Space: 1999 – Another Time, Another Place

breakawayPerhaps it should have been evident that we were in for a really eerie episode when the first 4 minutes of this story were utterly devoid of dialogue.  The crew notice something happening which defies any sort of scientific description as far as I can tell, before the moon seems to separate in two… not two parts, but two distinct entities.  Then one woman, Regina (who will be our latest fatality), starts believing two alternate realities at the same time.  She starts getting sunburn while indoors and has thoughts that don’t match reality.  That’s because there are two realities and oddly, she seems to be a part of both. Oh, this one is a weird one alright.

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the fatalities because it’s a matter of perspective this time.  After the last episode, we would be down to 294 with the death of Regina, but depending on the reality you follow, there are a lot more, including Commander Koenig and Alan Carter.  It seems that when the moon was separated into two distinct forms, there were different outcomes.  And strangely both lead back to Earth.

The unusual phenomena hurtled the moon through space at massive speeds and the inhabitants discovered they are heading back to Earth, against all odds.  Koenig believes there’s a mind behind it, but if there were, it’s never discovered.  The crew try to make contact, but there is no life left on Earth, except for a small colony in California.  Koenig, Russell and Carter go down to investigate and find they are already there… well, the Alphans anyway.  Koenig and Carter are dead on the other moon.  The rest of the people made it down.  Victor explains that all life on Earth is gone; he’s sort of the Oracle for the episode, knowing things that may not make sense but then, we have to accept some tropes here.  The fact that Earth has been identified as destroyed is a gut punch.  I’ve been alluding to it for weeks but these 300 Alphans are all that remains of humanity.  This really is the twilight of the human race and we’re following them on the last leg of our history.  The parallel group that made it to Earth first started having children with the hope of repopulating.  We get to meet two of the children: those of Paul and Sandra.  This is actually an incredibly clever piece of writing in that we’ve seen a budding attraction there twice now, but it was more than that and we get that acknowledged once and for all in this story.  Also, before his death, Koenig and Russell married.  In many ways, this episode is a look at “what might have been.”

Using Victor as an oracle may have been an odd choice, but I don’t know that there was a better option.  He posits that if our Alphans don’t get back to their moon, they will have “no place to die” and that they have to be there for when the two moons collide.  Now that doesn’t seem particularly wise, but off go Koenig, Carter and Helena trusting Victor’s word.  I guess when things are this strange, you have little choice.  When the two moons do merge, everything is returned to normal and the Alphans find themselves in yet another distant part of the galaxy.  Their journey is a very strange one.

I said I should have known this would be a strange story from the lack of dialogue but there’s a much stranger clue for me: Regina herself.  Let’s just say, I’ve known a few.  There’s a hard G there, like the sound a J would make.  Think of the word “regicide”.  Yet everyone on the base uses a soft G like “ghee”, so I didn’t know until I looked it up later that her name wasn’t Regeena.  Now, she goes through a hell of an ordeal, thinking Alan Carter is her husband and that he died.  Dr. Russell calls Carter down to the medical bay (cruelly following the Dr. McCoy handbook and failing to give him any heads up as to what he’s walking into) thinking shocking “Regeena” might help her.  It doesn’t, obviously.  The thing is, in one reality, she’s right: Alan was her husband and he did die; just not in our reality.  She begins seeing things and for yet another episode, I found myself uttering a cry aloud for the shock value of what she sees.  Between a specter, a black void and mirrors, they really capture the horror of what she’s experiencing and the audience is along for the ride.

Probably the most fascinating point is Victor’s description of what happened to Earth when the moon left its orbit.  There were major geographic changes, bands of radioactivity that are dangerous to life, an ice age in what used to be Europe and an axial shift of 5-6 degrees.  Whatever happened when the moons collided, we are given a hint that some of it was real when Helena finds the flowers she was holding on Earth lying on the floor of the moon base after the collision.  So one has to surmise that even if things went back to normal for them, the Earth has been decimated.  I suppose our Alphans could still find an Earth that is still whole, but I have to think it very unlikely.  This episode may be the closest we get to knowing what happened back home and it’s bleak, to say the least!

I find this series incredibly compelling so far.  It started on slightly rocky terrain but at this point, I can’t wait to start the next one.  It focuses more on events with strange outcomes, more than the alien menace of most science fiction shows.  I cant help but wonder if that will continue into season 2.  At least for now, it continues to lure me in with promises of fresh – if strange – new adventures every week.   ML

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1 Response to Space: 1999 – Another Time, Another Place

  1. scifimike70 says:

    The sci-fi popularity of alternate realities was bound to get to Space 1999 at some point. When we have the lovely Judy Geeson cast as a doomed guest character, we are certainly in store for one of the genre’s most essential lessons on consequences. Chiefly if we could suddenly learn how bleak the Earth might be if the Alphans finally get home. But sci-fi often has its miracles as seen in Star Trek and Doctor Who. So Space 1999 having some sense of optimism at this point could either be appropriately challenged or be somehow blessed with some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card. Our logic would tell us that the latter is unlikely in all fairness to the seriousness that Space 1999 may harness. That’s the kind of sci-fi series that should most effectively attract audiences. Thank you for your review, ML.

    Liked by 1 person

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