Musings from Jim Sorenson and a few guest bloggers about Transformers, character models, science-fiction, comic books, and whatever else is on our minds.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Review: War of the Worlds, the series ep 33
The Defector is the thirty-third episode of War of the Worlds, the series. It's also the tenth episode of the second season, marking the half-way point. The Morthren build a machine that allows them to tap into human computer systems, download their data, and kill the operator. Sadly for them, this formidable weapon backfires on them and maims Kemo, its creator. As the Morthren have no tolerance for imperfection, Kemo is sentenced to death. His accident has left him with human emotions, though, and he rebels and escapes. With the help of Kincaid, he destroys the weapon and wanders off into the sunset.
The Good: We've now had three of the four current team members make peaceful contact with a member of the Morthren / Mor-Tax. Harrison had his back in season one's The Prodigal Son with Quinn. Debi shared a moment with young Ceeto in Loving the Alien. And now, Kincaid, who is probably the least-likely, has made a friend in Kemo. All this will pay off in the season finale.
Charles McCaughan does a good turn as Kemo, the alien who becomes part human. His desire to live, despite his deformity, manifests itself in many interesting ways; first he insists that only he can finish the weapon, then he appeals Malzor's decision all the way up to their living God, and finally he fights his way free. (I also like that Malzor's decisions CAN be appealed. It makes the Morthren feel more like a society.)
Still on Kemo, his flight to the lair of Ace, his first victim, is a smart plot point. It makes sense; where else in the city would he know? The way he covers Ace's body sheet is also great, a very un-Morthren moment. "Does YOUR God accept you," he asks the body. Classic.
It's also cool that, while Kemo kills three guards on the way out of the complex, on the way back in he has his weapon set on stun. He's done with killing.
Malzor gets in some good moments. When Ardix questions his decision to send all available soldiers to search for Kemo (leaving them with minimal security, Ardix notes), Malzor's rebuttal makes perfect sense. "If Kemo talks, security won't matter." No, I suppose it won't. These guys are not set up to fight a war, the title of the series aside. Keeping the secret of their base's location has to be of paramount importance. When Malzor confronts Kemo at the end of the episode, Malzor has balls of steel. Despite the cabbage-gun leveled at him, Malzor boldly strides up to his adversary and thrusts it aside. I rather like how hands-on Malzor can be.
Scoggs is back, as a member of the Grapevine computer network. (Others on the network include Rogue, the alter ego of the Blackwood Project, Roller, Lonelyheart, and Ace. Aside from Scoggs, all would perish this episode at the hands of the computer weapon.) She's a more real character this time out, and has some nice chemistry with Kincaid when she tells him to be careful.
The Bad: At the end of the episode, Kemo wears some kind of Phantom of the Opera mask to hide his deformity. It seems a bit much. What, is he picking up human vanity now?
It's very clumsy, how the members of the Grapevine speak out loud all the lines they type into the computer. I understand WHY they're doing it, but one must imagine there is a better way. It feels like some high-up studio exec came in and told them that they couldn't just show the words on the screen, they HAD to say it out loud.
Speaking of clumsy, Suzanne and Debi have one scene this episode, wherein they say that they're off. Debi has exams to take. I understand that the writers are generally more interested in Kincaid and Blackwood, but this seems clumsy.
The Ugly: There are numerous charred corpses at the hands of the computer weapon. I decided to go with Lonelyheart, because that was a particularly good reveal.
So, there you have it. This episode was a relatively strong offering. The alien weapon is very powerful, and yet seems plausible. Kemo's journey is convincing, and takes Kincaid to interesting places. Most of the flaws are more like nitpicks, and most of the virtues are of substance. It's a nice addition to the tapestry.
As strong as this episode was, there's a behind-the-scenes missed opportunity. Greg Strangis had been pushing for the return of the aforementioned Quinn at some point in season two. This episode grew out of that idea, sadly bereft of Quinn. Now, mind you, this whole episode actually works very well as written, so it's hard to get too upset on account of The Defector. However, having Quinn grace this season with his presence would have gone a long way towards making S2 feel connected to the mythology of S1. To see him square off against Malzor and Mana would have been magic.