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Slime! Monsters! Tentacles! Dentistry!

Maybe the acting will improve in episode two, huh. They've got a bit of practice in now. Alternatively, maybe the first five minutes will be filled with people spouting dialogue like robots. Take a wild guess which.

So, the big swirly thing, then. Yelling at each other not to open fire, the soldiers all open fire, and manage to shoot each other accidentally with such remarkable prowess that the big swirly thing retreats. Then, in an effort to endear themselves to poor, traumatised Terrell, the alleged good guys hold him down and rip out his homing beacon tooth, without any attempt to anaethetise him first, or even explain the situation. They then head off en masse to analyse the tooth, despite the fact that getting rid of it was supposed to be the whole point of getting it out of Terrell. It's dangerous! The big swirly thing can home in on it! Might standing next to it perhaps not be a very good idea? But their minds are made up, and off they go, and oh look! It's a big swirly thing. It snatches up a handful of the cast, then disappears in a puff of plot inevitability. Oops.

Elsewhere in the hospital, Our Hero attempts to update everybody on the latest plot developments, in what I think is intended to be an urgent fashion. There's also a strangely complex concept for everybody to get their heads around. Terrell is terrified of the giant swirly thing. The giant swirly thing is chasing Terrell. Terrell calls it a monster, and an enemy. Could it be, then, that the giant swirly thing and Terrell are not on the same side? Everybody discusses this. Wooden boffin rings up Amanda Tucker to discuss it. Tucker and Drake discuss it. Drake then discusses it with General Reece, whilst everybody else is being kidnapped just down the corridor. So far, however, the only people who actually seem to believe it are Terrell himself, and the giant swirly thing. And Drake and Tucker, probably, though it's hard to tell if Tucker does believe, or if she's just theorising a lot. She does that. It's as though her function is to constantly think aloud for the benefit of the audience, to help them keep up. This has the effect of making a lot of her dialogue somewhat unfortunate. Not that she's alone in that.

Meanwhile, back in the plot, the military types decide to transfer Terrell to a safe location. Drake goes along with him, with instructions to kill him if anybody tries to take him again. "We can't let him be interrogated!" shouts somebody very earnestly. Why? What's he going to tell anybody, except what the inside of a hospital looks like, and what techniques the military use to pull teeth? Anyway, they dump poor Terrell in an RAF base, and proceed to beat the living daylights out of him, for refusing to answer their questions. I bet he's really glad he came back to Earth now.

Whilst all of this is going on, up in space the missing members of the team get thoroughly aliened, with pulsing tendrils and slime, and lots of screaming. Tucker theorises lots about how the big swirly must move in different dimensions, and... stuff. She then helpfully carves 'nD' into her arm, in the hope that - should she be returned to Earth in a non-communicative state - this will tell everybody that the enemy is capable of transcending the usual dimensions, and moving beween them in a manner completely alien to human science. Needless to say, she's then returned to Earth in a non-communicative state, and the others do indeed understand her message fully. And who am I to argue? I'm sure that most people would deduce all of that from 'nD' written on somebody's arm. The fact that it's Drake who figures it out, in the blink of an eye, and in a dull monotone, in no way detracts from the suspension of disbelief.

Wanting to find out more, about swirly things, and multiple dimensions, and just general stuff, Drake goes to chat with Terrell. It's an awkward conversation, one side desperate and intense, subtle and restrained, and the other side a talking plank. Terrell's still not talking, though he does say a few words about the beauty and splendour of space travel. Drake deduces that he's in the service of an alien power that's at war with giant swirly. Didn't we all talk about this six ways from Sunday earlier in the episode? Eventually Terrell gives his name, rank and serial number, presumably in an effort to shut the man up. It then turns out that - golly! - Lieutenant Charles Terrell disappeared in 1944. This leads to considerable plot unfortunateness. Tucker explains some basic level Einstein, concerning the changes in time occuring at speeds close to that of light. She theorises that if Terrell has been in space all this time, travelling at vast speeds, only a year or two may have passed for him, whilst fifty years have gone by on Earth (Terrell himself confirms this in a later episode). So he's only been with the aliens for a year or two? Then how come their language is such second nature to him that he speaks it rather than English whilst in a delirium? How come he's become so steeped in the alien culture that he's now more alien than human? How come they've completely assimilated him into their race? At speeds of around 99% that of light, there's a time dilation factor of seven (ish), so if fifty-four years have passed on Earth, that's roughly seven and a half for him; but it's still not enough. He's clearly spent years - many years - with this race. Usually I'm willing to dismiss some plot points in terms of 'We're not supposed to think too much about that', but sometimes it's just not possible. Certainly not when our sole good actor is doing such a wonderful portrayal of a man who is now more alien than human, lost in a world in which he no longer belongs. And this happened overnight?! I love science, but sometimes fiction works a little better without it. Or without the really inconvenient bits, anyway. Can't we just say that he hasn't aged, and leave it at that?!

Anyway, while I'm worrying about all of this, the returned abductees are going nuts; Tucker excepted since she's higher up the cast list. It's as though somebody somewhere has flicked a switch. Wingco Friday offs half the uniformed extras with a big gun, then sets off somewhere in a stolen car. Trying to escape from the plot, probably. The others try to do much the same, but mostly get shot. Meanwhile, worrying away to herself about this, that, and various other things, Tucker cradles her monogrammed arm, and broods. And thus ends episode two, in a tangle of not-very-much, and probably-quite-a-lot.

Some soldiers attempt to tackle the big swirly, to no noticeable effect. They do manage to scare it away eventually, though. Or so we assume.

Tucker examines some residue, and theorises that it may be alien blood. Sadly, Drake attempts to back her up at this point with a little humour. Fans of humour - or indeed of dialogue in general - may wish that he hadn't bothered.

Somewhat nervously - understandably, given that he's been blasted out of the sky, shot twice, had his tooth ripped out, and is now surrounded by talking chunks of wood - poor Lieutenant Terrell considers Our Hero's overtures of friendship. Then promptly wishes that he'd never left the mothership.

Various cast members get big swirlied. Clearly this sort of thing happens in hospitals all the time, since it doesn't seem to cause any particular alarm.

Drake and Reece discuss the plot so far. Somewhat unfortunately, Drake chooses to hammer home the blatantly obvious point that Terrell isn't working with the big swirly by making a joke. It could be a nice moment. "We're dealing with two forces!" he says (it's about the ninth time that somebody has explained this, but we'll overlook that). "A number slightly larger than one! Half of a ballet dancer's tutu!" I'd never have believed that dialogue could be delivered so badly. By the end of the scene even microbes floating past him have lost the will to live.

Life gets ever better for poor Terrell. If it's not bad enough being the only competent actor for miles around, and the only one who's even trying to deliver his lines properly; if it's not bad enough to get blown out of the sky, get shot full of lead, be arrested for reasons that are not entirely clear, nearly get ripped out of space by an evil alien, have your tooth pulled without anaesthetic, and get shouted out by lots of soldiers; now he's about to get shot. Because (deep breath) there's an aeroplane that the RAF can't identify, so it might be a spacecraft (or an enemy aeroplane, if you're one of the cast members still clinging to the belief that there's no such thing as aliens, just Russians with huge, yellow, swirling transportation devices) so they can't let him get rescued/kidnapped/whatever because... oh, heaven knows. Trying to work that bit out is as bad as trying to work out that paragraph.

On a spaceship, meanwhile, Tucker is entangled by slimy, pulsating tentacles, that pump slimy, pulsating tentacle juice into her arms and legs. Well, that's nice.

A slimy, pulsating tentacle thing.

At the RAF base, Drake and Reece are surprised to find that Terrell doesn't especially want to talk to them. Well, no. I'd be a mite reticent myself, given the circumstances. Sadly the frustration does strange things to Reece, and brings on an attack of psychoanalysis, as he theorises about why Drake didn't shoot Terrell in the ambulance earlier. Could it be because it would have been wrong? No, of course not. Don't be silly. It's because last time he shot at Terrell, his aeroplane was hit by shrapnel and exploded, and he's worried that the same thing will happen again. Okay then. As a side note, analysing your fellow characters' feelings and motivations works best if you're not all talking like Cybermen. Please, just trust me on this.

Having dismissed the suddenly strangely touchy-feely Drake and Reece, with their nice, comfy psychiatrist's couch, Squadron Leader Knox comes along with a big soldier, to beat Terrell up for a bit. Because, after all, they've been so nice to him so far, and they wouldn't want him to think that they're soft. Knox, you see, is convinced that he's working for a foreign (human) power. Yes, that'll explain the spaceship then. And the giant swirly thing. And has nobody noticed that he had obviously alien tech strapped all over him? Granted the hospital took all his clothes away, but you'd think somebody would have asked for his personal effects. Him being a supposed spy, and supposedly dangerous, and supposedly here for nasty, deadly spy reasons and all.

Drake mutters in protest about the beating, whimpering that if Terrell had shot him down, "That would have been me in there." Except that it wouldn't, obviously. It's a pretty lame attempt to conjure up some empathy, since there's no way in hell that Drake could have got to the homeworld of Terrell's adopted race in the first place; and even if he had, they wouldn't have shot him down or beaten him up. And certainly not in there.

Some abductees are returned. And praise be! One of them is another competent actor.

Our characters review the plot again. I can't decide if the actors are being defeated by bad dialogue, or if the dialogue is being defeated by bad acting. Possibly it's both. Either way, I do wish they'd stop giving important, dramatic lines to Drake. It's becoming excruciating.

Drake goes to chat with Terrell. Terrell is less than delighted. Oh, pull yourself together, man. It's not like anything bad has happened to you so far. Still, as he's about to find out, his captors have one last dirty trick left to play. As the conversation progresses, Drake tortures and murders his dialogue in shameful fashion. Poor Terrell, forced to watch, twitches and cowers at the other end of the bed. This is nothing to what the audience is doing at home.

Nothing much is happening here. I just like to acknowledge the presence of Jo Dow, even if the script and the direction consistently fail to do so.

In a surprising bit where he actually has something to do, Jo Dow gets to find out that 'Charles Terrell' went AWOL in 1944. Everybody scoffs at this, and assumes that Terrell is lying about his name, until a fax comes in. Gasp! Except that we knew this anyway, since we saw him in 1944 just an episode ago; so why the rubbish attempt to make it seem dramatic? Even I can remember back as far as a week.

Wingco Friday has a big gun. Sadly he makes no attempt to use it on Chris Drake.

And so endeth episode two. What joys may await in episodes yet to come.


( 2 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Nov. 12th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
So not a lot happened then.
Nov. 12th, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC)
Nothing ever happens. Everybody spends 95% of every episode talking about what's happening. Then there's a brief flurry of activity, then lots of talking about it. Usually with the lights switched off.

It's driving me insane all over again!
( 2 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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