'Nightflyers': Why Gretchen Mol's Agatha Matheson is a revolutionary
Gretchen Mol's character in the new SyFy series is a dedicated psychiatrist for telepaths, but she's not hesitant to stab axe-murderers and slice her own neck off for the planet
The cold open for the pilot of SyFy's latest space adventure series, 'Nightflyers', was filled with thrill and gore if nothing else. Based on the novella by George R R Martin, the show-adaptation put forth some pivotal elements of the story right at the start and fans were pretty satisfied, especially in terms of how they expected a show based on Martin's books to pan out.
Yet, somehow it wasn't just the storytelling or the riveting plot in itself that managed to stand out the most in the opening five minutes of the pilot; it was one particular character - Agatha Matheson - who pretty much changed the game in the representation of women in gore and horror. We are all for it!
Played by Gretchen Mol, Agatha is a badass, and no, slicing her own neck off with an electronic saw blade isn't the only striking thing about her. Though that was pretty epic, considering she was being hunted down by a fellow passenger traveling in the titular spaceship sent to seek out help from extraterrestrial life. But stabbing psycho axe-wielding killers on a murderous spree isn't the only badass thing about this woman.
What's also notable about her is that she does all of this instinctively. Dr. Agatha Matheson has dedicated her life to study and research. To be able to take care of the dangerous, yet gifted telepaths is a lot more than being a social worker. First of all, the psychiatrist-slash-'handler' is the only person on the spaceship who can communicate with these telepaths called L1s. She even brings one of her wards onboard with her on the journey to outer space and that is quite the responsibility.
The added burden about dealing with these telepaths is that they are accustomed to living in isolation, in a mountain on earth, and are perceived as extremely dangerous. But as Mol herself pointed out in an interview with Collider, "she (Agatha) sees the good, she sees the value, she sees that they should not be feared completely, but that they should be integrated in the society." This is something that, in her own personal opinions, makes the character somewhat of a revolutionary.
For those wondering if Agatha is the reason behind the horrors the spaceship's passengers go through, here's an update: None of what she does is fueled by selfish motives. "The mission is an opportunity for her to explore that and use Thale (Agatha's telepath on board) to see what his abilities are," explained Mol about why Agatha brings her ward along with the rest of the crew to outer space. "If he is able to actually make contact with another life form. It would mean a breakthrough to Agatha, if others value telepaths as she does."
And, what else is to be noted is that when all things fail - as the little snippet in the pilot's cold open shows us - Agatha doesn't give up. She fights back in what seems like a 'The Shining' meets 'Jurassic Park' sequence - hiding from the axe-murderer under cabinets and counters, as he tries to hunt her down.
Even in her final moments, Agatha is seen to continue struggling to send out the message to her fellow earthlings about the spaceship's fall. She makes the final call, alerting people on the planet that they shouldn't retrieve the spaceship back to Earth, before initiating purge mode on the ship and slicing her neck off - thus ending it all for herself, the horror on board, and even the axe murderer.
We are yet to see the results of those consequences, but if one thing is clear - the social worker onboard the Nightflyers is one epic badass with a vision and there's no arguing that!