Glisters?? Is that a word? Isn’t the term, “all that glitters”? Glisters is a word and means much the same thing as the work glitters, but it’s a bit out of fashion now. Much like Space: 1999. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t shine from time to time.
The Alphans find themselves passing yet another planet, because space is weird, and they identify some mineral that they need. Is it a real one? No. I looked that up too: milganite is not real. So this show is doing one thing very well: it’s making me look things up! Anyway… they need milganite… no, wait, here’s what I want to know: why didn’t the writers just look up a real mineral? Wouldn’t that have been better??? Anyway… so they need milganite and this planet has some. The camera pans to a glowing lump of rock, and we’ve been introduced to the big bad of this episode. Following of from three trees, did we expect more?
Ironically the simple formula works really well. They land, cut off a piece of that damned ore, and bring it onto one of the Eagles. Tony gets his brain zapped and seems to be dead until he wakes up, possessed by the rock. Then he tries to get more to bring it onboard. The landing parting consists of Koenig, Helena, Maya, Tony and an Irish Texan (because, like milganite and glisters, they exist!) who is the base’s geologist. Now the episode effectively isolates Helena from the others and creates a tense story. Maya meanwhile morphs into a rock to communicate with the entity, but fails. Instead, she is taken as the rock to merge with the other and she is unable to morph back to herself which adds a level of tension. It’s a very basic formula, but works very well.
“He’s gonna do something stupid!” What doesn’t work so well is the Irish Texan who ogles Maya making the audience even more uncomfortable than Maya herself. There’s also a moment where Tony, now freed of the alien influence, teleports back to the Eagle onto the table where he had been lying shortly before, but it made me think a far more interesting story would have show Helena resting there only to find him materialize on her and they could become merged in a freakish way. Oh well, my brain takes strange interludes…
Another aspect that fails pretty heavily is the timing of the episode. We open with Helena saying they are on day 565 of their journey. The problem is that when Tony dies, I had absolutely no feeling about it whatsoever. We know he’s not dead during episodes that came later, so I was reasonably certain the death meant nothing at all and he’d be back. Such is the downside of paying no attention to the scripts.
At the end of the day, the alien rock just wants a drink. After Maya fixes the phaser, like her other pointy-eyebrowed friend in a similar series, the phaser is able to fire all 4 beams at once. This renders Tony unconscious and they head back to the ship, after a bit of a scuffle and they finally dehydrate their piece of rock and leave the planet. But at the end, we get a moment of wonder when Maya suggests they use crystals to cause the clouds to burst and it rains for the rock. They leave but save the rock that tormented them! I was impressed!
The idea of an enemy that might be animal, vegetable or mineral is always going to be fun, but the episode is marked by some negatives: Helena gets caught between two lights and doesn’t think to duck, when clearly the lights were moving at head height only! And Koenig is especially irritable throughout the episode, for one thing. He’s always a bit thick, but this time is really annoying. “It could kill you,” says Helena. “So could old age,” says John. Lo and behold, I was reading that he hated this script. I don’t think it’s as bad as some of the episodes, but it’s no Black Sun. I guess it just lets us know that sometimes it’s the darkest things that glister most! ML