The Martian

Movie: Directed by Ridley Scott.

Inciting Event: A very strong storm is headed for the ARES 3 mission site on Mars, and the mission commander orders the team to evacuate. As the team makes their way through the storm to safety, a communications dish breaks off and hits astronaut Mark Watney, throwing the astronaut into the storm. His teammates try to locate him, but leave him, presuming he is dead. They evacuate the planet and head home to Earth.

First Plot Point: Alone on Mars and thought by dead by his crew and NASA, Watney decides he won’t die on the desolate planet. On Earth, Vincent Kapoor, mission director for NASA, directs satellites at the incident site and determines Watney is still alive—but there’s no way to communicate with him.

First Pinch Point: After establishing communications with NASA, Kapoor informs Watney his crewmates don’t know he’s alive, which is rectified when the flight director convinces the head of NASA that it’s more than time to do so. Then the HAB (Mark’s home and shelter) explodes, destroying Mark’s potato crops and reducing the food rations he’ll have until a resupply can happen.

Midpoint: The Jet Propulsion Lab reports they’re behind in readying the probe to resupply Watney. The head of NASA orders JPL to cancel inspections. The probe explodes moments after takeoff, and Watney realizes he will probably die on Mars, at which time he requests his commander to visit his parents on Earth once the ARES 3 crew makes it home.

Second Pinch Point: Rich Purnell, astrodynamics, states they can use a free return trajectory to get the Hermes and its crew to slingshot around Earth to return to Mars and pick up Watney. The director of NASA thinks it’s too risky and nixes the plan, but the flight director secretly tells the Hermes crew the plan and the crew overrides the computers and adjusts their course, forcing NASA to allow the maneuver suggested by Rich Purnell.

Third Plot Point: JPL describes what they’ll have to do to the escape vehicle in order to get it to the Hermes, which upsets Kapoor as being dangerous and crazy. Watney arrives at the ARES 4 mission site and begins modifying the escape vehicle so he can rendezvous with the Hermes

Climax: Watney is launched from Mars in what they jokingly refer to as a convertible. The crew of the Hermes determines they’re too far away to intercept the capsule, and must make a course correction that drains some of their fuel supply. The course correction gets them closer, but they determine they’re still going too fast, at which time the crew commander suggests rapidly decelerating the Hermes via detonating a makeshift bomb. After all their efforts, they’re close, but still not close enough and Watney pierces his space suit in order to give himself enough thrust to reach the Hermes.

Climactic Moment: The commander catches Watney and the crew reels them both in. Celebrations ensue on Earth.

Resolution: Back on Earth, Watney starts a new job: teaching astronaut candidates disaster training. He reflects briefly on what he learned and how he survived.

(Submitted by Liberty Speidel.)

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