Now that their long, enclosed bus trip to an unknown location is over, it's very much time for the third round of torture... err, I mean tests... to begin in earnest for the selected group of wannabe astronauts in this week's Space Brothers.
After a trek through some long, narrow corridors, the group is given thirty minutes in what JAXA dubs "the last room" - a final opportunity for the applicants to eat, drink and smoke to their heart's content before entering the next round of testing. If that sounds like fun however, even this is a double-edged sword, accompanied as it is with a viewing of video footage showing the last moments of NASA astronauts before a fatal accident. With a waiver sat in front of them ready to be signed, is anyone going to back out with the possibility of their death floating in front of them?
Despite that harrowing prospect the answer is, of course, no, and our final fifteen candidates are then split into three groups of five to work together over the coming weeks, and ultimately reach a consensus as to which two members of the group should move forward in the selection process. No pressure there then... With each group led into their own sealed "spacecraft" to begin testing, there's a hard road of teamwork with a hugely competitive edge in front of them. First though, a challenge to all of the applicants. What time is it?
I think it speaks volumes for how engaging Space Brothers can be when the simple question of what the time is manages to be wonderfully spun-out into a genuinely compelling cliff-hanger - it goes to show just how absorbed and caught up in the show I currently am. It really is a remarkably simple blend of elements, but thanks mainly to its scenario its utterly enthralling to watch, making great use of the its "how to become an astronaut" angle while not forgetting to deliver likeable characters into the bargain. It feels like we're reaching a high point of the series at the moment, so I'm genuinely wishing that the answer to the trainee's question is "it's time for next week's Space Brothers", because it really can't come soon enough.