12 September 2011

Sci-Fi Review: Space Above & Beyond, Second Half

Continuing from my review of the first 12 episodes of the sci-fi series Space: Above and Beyond, this entry will look at the final 12 episodes of the show that lasted a single, but worthwhile season.

Space: Above and BeyondIn the second half of the series, each episode is given an opening monologue, spoken by Colonel T.C. McQueen, explaining the story so far and why Earth is at war in space. The second last episode has an additional monologue from Captain Vansen about the origins of life.

One thing notable in this half of the series is the story arc of Nathan West searching for his lost love, Kylen goes quiet. West appears much more focused on his role as a marine, along with the others of the 58th. It definitely feels like we're past all (or most) of the character development episodes and the series begins to make some strides and progress with the main story arcs started in the first half.

There is less emphasis on any political and Aero-Tech storylines now, but the Silicates re-emerge in the episode 'Pearly' where Paul Wang nearly betrays the 58th to save his honour from an earlier encounter in the series.

Space: Above and Beyond appears to be like an early version of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. The episodes 'Never No More' and 'The Angriest Angel' are very similar to the BSG episode 'Scar' where there is a single enemy fighter out there picking off our people and instilling fear in our forces. It takes a determined fighter pilot to finally finish the enemy off in a one-on-one dogfight. The very way Space... is shot and some of the battle tactics and other elements also resemble episodes and the grittiness that made the new Battlestar Galactica such a success.

Damphousse had a story dedicated to her where it was believed she had some sort of psychic powers. I wonder if this story arc would have been picked up if the series had continued - though the finale might not have allowed that. There was also a very short time where Wang and Damphousse found they had feelings for each other, but these were never revisited.

A lot of time passes in the second half of the series, particularly in the episode 'Sugar Dirt' where the 58th and other squadrons are left to fend for themselves for over two months on a planet defending an airstrip while the Saratoga and other Earth ships departed for an operation at another, more strategically important planet.

The series ends with the two parter 'And If They Lay Us Down To Rest...' and '...Tell Our Moms We Done Our Best' where the 58th are patrolling a Chig moon for an Earth assault and come upon a single alien being. Not sure if he's the last of his kind, they tell him to leave before Earth forces arrive. Shortly after, a Chig envoy approaches the Earth fleet to discuss peace talks, however, it turns out the envoy is the same alien the 58th met on the moon's surface. The war is far from over when peace talks break down and many of the negotiators, including commanding officers of several Earth ships and Colonel McQueen are seriously injured.

In a firefight to retrieve prisoners of war from the Chigs (under agreement in the terms of the peace talks) the 58th are sent out. However, Vansen and Damphousse are separated from their ship when the cockpit is blasted off into a planet's atmosphere. Damphousse is unconscious and Vansen hopes to survive de-orbit while West, Hawkes and Wang look after the POW's. Taking more damage, Wang ends up trapped in the cargo pod and ejects from the ship, drawing the Chigs away with a manual laser cannon. West and Hawkes rescue the POW's and return to the Saratoga as Wang is killed when a destroyed Chig fighter collides with his pod.

For West, the story arc of tracking down the real Kylen comes to an end here as she is among the POW's. He briefly gets to see her before she is transported back to Earth. In the final moments, no retrieval team appears to be sent after Vansen and Damphousse, West and Hawkes see McQueen before he is taken away for medical treatment and they mourn the loss of their comrades. The series ends.

My last impressions are good. I really enjoyed watching the series. All I can remember from its original run on television was the pilot episode. I guess it would then have been pushed back to some late night time slot and I forgot all about it. Had it lasted longer, I might've caught a glimpse of it later, as happened for me with Star Trek: The Next Generation and Babylon 5. I'll admit, the reason I watched the series now was that it was a single season run of 24 episodes, something manageable and not too time wasting if I didn't like it. But I did like it, I think the series had potential and the finale has left me wondering how things would have been picked up if a second season had come around. According to the Wikipedia entry, this is how the producers chose to end the show and while Wang's death appears conclusive, did Vansen and/or Damphousse survive? What will happen to McQueen?

With the show dead for 15 years now, these questions will probably never be answered. I'm not sure if the show had the fan base to be picked up some time in the future for some sort of re-imagining or reboot. It probably doesn't need it in any case. It's fine as it is. Apparently it was released on DVD in the US market. I'd probably get a copy if it came out here.

For any sci-fi fan, give it a watch and see what you think :)

For me, I'll continue watching Star Trek The (remastered) Original Series and continue watching Dark Skies in place of Space...

No comments: