Earth 2 – Redemption

I’ve identified the show as telling a wagon train story, right? Well this is the one where they have to circle the wagons because an enemy is attacking.

But really, as one may expect from the title, this episode is about getting Dr. Julia back with the group. It all begins when Alonso goes against the group’s wishes and goes back to get her. It’s a good thing he does, though, because he brings her to the camp just in time for a crisis to unfold that gives her every opportunity she needs to prove herself to the Eden Project gang. Seriously, I spent part of the episode wondering if Julia had set up the situation just to get back into their good graces. But no, it’s true, Julia is finally back on the good side and tells the whole truth about her affiliation to the Council and even throws away the device she’d been using to keep in touch with Reilly, the Council representative.

The crisis that brings Julia back into the fold begins when Yale is shot with an “incendiary worm bullet” which is, of course, a high-tech round that hits a target, painfully burrows to their core, and then explodes an hour later. It was designed specifically to be cruel, and it is the telltale weapon of a Zed Unit, a spinoff of the Yale series of cyborgs. Zeds are criminals who had been taken, memory-wiped, and turned into near-invulnerable supersoldiers (the one here absolutely looks like a simulant that should be trying to kill Dave Lister). Julia is able to use her surgery powers save Yale (and later Alonso when he is also shot). She also puts herself into harms way several times to try to prevent others from being hurt. And then she lies to Reilly, saying that Uly has been shot, so that Reilly will reveal the weak spot of the Zed units (which is at the base of their skull). When Danziger is shot and captured by the Zed, Julia leads the rescue and, though she can’t operate on him because her hand was injured by the supersoldier, she leads Devon in saving Danziger. Really, Julia has proven herself in Every Reasonable Way to be a loyal and valuable member of the team. As far as unreasonable ways, we don’t see how Morgan feels about it yet. (I joke that Morgan would be unreasonable, but he was actively attacked by Julia last episode, so if he harbours some ill-will about that, it’d be more justified than a lot of Morgan’s complaints.)

That’s about it. This episode is all a-plot, really. What else is there? Well, 1) We learn that Reilly may not actually be on the planet, but in orbit. I’m not really sure why that’s significant, but I guess it is progress. 2) During the attempt to save Danziger, Bess is a fully participatory member of the team, mostly manning the communications gear. 3) There’s a recurring crew of secondary characters (there’d have to be given the setup of the show) and this episode does give them a little more active role. I’ve mentioned Baines (who is a Black male, the only one apart from Yale, I think) and there are a couple others who seem important enough that I should know their names, but don’t. There’s a white woman who seems to be in charge of the weapons, and a very generic white guy who just generally stands near Danziger when Baines isn’t the one standing near Danziger. I like slowly seeing these side characters get more prominence and I hope that the rest of the crew, who don’t even get lines usually, get a bit more focus on occasion. 5) Oh yeah, I should mention, in the resolution of the episode Julia captures the Zed unit alive, but he’s designed to commit suicide when captured, so that’s the end of him.

Earth 2 – The Enemy Within

This is the rare episode where the narration is provided by the character most appropriate to do that narration, because this episode is narrated by Dr. Julia Heller and this is a pretty big episode for her.

Since we’ve learned that Julia is reporting to “the Council” (via a guy named Reilly) she has been torn between feeling a patriotic desire to serve the Council and her attachment to the other Eden Project folk that she does want to keep safe. Reilly still wants her to reveal the location of the Eden Project people so that the Council can come and basically dissect young Uly for research purposes. This time, Julia offers a different option: She takes DNA samples from Uly and injects them directly into her brain. Surprisingly, this doesn’t go well for her.

From her injections, Julia does seem to gain a replication of Uly’s connection to the Terrians, but it isn’t quite right. First of all, a Terrian appears and screams at her. That’s not great. But also, it has drug-like side effects that cause her to act uncharacteristically, but then forget about it afterwards. She gets all horned up for Alonso and then confesses her espionage lifestyle and DNA stealing plans to Morgan in an attempt to recruit the other least-trustworthy cast member. Morgan refuses and she knocks him out and leaves him in the woods where her sober self doesn’t even know. All of this is starting to be noticed by the others, which peaks when True actually catches Julia in VR talking to Reilly and, when Julia notices her, races back to town to tell the others.

In the end, the crew get Morgan back and find out what they can from Julia’s logs, then leave their former doctor alone in the wilderness, knocked out and presumably unable to follow them. We’re told they never found Julia’s VR device, so she should be able to contact Reilly, but will she? For all the flaws in her plan, she really did want to help her Eden Project friends. Will she stay where she is and live off the land and become the new Gaal? This is potentially the biggest cast shakeup of the show so far, or it could all be undone next episode. I have no memory from my youth, so the only way to be sure is to come back next time, same Earth 2 channel and all that.

Other thoughts: 1) True goes through a whole chase scene when Julia is after her and I don’t think she screamed once. This kid is forgetting her role on this show. (The eagle is still screeching, though). 2) True, having grown up on the space stations around Earth, gets to see snow for the first time. It’s just little patches of snow on the grass, not the gross full-on winter stuff that everyone should hate. 3) When True tells the others what she saw Julia doing, Julia tries to play it off as if the child is lying. Most people don’t believe the kid, but Bess just knocks out Julia with the Earth 2 equivalent of a hypospray. Don’t mess with Bess. 4) There’s actually a lot more VR in the show than I remembered. In this episode alone, in addition to being used by Julia and Reilly for communications, as usual, we also have the kids using it to play cowboy games. It really is this show’s holodeck.

Earth 2 – The Church of Morgan

Bess and Morgan are the important players in this one, and they’re on the sympathetic side again, showing no outright villainous traits. Bess gets along with Devon and Morgan is tolerated by the men of the group. In times like these I can see how they’re redeemable.

This plot begins when Bess realizes she’s had thoughts of cheating on Morgan with another man (Unless I missed something, we’re not told who he was, but we know he’s with the group). She has not actually cheated on Morgan, but the the fact she considered it is enough to send her into a guilt spiral. First she goes to Yale, who has the details of all 99 popular religions in his computer head. Bess apparently is loyal to Catholicism and, even though Yale makes it clear he’s not a priest, he just has the notes on file, she confesses her supposed faithlessness to him. Then she tries to confess to Morgan himself, but he reacts about how one would expect from the character so far: badly. He makes a scene and escalates it to a fight.

Alonso then points out that the couple had a four-year marriage contract and such contracts are based on station time for the stations back around Earth. Since they’ve all spent two decades in suspended animation for the trip to G889, those contracts have all lapsed long ago. Bess and Morgan aren’t even technically married anymore, so now there’s nothing to hold them together unless they feel like they should stay together. This leads to introspection and Bess comes to think that maybe the relationship was a mistake all along. After all, she was a poor Earth girl and he is a politician from the stations, so he always considered her family to be much lower class. This leads to a scene in which Morgan does what he often does, retreats into VR, and Bess happens to stumble upon him while he can’t see. She realizes that he has created a VR representation of her father and he is trying to apologize and explain to him. Seeing him make this effort makes her fall for him again and they have Yale marry them again (this time for life) in as big a ceremony as they can manage. I still don’t get what she sees in him, but at least this time their vows didn’t include forsaking everyone else. That’s got to be good, right?

That’s not the only plot of the episode though. Also, Dr. Julia is still reporting to the Council and Uly is starting to get Terrian go-through-dirt powers. The Council wants her to harvest Uly’s pineal gland to study how the Terrians have changed him (they fear that when the rest of the settlers arrive, the sick kids among them will also gain powers and they want to study Uly to make sure they can control the situation). Julia stresses about how far to go with this for the Council, but ultimately lies to them because she isn’t willing to sacrifice the kid.

Other stuff: 1) That eagle sound effect. I was going to stop mentioning it, but then it happened like three times in as many minutes (probably not literally) just to mock me. Still, I probably won’t mention it any more unless it’s really necessary. Also, True didn’t scream in this one. 2) We get some world building about the history of Earth. Apparently, near the end of the 21st Century there was something called the Faith Wars, in which I guess religious groups fought. I feel like the real world future is still on track for that one. 3) After the wedding there’s a VR dance reception thing and I just bet the actors loved the chance to wear different clothes and be in a different set and such.

Earth 2 – Water

Well, this is definitely the horniest episode yet, I can tell you that for sure. I’ve probably missed things in earlier episodes that were meant to show that characters were pining for one another, because I don’t pay too much attention to that sort of thing, but this episode has Devon and Danziger tied up and Devon has to drink water from the canteen he has in his lap which could not have been presented in a more blowjobular fashion than it is here. Ergo, even I picked up on it this time.

Anyway, we definitely are picking up on the story after the last episode, so the order I am watching them in now seems correct. That’s proven because the reveal that Julia is reporting to someone, which was the stinger at the end last time, is immediately followed up on this time. She reports for the Council, who ran things back on the space stations back around Earth and famously have tried to kill the Eden Project people on more than one occasion. But the guy that Julia is reporting to says that all that stuff was because of a guy named Blaylock. He was the bad one. The rest of the Council are cool, he insists. Julia ain’t having it. She’s cuts off communication with the Council.

Julia’s other plot in this episode takes her into the horny side of things. She manages to finally get Alonso healed up so he can walk again, and he responds by making out with her. She’s not totally not into it, but it makes her feel weird and conflicted. Ultimately, I guess she remembers that Alonso has been one of the least interesting parts of the show because she cuts off their budding relationship and winds up reporting to the Council again instead.

The A-plot of the episode, though, is that the group is running low on water. When they detect a lake nearby, Devon and Danziger head out alone to get some of that good, good h2o. On the way, they have a tension about how he thinks she’s a spoiled rich girl who is out of his league and she tries to convince him that she’s been through stuff too and whatnot. I now see who the will-they-won’t-they pairing on the show is. Their romantic getaway is interrupted by Terrians though! The local spooky beings attack the humans and steal their vehicle. But Devon and Danziger continue to walk all the way to the lake only to find it is so acidic that it eats through a canteen in seconds. At one point Danziger is so badly wounded and dehydrated that Devon has to go off on her own and show us that she’s learned from him and is tough in her own way. But in any case, it turns out the Terrians ain’t so bad, they return the truck and show Devon where they can find water, and also heal up Danziger. Everybody wins and now we want those two single parents to bone.

What else was there? Let’s see… 1) Bess is downright genial in this one after the heel turn last episode. Maybe it’s just that she’s not interacting with Devon, but she’s upbeat even in the narrating, which she does without actually being important to the plot. 2) Morgan is also pretty decent in this episode. For Morgan anyway. At one point Bess thinks that he stole extra water that was supposed to be rationed because he gave her a full cup, but it turns out he had given her his ration. In this, the horniest of episodes, the drama couple doesn’t do anything especially horny, but we do see them being affectionate to one another and commenting about how much it helps to have someone you can count on in a situation like this. (And Bess, somehow, considers Morgan such a person). 3) The society on the space stations around Earth has a system of inherited debt that keeps the poor oppressed for generations and this is why Danziger doesn’t like rich people (as if you need a reason). Devon notes how she paid the fees for her staff when they left the station, so Danziger is actually out of debt and would be free if they ever get off this planet. 4) The acidic lake is apparently the power source for the lighting-staff weapons that the Terrians use. Kind of a neat alien stuff detail. I’ll allow it. 5) The eagle sound is back! It occurred to me this time that, if the Council actually has humans on the planet, maybe there’s a hawk population there too. You never know.

Earth 2 – Natural Born Grendlers

Naturally, my attempt to watch the show had to get complicated. According to Wikipedia, this episode aired as the second last episode of the entire show when it was on television, but is episode six on the DVDs. That’s not an insignificant difference. So I’m going to watch it at this point in the run, assuming the DVDs know better and that the original airing was the result of network meddling or whatever. That means I won’t be getting the same viewing experience that Little PDR had, but maybe this one will be better. It does make me worry about a potential lack of status quo progression as the show continues, if this episode could air that late. Ah well, we’ll see.

In this episode, Yale does the narration, but the story doesn’t even pretend to be about him. This is an Alonso and Bess episode. Alonso (as ever) is the less interesting part, so let’s get that out of the way: Alonso hates that he’s still recovering from his injuries and trapped on this world (the planet is called G-889, by the way). Alonso is used to the life of a space pilot, so he’s feeling doubly grounded by this experience. In this episode, he gets so upset he tries to kill himself. He is stopped by the Terrians, who then give him a dream (even more like the Prophet stuff from DS9 because it involves him interacting with an image of someone from his life) and then he feels better. Good for him.

Bess’s story is more important. Bess and Morgan are feeling like the rest of the group think they’re idiots (and the group is correct to do so), so Bess tries to prove her worth by bartering with a Grendler (who seems like not the same one that was following Morgan before) for food, and then for other items. This goes well until it doesn’t. When Bess manages to trade for a fancy piece of technology that “locks up land” so it can’t be mined and, Bess figures, Terrians would not be able to move through it. Morgan (who is in extreme unpleasant form this time) recognizes this as a chance to stake a claim on valuable minerals on this new planet and become wealthy, and Bess is easy to convince because she hates the way Devon has been treating her as an idiot or, at best, an employee. Instead of Morgan continuing that redemption arc from last thing, he sways his wife away from the group. It’s also worth noting that when they were wed, apparently the couple took a vow to “forsake all others” which I don’t think is standard in the real world of today. We also learn in this one that Morgan has been coping with life on the planet by developing a bit of a VR addiction. I’m still hoping this couple can turn things around and stop being a convenient source of drama among the Utopians, but I’m beginning to doubt.

What else? Well, 1) I caught on that Dr. Julia is genetically enhanced. I don’t know if that’s come up before, but it definitely occurred to me that this show had a genetically-enhanced doctor before DS9 (knew that it) did. 2) I like that the group is having a lot of trouble finding edible vegetation on the planet. I’ve already commented that it’s a shame the plants look exactly like Earth plants (granted that’s because it’d be awfully hard to make a whole landscape of alien plants to film in), but making it so that they are clearly not as easy to eat as Earth plants does help. 3) Was Gaal trying to steal vehicles because he thought that he’d be able to trade them to Grendlers for something cool? No, that can’t be. He was keeping them addicted with blood, he wasn’t trading with them. 4) They used the stock eagle sound effect again. I wonder how often they’ve done that before I noticed. BUT MORE IMPORTANT: They used sound effects I recognized from Doom! I’ve often heard the stock sound effects that were used in Doom in other things (especially the doors!) because I’m sure it’s the cheapest sound pack available or something. In this case it wasn’t the doors. I think it was a dying Pinky, but it may have been an Imp, I’m not going back to check. I’m just always happy to hear these sounds that I will always associate with a computer game that happened to use them. Better than a Wilhelm Scream every time.