About 3 years ago, I made a friend that I think will be with me for a lifetime. When she told me she and her husband were expecting their first child, I was delighted but I warned her to enjoy every minute of it because kids grow up overnight. I had no idea how true that was on the moon!
Alpha Child starts off peacefully enough. A child is born on Moon Base Alpha. Aww… sweet! Moments after the child is born, he is placed into an incubator to rest, when a truly horrifying thing occurs. The child is shown to have aged significantly in mere moments. This, combined with the zoom-in and the sound of his mother screaming, is an utterly chilling scene. This show may be a bit lacking in the colors department and be a bit slower in pace than Star Trek, but it has managed to have a visual shocker in almost every episode so far. The sight of little Jackie Crawford suddenly 5 years old in an incubator is not an image I don’t think I’ll be able to shake anytime soon!
Jackie is instantly loved by most of the Alphans except Koenig. He has a gut feeling that something isn’t right with Jackie, besides the obvious. Everyone shows Jackie around the base and little by little, Jackie learns everything he needs to know. Shortly after this all begins, the Alphans detect an approaching craft. John is fairly certain that the two things are connected.
Up until this point, the episode was incredible. Make no mistake, I was actually on edge the entire episode long and it uses all of its 50 minutes very effectively, but I preferred the character study to the alien story. The people on the base think it’s no place to raise a child, but Paul is pragmatic, indicating that they have a reasonably normal life. During this discussion, we learn about Jackie’s father who died of radiation 7 months earlier. (If that’s the radiation of the first episode, that puts this story around April of 2000 which gives further credence to Paul’s attitude that they have a reasonably normal life). All of this is engrossing because it explores what life would be like on a truly pioneer planet, cut off from home.
It takes a strange turn when Jackie seems to drop into a sleep and wakes later as Julian Glover, with a truly awful hairdo. He then uses telepathic powers on Jackie’s mother to kill her… then resurrect her has one of his own people. He tells Koenig that they will kill all of the Alphans and replace them. (Considering he says there are 120 of his people and about 300 Alphans, I did question the need to kill everyone, but he’s a villain… it’s what they do!) Apparently they are on the run, exiles from their own world, but they can hide on Alpha forever. This gets a rather disappointing deus ex machina resolution when their own people save the day, but we do get an unexpected (and pleasant) turn when Glover realizes that they are beat and asks for forgiveness and asylum. Koenig actually considers it but the newly arrived aliens take their people back and restore the mother with her baby child. Basically everything is back to normal at the end, with only one dead Alphan.
It’s a weird one alright! Prior to the arrival of the aliens, the body count was looking pretty high with one guy shot accidentally by Koenig and 5 people shot by Glover’s character. He tells Koenig that those people were just stunned and they’ll recover. Mom, originally killed and child, brought to adulthood prematurely, are both restored; good as new – literally. Which implies to me that only one death actually counted; the one Koenig accidentally shot when he was fighting with Jackie. So that puts our crew count at 303. As good as this story was, there were a few notable moments that didn’t work well. Koenig has one hilarious line, while angry at Glover: “Are you going to let Alpha get destroyed because of you?” He also gives us another of those xenophobic lines that I’m starting to associate with him: “Sooner or later we may have to destroy [Jackie]”. He really doesn’t try to make friends. That said, I was fond of this: “Ignorance is no reason to start shooting.” Finally some wisdom.
I had seen this show on and off as a child but have very little memory of it. It is exciting starting each episode with no idea what I’m going to be in for. I guess in that way, I’m experiencing life the same way the Alphans are and that keeps the adventure fresh, even if the episodes are frequently quite strange. ML
Having no idea what I’ll be in for when seeing a sci-fi TV episode or movie for the first time is an easy thing to appreciate. Especially when it can strengthen my instincts in finding good sci-fi to enjoy. With a most distinguished guest star like Julian Glover as Jarak, having first seen him on Doctor Who in City Of Death, that can boost my enthusiasm. Thanks, ML, for your review.
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