Space: Above And Beyond – PDR’s Final Thoughts

I liked Earth 2 more, I’ll say that. It makes sense to me that as I watched through Earth 2, I could tell I had stuck with it all the way to the end as a teenager. With this show, I don’t think Teen PDR stuck with it. That may be because I lost interest, or it may have just aired when something else I watched was on, I have no way of knowing, but nothing in the latter half of the show rang a bell as anything I had seen when I was young. Who knows, maybe I watched it all and it just washed out of my brain.

I’m not saying I think Space: Above And Beyond was a bad show. It’s more militaristic than I prefer, sure, but within that framework I was impressed with the wide variety of different military stories they managed to tell. I may not have ever really cared about West or Vansen, but I liked Wang and Damphousse, and the whole thing with the In-Vitros was quite interesting to me. This show was perfectly adequate sci-fi television, especially for the era in which it existed.

I know they had hoped to make more of the show, so I can’t harp on them for not finishing up everything in a nice package. I’d’ve been interested to see if Damphousse’s supposed psychic powers (or the fact that such things exist in the setting at all). But what I mentioned as I went, and what I really want to know, is how religious the show would have gotten. We never got any answer to what the deal was with the comet that did the Christmas miracle in that one episode. Was it really meant to be the same comet that led the Wise Men to the manger? Was it connected to the comet that hit Earth and spread organic compounds to the Chig homeworld? With all the life forms on the show originating from Earth, is that planet some sort of God-created centre of the universe, or are they going for more of a Red Dwarf thing. I’ll never know, but somewhere out there exists a universe where this show was brought back after the September 11th attacks to serve a world hungry for militaristic might and religious right and I want to be able to watch that show. I bet that version of the show would have lasted as long as the War on Terror!

Space: Above And Beyond – … Tell Our Moms We Done Our Best

Picking up right where the last one left off, the Secretary General from previous episodes gives a speech about the alien envoy and how peace is in sight! How happy! The peace talks go badly pretty quickly, culminating in an explosion in which McQueen is badly injured. The war is back on, and our main cast are now at increased risk because the show is cancelled.

One good thing does come of the peace talks, though: the colonists taken prisoner in the pilot are being transferred back to the humans and, when the talks deteriorate, the prisoners are still on a ship in space where the Wild Cards can fly in and rescue them. This is the last episode of the show, so it all comes back around to West’s missing girlfriend, who is confirmed to be among the survivors. But the mission goes only slightly better than the peace talks. Main Character Powers are dimmed by season finale stakes and series cancellation, so Vansen and Damphousse are shot down and are last seen crashing down onto a planet, trying just to make the crash survivable. It probably would have been, if the show had continued, but it didn’t, so I assume they’re both dead. What’s more, Damphousse is unconscious for this, so she doesn’t even get to have a final moment of import. Wang is killed in this fight, but he does get his moment, going down in a blaze of glory by fending off enemies and doing it in the names of allies who have died over the course of the series. He’s still dead, though. Also, in this episode Commodore Ross has a cold. Is nobody safe?!

So West and Hawkes are all that remains of the Wild Cards. West does get his reunion with the love of his life, though it’s brief. She’s saved from imprisonment, but she’s off back to Earth and he has to continue doing war. Hawkes, meanwhile, was forced into the military in the first place as a form of punishment, so in theory he could go home. I bet he doesn’t though. The show ends on a downer, and that’s appropriate. Usually the show tries to have it both ways, saying that war is bad, but also look how cool this war is. I like that, in the text as given, war is bad wins that particular tug-of-itself.

CHIG STUFF: The envoy reveals a bit about their motivations. When asked why they attacked the Colony in the pilot, they say that the Aero-Tech company ignored their warnings to stay away (warnings Areo-Tech claims to have not been capable of understanding). More significantly though, the Chigs do not recognize human claim to own Earth. Their science determined that their homeworld was seeded by organic compounds from another world, and they believe that world was Earth after a long-ago comet impact. Furthermore, they say they evolved on their world long before we did on ours, so really they have more claim to be the first rightful children Earth than we do. It’s interesting to see panspermia go this way. I’ve seen so much that uses it to explain how life got to Earth, less often do I see it as how alien life arose. I wonder why the show went that way with it… and is the answer very Jesusy?

Anyway, show’s over. I’ll be back with a final thoughts post, but for now that’s it.

Space: Above And Beyond – And If They Lay Us Down To Rest…

This penultimate episode of the episode. Most of this one it taken up with the Wild Cards doing some commando mission on some planet and being spotted by a non-combatant Chig and they have to figure out what they’re going to do about it. They’ve never seen a Chig out of its armour before, so they aren’t even sure if this alien is one of their enemies or some other innocent kind of life. They spend the episode chasing it down and trying to decide if they need to kill it so it doesn’t compromise the mission. Then, at the end of the episode, after they’ve decided not to kill it, the Saratoga is approached by a Chig vessel containing a lone Chig who communicates in Morse code that it wants to bring peace.

So we finally see the Chigs unmasked in this one!

As ever, I am very interested in alien design. We already knew the Chigs had a basic humanoid form, albeit with fewer digits on their hands, but I think I’d built up what might be under their helmets too much and so I was disappointed at first. The general facial layout looks too human for me. But I think I am over that disappointment. These are decent aliens. Right off the bat they’re better than the average Trek alien, right? And the performance sells it. They seem to breathe through those gills, which is cool. And we also are shown that Chigs (or at least the soldiers) seem to be grown in little pods (that resident In-Vitro Hawkes found familiar) and placed in armour at birth and never leave it until they die. All that stuff is suitably alien. Genuinely it made me think of Enemy Mine again, as I did last episode, and I think this design may look more alien than the aliens in that (though I admit it’s been a while since I’ve seen it) and they’re probably about on part with the Terrians from Earth 2 (though sub-Grendler). I do like that the Chigs look rather droopy, not like some fang monsters.

Some other thoughts of note:
-Hawkes uses the pictures of a comic called G.I. Geequed to aid communication with the alien, it’s a war comic that includes Chigs as enemies, making it like the comics published during WWII that had the heroes fighting the Nazis and Japanese. If “Geequed” is a pun or something, I don’t get it, but it’s neat to see the prop comic made for the show.
-Vansen also mentions that she got to see the last living panda at a zoo when she was a kid.
-The episode starts with Vansen narrating a history from the Big Bang to life rising on Earth and such. This, combined with her making a comment about feeling that the Chig comes from the same place as the humans. I’m uncertain what they’re going for here, but I’m still hoping we’re getting a big religious turn before the show ends.
-Perhaps the most important thing: We know from previous episodes than when a Chig’s armour is removed it dissolves into green goo. Apparently the humans have taken to calling this “spooging” and that’s just great.

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.

Only Two Episodes Left!

Space: Above And Beyond – Stardust

It takes a while for them to get around to it, but this episode is about the team doing a large-scale spaceship version of Operation: Mincemeat. Seriously, most of the episode is just political intrigue thriller stuff about the higher-ups being afraid of traitors so they have to keep the Wild Cards (and everyone else) in the dark about it. But all that is unimportant, because what matters that happens here is that the Wild Cards escort a ship full of dead people designed to look like they were on an important mission. The Cards lose the ship on purpose when attacked by the Chigs, but when the Chigs check the wreckage, the information they find on the ship will be false.

Some of the stuff at the beginning of the episode goes on a little too long, and the end fight scene is faked anyway, but at least it gives us a little more space plane combat. I don’t know what it was, but there was something about the dialogue during that last fight that really made me think they were doing an episode while simultaneously recording the barks that would be used in a Space: Above And Beyond video game if such a game were to exist.

The most important thing in this episode is that we learn that Commodore Ross has named his guitar Rosalind. I approve.