Space 1999 #15: Collision Course

The Moon will crash into a planet, but an old woman has told Koenig he must do nothing... and he believes her!
WHEN: The episode first aired on Sept.18 1975, a mere THIRD in broadcast order; it was 13th in production order.

OH THE NOSTALGIA! The French title under which I would have watched was "Collision inévitable", or "Unavoidable Collision".

REVIEW: As with many episodes of Space 1999, it seems to come from a place of hard SF until it takes a 90-degree turn into cosmic mumbo-jumbo. Be careful about drinking the 1970s Kool-Aid; I've read enough Marvel Comics of the era to know that, at least. As Collision Course begins, the crew of Moonbase Alpha are working to destroy a large asteroid that's about to intersect the Moon's path. That's the kind of thing that WOULD happen on a journey like this, and it's nice to see the Alphans have a protocol for it. However, it's really only there as a "teaser" for a bigger threat, and to create the accident that covers Alpha in radiation (why is it unknown? doesn't it come from THEIR explosives?) which makes those dosed apparently hallucinate. That means Alan and then Koenig, who has never been this emotional about possibly losing someone, except maybe Helena, before. Good acting from Landau, but he makes me think Koenig is cracking under the pressure, not in a terribly bad way, but fatigue is certainly setting in. He'll get a lot more irrational before the episode is through.

You see, beyond the asteroid is a huge planet, one that may be inhabited if Alan and Koenig's visions of an old woman in black is any indication. But nobody believes their shared hallucination because they're obviously suffering from radiation sickness. It's to the point even the audience might question whether anything we see post-accident is real, except two men wouldn't see the same thing. Koenig visits an alien ship and meets Arra, the woman from his visions, played by Margaret Leighton, quite ill and confined to a wheelchair, and yet giving a soulful performance using just eyes and voice. A great voice. What she says is a lot of pseudo-mystical claptrap about Man's destiny and her people's transcendence to a timeless energy form, which will play out in absurd fashion. Unlike Trek aliens who achieve godhood, the Etherians will take their entire planet with them, BUT it must "touch" the Moon because Etheria and Earth are connected by Fate, both to evolve into the dominant forms of the universe, one spiritual, the other physical. That she manages to get this nonsense out at all is a small miracle, but that she lends it weight, makes it work, injects it with a deep melancholy... She makes the episode worth watching. And because she lends it that weight, we're left to think maybe the Etherians have something to do with the Black Sun that took the Moon to these parts. Some God-like force saved them then. Was it the Etherians, liberated from space-time and able to engineer their own past? I'm liking that.

But this is a difficult pill for Alpha to swallow. They're being asked to do nothing and let the Moon impact the planet, on faith alone. (The alternative is trusting the worst scientist ever with his shockwave plan to push the two astral bodies away from each other with mine explosions - I say worst because he's been on goofballs for a while now, and here claims there's now way to know if the Moon hitting the planet will negatively affect the former.) At first, Victor and Helena have Koenig's back, and in both cases, this could be seen by the rest of the command staff as preferential treatment from an old friend and a lover. But in a twist, we find out they were just humoring him and betray his trust. He and Alan, telepathically linked (another clue that Arra is real), must take Main Mission hostage. The last minute on the countdown is tense, there's a bit of a struggle, etc. and even Koenig uses his last seconds to express doubt and regret. Of course, it all works out as Arra said it would, but Koenig at least has the grace to say everyone acted as they should. I guess he won't believe the next mad man to come back from a reconnaissance mission. The episode's principal weakness IS that Koenig is acting out of character; he is simply too eager to believe Arra and impose his will against everyone's better judgement, where before he's been a voice for caution and democracy.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium
- The theme of faith vs. facts has merit, and Margaret Leighton is a great guest-star, but someone needs to explain 1) what the hell she's talking about and 2) why Koenig is acting this way.

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