My Soul To Keep is the twentieth episode of War of the Worlds, the series. It features the return of John Colicos as Quinn. Quinn points investigative journalist Cash McCullough, played by Michael Parks, firmly at the Blackwood Project. Cash is Suzanne's ex-husband and Debi's father, and thus in a unique position to pester the project.
Meanwhile, the team has their hands full with the latest alien scheme. It's their breeding cycle, only once again the radiation is playing havoc with their biology. To compensate, the aliens commandeer an ice factory and plan to use it to incubate their eggs. The team tracks them via transmissions and acts to thwart them. McCullough gets close by leveraging his relationship with Suzanne, surprising her with the accusation that the team is killing illegal aliens. With some help from Quinn, he follows them to the Blackwood raid on the alien hatchery and witnesses first-hand the horror of an alien invasion. Fearing that no one would believe him, he states that he's dropping the story for good.
The Good: It's great to see Quinn return. Colicos was ill while filming this episode, so they reduced his part a bit. Sadly, we'll never see him again, but at least his return cements his place as more than just another one-shot character. I liked the idea that, in this universe, he might have actually been Deep Throat. Of course, he could have been lying when he made that claim, but I can completely see Quinn bringing down the President for his own aims. Maybe Nixon was digging too deeply into the old alien menace. While we're on the subject, the lie he told Cash was the best kind of lie - one with a dash of the truth. I think the idea of the Blackwood Project as hunting down illegal aliens is a very clever story. There's just enough truth in it to believe that Cash might find some bits of confirmation.
I also rather enjoyed learning more about the alien's reproductive cycle. This is to be their first clutch on Earth. If they miss it, and they do, they'll have to wait nine years to try again. I also liked the return of the great gorge, the one that the commander in Epiphany jumped off of. This time, the aliens hurl a defective egg into it. To Life Immortal!
It's nice to see another McCullough-focused episode. She got to shine a bit in Goliath Is My Name and The Good Samaritan, but generally hasn't gotten close to the screen time of Ironhorse or Blackwood. She's still way ahead of Norton's one episode, though.
It's fun how excited the scientists in the team get when they get the chance to examine a hatching alien egg. Only Ironhorse seems worried. When the tiny alien grabs Suzanne and won't let go, Ironhorse is right there waiting with the flame-thrower. He doesn't say "I told you so" with this mouth, but his eyes are another story. Ain't the alien an adorable little scamp?
Parks does a good job as the charming Cash McCullough. You can see why Suzanne fell for him in the first place, and why she subsequently broke it off. I rather like his casual racism. It's not as daring as it would be today, but even in the late 80s it would have been edgy and immediately showcases just a hint of his ruthlessness and disregard for others. He was a well constructed character on multiple levels, and I'd have been happy to see him in another episode.
The Bad: After all we've learned about Cash, I can't see him dropping the story of an alien invasion the way he does. I mean, he has proof! I suppose the team probably could have shut him up, somehow. For that matter, the idea that 'no one would believe it' is, as always, absurd. Their whole planet fell under alien assault a mere 35 years earlier. Even if you buy that most people choose not to acknowledge this, a hard-hitting facts-driven journalist should know about it.
Speaking of silly, the men of the team find their jaws dropping when Suzanne shows off her dress for a date with Cash. Maybe I'm jaded by 2010 fashion sense, but I'm not seeing it. (Not that she isn't an attractive woman; she is. Just I don't see Ironhorse and Blackwood getting flustered by this outfit walking into the room.) And with a large alien problem right at the moment, the timing was pretty bad.
As much as I liked the illegal alien lie, I was less impressed with Quinn's story pertaining to his motivation. Sharing the same mistress with General Wilson (drink!) is something that Cash could probably verify and isn't really all that compelling.
It was awfully convenient for the plot that the alien that attacked McCullough at the end was, well, an alien, not a guy with some radiation scars. We almost never see them in their true forms, so to see one with no explanation now is kind of goofy. It was fun to see Cash give the alien a flying tackle though.
Finally, it seems odd how long it takes for the Blackwood Team to mount an appropriate response to the aliens inside the warehouse. The aliens need 72 hours to incubate and get very close to succeeding. Since the Blackwood Team knows about the aliens almost from the start, it seems a little silly. I can almost see them sending in a recon team first, since you wouldn't want to just blow up a base that might contain chemical or biological agents. Once they learn that it's an alien breeding ground, though, why not just firebomb the hell out of it it with jets or tanks?
The Ugly: I thought the episode was going to let me down and I was going to have to use burning alien eggs, but at 42 minutes in we got to see Cash's camera crew's corpses, mutilated as only the aliens can.
There you have it. We're moving into the end-game here for season one. The Blackwood Project scored a great victory this time out, limiting the aliens to the ones already here on Earth, at least until the colonists arrive. Things are often a lot more murky, but sometimes it's nice to give one to the good guys.
It really was a lot of fun to see Quinn back and scheming. I think, of all the plot elements of Season One that got dropped in the second season, is absence is the one I feel the most keenly. He was a character of such potential, and sadly this episode only hints at that potential. Alas, it was not to be.
War of the Worlds - The Complete First Season is available for sale on DVD.
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