Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Earth Final Conflict Review: 1x03 Miracle

Okay, so I want to give the meme a bit longer to percolate (so you have a bit longer to give me questions) and thus I'm going to do another episode review for my own enjoyment. :-)

This episode is called "Miracle" and it's a pretty interesting premise. We get to see a lot more of the effects of the Taelons on society.



"You'll miss every good thing in the next seventy years"


Synopsis:

This episode starts zoomed in on a wheelchair with the best bumper sticker ever: "I break for aliens." The owner is a guy named Reggie. He's a veteran and possibly homeless, as someone offers him a bed at the Church for Holy Companions as long as he's sober. (He's not.) Reggie is friends with William Boone, and they exchange some friendly words just before Boone notices a girl about to jump off a roof.

Boone can apparently teleport as the camera zooms in on the girl, then suddenly Boone's right there talking to her. He's playing up a fear of heights. (For the record, William Boone is a terrible actor. :-)) We find out, via conversation and Boone's nifty CVI, that the girl's name is Julie Payton. She survived a car accident which killed her parents ten years before, and lost her hands as well. Boone coaxes her down and we get a good look at her hands. They're artificial, clearly, but seem to have very good mobility.



Later Da'an watches the news broadcast on his datastream. He's disturbed by the attempt and says that "No Taelon can become so alone." He also mentions that if she were a Companion, they would have replaced her hands. Boone and Sandoval are intrigued.

Da'an talks to another Taelon (identified as Quo'on), both are in nifty energy form. They're ready for open tests, though there's some doubt about success. They point out that Julie is completely healthy except her hands and mind.

Julie, who always keeps her hands in her pocket, comes to visit Boone. They bond over loss (Kate and her parents). Then Sandoval and Lili come in. Sandoval is smug and says Julie will go through limb regeneration and it's Boone's job to convince her. Boone thinks it should be Julie's decision, but Sandoval merely points out that it's Da'an's wish.

There's an interesting repeated mantra about how the Taelons can "grow buildings".

While Boone and Julie talk, Lili and Doors are having their own conference. Doors is of course suspicious of the Taelon agenda and the propaganda effects. Lili is concerend about how devastating this could be for Julie. She also points out their lack of success so far against the Taelons. Doors counsels patience and Lili tells him she'll bring back a "souvenir" for their geneticists.

We see the procedure, as admnistered by a very feminine Taelon named Na'eg. Da'an offers a technobabble explanation as the Taelon seems to play a keyboard. A funny exchange happens when Boone notes that she'll have healthy hands after this, and Da'an warns that her fingernails might be prone to breaking. Boone and Sandoval exchange slight smirks.

When Julie lifts her hands out, Boone is crying. Aw.

At the press conference for the first human limb regeneration, Julie looks happy and bright, and when Da'an appears, she gasps. She sees an aura or light around Da'an and thinks he must be a Messenger from God. As opposed to an energy being, I guess. I'm not sure why a glow is surprising, but okay.

Back at the Embassy, Boone, Da'an and Sandoval discuss the feeling of being worshipped. Boone is perturbed and thinks the worshipfulness ought to be discouraged. Da'an considers how some religions don't put much distinction between creator and created. Sandoval points out how some Eastern religions share that belief. Boone asks if Da'an influenced her, but Da'an denies it and then goes on a tangent about how humans slaughter each other about "questions of spirit." Apparently that's different on other planets. (A mild spoiler: not so much.) Da'an tells Boone to tell Julie to enjoy her new hands.

Lili and Julie have their own meeting, and Lili shakes her hand instinctively before awkwardly apologizing. I find Lili's awkwardness about the whole thing endearing. I'd be kind of stupid about this sort of thing too. Julie doesn't mind and gives her permission to touch, she gets a little too close/personal for mine and her own taste, but Julie understands the need to experience the miracle.

Lili asks Julie how she's doing, and Julie reveals that she didn't sleep that night, instead just went around touching things. Lili asks what her favorite things are to touch, and she says brick and olive oil. Lili brought her a present, a fancy pen. Julie confesses that she doesn't know how to use it anymore, but Lili encourages her by comparing it to riding a bicycle. (Which...she probably also couldn't do. I love Lili's clumsiness.) After Julie practices writing a while, Lili slips the paper away.

Da'an and Qu'on discuss the worship. Da'an appears to agree with Boone really about the inappropriateness, but the other Taelons think it's a great stride. He does bring up the concern that humans might turn on the thing that they worship, which, as Da'an points out, they've done before.



Speaking of religion, now we see the incredibly creepy Church of the Companions. It's very much a megachurch, with screens, choir and massive amounts of money. The leader is Travis Murray, and he's got a lot of smarmy charisma. He quotes a lot of bible references to "Companions" and other worldly beings. When Julie sneaks in, he notices her and she gets lifted up before the crowd.

Boone has his own moment of interest, as he starts blending images of Buddha, Egyptian pharoahs, Moses and Jesus, and ends up with a composite Taelon. Boone is freaked by this, and asks Da'an if they'd been to Earth before. Da'an babbles something about the long history of the souls. Then Boone notices Murray shilling for donations.

While Murray talks with Julie, Boone suddenly appears! Teleporter! Murray and Boone have a disagreement about Julie's "responsibilities" as a "chosen". Boone is of the opinion that her only responsibilities are rest and recovery. Murray disagrees. Later, Boone apologizes to Julie for being rude. She's mad.

The next day, a talk show host calls Boone. Julie didn't show. (We do see some huge crowd shots with candles and the like. Kinda creepy!) We also find out Partner-Bob's last name (Morovsky), when Boone calls to find out if they know anything. Yay, partner-Bob!

At the Flat Planet, Lili and Doors are watching the show which is now an interview with Murray, and Doors has a great line: "Dear God, save me from your followers." Lili's follow-up "Answer a question with a soundbite. Never fails." is an awesome knock on both him and Murray. Doors glares, but they discuss the results of the tests on Julie's paper. Her cells are decaying. Lili wants to call Boone so he can be the one to tell Julie. Doors is worried that the Taelons will try to hide this failure like they've done others.

Outside, Julie (hands in her pockets) meets up with Reggie the veteran. He acts a bit spacy but thanks her for giving people hope back and congratulates her for having the courage to go for it. As soon as she leaves, a much cagier looking Reggie calls Boone. I love Reggie. It's now a race to find Julie.

Murray wins, when Julie comes in. She shows him her hands. They're dissolving. It's pretty gross. Meanwhile, Sandoval and Da'an discuss the disintegration, and the exchange is pretty ominous. Da'an mentions the Synod's concern that if the news is made public that it will have negative consequences. He gives Sandoval a pointed look, and he says he'll get on it. He asks if they should do the "customary isolation procedures" and Da'an nods. EEVIL!

Lili and Boone then break into the Church and it's awesome. Ski-masks and grapplers and all. There's ass kickery while the church meeting goes on inside. Sandoval is at the front door. Lili tries to bluff her way through at one point (as Boone's too recognizeable) but it fails. She then kicks the guy's ass to my amusement and Boone's exasperation. They find Julie.

Boone warns Julie of the danger. The Companions do a lot of good things, but are also willing to sacrifice an individual or two along the way. Boone and Lili are not. But they have a solution.

Julie goes on the talk show and gives a nice speech denying the Taelon's role as biblical messengers (she was caught in the moment) but that she still considers the experience a miracle and publicly commits herself to the limb regeneration program. Clever, she turned herself into an asset.

Finally, at the end, Da'an and Murray discuss the results. As it turns out Julie's experience strengthened the Church's message. Da'an tells Murray he honors his work. Hah.

--

New Characters/Developments.

Na'eg: A Taelon scientist/doctor. Amusingly, they do not do a very good job of hiding the fact that Na'eg has breasts.

Quo'on: another Taelon. I'm not providing a picture because he was only shown as the glowy light thing.

Julie Payton: an accident survivor who becomes the face of the human limb regeneration program. She's pretty awesome.

Travis Murray: very sleazy/creepy head of the Church of the Companions. I think he was cast for his ability to roll the "r" of the traditional Taelon greeting. He's very good at that.

Reggie the Veteran: One of Boone's contacts. He has awesome taste in bumper stickers.

Church of the Companions: A mega-church that worships the Taelons. And apparently works for them too.

Da'an: We learn a bit more about Da'an as a character, both his discomfort with religious-type veneration and his willingness to use it. He shows a ruthless side a bit more openly here and it's very intriguing.

--

Review:

This episode is pretty neat for an overall look at the way Taelons influence human society, both good and bad. The Church of the Companions is a nice little slice of that since we see that they apparently house the needy (from their offer to Reggie) while at the same time they're REAL big on preaching and spreading the word and don't seem to mind strong-arm tactics.

Julie and Travis are both very interesting new characters. Julie's strong and bright and capable, and the show acknowledges that the issue isn't really about her hands but about her spirit. Even though she ends the experience without her hands, she's come out with a strength that she didn't know she had and people who care about her. Even when she bought into the Holy Companion rhetoric, it was perfectly understandable and she never lapsed into cartoonish fanaticism.

Travis Murray is also pretty interesting. He's another side to the Taelons, a measure of unofficial influence and gives us a hint of Da'an's true capability as a manipulator. He'll be interesting in the future.

This was a good episode for Da'an, as I mentioned above. We see a lot more of both his benevolent side and the ruthlessness underlying it. He isn't comfortable with being venerated, and he is growing a bit more respect for humans, but he's still manipulating them. And his interaction with Sandoval gives us a very good demonstration as to how he could honestly say to William Boone that he didn't order Kate Boone's death. Da'an has other ways of making his wishes known.

This was a good episode for Lili and Boone too. I really liked Lili's discomfort with Julie's injury. It's very human. She wasn't revolted or anything, but she didn't really know how to act. But she definitely cared about Julie as a person in a way that neither Doors (who was more concerned for the propaganda influence. Though to his credit, even he expressed concern for the girl too) or Da'an did. I especially liked her thinking to ask what Julie liked touching most, now that she could. It was something Julie seemed to really enjoy sharing, and was probably too personal a question for someone closed off like Boone.

Also, it's always fun to see Lili kick ass.

I ragged on Kevin Kilner quite a bit in my first two reviews, but I think he did a really good job here. This was the first episode where Boone's humanity really came through the brick wall. He and Julie vibed off each other well and brought out qualities in each other. It was nice to see Boone coming to terms some with Kate's death through his interaction with someone who shares some of the same grief but doesn't have the barriers keeping him from really expressing it. I still hate his voice though.

I'm never really good at dissecting themes, but I liked this episode's take on faith and the question of faith vs. religion. The Church is corrupt. The Taelons are clearly not messengers, but the strength that comes from faith in self and faith in others is pretty powerful.

There's an interesting key between passive and active role here. From the beginning, Julie's characterized as an inspiration. Boone tells her how many people are inspired by her story, by what happened to her. It's not a role that gives her strength. Likewise, the Church of Companions venerates her because she was "chosen" and because the Taelons regrew her hands only to turn on her when they stopped working. The Taelons see her as useful, but then a threat. All of this defined by what happened.

Reggie, though, is inspired by her strength. By the fact that she made her choice and she reached for it. And that's the key. That's the strength she found when she appears on the talk show. She reclaims the inspirational role, but on her own terms. She rephrases the miracle as not being about her hands but about the spirit.

Boone still doesn't get it. When he talks about how he's inspired by her for being able to go on after the loss of her hands, he's still thinking about it in terms of what happened to her. It's the same as on the roof at the beginning. But that's okay, because he's still grieving his own loss and it's the third episode. He has time to learn.
--


So what did we learn this episode? Taelons are creepy. Taelon-worshipping mega-churches are even creepier. And this series might have a weird thing about hands.

9 Comments:

  • At May 12, 2010 5:58 PM, Blogger Your Obedient Serpent said…

    When this show was on, my friends and I thought of it as "an updated, smarter version of V".

    Reading your reviews just underscores how much dumber and more inane the version of V that currently contaminates the airwaves really is.

     
  • At May 12, 2010 6:45 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I'm not a big fan of the new V either.

    Glad you're enjoying the reviews!

     
  • At May 21, 2010 12:42 AM, Blogger Jon said…

    I must say I wholeheartedly agree with Serpent's above comment. I am very, very happy that I'm not the only one who remembers how interesting this series really was (at least until the unmentionable season).

     
  • At May 21, 2010 1:30 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    It's possibly my favorite series, period. (Especially seasons 2-4. They have their flaws, but they're very comic book type flaws. So I go for it.)

    I'm thrilled to see more people who actually know the series. :-)

     
  • At May 23, 2010 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i've recently begun re-watching the series...it's nice to see someone else's comments!

    actually, i only made it to around season 3, or so. but i figured i'd start from the beginning now that i have the whole series on DVD.

    can't wait to figure out what the taelons are really up to!

     
  • At November 07, 2011 11:31 AM, Anonymous Moris said…

    The chap is definitely just, and there is no doubt.
    russian dating

     
  • At July 23, 2012 8:59 PM, Anonymous hb101 said…

    Never seen 'V' or even know what it is!

    This series, on the other hand, is one of the best television ever had to offer. Glad to see that there are a few people like you kalinara who still remember and appreciate how great it was!

    Usually people like us, the audience rather than producers, seem to be of a certain age and from a certain location. So, for example, it is usually only people who were born between 1980 and 1985 who truly appreciate this series.

    Wonderful blog post, kalinara!

     
  • At July 23, 2012 9:13 PM, Anonymous hb101 said…

    On reading your post again, kalinara, it looks like you've just started watching.

    So, please disregard the earlier comment.

     
  • At November 27, 2012 11:05 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Oh no, I've been a fan for years (watched religiously in high school), but I'd never sat down and done the recap thing.

    I'm more of a fan of seasons 2-4 though. So this is my first time through season 1 in ages.

     

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