“A Girl and an Astronaut” is a Polish science-fiction drama series on Netflix that is mainly about a love triangle set against the background of an accident in space. The show presents the future year 2052 when an astronaut believed to have died in space wakes up and returns his spacecraft plummeting towards the earth. Thirty years ago, in 2022, this astronaut promised his beloved that he would return to spend his life with her, but the world and everyone except him have moved on since then. “A Girl and an Astronaut” focuses mostly on the relationship between the three central characters, Marta, Niko, and Bogdan, both in the present and past timelines. Although the science fiction elements mostly take the backseat here, the series is fairly enjoyable to watch.
‘A Girl and an Astronaut’ Plot Summary: What Is The Series About?
The series begins with a scene far away in outer space as an astronaut inside a small space shuttle is seen waking up from a presumably long sleep. He gasps for breath and seems to recall the protocols he had been taught to follow, making his shuttle suddenly appear on the radars of all space research stations across the world, and the shuttle now starts to fall back towards the earth.
In the year 2022, a young woman named Marta returned to her native Poland from London along with her new friend Karolina. Deciding to stay with her friend for the next few weeks, Marta made herself at home at Karolina’s huge house, in which only she and her brother lived. The brother, Niko, was mostly away from the house, though, as he was an F-16 pilot in the Polish army and would, therefore, usually stay at the military base when assigned to do so. Through Karolina, Marta met Niko and also his best friend, Bogdan, who was also an F-16 pilot in the army. Attracted by the woman’s charm, both Niko and Bogdan tried to impress Marta and convince her to be with them. As Marta got to know the two more, she started falling in love with both of them and found herself in a real dilemma.
It was during this time that a Russian space research corporation named SkyCom teamed up with the Polish government to hire the best jet pilots in their army to take part in a crucial space research mission. The team of best pilots selected included Niko and Bogdan too, and after months of grueling training and tests, it was Niko who had been selected to man the small shuttle into space and run the necessary experiments that SkyCom wanted to try out. All went well until something major went wrong up there in the shuttle, and the research team on earth lost all contact with and track of it. Neither did Niko respond to their messages, and it was believed that an explosion must have destroyed the shuttle in space, wiping out all of Niko’s existence along with it.
But thirty years later, in 2052, Niko wakes up in his shuttle in the middle of space and plummets back towards the earth, with SkyCom preparing to receive him. News of this breaks out all throughout the world and reaches Marta. Now fifty-five years old, Marta has a fairly stable and happy life with her daughter Oliwia and her husband, Bogdan. The very same Bogdan, who was once an F-16 pilot, now works as a drone operator in a dockyard hub and has no plans of retiring yet. With Niko’s news reaching them, the lives of Marta and Bogdan stir too, as Marta once again faces her old dilemma.
Who Had Marta Chosen To Be With In 2022?
The individual characters of Marta, Niko, and Bogdan are given quite some time to develop, even though they are not the most layered portraits that can be thought of. Marta is a DJ by profession, and she seems to have been quite popular in London under her stage name Stardust. The reason why the woman had been living away from her house for these years, and also the reason for her return now, was her father. Marta’s father had been very strict and controlling of her, along with being someone who was very prone to committing small crimes and getting imprisoned for them. Due to this nature, Marta had already left home and made a life for herself in London by the time she was twenty-five. But after leaving home, she realized that her father did whatever he did out of love and care for her, and perhaps he, too, was not very mentally and emotionally stable in life. This realization then makes her return to Poland in 2022, but she never gets the reunion with her father that she had probably dreamed of. When Marta returns to her native house, she finds it empty and the yard being looked after by a stranger. This woman then informs her that her father had been arrested once again, with no certainty as to when he would be out. Marta breaks down after learning this, probably because she feels that her having left her father has made him lose all control and be more prone to crimes.
The father figure has a crucial effect on the other characters too. Bogdan, who is the more mature and calmer of the two friends, is always given a tough time by his father, who happens to be an army colonel in charge of their troop. Wiktor, the army colonel’s father, is very scrutinizing and demanding of his son, not out of concern but rather because of his seemingly competitive nature. This becomes clear soon enough as it is revealed that Wiktor has been extremely unfaithful to his wife, Bogdan’s mother, having numerous extramarital affairs, and the army general has a habit of physically assaulting the women he has been with. Bogdan hates this about his father, always asking his mother to inform him whenever Wiktor hits her, but she is always protective of her husband. When Wiktor has an affair with Niko’s sister Karolina and leaves marks of assault on her, it is perhaps not a surprise for Bogdan. Karolina, whom Bogdan himself saw almost like a sister, had gotten involved with Wiktor and then fallen in love with him. The man took advantage of this position, threatening to end their affair completely whenever Karolina asked to start a relationship with him. Wiktor was clearly never in love with the young woman and only wanted her body for himself. Karolina’s helpless love for him is also linked to her and Niko’s relationship with their own father. The siblings had no idea who their father was, and neither did their mother, who had gotten pregnant with them by someone from her many strings of lovers. This absence of any parental figure is surely felt in the characters of Niko and Karolina and perhaps also explains the carefree nature of the pilot.
Niko is initially as brash and almost cocky in his expression of attraction for Marta as he is at flying. He is without any serious care or concern about most things in life and also keeps no inhibitions or pretensions about what he wants. He is extremely direct with Marta and typically gets even more interested in her when she tries to turn him down. On the other hand, Bogdan is gentler and more reassuring about his presence. Like his very attitude, his love for Marta is calm but intense, and he often finds moments to express this love. Marta initially keeps switching between the two, not very intentionally but rather a bit helplessly, as she finds herself in love with both of them. But gradually, as the SkyCom space program is about to begin and the two men have to go away for a significant amount of time, Marta has to make a choice. She realizes that under Niko’s carefree attitude is a soul that craves attention and love, as well as one full of admiration. As the two pilots go away to the SkyCom base and begin their training period, Marta informs both of them of her choice. She ultimately chooses to be with Niko and start a relationship with him. The stability that Bogdan was promising becomes all the more clear when he decides to give up on his target of going to space mid-way through the training and intentionally performs badly. Probably realizing that he would not be able to live without Marta and that the space program was risky as well, he let Niko be chosen to man the spacecraft.
Once Niko had been selected, Marta was brought to the base two days before his departure, and she spent the time with her lover, who promised to come back to her. It was only after Niko had flown off to space that she met with Bogdan, who respected her decision, and the two became friends for some time. When Niko’s experiment in space was about to be over, and he was expected to return, both his loved ones eagerly waited for any news, and Marta, at one point, left the control room out of anxiety. After the spacecraft and Niko could not be traced or contacted, the leaders at SkyCom decided to wait twenty-four hours to be contacted by the pilot since their experiment would conclude by that time. But Bogdan did not seem to wait for this time, and he told Marta that an explosion in the shuttle had killed Niko on that very night. There can be different reasons for him having done so. It could be that knowing Niko’s return was improbable since he could not be contacted, Bogdan took his chance with Marta by letting her know he was there for her. Or it could be that Bogdan did not want to wait and let the SkyCom authorities give Marta some made-up excuse, and he himself wanted to tell her about it. Perhaps lying to her about the finality of his death was better for Bogdan than telling Marta the scary truth of her lover being lost in space. Either way, the situation did benefit him, as he attended Niko’s funeral beside Marta, and the two gradually became close again and married.
What Accident Got Niko Stuck In Space?
The news about an explosion that killed Niko in space was made up by Bogdan or SkyCom, as this was what had been told to Marta and the rest of the world. Perhaps such a fate was indeed more acceptable to people than Niko being lost and never found again in space. But in reality, something very different had happened, and the real purpose of the SkyCom space experiment was also not known to most people. The SkyCom corporation was headed by a man named Sergei Pudovkin, who seemingly wanted to become a direct competitor to Elon Musk’s SpaceX in 2022. Although he was the one basically running the finances and development of the company, its research and technology was headed by a veteran engineer named Andrey Davidov. It was Davidov who devised the plan of sending a pilot into space, and the reason for this plan, as stated to everyone, was to try out a new stealth technology. When switched on, the space shuttle would become invisible and would be completely untraceable to any tracking or monitoring device. However, this particular plan had a far more hidden and important purpose behind it, which was known only to a select few members at SkyCom and to the Polish minister who approved the deal with the company.
The reason SkyCom wanted to send a Polish pilot for the mission was that they did not want to get involved with the Russian government, and it was a risky mission too. Pudovkin’s plan, devised and engineered by Davidov, was to sub-hibernate the astronaut being sent and slow down his vital functions with the help of cryogenetics. The idea was to see how the human body reacted to reduced temperatures and gather data from it. Davidov had already conducted such experiments on earth and had found that the stem cells of humans gain new traits under such conditions, which could be crucial in treating cancer and many other illnesses. He now wanted to test the same conditions, except in outer space, and Pudovkin funded this to ensure large profits for his company. Pudovkin knew that a medicine for cancer developed through this method could be sold at steep prices by highlighting the rare method of procuring it—by sending a patient into outer space.
On the day of the experiment, Niko first ran through the normal planned test of the stealth procedure, which ran perfectly. He was next instructed to run the sub-hibernate program, which was supposed to run for twenty-four hours. However, Niko had only been informed of this procedure and never trained properly. Therefore, when the procedure began, he started hallucinating that he was drowning in water, and he desperately flailed his arms all around. In this desperate attempt to save himself, which was all part of his hallucination due to the procedure, Niko had set the sub-hibernation timer to thirty years instead of twenty-four hours and had also toggled the stealth switch of the spacecraft, making it untraceable to the SkyCom base on earth. This was what had caused him to get lost in space, and now, when he returned to earth thirty years later, it had caused a major stir up in SkyCom as well. A crucial reason for Davidoff to have planned this experiment was to develop stem cells in Niko, which he would then use to cure his granddaughter Nadia. As a young girl of seven or eight, Nadia already had ALS and would go on to lose control of her limbs and nerves thirty years later, in 2052. But she was still a part of SkyCom at present, taking on the role of her grandfather in the corporation. Therefore, when Niko returned to earth, she and her close associate and lover JJ were excited about the prospect of getting stem cells for her treatment. They tried different ways to get the man to wake up and even brought Marta to help in doing so.
On the other hand, the man running the company, Sergei Pudovkin, was still greedy for power and money, and he immediately realized the potential of business in Niko after his return. Not only had he survived in space for thirty years after being sub-hibernated, but Niko’s body had also not aged at all. He still remained the young man that he was thirty years ago. Pudovkin wanted to capitalize on this, and he now contacted the Russian federal security service, the FSB, to get involved in the matter and help him sell the miraculous technology.
‘A Girl And An Astronaut’ Ending Explained: Who Does Marta Choose To Be With In The End?
Finally, when Niko later wakes up inside the SkyCom base, Marta had already given up on the chance of his survival and had returned to Poland. During this while, Nadia had realized what Pudovkin had been planning, and she and JJ hid Niko in her private office and deleted all security camera and drone footage of his reawakening. Nadia then informs her boss and the FSB that Niko has escaped from the facility. As a young girl in 2022, Nadia had grown a close bond with Niko, and he also showed her visuals of the earth from space as he had promised to her. This bond did not wane, and she knew that the FSB would harm Niko if they got hold of him. What she is unaware of, though, is the fact that her lover JJ is also in cahoots with the FSB. JJ knows of Nadia’s plan to keep Niko with themselves but believes that the FSB would be able to help them more. He instead makes a deal with the security service to turn in Niko in exchange for the promise of helping Nadia with the stem cells for her treatment. Initially, the FSB launches a search operation for Niko, but then another new discovery is made when Nadia finds a pen drive left by her grandfather. JJ takes the pen drive and hands it over to the FSB, and the data in it reveals that Davidov continued researching sub-hibernation after Niko went missing too. From this research, he had concluded that sub-hibernation did not actually affect human stem cells, and therefore, Niko was of no use at all. The FSB now decides to get rid of Niko, for he knew deep secrets about scientific research and the government in Russia, and therefore sends JJ to find and kill him.
Niko spoils the plans on both sides when he really escapes from the SkyCom base and manages to return to Poland. Still getting used to the newer technologies of 2052, he reaches his own house and then manages to meet Marta, who cannot believe her fortune. He professes his love to the woman and accepts her with her aged body with no hesitation at all. Niko clearly says that he wants to be with Marta and spend the rest of his life with her. On the other side, Bogdan was also sick from heart disease, but the man had kept it a secret from his family for so long. Now that Niko has returned, Bogdan asks Marta to once again choose between him and Niko. Bogdan had always loved his dear friend, even though they had to compete for love and profession multiple times, and Bogdan meets with his ex-colonel father in order to discuss Niko. Wiktor had grown old and feeble, and yet the only person still beside him was Katarina, whom he had denied giving any validation in his better days. Bogdan convinces Wiktor to get the Polish army involved in the matter and to protect Niko from the Russians at all costs. Niko and Marta spend loving nights together, taking shelter in a tech-free region of the country, but they are ultimately tracked down by JJ. The man is about to kill Niko when Nadia arrives on the scene and kills him. Despite the fact that her pursuit of Niko for his stem cells was now of no use since they did not have the beneficiary qualities to cure her, Niko’s bond with Nadia in her childhood days does pay off, and she ensures that he stays alive. With JJ killed and the Polish army on his side, Niko now has nobody to be scared of.
As Bogdan also arrives at the place, he and Niko go to look for Marta in their caravan, but the woman is nowhere to be seen. “A Girl and an Astronaut” ends with a scene of Marta walking alone on a pier, and the background narration confirms her choice. The woman had always been one to believe in complete freedom for herself and always hated it when anyone tried to control her actions. Even though the men in her life had convinced her to choose between them, Marta had finally decided to choose herself and stay away from both of them. She had been caught up in the love triangle ever since returning to Poland in 2022, and now she decided to turn them both down. Such an ending does undermine the romantic relationships developed throughout the whole series, and one cannot help but wonder why Marta had not taken this decision after Niko’s disappearance in 2022. But, well, better late than never, I guess.