Space: 1999 – The Last Enemy

breakawaySeason one ends with The Last Enemy and I have to say, I was really psyched.  I was looking forward to a really great season finale.  But I’d forgotten an important fact: this was made in the 70’s, long before a season finale was a big deal.  To compound matters, I did a little research on this one and found it was an idea of Barbara Bain’s.  That’s Pinocchio’s daughter, Helena Russell, which may have explained why it was so boring and wooden.

“What the hell have we got ourselves into?”  The thing this series has had going for it is that 9 times out of 10, the episodes still have a good idea behind them.  In this, the moon is drifting into the range of two planets that are forever on opposite sides of the sun, so they can never see one another.  But they’ve always been at war.  The only way to get an effective strike against each other is to have a 3rd party from where they can mount their attack, and Moon Base Alpha is that convenient 3rd point.  The race of females get there first (girls mature faster than boys anyway, so that’s not a leap) and they launch an attack on their sister planet.  Which of course causes a retaliation and Koenig and his people are stuck in the middle.  But Koenig’s question about what they’ve gotten themselves into is typical of this boneheaded captain: they didn’t “get themselves into” anything – they are adrift!  Everything that happens, happens to them. 

Now this is all well and good if the bulk of the episode isn’t having the Alphans stuck in the middle, trying to negotiate.  When they contact the other planet, and a sleepy-eyed Kevin Stoney appears on screen, I was expecting the game to really kick into high gear. Alas, Stoney speaks entirely with his eyes closed and only opens them once to tell Koenig that Alpha is doomed.  The performance was terrible, and consider how great Stoney usually is, that was a let down.  The only thing it served to do was imply that the other planet was all male.  (Our evidence is weak:  4 women represent one planet and Stoney alone represents the other, but it was a strong impression that I walked away with!)

The enemy is able to fully neutralize the Moon Base so Koenig plans to drive out to the enemy that has planted herself on the moon, intent on getting her to stop the attack.  We watch the little moon buggy driving out as Koenig talks to Dione, but it’s not until he’s under the ship that the enemy catches on: no one is on the buggy; it’s rigged with explosives and detonates.  From the base, Koenig contacts Stoney and the attack is called off.

I mean, yeah, that last moment was good but this was a season finale!  Here’s yet another prime example of a season order that should have inverted the final two episodes of the season.  Alright, no one died this time but the previous episode was mind-candy.  This was tedious back and forth nonsense.  If one thing really did strike me, it was that these guys are not heroes but that’s not really a bad thing: they never planned to be.  When you think of Star Trek, Kirk and company are military explorers; they have a certain power behind their actions.  Moon Base Alpha was a base of scientists.  These were not intrepid explorers; they were men and women stationed on the moon to do a job.  They are cast into extraordinary circumstances and have to cope and that does make it interesting, but we shouldn’t be looking for great military heroes here.

What I have come to look forward to is some excellent model work.  Barring an early shot of the planet, the bulk of the model work in this episode left a lot to be desired.  Every single image looked like a model.  We didn’t get a single shot, barring the Eagles, that rang true to life.  So what I was left with was a season that ended on a weak note without even having some good effects.  And the only reason why I’m not bothered enough to take a break from the show is because I know Maya is coming in the next episode.  I just hope it’s enough to make the second season stronger than the first.  There were too many weak stories in this season and a finale is not the time to have one, I can tell you.  ML

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2 Responses to Space: 1999 – The Last Enemy

  1. scifimike70 says:

    It’s quite a change from Star Trek to not have any military potential in space exploration and that’s enough to keep Space 1999 interesting. You realize even more how powerful a starship could be as the Alphans’ chief strategy would be just keeping their wits about them. Because they might not be trained as Kirk’s crew was in dealing with such otherworldly issues, even when obvious morals for the entire universe to share can apply. That makes the Alphans more personally interesting for the awe and wonder that we contemporary humans can associate more with cosmic exploration. With the realism that the real universe is weirder than science fiction, we can have faith that there could be no such thing as a disappointing adventure, as opposed to certain TV episodes of Space 1999 and Star Trek. Thank you, ML, for all your reviews of Space 1999: Season 1.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If you watch Space 1999 in production order then “The Testament of Arkadia” is actually the last episode, and thematically it feels like a much better conclusion for the season.

    Liked by 1 person

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