Space: Above And Beyond – The River Of Stars

Well, I sure wasn’t expecting this: it’s a Christmas episode. And it’s a religiousy one too.

Instead of their usual space planes (which actually don’t see that much use now that I think about it), this time with Wild Cards are in a mid-size ship where they can all be together doing different jobs (there’s a communications position, and pilots, and turrets, and cetera). They get in a fight with the Chigs and get blown off course or whatever and are left pretty much dead in the water.

Back on the Saratoga, they are assumed dead but McQueen doesn’t believe it. He’s able to convince Ross to let him use resources to look for the main cast. They figure out that the Wild Cards can hear their radio calls, but not respond, which keeps the search going, but the Saratoga is searching the wrong part of space. That means that the team gets to all react to being stranded, drifting toward enemy lines, and it’s Christmas above it all.

Amusingly, we learn that Hawkes left the In-Vitro training before learning what Christmas is or who Jesus was. There’s a tinge of “teach someone the true meaning of Christmas” to his plot, but I wish there’d been more. I wish the show had gone on to be fully about teaching him Christianity. I would have laughed. McQueen’s plot is about not losing faith that the team is out there. Mildly religious stuff. But then there’s Wang’s plot. He’s the type who will cross himself when he thinks he’s going to die, so he was probably religious growing up, but now, after all he’s had to see and do during the war, he’s a non-believer. Thus, it is through him that the miracle that saves the day comes to pass. While Wang is on communicator duty, he picks up a strange code that he translates and uses to find the location of a nearby comet. This “some scientific language” goes on to explain how the ship could adjust its momentum to fall into orbit around the comet, which will carry them back to the Saratoga. And because Wang has faith in the message, he does a spacewalk to adjust the thrusters and does the dang thing. And then they have a Christmas party.

So the theme of the episode is mostly vague “faith” stuff, but Jesus and Christmas are specifically mentioned, something you don’t get in Star Trek. We don’t get explanations for where the strange code came from (though the comet used is clearly analogous to the star the Magi followed), or why a group of passing Chigs didn’t shoot the ship. These are just miracles. If we learn that the Chigs celebrate Christmas too, I will be highly entertained.

Some other stray notes: 1) There are definitely extras among the Wild Cards for the last couple episodes, but I have no idea if they’re the same ones who were introduced in that one episode. I ain’t gonna check. 2) At one point in this episode the team picks up a transmission from Earth, assumed to have been beamed out into space long ago. It’s the Adam West Batman theme song. I approve. 3) There’s also a point in here where it seems like the team can hear Chig fighters flying by not only through their ship walls, but through space. Generally with sci-fi shows I assume that the sound in space is just for the benefit of the audience, but the team hears the ships flying by and react to them and everything. Sound definitely travels through space in this, I guess. 4) Commodore Ross plays guitar for the missing team, which was cool.

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