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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, Recap 24: The Edge of Darkness

Two recaps in two days, no filler? Surely you jest!

Though really, I just marathoned a number of Thundercats episodes rented from the local video store and well, if nothing else, they really make you appreciate Galaxy Rangers. Let's leave it at that. :-P

This episode is called "Edge of Darkness."

Wherein SOMEONE gets sucked into a black hole

We start with a swanky view of what looks like a swirly galaxy or nebula, maybe. I have no idea. It's swirly, multicolored, in outer space, and has teeny lights in it, that's about all I can tell. Pretty though. There's very big bright object near it and bits of light connecting it.

Four interceptors are flying toward this nebula thing. Zach, in one, orders "all teams" to maintain their positions. Honestly, Zach, when there are four of you, you could probably just say "all of you" or "everyone."

Actually, he proves me wrong, as we see that rather than having just four of them, there are actually four groups of three Interceptors. Okay, Zach, I stand corrected and apologize. Please continue.

Doc is also in an Interceptor! I think this is actually the first time we've seen that. He reports that the scans are operating.

Just as Zach is warning everyone to watch out for the gravitational watchwind I realize that I'm not looking at a nebula so much as I am looking at essentially a whirlpool in space. A black hole. Oh dear. Good bye bright object next to it.

Nifty though. I like black holes. I don't understand them at all, but they're pretty freaking scary. I think my favorite death idea would be being sucked into a black hole. It'd definitely win you some cool points in the afterlife, I'd reckon.

"Oh, what, Cleopatra? You got bitten by snakes? Well *I* got sucked up in black hole!"

...sometimes I imagine the afterlife being a lot like highschool. But I digress.

Anyway, Zach's still talking, explaining that "their station is balanced on entropy's edge." Whose station? The winds? Or is this a new topic? I have a sudden sympathy for people who try to talk to me. Anyway, apparently entropy's edge is the most powerful force in the universe. Zach warns that the slightest mistake can mean one of them can be thrown into oblivion.

...God willing, we will totally see someone get sucked up into a black hole.

Anyway, Niko's there too, apparently, and she announces they've entered scanning range. Her lips look weird beneath her visor. For a second, in the very androgynous spacesuit, I thought she was Zach with a bad makeup job.

Niko notes there's an asteroid perfectly balanced on the edge. I don't know how that would work, but okay. Inside there's a nifty, if cramped looking, technological facility. And hey! MaCross! It's been ages! Of course, "The Black Hole Gang". It all makes sense now!

MaCross's underling reports the twelve ships. MaCross believes they're here to attack his hideout and intends to blast them into infinity. Underling points out that they might be able to maneuver like their own ships. MaCross doubts it. He orders battle stations.

The underlings all run for nifty looking weapons stations while the Galaxy Rangers fly closer.

Zach gives the "Come out with your hands up" announcement. Which doesn't work as well in space. But Jerry Orbach does that so well, I can't complain. It's so hard to believe this was before Law and Order.

MaCross tells Zach he's got a brave group to risk exposure to Entropy's Edge. He can see them as tiny dots on his radar thing. MaCross tells him to let him know what it's like to fall into a black hole and then needlessly points out that they've never heard from anyone who's survived, because no one has.

Zach is uncowed and says it's his last chance to give up peacefully and the next sound they hear will be our blasters. God, Jerry Orbach talking cop-type things. <3

So yeah, it's battle time. Zach orders all the Wing Leaders (i.e. the main characters) and their squads into attack formation. They sound off. Goose is "Gold Wing", Niko and her scary lipstick is "Blue Wing", and Doc is "Green Wing."

I love the sci-fi many hats syndrome. It doesn't matter that we've never seen most of the main characters fly Interceptors before, of COURSE they're awesome enough at it to be Wing Leaders here.

I'm not being sarcastic. I read comics after all.

Anyway Doc feeds them the approach vectors, which amounts to green lines on a screen to me. Anyway, they have to fly between the lines to remain stable in the "cross-navigational currents." Going out means human spaghetti. Goose calls the hole "the Drainpipe of the Universe" which totally would have made an infinitely better episode title. I would also have accepted "The Septic Tank of Space."

Zach's wing is Red by the way, and on Zach's orders Red and Gold are going straight down the middle. Goose gives him the thumbs up of a man who is definitely not going to be sucked into a black hole today.

The battle's engaged. It's fun. Lots of lasers and fancy flying. They belong to the Star Wars school of color coding. MaCross's lasers are red, while the Rangers' lasers are blue. This way you know who's evil. Zach ends up ordering his wing to go blow up the power stations, while one gibbering bad guy gets an Interceptor in his sights. Red Two is hit! Whoever he is!

Damn. Red Two ends up crashing into the asteroid and vaporized. I think that's our first good-guy fatality on this show. We get a second when, just after Goose tells Gold Three to watch the sideguns, he's...shot by a sidegun. I don't think Goose meant to watch that closely, dude. Goose does break off and blow that terminal the fuck up at least though, while Zach and company blows up a few others.

Basically the asteroid is having a lot of explosions right now. Still, I'm a bit shocked at the two fatalities. For that matter, I'm pretty sure the folk manning the blown up guns are probably dead too. This is a bloody episode.

Green wing descends to knock out some guns, and of course one of them gets blown up too. Never join the same wing as the main heroes in sci-fi, you will be blown up good.

Blue Wing, as the last group with all members and the last one not doing anything, is sent to take out the main power housing. Well, at least the force shouldn't be a problem here. Of course, one of Niko's wing is hit too. Symmetry and all. Wow, Niko just lost her second guy, but then she's the one doing the Luke Skywalker run so that's kind of expected.

Niko's ship gets whacked and she has to pull out. Goose calls Gold Wing (all one of him, that poor guy has to know he's doomed) and they take Niko's place.

Goose doesn't fly with this whole Force mumbojumbo and has Alma lock in target. He is indeed able to blow up the power thing, but the explosion knocks him out of Doc's pretty green lined path. He's going into the Black Hole!

I'm utterly shocked by this development! Well, no, but heck, a main character is falling into a black hole and that's kind of awesome. Zach and Doc disagree, but that's expected.

Back on the asteroid, things are powering down. MaCross orders them to the escape ships, every man for himself. He's kind of a dick.

Approaching the black hole, Goose's Interceptor is getting all wavy and swirly looking. That can't be good. Goose tries to order full emergency power, but Alma says they're inoperative. The sound is all wavy too. Zach, whose eyes look suspiciously wavery, tries to get an answer on the communicator thing but to no avail.

Goose's helmet starts glowing and then seems to burst into flame. That...can't be good. He's trying to order something about the shields. Oh dear god! Now his arm is bubbling up and bulging in weird places and
it's genuinely and legitimately grotesque.

Doug Preis also portrays agony a bit more convincingly than Jerry Orbach, I must say.

Underneath the glow, his head transforms many times, into insectoid, then metal, and other weird ones as his bio-defenses are actually trying to ADAPT to SPAGHETTIFICATION This is interspersed with cuts of the Interceptor getting pulled further and further in. At one point we zoom in on Goose's face and his eye opens all red and scary looking.

Now things look different entirely. Black, but with stretchy streaks of light. Then the Interceptor seems to blink out of existance.

The six remaining Interceptors converge on a BETA ship. Nat-of-the-Mustache greets them, but they're too busy trying to track their missing groupmate. Zach "Negatories" the tracking question, but Doc thinks, from his last coordinates, that he might have somehow slingshotted himself into warp via the hole.

Can it work that way? I honestly have no idea. I won't try to say whether that's believable or not or I'll end up sounding like that TWOP recapper bitching about the BSG finale who clearly does not understand the concept of Mitochondrial Eve. I'll save my bitching for something I actually know about.

Niko wants to know if they can compute a search area, and Doc says he could use the main computer on the Laredo to try. (No more Comanche? Aw.) He points out that if Goose could survive the stress forces, he could warp out anywhere.

Back in the tunnel of doom, Goose isn't doing so well, hoarsely muttering about his implant. It echoes weirdly. He starts glowing and morphing back and forth again.

He does indeed pop out of warp, the Interceptor smoking like mad, and heads straight for a planet. Still morphing back and forth and now looking like he's enveloped by lightning, he orders Alma to stabilize the systems. Alma however has no biodefenses and is malfunctioning out. Goose makes a valiant attempt at landing but, well, that's not working so well. Alma urges him to eject and then says it was a pleasure to serve him. Aw. Goose ejects by way of the Interceptor crashing and the explosion sending him flying. That works.

On the Laredo, Zach and Niko hover as Doc works. He tells them he's calculated the last pulse from Alma before she disappeared. He tells them the best they can narrow it down to is one area in the empty zone. Considering the entire universe was an option before, that's a pretty good job.

And damn those Interceptors are sturdy.

Doc is hopeful that they can track him once they get closer. Zach suggests a needle in a haystack. Try a magnet? Niko says that they have to try, and Zach agrees, if Shane's alive, they'll find him. They'll go by Ranger One.

Back on the nameless yet possibly familiar planet, the Interceptor's in rubble and Goose is planted face down not far from it. He's helmetless and looking very charred. He's not however human spaghetti, so he's one up the odds. He rouses to a deep voiced woman calling for help, and starts staggering up from the still smoking ground.

His hair is still lovely though. I wonder what conditioner he uses.

He stands as the screams grow more frequent and starts glowing and growling alarmingly. Annie (ANNIE!!!) is on horseback fighting something giant and toothy. Her horse is freaking the fuck out. She's trying to shoot it but it's not having an effect.

Goose, for his part, has gotten a lot bigger all of a sudden. Hairier too. Apparently black holes make you a werewolf? Good to know. He growls and runs to the lizard monster, and rams it. They start grappling. He's bigger, a fact which his uniform does not seem to be enjoying, but much smaller than the monster, it must be noted. He's doing a fairly good job though and eventually ends up doing a He-Man style grab-it-by-the-tail-and-swing-it-away move. It hits a tree, and Ozarkian trees are sturdy as hell, because it doesn't give way at all. Nice. It lands on its head and then runs off.

Goose starts glowing, reverts back to standard size and general hairlessness and keels over. His clothes are now appealingly ripped because Galaxy Rangers appreciates its straight female audience.

Annie comes over to him and rolls him over via her gun, which amuses me to no end. Then she recognizes him (from back in episode 4) and gasps. He wakes up, sees her hovering over him and asks groggily what happened. She tells him he's had a terrible accident and her horse gets a bit overly friendly too. Apparently Bill, the horse, is saying thank you for saving his ass. Goose doesn't remember doing that, which doesn't seem good. Annie pulls his arm over her shoulders and drags him up, telling him how she spotted the ship go down and that they have to get out because if any of the local elders saw it, they'll have patrols out.

Sounds like the whole peaceful, accept-outsiders endeavor of the last episode isn't going too well. But then again, she didn't say these were HER elders. And in fact, she's going to take him back to her village. A three day ride. Always fun when you've just been spaghettified. Bill's a pretty horse though. Annie and Goose don't go unnoticed though, two fellows on horseback watch them go.

Back in space, Ranger One comes out of warp in the system. Doc has narrowed the possibilities down to three planets in the sector: Ozark, Tuscaloosa, and Brimstone.

Seriously, who the FUCK names a planet Brimstone?

Doc's still working on isolating the pulse. Niko Trois that there's something wrong, she can feel it. Zach notes that "At least we know he's..." "Still alive?" Niko finishes.

I like the way Zach trails off there. If anyone knows there're worse things than death, it's Zach. Doc looks steely eyed and suggests trying Ozark. Doc's got good instincts. Zach perks up with renewed determination and agrees.

Back on Ozark, the two watchers have become four and they've now surrounded Annie, Bill and Goose, all "What do we have here?" One smirkily sneers that harboring offworlders is a dangerous offense. He also calls Annie girl and grabs her arm. Goose stares down at him with the calm, flat expression he tends to wear when he's about to fuck shit up. This can be distinguished from the angry growl, or crazy grin, both of which he also makes to signal being about to fuck shit up.

Hmm. Really, it's probably easier to catalogue the expressions that don't mean he's going to fuck shit up. Which probably translates to "unconscious."

Goose warns him to get his hands off Annie, and one of the others, presumably the leader, snaps at him to shut his mouth and get down from the horse, brandishing his weapon. I don't think you want to do that, man. The guy holding Annie is all "You heard him," and starts pulling Goose down from the horse. Goose doesn't approve of this and punches him. I approve of the punching whole-heartedly.

The leader snarls at him to stand back and he'll show how they deal with off-world slime. I really wish Ozark didn't keep giving me Deliverance flashbacks, I really do. Annie is wide-eyed and shouts "No!"

Can I just say how much I love that Annie's got a deep voice? You almost never hear deep female voices in cartoons, and when you do, they're usually villains. As a fellow contralto, I love Annie for that alone.

Anyway, the leader shoots Goose in the chest. Oh, that's a good notion. Goose doesn't even stagger before he starts glowing. He doesn't touch the badge either and hasn't all episode, it must be noted. He growls and starts to werewolf out. The leader is understandably nonplussed. He thinks it's sorcery. Or saucery, and I'd make a joke about tomato and basil, but really, it's not very funny.

Actually this time, he's a purplish lizard type creature, possibly inspired by the earlier one, though Goose is much slimmer than that of course. He still has fairly humanoid facial features, fangs and fins aside. He runs over and pulls the last guy off his horse, while the other three stare. Then they start shooting at him and he dashes into the underbrush.

Annie calls for Goose, while the leader decides they'll need to get help and orders his men to "take the girl." She insists he's making a mistake. He snaps at her to shut up and that harboring off-world mutants is a serious offense. They go. And as they do, Goose pops his head out of the water to watch.

In the Ozarkian village, Annie sits mournfully in an empty jail cell, hatless. Damn them for taking her hat. A man with a face swallowing black beard comes over and Annie demands to know if he's in charge here. He's Lord Miller. He runs Mill Town. His voice is surprisingly light and nasally for a big guy. He doesn't sound terribly hostile as he asks her where she's from. She answers with "Buck's County", the other side of the smokies.

The leader from before is with Miller, but says nothing, and Miller points out that she's a long way from home and she sneers that it's a "free planet" and she can explore where she damn well wants. Without the profanity of course. I like Annie.

Miller tells her that she stands accused of aiding an offworld monster and asks how she pleads. Ask for a lawyer! Always ask for a lawyer! Sorry, instinct. She snaps that Goose wasn't a monster, he was a Galaxy Ranger. The leader, who has suddenly become Scottish for no real reason, snarls that he'd seen "it" and it was the strangest thing he'd ever hoped to see.

Miller says that, being all glowing and quivering (he even makes scary arm gestures, awesome), he was definitely no Ranger. Heh, shows what you know. I want to see Zach school this bastard. Anyway, he's confident that his patrols will bring this thing in. I sincerely doubt it, due. "Meanwhile, little girl," he says, "You stay put." Annie's expression is all "Oh, it is on." Though all she says is "No!"

Meanwhile, the Rangers find the downed an very smooshed looking wreckage of the Interceptor. Zach congratulates Doc's navigation, but Doc says not to thank him, as in the cockpit, Alma's muttering gibberish. Doc presses a button and gently tells her to sleep now and she switches off. Niko uses her powers to get a trace on her currently crazy teammate. She gets a glimpse of the hole, the scary bulging/bubbling arm and all the shifting. She tells the others that Goose's implant is malfunctioning and he can't control the now overactive bio-defenses. Zach asks about a heading, which Niko provides. "Northwest."

That patrol leader is outside Annie's cell being all "People around here don't take kindly to monsters." And she snaps back that they must hate him. He notes that Bucks County is the home of those "Coward Elders" who "even have offworlders living with them." Aw. I'm glad to hear that Annie's hometown is doing well.

Annie doesn't rise to the bait and merely suggests his brain is the size of a pea. When he gets mad, she points out that he's real tough on the other side of the cell bars. HE, on the other hand, is an idiot and opens the door. She promptly punches him out. Because Annie is awesome. He gets up though and draws his weapon. She recoils. He's about to shoot her when WHAM! Werewolf Goose (who on closer look is more trollish than wolfish) punches through the wall. He still manages to get her in the shoulder and then screams like a little girl and tries to run. Goose just grabs him by the collar and tosses him into the cells.

Goose has kind of sandy blond wolverine hair at the moment and his eyebrows and face whiskers are very impressive. His eyes are completely blue, whites and all. He trollishly clops his way over to Annie, who's out cold, picks her up and heads out. Soon folks start shouting that the "monster" is loose. Because they're idiots. Miller calls the mob to arms and notes that they'll get it once and for all. Way to uphold the stereotype, guy.

Awesomely, monster movie music of the sort that normally plays when the sympathetic monster carries the pretty human girl away is playing as Goose lumbers over to the water. The mob, raising farm tools and flaming torches don't take too long to catch up and form a loose ring behind him. He utterly ignores them. Miller says that they've got him now. Hey, one of them has one of those weird scary dogs that Nimrod had during the Power Within! Neat!

Anyway, Goose walks through the water, more of a bog than a pond really, and gets Annie to the windmill. The mob is too cowardly to engage, but one does throw a rock. Fucker. Goose whirls and roars, but sets Annie down before he decides to do anything.

Oh dear lord, this is the worst mob ever. One woman even brought her KID, who wants to see the monster. You're an idiot, lady. He runs free and immediately starts sinking into the bog, calling for help. The mob gapes, while the woman runs up and begs for help. Here's a thought, lady, reach forward and grab him yourself. He's two steps from shore. Idiots.

Goose seems to come to the same conclusion I do, and heads into the bog. He lifts the kid out of the water, through the part that goes quite over his head even, and hands it to the mother. Annie runs over to grab his arm, but he's sinking. She calls for help and members of the mob actually start helping her pull him out. Because, well, he saved the kid they were too stupid to grab. (Why he didn't take the kid to the nearer part of the shore, I do not know, but well, he's not really in his right mind anyway.)

The mob is still too stupid to live though, and as soon as he's out of the water, they pull Annie away from him. Miller looms over him and draws his gun. He's seriously going to shoot an unconscious guy in the head in front of the kid he just saved. Fucker.

A blaster bolt puts a stop to that. Zach don't play that way. He and the others are also on robot horses. Triton's not there, which is probably good, as he's liable to have gotten pissy. (Niko's on Voyager again, Doc's on Mel. Their endless changing always amuses me.)

Zach is one pissed off Galaxy Ranger and shouts that the next person to raise a weapon gets blasted into atoms. Miller tries to claim Zach has no jurisdiction here and claims it's a local affair. Does he not think Zach would notice that the "monster" is wearing a torn version of a Ranger uniform. Actually, these people are such idiots that I bet they haven't noticed themselves.

WHOA. Zach just grabbed Miller by the shirt and yanked him up, and commanded him to get out of his way. Yeesh. Zach shouts a lot, but the violence is pretty new. Then again, this guy did try to shoot his youngest teammate in the head. He flings Miller away, snapping that Goose is one of his men. He orders Doc to examine him.

Doc hovers over the oversized trollish version of his teammate and goes "My Gooseman, is that you?" When Goose growls groggily and swipes a hand at him, Doc smiles and fondly says "It's you." Niko notes that he doesn't recognize them. Really? I wouldn't have guessed.

Annie finally pushes her way through and pillows his head on her lap. Aw. The Rangers don't say anything about that though I'm sure there will be teasing later. Doc pops open his thingy and orders Lifeline to go in and deactivate the implant. So Lifeline is his brain surgery tweaker. Good to know. Amusingly Goose tries to bat it away when it comes closer, but Annie reminds him that they're his friends. Lifeline goes in through the ear, and the crowd gasps when Goose starts glowing, he then reverts to Shane again.

Amusingly, his uniform reverts as well. It's now completely whole and mended. Hah! Anyway, Goose wakes up and recognizes the hovering Doc, and tells him to get out of his face. Much to Doc's amusement. Niko laughs in the background. Then the mob all cheers. Because they totally weren't going to let their leader just SHOOT HIM IN THE HEAD or anything!

God, I hate this group.

Anyway, they're about to take off, but Goose takes a moment with Annie, who asks if it'll always be goodbye for them. He dramatically gestures upward and tells her to watch the skies, every star that falls will bring his heart back to her.

Aw. Someone's been sneaking romance novels. Heh. Annie seems to like it though and they exchange grins and he leaves. She tells Bill they "have a lot of stargazing to do."

I think that's the Galaxy Ranger equivalent of "I'll be in my bunk."

End of episode!
---

Okay, you know, I was wondering how well I'd enjoy the episode right after Psychocrypt, but Edge of Darkness is pretty damn awesome in its own right. Not as dramatic sure, but the Star Wars homages at the beginning, the black hole, the were-Goose, and monster-movie nods were all pretty great.

And there were some parts that really did take me aback a bit. Mostly the blown up fighters, since Galaxy Rangers doesn't tend toward gratuitous character death often, the bulging and bubbling arm in the black hole, which was just gross, and the way Miller was going to so coldly shoot an unconscious person who just saved some kid in the head.

I wonder if Psychocrypt didn't start a move for the series to become a bit more mature in tone. But then I remember the battle of the bands episode and have my doubts.

Speaking of Psychocrypt, it's hard to say for sure since it's only one episode later, but I do think we're seeing an effect on Zach. Hopefully, it'll be like One Million Emotions was for Shane, and we'll see the continuing effects as the series continues, rather than it just being a one-shot fluke.

Zach's always been a good leader, but there's a certain lack of distance now. He seems more open with praise (specifically when they find the downed Interceptor) and more willing to express worry.

He also showed a level of protectiveness that I don't think we've ever seen before. Granted, he definitely always CARED about his teammates, but we've never seen him pick someone up that was clearly outmatched and not a threat and throw him back, with quite that level of rage before. Zach barks a lot but doesn't usually tend toward violence. But now it looks like he's found a trigger.

I think it's actually a good thing for the character. Even healthy. Before he was focusing on his work to the exclusion of everything else, but I think after seeing how far they'd go for him in Psychocrypt, and also maybe realizing that no matter what, they would get Eliza back someday, he's been able to accept his team members as a surrogate family.

This episode also kind of indirectly showed why supertroopers are so fucking scary. A BLACK HOLE can't kill these guys!

It was good seeing Annie again, and hearing about her group doing well. This group was a bunch of idiots though. The romantic line at the end was pretty cheesy, but I think it was simultaneously a goodbye and a gift. Annie's so relentlessly practical minded that she probably hasn't gotten a whole lot of romance in her life, and every girl (or boy) ought to have something to daydream about.

If he keeps saying things like that though, Doc had best find and confiscate the secret stash of romance novels.

So what did we learn today? Black holes don't kill Supertroopers, bearded hillbillies are scary, and don't piss off Cyborg Jerry Orbach.

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