Now this was an unusual episode. It seems the last two were a bit more of what I’d hoped to find in season two and, while I don’t have much hope of that continuing, it was nice to experience another interesting, fast-paced episode.
Alpha is passing through an area of space where every 12 hours, a massive explosion is taking place. As they get closer and closer to the source, the explosions are becoming more cataclysmic. The latest one does massive amounts of damage and the next one is bound to destroy the base. Koenig identifies a planet that seems to be the origin of these explosions so he, Alan and Maya take a trip down to see if they can find out the cause and stop it.
It is completely counterintuitive to me why the writers of this series added a “captain’s log”. It’s not even because Helena is the one who speaks it – I don’t care who we’re hearing from – but that she states how many days they’ve been adrift. This episode is taking place 1288 days since they were thrown into deep space. That’s significant because we know who was in the last episode and that took place in 2004, months after the events here. So even though the tension is high, there’s no reason for me to believe anyone is in real danger. That doesn’t stop the episode from keeping me interested right up until the unexpected epilogue. It didn’t feel like the episode could possibly have been over.
It’s down to the tension. Every step of the way, we’re not sure what to expect. The weirdness of the alien orbs, effectively just a bouncy ball that talks to Koenig and company, made for a strangely appealing alien race. To my dismay, Scifi Femme Fatale Extraordinaire Sara Douglas is not used to the best effect, though somehow having her naked in a swirling mass of gas doesn’t surprise me. She’s always been a sex symbol in SF fandom; why not appear naked and yet totally obscured at the same time. She’s very stoic and, along with her two alien colleagues, never really offers much other than a condemnation of the Alphans. Koenig is pleading for them to stop the explosions. One of the females agrees while the other declines. When a third member is revived, he also condemns the Alphans. The next explosion will occur…
John’s testimony makes an impression but again I couldn’t help but feel like Koenig is a pig headed commander who could have made a lot more progress with a few nice words than he ever does as himself. That said, even after their sentence is passed, Koenig and crew attempt to get back to Alpha even though they know they can’t make it, but when the next explosion is directed, it ends up sending the Eagle back to Alpha and spares the base at the same time, we wonder what happened. Koenig’s message was a very positive one: hope is better than despair. This seems to make an impression on the aliens even though they said they would not help, and they end up allowing Alpha to live.
I don’t always appreciate that the aliens speak perfect English in this series. It almost offers proof that all cultures of Earth should learn English simply because we’ve got proof that it’s the universal language, except this is one of the first times they address the barrier by saying it took a while to “align” to English. I was happy with that. Also, it was great seeing Maya transform this time – it’s just a fade in overlay, but it’s better than the zoom-in on her eye only to see her replaced by whatever she’s turning into. Plus I love when she turns into an actual alien, and not just some Earth mammals. And by God did her hair look awesome in this episode. I feel like I should have said that about the previous story, but that was John’s turn to have hair that made a difference. The only thing that threw me for a loop was that at the end, Helena gets word that the people on the planet were “beautiful, naked and green”. I want to know two things: is there something wrong with my screen because they didn’t look green to me. But more importantly, who is running back to Helena with these reports anyway? I can’t see Carter doing it, so it’s got to be Maya. She really does try to stir up some trouble from time to time, doesn’t she? ML
Whether it’s the Star Fleet universal translator, the TARDIS telepathic circuits or whatever the alien visitors on Alpha have in their own advancements, it’s nostalgically interesting to look back on how all these old sci-fi TV shows could get away with so many alien species apparently speaking English. Let alone perfect English. With Condo’s patchy dialogue in The Brain Of Morbius, it could of course be more interesting as to how he in his own way must have learned some forms of English in order to serve Solon, either from Solon or from a previous slave background. So it’s indeed more curious for the Alphan crew who are not as experienced as a Star Fleet crew in intergalactic dialogue that a means of conversation would be so readily available when the dramas demands it. Thank you, ML, for your review.
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