Marigold Breach, the latest offering from audio book turned fiction podcast studio Realm, follows the relationship of Lucan (Manny Jacinto), a space soldier who has crash landed on an alien planet, and Ven (Jameela Jamil), the sentient AI implanted in his head that can both provide him with information and control his neurological functions, like his perception of time and fear. Lucan and Ven wake up 80 years after the crash, with both of their memories gone. What’s more, Ven appears to be the one inhibiting their memories.
The internal dialogue between Lucan and Ven is both the drive and the heart of the show. The narrative focuses on the question of planning a future together in the midst of strange and dire circumstances, and their unique personalities and desires bring interesting angles to this conversation. Lucan is empathic, and keenly aware that, though he was a soldier, he wants to leave that world behind and find a cottage in a meadow to live out his life with Ven. There are even moments where his desire to move on outweighs his desire to get his memory back. Ven on the other hand is logical, tactical, distrustful of every stranger they meet, and caring more for their present safety and concerns. The struggle of pathos and ethos is a fairly well trodden theme in science fiction, but framing it around Lucan and Ven’s story, and the concept of two consciousnesses sharing one body, brings it new life. Not least of all because Lucan and Ven do really truly care for each other.
But a single relationship, no matter how compelling, can’t carry a story; especially a serialized story; especially a serialized audio story. And that’s kind of all Marigold Breach has going for it.