Space: Above And Beyond – The Angriest Angel

This episode contains the line of dialogue “For this mission, the fourth planet from Achilles will be designated ‘Gooch'” and it is therefore the most important episode so far.

This one picks up from where the last one left us, so the existence of an alien enemy ace wasn’t a new status quo, it was a To Be Continued waiting to be resolved, and so it is resolved here. With Chiggy von Richthofen taking out human fighters at an alarming rate, the humans know they need to find a way to stop it before the Chigs create a bunch more ships like that. To that end they have some fancy alien space element with which they can make a single torpedo that should be able to take it out. They need a pilot who can get in there and do one cool hit and really mess up the alien ace. You know who wants to be that pilot? Commander McQueen (I have no idea if Commander is his actual rank, but he commands the Wild Cards, so he is deemed thus by me). Can he be the one to take the ol’ baddie down?

Incidentally, one of those extras who has been hanging around gets to play a prominent role in this one. Her name is Winslow and I checked IMDB to be sure, she was in other episodes even if I never picked her out of the crowd (though now that I realize she played the live-action version of Bernice in that one episode of Duckman, I wonder how I missed her). Winslow, a member of the Wild Cards even if she’s not one of the main cast, attempts to hit on McQueen, her commanding officer. He does not react well to this impropriety. But when she comes by later to apologize, he opens up to her and explains he has a failed relationship with a woman back on Earth and now he is seeking a purpose in life and has put himself fully into the military. With this alien ace out there massacring his allies, he’s just wondering what the point of it all is.

The thing is, McQueen doesn’t get the assignment to be the pilot who shoots the super-weapon. Some other guy does and that guy is killed, the super-weapon destroyed wastefully, and in the same mission Winslow is killed. That was pretty cool to me. If the show had decided to accept that, I would have been impressed. But the show continues and McQueen then disobeys orders and goes out on his own, with no backup and no special torpedo. He fights Chiggy von Richthofen and wins, because McQueen has main character powers. That part of the episode I find dumb.

In previous episodes I found McQueen to be very likeable. Perhaps I was blinded by the fact that he is very handsome, but he always seemed like a sensible sort. In this one he gets obsessed with having to be the one to save the day, and even resorts to torturing a Silicate saboteur for information on where the enemy ace is. One way to make me lose faith in a character is to have them torture a prisoner for information. And in the end, the show decides that everything McQueen did was worth it, because he legitimately was the only one who could bring down this baddie. The episode ends with McQueen disheartened, still wondering what the point of it all was, but the narrative isn’t so worried about it. The narrative says it was all good.

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