Musings from Jim Sorenson and a few guest bloggers about Transformers, character models, science-fiction, comic books, and whatever else is on our minds.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Review: War of the Worlds, the series ep 28
The twenty-eighth episode of War of the Worlds, the series is titled Breeding Ground. A medical supply shortage sends Harrison to the Metro Hospital, where he stumbles upon an alien breeding program. An old friend of his is helping the aliens implant seeds of the Eternal into human hosts, including a rather likable old lady named Kate Barrows. Though the team manages to abscond with her, she escapes and returns to her hospital, where she delivers the first Morthrai to be born on Earth. Her physician, Dr. Justaine, is killed off by the aliens for his trouble, but they allow her to live on with the memory of her loss.
The Good: Quite a lot, actually. The acting was great all around, especially Helen Hughes stint as Kate Barrows. Before her ulcer perforates and she winds up in the hospital she seems sort of carefree despite the lack of her welfare check (the department is on strike) and her pile of bills. Unable to have children, her maternal instincts have been directed towards her career (in her youth she was a dancer of some renown, Champagne Katie) and her cat. After she's checked into the hospital without insurance, miserable, she just exudes pain, but Ms. Hughes doesn't overplay it. The character is doing her best to be stoic. After she's impregnated with an alien seed, she becomes confused but ecstatic. Finally, once the aliens abandon her and take their offspring with her, she's broken, sitting alone in her house with a cured ulcer but a loss she had never before known. Her arc is complete, leaving her physically better off but emotionally broken.
The directing was also quite nice in this episode. I rather like how creepy some of the shots were, including the first silhouetted appearance of Ardix and Bayda. The tension stays high this episode, with some rather poignant moments to offset the horror.
Hey, speaking of Bayda, last seen in Doomsday, it was nice to see the return of Ardix's accomplice. I wonder if they were purposfully going for names evocative of the alphabet, or if that was a happy coincidence. In any event, I like this sort of continuity. There was great dialogue between them, especially when they observed how humans treat their elderly and their diseased "like so much refuse." They also explain away some of the logical faults of the episode with some rapid fire-dialogue. "We should have done this at our base," she scolds, but he rebuts that they don't have the equipment. "We should have cloned the doctor," she continues, but the doctor is too old and sick to survive the process he replies.
This episode is the first one where the "Almost Tomorrow" is starting to live up to its potentials. The shortage of 'Megacillin', off-hand references to another Senator skipping bail, level-five pollution alerts, and of course the Georgetown Epidemic. The latter was an important motivating factor in the episode, as Doctor Justaine was a brilliant surgeon who tried to help out with this Epidemic, only to later find out that it was a man-made disease that got loose. He lost all his patients, leaving him broken, and later found out that he was infected with the disease. The aliens offered him a cure, temporary as it turned out, which is why he was willing to sell out other members of humanity.
I've mentioned it before, but I think that Kincaid's battlewagon is pretty cool. It features in an extended battle sequence where an alien tries to run them off the road.
In that same sequence, Harrison completes his journey to action hero. Though he's been handling weapons for quite a few episodes now, I believe that this time is the first time he'll actually discharge a handgun at an alien. Even now, he hesitates and has to be goaded on by Kincaid. Given the airing order flub that this one represents, that means that it took him four episodes to transition away from his pacifist roots that he managed to more-or-less hold onto in season one to his new season two persona. As that the season is only 17 episodes long, that's nearly a quarter of the story devoted to this evolution.
The Bad: Let's start with coincidence, again. Suzanne gets sick, prompting the team to look for medicine. Harrison happens to know a brilliant but broken surgeon who might be able to get him some, and just so happens to be in the hospital when the first victim of the alien breeding program goes on a rampage.
Suzanne mentions that the aliens have done breeding experiments before. I'm wondering exactly what she's referring to. Unto Us a Child is Born springs to mind, though really that was an accident and the team knew it. My Soul to Keep involved aliens attempting to breed, though no humanity was involved. There were plenty of experiments done on humans in He Feedeth Among the Lilies, though those resolved around the immune system. I wonder if McCullough commingled some of those events in her mind, or if there were some other alien experiments foiled off-stage. This isn't a horrible 'bad', by any means, but as continuity nods go it's not great either. I guess points for trying, though. In a similar note, this episode unfortunately aired after Terminal Rock, which references 'only one breeding success.' Whoops, guess they flubbed the airing orders there.
The Ugly: Alien surgery, though not nearly as gruesome as some of the S1 material, still counts as ugly in my book. I couldn't tell from Youtube, but it seems that the alien surgical tools are variations on their three fingered hand, which is a nifty idea.
So, there you have it. Aliens attempting to incubate their young in human hosts. It's not QUITE an idea we've seen before, as I point out above, though it's not a wholly new idea either. However, it's saved by its execution. Aside from how the team finds out about it in the first place, which will unfortunately be endemic this season, it's really quite solid. Let's hope that there are more like this ahead.