“This season is based on my belief that we have what it takes to get to a real exciting future,” Druyan said in an interview with Engadget. “I base my belief on stories of the courage of our ancestors, the generations of searchers for the truth who have been willing to die, to stand up for what they believed was true. As well as the great migrations of generations that came before us. As Carl and I wrote earlier, we humans are capable of greatness. We all live in the long shadow of climate change and other environmental depredation.”
But, Druyan added, she thinks we can build a better future by taking what science is telling us to heart: “Not just keeping it as a collection of amazing facts that you compartmentalize for a couple of minutes… but instead a way of seeing absolutely everything.”
Like the previous season of Cosmos, released in 2014, the show places deGrasse Tyson in the “Ship of the Imagination,” a sleek craft right out of Flight of the Navigator, which he uses to bounce around time and space. [Possible Worlds was delayed as Fox and National Geographic investigated, and cleared, deGrasse Tyson of sexual misconduct allegations.] It’s a flexible narrative conceit, as it gives Cosmos the freedom to explore a wide variety of topics. In one episode, he explores what a human colony might look like on a distant planet, long after we’ve made Earth uninhabitable. In another, he shows how future interstellar explorers could practically mirror the achievements of the Lapita, the early Polynesian explorers who braved the uncharted Pacific Ocean thousands of years ago.
The specter of climate change also makes the series seem more like a cultural wake-up call. “I remember in the first season of Cosmos, which we were writing in 1978, we were warning about inadvertent climate modification,” Druyan said. “It’s kind of daunting, because Carl and Steve Soter, who wrote that first season, with us, they had been warning about greenhouse gasses building up in the atmosphere for decades before that. And so of course I feel a tremendous urgency. It’s the fires, it’s the floods. It’s the strange temperatures, it’s the warming of the oceans.”