Space: Above And Beyond – Sugar Dirt

I thought this one was pretty good. The big attack that they set up last time happens and it goes poorly. Turns out that even with all the scheming, the Chigs were still wise to the human attack on whatever strategic planet, and they prepared an ambush. While a bunch of soldiers (including the Wild Cards) are on the planet, the leadership aboard the Saratoga realize that the Chigs have brought these forces from a different, even more strategically-located planet, so they should pull human forces over there to get that planet. But that means abandoning like 25,000 soldiers on the planet. Ross is against it, because he cares about those in his command. McQueen is for it, though he wants to volunteer himself to go down and help the stranded soldiers (though Ross forbids that). Of course, the deciding vote goes to the Supreme Commander of Earth Forces, whom I believe we are meeting for the first time here, so the Saratoga and ALL of the human forces go to Other Planet to wage a months-long battle while the Wild Cards are trapped back on first planet (eventually it all turns out fine). The big theme in here is about how hard it is to be in command in the military, with the Supreme Commander, Ross, and McQueen all fretting over the lives under their command, all the way down to Vansen being responsible for the other Wild Cards.

The Wild Cards really do suffer in this one. Their time spent on the planet isn’t all about them sneaking around and killing Chigs and looking badass. Mostly they just wander around desperately trying to find food (the episode title comes from when they find some sugar that got spilled and mixed with dirt and they eat it, which definitely sounds like some real war story they heard and put in the show). I mean, they’re still the only survivors we see (though at the end we’re told there’s about 2000 altogether), so they do look badass in the end thanks to Main Character Powers, but it isn’t all about how good they are at killing.

One thing that we get in this episode that I like is a look at some of the non-American space armies that have been suggested to exist, but who never do anything we get to see. We see Generals (or whatever) from China and India and there’s mention of “West African” forces. It’s nice that the rest of Earth gets to play. Also, there’s a neat bit where they see some Chigs at a distance and the Chigs are using some kind of speakers to blare out things in English that they think will enrage the humans, including “Abe Lincoln’s dead” because they are aliens, so they don’t quite get it (it also reminds me of the “Your Mickey Mouse is a big stupid dope” line from Enemy Mine, though the context is different there). I like aliens, is my thing.

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