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Monday, September 14, 2009

Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, Recap 42: Rogue Arm

All right, so it's been ages since my last recap. Fortunately, I still remember how this crap goes. :-)

Today's episode is "Rogue Arm". I'm going to guess it stars Zach. I'm hoping it means shit's gonna explode!

What? I'm easy.

In Memory of Frank

Blah, blah, themesong. :-)

Yes, twirl those guns, Shane.


So our episode starts at the Psychocrypt. I hope when I inevitably snap and become a supervillain (I'm counting down days at this point) I end up with a lair so swanky.

Anyway, some of the Queen's men are surrounding the nifty robot maker with two gherkin inside. The gherkin are understandably distressed and possibly a tad groggy.

They flip a switch, the robot maker glows, and the gherkin pound on the tube frantically. I'm actually a bit discomfitted watching this. Poor worm-people.

Anyway, the Queen apparently is making an experimental psycho crystal and will be blasting it into space. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

Ah, she explains it. Apparently the crystal will be sent to Earth, and she'll use the slaver lord made from it to spy. I hope she figures out a way to make it a little less conspicuous.

Interestingly the crystal is designed to run even if the Gherkin's kick it.

I like that her method of sending the crystal to Earth is basically a space cannon. Efficient!

Anyway, on Earth, we get awesome eighties music. I love Earth! Walsh is giving a speech introducing the battle cruiser Laredo, which I think we've seen before. Anyway, it has awesome Andorian hyper-technology and loads of weapon capacity. The galaxy rangers are testing it. Which means it's likely to crash.

Zach gets to sit in the big chair, while Niko and Doc appear to be actually flying the sucker. Goose is standing next to Zach, presumably looking decorative. I approve.

Walsh continues talking. Apparently only 50% of the ship is powered. Gosh, what a seemingly insignificant fact! I hope nothing happens to drain their power! (Meanwhile, there's a guy that looks remarkably like a blonder Zach with a crew cut towards the front. I don't know why he's there, but he might be my favorite bit player here.)

I do like the idea of using the Galaxy Rangers as test dummies.

Predictably, Shane is annoyed at the lack of working weapons or Interceptors. Aw. Honey. You can destroy things without WEAPONS! Though you'd think they could spare one.

Niko is skeptical about danger in THE solar system (Yay, correct use of that term! I love you, show) because she's apparently gotten brain damage since last we saw her and forgot about all the local shenanigans we'd seen so far in the series. Doc is creeped out by all the empty bays and corridors. Zach is unsympathetic and tells them to can the conversation.

Zach's kind of a dick this episode.

He does tell Goose to strap down for launch, which is probably wise. Back on the station, the pretty Andorian lady who shows up periodically and whose name I can't remember officially christens (though not with that word. I wonder what religions still exist in Galaxy Ranger times) the ship complete with breaking the champagne bottle.

I've never understood that tradition.

Anyway Zach channels his inner Kirk, sitting in a way that puts me eyeline with his crotch. Kind of unnecessary, but my inner twelve year old laughs that the animators probably had to draw god knows how many frames of Zach's crotch. But I digress.

So anyway, we get a launch sequence, and they jump into hyperspace where Niko reports drive trouble. She's calling him "Captain" and speaking very crisply in this episode. Maybe it's the military setting. Or she agrees with me about Zach being a dick.

Anyway, on Zach's order, Shane cuts power to the drive. I'm not sure why all those other people are there, honestly, as it seems like the Rangers are doing all the ship running. They drop out of hyperspace without major problem.

Ooo, the missile, convenient. But then literature, be it great or poor, always runs on convenience.

Niko notes the system spark has quieted down. I don't know what that means, but I suspect it has to do with the crystal carrying missile that just latched onto the Laredo like a mosquito. It taps a button and enters a now open launch bay.

1) Smart machine! 2) What kind of warship has easily accessed external bay controls?! At least combo-lock that fucker!

Anyway, it creeps inside and conjures a slaver lord. The Queen is happy.

Back on the Psychocrypt, the Queen is losing the connection. She claims the Gherkins are betraying her. Actually, they are disintegrating. Ouch.

Seriously. I always get surprised by the death toll in the later half of this series. The Queen is philosophical: the slaver lord is gone, but the crystal continues. She spares no further thought for her victims and I reflect that comedic tendancies and love for bizarre arena sports and shirtless supersoldiers aside, she's still the most effective and scariest villain of the series.

The crystal needs a power source, while back on the bridge, Goose is reading off the status report. Zach hands command over to Goose in order to go on rounds. Goose calls him chief. His informal formality always makes me smile.

Anyway, Zach and his bionic arm quickly find the crystal, and demonstrating once more his long-standing trait of being an idiot when psychocrystal stuff pops up, he quickly goes over to it as opposed to, you know, TELLING ANYONE FIRST.

He picks it up. Left-handed of course. And has the nerve to be shocked when it flashes red and the bionics start reacting. Then it melts into his arm, which promptly tries to strangle him.

It kind of reminds me of the first episode of new-school Dr. Who, when they fight the mannequin arm. Zach gets the awesome "My arm is trying to kill me" line and manages to yank it free long enough to slam an alarm. Then it goes back to strangling.

What did we learn from this, Zachary?

Back on the bridge, Goose puts Niko in command. And now I FINALLY know the full ranking order of the Rangers! I mean, it was obvious after a few Zach-less episodes that Goose was second in command (even if his command style is more egalitarian/informal than Zach's), but I always wondered about Niko and Doc.

It makes sense though. Unlike Zach who's clearly career military/law enforcement, or Goose who was pretty much literally built for his job (or one similar enough), Niko and Doc have both had careers outside of being a Ranger, and probably joined up relatively recently. Niko seems more comfortable in her position than Doc, and while some of that is probably temperament, it would also fit that she was a Ranger longer.

I like when I can figure out these things. :-)

Anyway, Goose calls up three guys whose names I'm not going to bother noting since they're pretty much cannon fodder at this point. Sucks to be the red-shirted ensigns of the Galaxy Ranger Universe. I can't tell for sure, but I think they look distressed. They know their fate.

Niko's got a weird idea of being in command (which means, perhaps I am completely wrong in the above babble), as she's right there with Shane and company as they run down the hallway. They find Zach laying there with his arm around his throat.

Shane actually yells out "Zachary" which is one of the very few times I can remember him using Zach's full first name. And he notes the arm going crazy. They run over to detach it from his neck with the intention of taking him to the autodoc. It takes them ALL to hold down the arm.

We segue to the infirmary, and I feel robbed of the Shane vs. arm fight there must have been in order to get him there. A significately NOT robotic fellow in blue notes that the arm is draining Zach's life force. Oops.

This is why you don't pick up weird objects, ZACHARY.

Niko tells us that they can't risk a hyperjump for at least four hours. Non-robot whines that he's only supposed to monitor the machine, but the autodoc is recommending "removal of the arm"


Hey, isn't his whole left side bionic? Can't it effect the rest of him? Can't remove THAT?

Meh, I'll fanwank it. The Thunderbolt must run on different circuits.

Shane Gooseman channels his inner authority figure and commands the removal, and announces that he's turning the ship around. Shane's hot when he's authoritarian. Well, for a two-dimensional cartoon character who is both fictional and far too young for an old lady like me. :-)

Non-robot guy starts readying the amputation, but the arm is NOT having it. It punches through the monitor at a very unlikely looking angle (The role of Zach in this episode will be played by Reed Richards.) And now it's shooting up the infirmary. Heh.

Oh, my mistake. It's been removed already. That makes more sense. This episode features a disembodied possessed floating arm that blows shit up.

I love this show.

It blasts a tiny hole in the infirmary wall and escapes.

Back on the bridge, Niko, Shane and Doc are conferencing, with Niko explaining the problem for the slower members of the viewing audience.

Autodoc guy pops up to give them news about Zach's lifesigns dropping. He does not tell them about the disembodied homicidal arm. I hate that guy more than I hate Audra Miles. And I hate me some Audra Miles.

The arm meanwhile is having fun messing with systems. Fortunately it didn't disable sensors, so they're able to find it. Goose gets a badass load the shotgun moment and they're off.

Two poor cannon fodder rangers move down the hall. They're the red team, I learn, as they dutifully report in. One is a blond named Frank. Huh, maybe he won't die. This IS a kid's show after all. They move forward all "What was that?"

Meanwhile, the arm punches some poor singing robot drone. That arm is an asshole!

Red team enters to see the "horrible" carnage.

Dude! Another singing droid? What is this arm's PROBLEM?!

This is like a robot slasher film.

OH. I see! The arm is being all Buffalo Bill and making itself a robot body! Clever! Now it's on a rolling trolley.

And another robot goes down.

Red Team notes an open door and goes in, and the now humanoid bodied arm locks them in and presses another button. And an airlock opens. We hear screaming.

Jesus Christ.

No seriously! What kind of kid's show IS this?!

It just airlocked Frank!


Anyway, the robot now heads to sickbay. And the rangers all follow to stop it once and for all. Cannon fodder!

They all start creating makeshift barracades in the hall. Shane is there too, so they might actually survive. They fire and...what the hell do they make their service droids out of?! That thing's fucking sturdy!

Anyway, it moves off, and a quick check in with Niko tells Goose that it's heading for the engines. He orders them to stay alert and heads to the bridge to confer with Niko and Doc (who wisely stay behind, as general noncombatants, ass-kicking ability aside.)

They note how it eats power, and Shane doesn't want to risk blowing the ship apart with more powerful weapons. Niko points out that by tapping into the engine, it'll blow them up anyway.

Also, autodoc guy pipes in to remind us that Zach's fading again. I hate that guy. Anyway, they're also concerned with this thing getting loose Earthside.

Doc has an idea about using the power grid to brain zap it next time it feeds. This makes Goose happy, and he okays the attempt.

Odd, for once Doc feels the need to explain what he's doing "with the tripwire and pathfinder programs."

I suspect I'm seeing this episode a lot later than I ought to be. I'll explain why later.

We get a nice view of the programs getting ambushed by the slaver programs. Now they know the Queen is behind it. Anyway, the arm's in the engine room, and Shane's off to kill it. Niko tells him to be careful.

Okay, NOW we get supersoldier vs. arm. It tries to blast him. He shoots back, which is less successful than he expected.

No biodefenses?

Back on the bridge, Doc is concerned about the ship while autodoc guy whines that Zach's getting worse and needs to go back to Beta.

I hate you, you glorified phone operator.

Anyway, they fight while the ship jumps to hyperdrive. Unfortunately, the flux thing was damaged and they're stuck in a wormhole! Tense!

Niko tells Goose he needs to "get the grid power back into the hypershunt." Goose has an idea.

More fighting. The arm blasts Goose good, and Niko is actually distressed. (Furthering my hypothesis.) Goose biodefenses himself into an energy soaking tin form, which blasts energy back at the arm, causing it to disintegrate, leaving only the crystal which Goose flings into the shunt.

Everything's fixed! And the autodoc guy helpfully tells us Zach's stable. I hate him.

Finally, real medics fix Zach's arm, and he grouses about his lack of faith in the bionics. But now at least, there's some shielding. Episode ends with some banter. Yay!


Okay, I definitely think this episode placement is one my episode guide got wrong. For a number of reasons.

First of all, narratively speaking, this is the traditional "young and untried second is forced to step in for experienced leader" type story. And it's good at it, don't get me wrong. There's a lot of suspense, and Shane gets to demonstrate a lot of leadership qualities includidng group tactics, utilizing your team members, and being open to good suggestions. Shane really proved himself to be a good leader here.

Except, we KNEW he could lead. We've seen it in quite a few of the umpteen Zachless episodes, where Shane's leadership ability was never in question.

This episode makes more sense as a very early episode (maybe even right after Tortuna) where we WOULDN'T have known how the team would function without Zach.

Second of all, the characterizations are...I don't want to say "off", but they're clearly EARLIER. Zach probably wouldn't have seemed so much like an ass to me at the beginning, if I were watching it before Psychocrypt. Psychocrypt really marked the turning point of Zach's interaction with his team, and he seemed a lot warmer and more emotionally involved with them after that. Here, he's still keeping his distance.

Also, his stupidity with the crystal is more understandable if he hadn't been tricked already.

We can also guess that, at the least, this episode is before One Million Emotions. There is a distinct lack of the friendly sniping banter between Goose and Doc. It's moderately better with Niko, but still lacking the playfulness or humor. Moreover, he shows a lot more obvious temper while hunting the arm than he is prone to normally.

Add that to the deliberate identification of Doc's program, and the Queen's general nonchalance about the Gherkin's deaths (considering their eventual scarcity) all add to that impression.

The only counter I can think of, is that the show didn't start really implicitly killing people until the second half, with the exploding Interceptors.

It's interesting to watch now though, because it renews my appreciation for the subtle character growth exhibited by each character. Especially Zach and Shane.

On an additionally tangential note, I'm intrigued that the other rangers don't seem to have an issue following a supertrooper's orders. I'm not sure if that means that Shane's status isn't common knowledge, or if he's just been there long enough to prove himself. But I digress.

But yeah, awesome episode. suspense, scary villain, and retroactive character insight!
And there was an evil robot arm! Yay!

...Poor Frank


  • At September 15, 2009 4:17 AM, Blogger Elizabeth B said…

    Hee. Frank. Yeah, actually, the line where Goose tells Red Team that they're officially Red Shirts is "Locke, Rowley, you're with me." That would be Owen Locke and Chris Rowley, STORY EDITORS. OH THE LULZ.

    This is not a favorite episode of mine--by a long shot. IIRC, it was written by Mick Farren, who also committed, er, subjected us to, uh, wrote "Tower of Combat." Which I think pretty much sucks, even if it is mostly a Niko/Goose episode and I mostly approve of those.

  • At September 15, 2009 4:25 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I enjoyed it, but I think it'd have been more enjoyable as a third or fourth episode than this late.

    I mean, I'm happy with violence and explosions. But on a character level, it's pretty disappointing from what I've come to expect.

    Would make a very good "intro to the team in crisis" type episode though. (It'd have given us a chance to see more facets of Goose beyond the bruiser a tad earlier too.)

    I'll brace myself for that episode accordingly. :-)

  • At September 15, 2009 5:25 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Oh heck, I liked this one. It had Shane blowing things up,which is always nice.

    And "kid's show" my ass! It WAS pretty violent all things considered, but it also had some darned good plots and characterization, far above and beyond the usual kiddie show pablum.

    And I think you're right about this actually being an earlier show, since we do see the Laredo show up in later episodes, and this was it's maiden flight, so to speak.

  • At December 29, 2009 2:03 PM, Blogger Lady Niko said…

    Elizabeth beat me to the punch here about the "Locke, Rowley, you're with me." line

    Yes, that was an in-joke for real. We have had that confirmed from Mr. Rowley himself. *g*


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