Beta is the name given to the mysterious cargo stored aboard the Antares, located in Storage Pod 4. Commonly referred to as "the object" or simply, "it", Beta is organic, sentient and alive, although it is not composed of elements found on the Periodic Table. It has the ability to communicate through visions or hallucinations and has an audible call similar to a whale-song.
At first, only Rollie Crane, Eve Shaw, Michael Goss and a few others in upper management were aware of the existence of Beta. When Rollie was forced to step down as commander of the mission, Ted Shaw took his place and was informed of Beta at that time. Shortly thereafter, Claire Dereux noted several impossible similarities in the crew's genome and was brought into the loop by Eve Shaw. It was stated that the rest of the Antares crew were to be informed of its existence upon arrival at Venus, however as suspicions grew aboard the ship, the entire crew learned of Beta roughly one week prematurely. ("Natural Selection")("Love, Honor, Obey")
After learning of Beta, Ted Shaw has frequently visited it in Storage Pod 4. The vision he repeatedly sees is of a storm on Mars. It was initially overwhelming, but subsequent visits to Beta have made Ted slightly more comfortable with it, though he has yet to understand what Beta is trying to communicate.
Eve has known of Beta's existence for much longer than others involved with the Antares mission and as such has been communicating with Beta for a longer period. Her visions are also of Mars, but instead take place on Earth, in a highly secured room. In this room is a single large leather chair facing two large metal doors that slide open (like elevator doors) to reveal Beta. Eve sits in this chair while a panel of unknown people watch her interaction with Beta from a connecting room.
Beta is able to induce hallucinations in both the crew of the Antares and in Eve Shaw at Mission Control. These hallucinations usually (if not always) have strong ties to each person's past, notably events connected to feelings of deep regret or guilt.
Until one week before Antares arrived at Venus, Ted was the only crew member aboard the ship to know of Beta. He is only known to have one hallucination: He is bombarded with the image of a Mars storm. This has happened repeatedly as he opens the door to Storage Pod 4 and once as the crew was about to leave the Antares to film a candy bar commercial for Halloween. He was unable to move for several minutes and the commercial was either cancelled or postponed as a result. After Beta was revealed to the rest of the crew, he admitted to Donner that he feels a deep regret over the events of the Mars mission. ("Fear") ("Eve Ate the Apple")
Donner's hallucinations usually involve astronauts Sharon and Walker, as, like Shaw, he also feels guilty over the events of the Mars mission. He had a personal relationship with Sharon and in his hallucinations she is often seen smiling at him or mouthing the words "I love you". The two astronauts are often seen wearing their Mars mission space suits, covered in Mars dust. Maddux also hallucinates Mars dust on other objects. The water filtration system aboard the Antares was reading off-nominal and despite manual inspections by both Donner and Ted Shaw, everything appeared to be working fine. However, Beta induced a hallucination for Donner in which he saw filtration system 005 caked in the red Mars dust. Deciding it was more than a simple hallucination, Donner ran a test on filtration system 005 and found that the PH balance was off. Donner also saw the red dust on his hands after handling Sharon's baseball. He took this as a sign that it was time to let it go and threw it into space.("Rubicon")
Before Zoe's first visual hallucination on Venus, she frequently hears a baby crying and arguably hallucinates the most often of all those on the Antares crew. The crying baby is a reference to the fact that Zoe had an abortion to remain in the space program, an act that is illegal in 2052 and a decision that Beta reminds Zoe. The crying originates from Storage Pod 4, but Beta's purpose for giving Zoe these hallucinations has not yet been discovered. ("Love, Honor, Obey") When Zoe] sets eyes on Gamma on Venus, she sees it as the baby between her and Maddux Donner - part of her motivation to continue to pursue Gamma despite adverse conditions.
Mintz frequently has visions of a young girl caught under the fiery rubble of a collapsed school. During "the War", Evram bombed what he thought to be an enemy installation inside a school, but it was merely a school. He then attempted to save the children inside, but became trapped under the rubble himself. Beta reminds him of this with the hallucination of the young girl, bruised and bloody, but its reasoning for this is not yet known. Twice, he has pictured Paula Morales as this young girl. However, Beta may not be responsible for all of Evram's hallucinations as he suffers from Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome and is a recovering alcoholic. ("H2IK")
Nadia's first known hallucination was near October 31, 2052. She repeatedly saw a man, whom she didn't know but looked remarkably similar to her, wandering throughout the ship. ("Fear") In an interview with a producer, he revealed that the man looking like Nadia would, in fact, be Nadia: born a hermaphrodite, it was chosen that she would be female but, under Beta's influence, she would become a male; despite his relationship with Claire, Evram Mintz would become her lover and Nadia would aid in his healing process.
Paula also had her first hallucination around Halloween, 2052. She saw her childhood dog, Hector, severely wounded and dying in one of the corridors of the Antares. ("Fear") While not revealed in the show, a producer explained in an interview that Paula's hallucinations relate to the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her father.
Jen and WassEdit
Jen Crane and Steve Wassenfelder are the only two members of the Antares crew to not yet have any hallucinations. However, they have encountered Beta in other ways and are now aware of its existence. ("Fear")("Love, Honor, Obey") It was revealed in an interview with a producer that Jen Crane was intentionally written as not having hallucinations or being able to see Beta as her issues to contend with was her feelings of isolation from the group and being different. The same interview revealed that Steve Wassenfelder was meant to have hallucinations but they were not written in as writers had yet to conceive what his hallucinations would be.
Beta first contacted Eve by playing her music, specifically, a song on the violin that she composed as a child and continued to play into her teens. The deep guilt of this hallucination stems from an incident in which Eve's immediate family was killed while en route to one of her concerts. She stopped playing the violin and attempted to forget the song after the incident. ("Eve Ate the Apple") Eve also has hallucinations of unhappy children standing in the rain. They appear in ragged, dirty clothing. It is possible Eve feels guilt over leaving her humanitarian volunteer work to work for the Bertran Corporation, and these children represent the impoverished children she left behind. ("Fear")
- "OK...uh...I've been having that same dream for like, two months."
- —Donner to Zoe
Beta also seems to be able to influence dreams. Both Maddux Donner and Zoe Barnes have been having the same recurring dream since the Antares mission began. In it, Donner is outside the Antares in a space suit, working on a thruster. He watches Zoe, pregnant and naked, floats out an airlock into space. As she leaves the ship, an extremely bright, white light emerges from behind a planet. ("Fear")