Here’s an observation: Koenig is utterly absent from this episode and it’s excellent. Call me a cynic, but that stands out to me. He’s apparently exploring asteroids that might be habitable. I say: stay there.
This episode has an alien spaceship approach with a “universal plague warning sound” alerting Alpha to a problem. Now, my first thought was, “how do they know that all races have the same sound for certain things.” Shortly thereafter, the computer confirms the origin of the alien spaceship. How?? Perhaps the main character of this episode, Dorzak, offers the line to explain it. He says to Maya, “Without your Psychon help…” The rest of the sentence isn’t the important bit – it’s that if we go by Helena’s logs, Maya joined the crew during some of the earliest days of their travels and she probably gave them some advances including awareness of universal alerts, among other things. Anyway, back to the story: the visiting ship has a prisoner: another Psychon (one of Maya’s own people) and he’s supposedly a criminal. Maya doesn’t believe it. What takes place over the next hour is a tense round of “who do I believe!” And it’s one twist after another.
Let me address one thing that this episode touches on but fails to fully explore. The alien ship is crewed by 3 women, lead by Sahala, who fear and distrust Psychons. Now there’s a strong bit of racism here with Maya being called into question and they had a golden opportunity to dig into that story and I think it was a great story waiting to happen. Instead it’s hinted at but otherwise ignored. When Maya realizes she’s not the last of her kind, she wants to revive the prisoner: he’s being kept in stasis (pronounced so oddly as staa-sis, instead of stay-sis) and behind a force shield. The women all have electronic implants in their heads to block his ability to control thoughts. But the story really keeps us guessing: is he really responsible for all he’s accused of? When he’s first revived by one of the women, Clea, he asks why she’s betraying her own people. Maya claims he’s a philosopher. Tony and Helena want to believe her, but know that people can change. Alan is falling for Sahala and we start to wonder if that’s part of her trap as well. Even one of her own people, after coming out of a coma, says Sahala murdered one of their crew. Every time you turn around, you’re left wondering who you can trust! That was refreshing and kept me on edge. And if a person with mind control can learn Maya’s metamorphic abilities… well, we just don’t know who we are following at that point, do we?
The episode is tense, keeps a strong pace, and again features some impressive model work. When the alien ship lands, it stands up like a rocket ship. Tony says this: “lower launch pad to boarding level”. In other words, they can’t extend the docking bay without lowering the ship to a height were the airlock would meet it. A subtle thing, but proof that this series had potential. But when you miss out on such an opportunity as exploring racism through Maya and Sahala’s people, it stings a bit. To also miss the opportunity to really delve into how Maya feels realizing she’s not the last of her kind is also a sad loss to the show. But this episode still doesn’t disappoint making it one of the strongest for season 2.
Before I go, I do have to share that there are some unintentionally funny moments in this one. Alan has fallen for Sahala and she seems to like him as well. He’s kind to her and hangs out with her while she’s confined to quarters. “There’s only one way for me to repay you…,” she says. I was expecting her to be a sneak, but this was unexpected! “…and that’s to keep reminding you how dangerous Dorzak is!” Oh. Didn’t see that coming but sure did laugh! “How do your people say goodbye?” Oh treachery! Oh, lechery!!!
So Koenig is gone and no one dies (although most of this season has been fairly death-free) and we get a really solid story focusing on Maya and her people. The story has twists and turns and 70’s decor all over the place. And it has a last minute and frankly unexpected surprise ending… yeah, I say kick Koenig off the base and let’s get on with some good storytelling! ML