Space: Above and Beyond – “The Farthest Man from Home”

This one starts with some human army guys finding a human survivor on a planet that was attacked by aliens, I guess. The guy keeps describing himself as “The farthest man from home” in spite of the fact that a bunch of other humans are now there with him. In his defence, he seems to have utterly snapped. Anyway, his existence gives hope to the boringest of the cast, apparently named West, the guy who lost a friend/lover (I genuinely don’t know their relationship) at the start of the pilot. If this guy is alive, she might also be. So West goes AWOL, stealing his space plane to go check the colony world for his missing friend. There, he comes into conflict with the aliens but does find a couple human survivors who confirm that his friend survived the initial attack, but was captured. He tries to follow this lead, but the aliens are onto him and he’d be dead except that the rest of the cast come to his rescue. He gets into trouble, and the whole team gets into trouble for helping him, but ultimately he did find two survivors. Also, they think someone up above may be pulling strings to keep them from being court martialed or whatever.

Anyway, this one was nothing special. West was, to me, the least interesting part of the pilot. I was hoping they’d wrap up his missing lady plot in this one so the show would be done with it. They don’t. As of the end of this episode, she’s still missing.

In spite of the episode being named after him, the “Farthest Man from Home” is all but forgotten once West gets on with his plans. I don’t know if this show is serialized in the kind of way where he’ll come up again or not. I did find it interesting that the show so quickly had them find a mentally-unhinged survivor on a planet. That’s basically what Tim Curry’s character on Earth 2 was and he was also introduced very early. Incidentally, another Earth 2 similarity is the use of VR technology for recreation. It’s less advanced here than the Gear used by the Earth 2 folks.

The guy who got to yell at the team for being such reckless heroes is one Commodore Ross, played by character actor Tucker Smallwood who is one of those I recognize from multiple places. Looking him up spoiled for me that he’ll be back, but I’m fine with that. I like him.

What else? Well, since it isn’t the opening movie anymore, the show has opening credits. They make the cast seems smaller and more manageable, so I like them. Also, the cast all have callsigns based on the deck of cards, like Hawkes is “Jack of Hearts” and I think it was Wang who was “Joker” and such. One nice little continuation of the discrimination against In-Vitro’s plot is that Hawkes has to modify his helmet to accommodate his navel, since they don’t come that way by default.

And then, what I’m mostly here for, the aliens. For the record, the humans call them “Chigs”, not “Chiggers” as my memory had told me. Still, I’m going to give the writers the benefit of the doubt that they knew what they were doing. We learn a few things about the Chigs in this episode (and I kinda hate calling them that). They seem to fear their dead, to the extent that human survivors have been hiding in a cave with some of their corpses to be unnoticed. Also, it seems like they have five-fingered hands, albeit with claws. Still, that’s disappointing. But the characters discuss why they call them “Chigs” and it is apparently a comparison to Chigoe fleas specifically, but another character says he thinks they look like prawns. So at some point it seems humanity in the universe has seen the Chigs unmasked, even though we haven’t.

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