap tricks like showing flashbacks in the beginning of every episode to bombard viewers with exposition and give characters some emotional depth.
Not enough time is spent building relationships and showcasing bonds, so if someone is in danger or pain it is hard to empathize with them and the other crew members.
‘The Silent Sea’ is worth a watch for its high concept ideas and well crafted sets but even that gets a bit dull towards the end. The show is a true test to your patience.