“Space Force” Season 1 was a pretty inoffensive, though painfully-unfunny, workplace procedural show about the daily lives of its fictitious version of Space Force, a new arm of the military President Donald Trump created a few years ago that was seen largely as a joke and waste of money that has endured so far under President Joe Biden’s administration.
“Space Force” Season 2 picks up with the trial of Space Force boss General Mark R. Naird (Steve Carell), who disobeyed a direct order to attack the Chinese moon base last season, in which Air Force head General Kick Grabaston (Noah Emmerich) attempted a military coup to carry it out, almost creating an international incident. There’s been a change in administration, with the new Secretary of Defense (Tim Meadows) looking into whether Naird should be discharged from duty and potentially prosecuted, as well as if Space Force should continue operating at all.
Ultimately, Grabaston’s rashness is exposed, and Naird gets to keep his job a little longer, but he’s given a strict deadline of four months to prove Space Force’s worth. And although Space Force is allowed to continue, it does get its budget slashed, which compromises Dr. Adrian Mallory’s (John Malkovich) Mars mission. In fact, there’s a running gag in which Captain Lancaster (Patton Oswalt), an astronaut already en route to Mars, tunes into Space Force base looking for updates and human conversation, and no one is willing to tell him that his mission has been canceled.
There’s also subplots involving Dr. Chan Kaifang (Jimmy O. Yang) as he pursues Captain Angela Ali (Tawny Newsome) romantically, Erin (Diana Silvers) trying to get into college, and Space Force negotiating with China about resources on the moon. It’s all fine, and while the show’s humor this season isn’t great, it’s also not terrible.
The biggest difference between Season 1 and Season 2 is that Season 1 had the luxury of ten episodes, whereas Season 2 has seven, and Season 2 does not spend its time economically. Bits just go on way too long, and the show gets severely sidetracked to the point where it doesn’t really have a big overarching plot; it feels like it meanders just to the point where its big season arc would get started, except the show is never able to start it because it runs out of time. The show never takes off, with Naird’s four-month deadline pushed into next season, which we might never see.
As a result, this season feels like mostly filler, and while it is pleasant, it cuts off any momentum this show had. Most of its cast is charming, with Malkovich and Carell’s performances grounding the show, and Ben Schwartz as Space Force social media director Tony Scarapiducci standing out; the show just doesn’t have much for them to do, and suffers from an overall lack of direction and focus.
There is no word on whether “Space Force” will get a Season 3, but I think that there is a significant chance that it doesn’t. But if it somehow does, it’ll be one last chance to right the ship and for its showrunners to offer a satisfying conclusion to this show. “Space Force” is already running thin on ideas; I don’t think its showrunners have more than a seasons’ worth of material left.
“Space Force” Season 2 gets a 5/10