I guess the Alphans couldn’t stay lucky for long. Two episodes without a death and then we lose 3 in one episode (leaving 284 crewmen) and two Eagles. At least my luck held out and I had another very enjoyable episode. It’s not just an interesting one on the surface, but like that Near Death Experience one with Peter Cushing, this one also has a deeper meaning… or at least, it did to me!
As the moon continues its erratic flight through space, and everyone on the base is shown playing with jigsaw puzzles, we find our crew heading to a new mystery: a shimmering light in space. Koenig sends an Eagle out to explore, but makes the mistake of sending two people we’ve never seen before: a surefire sign that this is a doomed mission. It’s covered in foam and destroyed. As a meteor heads back to Alpha, they’ll discover what happened to the Eagle in short order.
Alan and Kelly go out to explore and Kelly gets possessed by the entity, but he can’t communicate properly. Meanwhile a random series of images is appearing on all the computer terminals. Kelly tries to interface with the system but Koenig stops him (and I realize that anyone possessed on Moon Base Alpha types like a fool). Koenig then has an idea: link into his brain to see if he can make sense of what’s going on. If I’m being honest, the idea is ludicrous, but it was still entertaining. Koenig discovers that the pulsing lights is a giant space brain. Its natural defenses will pulverize anything that gets too near with a foam of unusual properties. We then have Space: 1999 trying to one-up Doctor Who‘s classic episode Fury from the Deep. Alas, even as a lost episode, I can say there was no hope, but it still kept things interesting.
It was this that gave a second level to the story. This space brain is described as knowing everything, including all of Alpha’s path up until that point. If Koenig is correct, I could not help but wonder if this was God. It’s described as being at the center of the galaxy and I wondered what we were really in for. But I forgot: Koenig is in charge, not Jean Luc, so naturally he sends an Eagle on a mission to blow up at the heart of the space brain. Thing is, once again this series surprises me because it fails. The moon goes right into the crushing lights. Then we hear what can best be described as a scream before they emerge on the other side, damaged, but alive. We get some signs of cleanup at the end, but all I could wonder is if they killed God!
This series gets a lot wrong, but it also does a lot right. Koenig is not a good commander, but he cares about his people. Helena is a wooden automaton but… ok, forget her, I’ve got nothing good to say there. Victor, on the other hand, is a great character; I fully expect him to die any day now! But the thing they get right most is surprising me and undermining my expectation. Just when I think I’ve figured it out, they do something unexpected. In this, they were talking about changing the course of the moon with explosives. Whether that could be done or not wasn’t the point; it’s that they never get to try. So in effect, they fail and were only saved by the fact that the natural defenses of the space brain were not as powerful as the Alphans expected.
The episode featured a much loved classical piece: Mars, Bringer of War, by Holst. It added a sense of scale to the episode. In the end, I don’t know that this episode deserved that honor, but my attention was held throughout. And even if foam makes a weird enemy, it sure is enjoyable watching it flood down hallways as people are engulfed within it. It just didn’t quite live up to Fury from the Deep… but then I’m not sure much could. ML