EPISODE REVIEW: Outcasts: “Episode 5” (Episode 5)

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You know, I think this is exactly the kind of thing they were shooting for when they started making this series. This is the target they were hoping to hit from the outset, but have managed to miss every week prior to now. This is actually a genuinely good episode, well-told, if a bit padded out during the “Meanwhile back at the ranch” stuff. The only thing more frustrating than a doomed, ham-fisted, boring show is when said show actually manages to hit all the right notes more-or-less by accident, and you see what it *could* have been. Read on…

PLAY BY PLAY

A grizzled, crazy old dude stagers into town, and hits the bar. He attempts to pay for his drinks with diamonds, which starts a bar fight ‘mongst the greedy patrons. Cass and Fleur show up to break it up, and he runs off. They give chase, and he just kind of teases them on enough that the don’t quit. They camp for the night since it’s too late to get back to Forthaven, and when they wake up in the morning to find the guy just staring at them. He convinces them to follow him, and they run into The Rude Boys, whom he says he’s lived with on and off for years. They grant the man and the cops safe passage, and they head on to the ocean.

En rout they find an ejector seat, and the man explains that he was Patrick Baxter, first man on Carpathia, and after his freakout he ended up here with broken legs. A Golden Retriever showed up and got him wood to splint his legs and convinced him to go on. He survived for 11 years, and now that he’s dying, he wanted people to be with him when the end came.

When they finally get to the ocean, he says he’ll lead them to some bodies, but then he wanders off, accompanied by his dog (Who Fleur and Cass can’t see), staggers into the surf, and dies.

MEANWHILE, back at Fort Haven, everyone’s got the diamond greed, and it’s causing all those people who don’t do anything all day long to behave in…uhm…a manner where….uhm…they do stuff….which…I guess is bad…or something. Seriously: we’re supposed to believe that Fort Haven is barely hanging on, and this greed is endangering their survival, but since we’ve never seen any sense of industry - or even seen a farm - it’s not very believable. Everyone just seems to be kinda’ sitting around doing nothing all the time, as we’ve discussed. As one of our readers pointed out, it’s much like the 40 or so survivors from Lost who just wandered around on the beach for 4 years, doing nothing.

Tate, Tipper, and Julius are pretty upset about the whole greed thing and the nascent capitalism it might engender, and in fact Julius attempts to use it to make a power play. He addresses the colony about their greed. It’s not a very good speech. He also tells Tate that he wants to be a senior councilman and get basically a job in charge of a ministry or government department: Nebulously defined as “Public welfare.” Tate says he’ll oppose this. Julius says he’s popular enough in the council to go over Tate’s veto, but Tate says he won’t make it easy for Julius.

MEANWHILE, the Boss Cop Lady and Jack have figured out that the old coot was Patrick Baxter, and head out to find him and Fleur and Cass, and also to see the Sea because Boss Cop Lady just kinda’ wants to. There’s some guff about finding out where Life on Carpatia began, but mostly she just wants to. There’s a tedious dustup with the Rude Boys that they get through with a loss of only one redshirt, and they make their way to the ocean, where they meat up with Fleur and Cass.

There they discover human skeletons of a man, woman, and child. These are not fossils, and reasonably recent. Not particularly yellowed, either, which means (On earth anyway) they’d be a decade or less old. They leave the bones (Why?) and head home.

MEANWHILE, back at Fort Haven, Dr. Smith calls Aoleus 14 Umbra…oh, excuse me: Julius calls a transport ship in deep space, telling them Tate has failed in his mission, but that he (Julius) will overthrow Tate and have things in order when the ship arrives.

The End.

NEXT TIME AS YOU’LL RECALL

The next episode (Which we’ve already reviewed here since I’m bad with calendars http://www.republibot.com/content/episode-review-outcasts-%E2%80%9Cepiso... ) starts with the entire Stomping Bush-Crapping army out looking for three lost members. I’d assumed that this episode would segue into that, or at least set it up, but, nope. That ep’s events are completely standalone and unrelated to this one.

OBSERVATIONS

Despite what went down last week, and her declaration to the contrary, Fleur and Cass appear to be getting along just fine. Really better than usual, actually.

Boss Cop Lady’s daughter is now a barmaid. Is it just me, or does she seem a lot older than she did when we were first introduced to her? In episode 2, she seemed like she was supposed to be about 12 or so. In this ep and the last one, she seems like she’s about 18.

They never actually state why they’re in such an all-fired hurry to get of the beach, but it’s because of Carpathias three (At least) moons, which would make for hellishly huge and irregular tides. I appreciate the subtlety of letting the audience pick up on that themselves without explaining it, but if you think about it, the beach shouldn’t have looked like a beach if you’re dealing with hundred or two-hundred foot tides. They’re trying, though, so I ignore such quibbles.

Patrick Baxter is said to be the first man on Carpathia - we saw his utterly-crappy-looking memorial in last week’s episode - but he says he was the second. The first was a clone or replicant or AC or whatever, who they sent in to make sure the air was breathable. It was, but he caught a cold, and died in Patrick’s arms three hours later. Patrick whigged out, killed his CO, stole a plane, was shot down, and presumed dead. Obviously he survived. He mentions that the first replicant had been modified to have no fear, but why bother? I mean, he’s just stepping out a door, how frightening is that? My point being that behavior modification or genetic engineering are basically unreasonably much effort to put into the mission at hand. Needlessly complex.

What’s with the Radiation Zones? We’re told they’re all over the place, and that the ocean itself is radioactive. These clearly exist, but they make it clear that Jamie Bamber was exaggerating them for his own reasons, presumably simply so he could move about without fear of being followed, or just so he could keep people away from certain areas. Why? And why would the ocean be radioactive? Water can’t hold a radioactive charge. Granted, the salts and impurities in the water can (Assuming the ocean is salt water here), but given the volume involved it’d take an unreasonable amount of energy to do that. Take every atomic bomb ever detonated (about three thousand, an no, that isn’t a typo), set ‘em all off under the ocean at once, and it wouldn’t irradiate it appreciably. Set off every atomic bomb ever built - tens of thousands - and that would raise it a percent or so, but not enough to be fatal or even particularly dangerous. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to believe the oceans were *really* radioactive, or if it was just one of Jamie Bamber’s lies, though Jack mentions the radiation is very nearly zero where they end up. The real question, though, is why are there radioactive zones at all?

If the planet is prone to dust storms, as we’ve seen in the first 3 eps, and if there are large radioactive areas around, then wouldn’t fallout be a serious problem? No one mentions it, though, ‘cuz the writers didn’t think of that.

Had Jamie Bamber met Patrick during their respective wanderings? I suspect so, though nothing in this episode really supports or denies the idea. I base it on both of them having extended contacts with The Rude Boys.

Speaking of which: The Rude Boys turn up in EVERY episode, showing up IMMEDIATELY whenever anyone ventures a few miles from camp. Do they have the manpower to really keep up that level of surveillance? We don’t get the sense that there’s more than 30 or so of ‘em. But then they might at that: just like everyone in Fort Haven, they don’t seem to really have to work to survive. Again: No hunting/gathering parties, no farms.

There are no snakes on Carpathia. In fact, there’s no observable wildlife whatsoever. We haven’t even seen any insects. Or flouring plants for that matter. Didn’t see any fish.

They didn’t bring any dogs along from earth, and they haven’t cloned any since they got there. They can make piggies and people, though. Again I say: Horses would be handy. Why not build some?

Patrick says “The planet doesn’t want us here,” and that it “Told me” where the pockets of radiation were so he could avoid them. We’re supposed to believe he’s crazy, but clearly there is another force on this planet (The Rude Boys seem aware of it, though probably not really understanding it) and it would appear to be psychic. It simulated a dog (In a very Lost-like fashion) in order to help him survive, it simulates a person in the next episode, and evidently Tate’s kids. So what *is* this force? Is the planet alive, a’la “Solaris,” and trying to figure people out? Is there a local life form more like we’re used to in SF shows that is trying to figure humans out? What? I’m leaning towards the latter, since whatever it is can manipulate stuff: bringing wood to Patrick, holding children’s hands and picking up knives as we saw in the next episode. I think there’s something physical and ambulatory here which can make us see it as if it’s a person or dog or emu or big white horse Kate used to have when she was a little girl, or whatever. It can also make people not see it at all.

The political shenanigans ‘twixt Tate and Julius never play quite right, and I think it’s entirely because we’ve never seen the council. All this plays out offscreen, with someone informing us about it after the fact. We’re told how popular Julius is, but we never see it. We’re told how endangered Tate is - and this is believable since he’s clearly a terrible leader - but we need to *see* him fighting for his job, not just hearing about it.

Leaving the bones behind was a stupid thing to do, somewhat out of character, and basically only included so the mystery could linger a bit longer. If they brought one back, it’d be easy to analyze and then we’d know what was going on, and how would the writers string out the plot, then? In any event, now that they know a safe path to the coast, there’s no reason they couldn’t simply go back and poke around for more bones.

Again: Why no vehicles on Carpathia? They mention that Patrick had a plane. They mention “Flight was impossible,” though it’s a little unclear if Cass means “Planes won’t work here” or “He couldn’t run away from the law,” as in “Flight from justice.” I think it means the latter, but there’s some seriously wonky science here, so you can’t be sure.

Perhaps I’m seeing things where there’s nothing to see, but I got to wondering: The town is called “Fort Haven,” pronounced as though it’s one word. Written, that would be “Forthaven.” “Fourth-aven.” Aven means nothing, of course, but I got to wondering if the “Fourth” is significant, like maybe this is the 3rd time humanity has blown itself up or something. Probably not, but occasionally these kinds of shows have deliberate ‘hide in plain sight’ things in ‘em. Babylon 5, for instance, had a time travel story involving the space station “Babylon 4.” The abbreviation for that was “B-4.” Get it? “Before?” Because it was a time travel story, and it went into the past? Yeah? Nevermind…

Why are the oceans red on the map of earth in Tate’s office?

The whole “Diamonds” subplot, which is more-or-less irrelevant and has no repercussions in the next ep, reminded me of an episode of SeaQuest DSV where Krieg discovers some unknown glowing gems on the sea floor, and the entire crew end up dropping their jobs to go and get some of ‘em. (It was a more-or-less irrelevant subplot in that episode, too)

The Diamonds looked a little too clear to me, a little to clean, and *almost* cut. I suspect this will be a clue to something in the season finale.

So who’s in the transport, and how long has this whole shindig been in the works? I’m assuming it’s more evil Americans like you and me…

The jawbone found in the previous episode was obviously a modern human one. The skeletons found in this ep are clearly Neanderthal, with the exaggerated brow ridge. I think we’re supposed to believe the jaw was from the same species, even though the teeth were all wrong, I think the prop department was just sloppy, no big deal. So: Neanderthals alive in the fairly recent past.

So here’s what I think is going on: Neanderthals originated on Carpathia, developed an advanced civilization, blew themselves up in nuclear war, the survivors emigrated to earth, evolved into us, civilization started from scratch again, we blew ourselves up in a nuclear war, and now we come back to Carpathia. I assume the mysterious presence on the planet is a new species that evolved from the once who didn’t leave on the ships to earth.

All in all, the first good episode of this show, and all the more frustrating for that.

And that's that: We're current on this show now, sorry for doing the reviews all out-of-order.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Hm. It’s pretty apolitical, really. There’s a slight anti-capitalist bent, so probably not.

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