Based on Hugh Howey’s short stories, Beacon 23 is a science fiction drama set in the 23rd century that revolves around a space outpost in the middle of nowhere. Earlier this year, we got another remarkable post-apocalyptic drama, Silo, which is also based on Hugh Howey’s books, and considering the popularity of the Apple TV series, we really expect that Beacon 23 is not going to be a disappointment. The first episode introduces the key characters of the show, i.e., Aster Calyx (Lena Headey) and Halan Kai Nelson (Stephan James). The major conflict in the show comes from an unidentified rock, which we believe has the power to manipulate human beings. The mystery of these rocks will surely be explored throughout the first season, and hence, without wasting another moment, let’s explore the events of Episode 1.
The Death Of Smythe Solomon
Built almost like a lighthouse, Beacon is a space outpost where the assigned Beacon Keeper gathers samples of rocks and minerals from the nearby areas. They may also have been assigned the task of assisting the passing spacecraft, though there is no mention of it so far in the series. The Keeper reports to the highest authority called ISA (Interstellar Space Authority), which, as per the Keeper’s reports, sends analysts to different outposts for further research and scrutiny. Smythe Solomon is one such Keeper of Beacon 23, who found samples of some unidentified rocks and shared his reports with the ISA. After a year or so, the ISA sent a Crest with eight passengers on board to look into the matter further.
As Beacon 23 Episode 1 begins, we find out that the space outpost malfunctions, because of which the Keeper isn’t able to inform the upcoming Crest about the hazardous Dark Matter on their path. Solomon (whose real name is Halan) tries to use the commands, but someone has hacked the system and disabled it. He tries to manually override the Gravity Wave Broadcaster (or Beacon of the lighthouse) but fails to do so, because of which the Crest crashes into the Dark Matter. Halan soon finds out that there is one surviving sleep pod in the debris and quickly brings it to the outpost. Aster Calyx, an analyst from the ISA, has survived the crash, and as soon as she wakes up, she starts questioning the reports “Solomon” sent to the ISA, but Halan has no idea about them as he isn’t Solomon or the Beacon Keeper. He is lying to protect his real identity. Halan has also muted the AI droid, Bartholomew “BART,” so that he cannot reveal the truth; however, Aster soon finds out that something is amiss. The man, who calls himself the Beacon Keeper, refuses to show her the samples because he doesn’t know where the real Solomon has hidden them. Above all, Halan is suffering from severe PTSD and gets pretty hostile when Aster starts questioning him, which makes her even more suspicious.
Bart finally helps Aster find out the truth. It shows her the camera footage, through which Aster is able to deduce that the man in front of her doesn’t look like the real Solomon. Halan tries to defend himself and says that Solomon took his ship and left, but that’s a total lie. Halan has killed Solomon, but we still don’t know the whole story yet, and maybe more will be revealed in the upcoming episodes. Nevertheless, Halan tries to take Aster hostage, but her personal AI, Harmony, turns up and helps her escape. Later, Bart, Harmony, and Aster lock Halan in an airlock chamber to interrogate him further.
Aster Finally Finds the Rock Samples
Unable to find the silicate samples, Aster seeks help from her prisoner, Halan. He is an AWOL pilot whose crew was probably killed when they came into contact with the unidentified minerals, which indeed have some supernatural effects on a human being. Throughout their conversation, Halan keeps hearing noises and starts having eerie visions of his last space mission that involved the “mineral,” which suggests it is the reason for his ongoing PTSD. Maybe these terrestrial objects have symbiotic properties and could be fatal to humankind. Nothing is known about them so far, and probably, the upcoming episodes will reveal their true nature. In the meantime, Aster tries to help her with a sedative patch, but it only works momentarily.
After coming back to his senses, Halan tries to strike a deal with Aster. He offers to help her find the mineral samples, and in return, she will let him take the picker and escape the Beacon before the ISA extract team reaches the space station (which is in approximately 30 hours). Aster agrees to the deal, and Halan comes out of the airlock in no time. He later informs her about an isolated microwave antenna that has been disconnected for 100 years. To Halan, it seemed like the best place to hide something like the special rocks. However, when Aster opens the access door to the antenna’s storage, Halan starts hallucinating once again, which suggests there is a strong connection between his condition and the unidentified minerals. Halan runs out of there immediately, and Aster continues the mission. She is finally able to locate the rocks in the storage unit and bring back a few samples for further scrutiny.
The New Arrivals
The first episode subtly implies that Aster is not what she has told Halan or the audience so far. Her entire backstory is a complete lie, which she fabricated to gain Halan’s trust. It lays down the possibility that Aster might not be working for the ISA and has some ulterior motives of her own, about which we might learn in the upcoming episodes.
At the end of Beacon 23 Episode 1, Aster doesn’t fulfill her part of the bargain and locks Halan in the airlock while waiting for the extraction team to arrive. She didn’t want to help a murderer and a deserter run away, as she feared the punishment for the same. In the meantime, a space vessel from the Crest debris becomes operational and starts approaching the beacon, which suggests that they weren’t dead but were waiting for the right moment to infiltrate the outpost. But why? For some reason, Aster didn’t want the vessel to dock at the Beacon, and we may find her reasons in the upcoming episode of Beacon 23. As of now, Halan’s fate seems tragic. If he had really killed Solomon, as Bart testifies, and had deserted his unit, then he would be facing severe punishment for his crimes.