Space 1999 #26: The Exiles

Alpha comes across super-powered youngsters who soon betray the base.
WHEN: The episode takes place 403 days after Breakaway on Oct.20 2000. It first aired on Sept.11 1976.

REVIEW: Season 2 is really pushing the old joke that the Moon fell into a plot hole, isn't it? It's not that the episodes don't feature exciting action, cool effects, or even appealing characters, because they do. But the writing isn't strong on logic. At least, it isn't in The Exiles. There are two important flaws here. One is that Koenig seems pretty unreasonable in wanting to let the aliens in orbit around the Moon die, to the point where Helena asks "why must you always assume the worst?", except that ISN'T who Koenig has been for the past year, quite the opposite. He's more often been on the other side of the fight (in Collision Course, notably), asking others to make a leap of faith with him. What he's shown in each case is some vague notion of where the script wanted to go; Koenig is always right, no matter what side he picks, and the youthful aliens do turn out to be sociopathic monsters. The other problem is the ending, which doesn't make sense. First you have Helena scratching the nasty Cantar's face, breaking his protective plastic film, which somehow makes the 300 years he spent in cryogenic freeze catch up with him in moments, while she narrates the action like some kind of demented improv coach. That's not how cryogenics work, never mind the fact we saw her puncture the film earlier to get a blood sample. And once that's over, the Alphans use their antigrav shields to put the exiles' sarcophagi back on course, and if that was possible all along, why let themselves be held hostage by the flimsy idea that being in orbit would destroy the things in some three days?

If the plots can be dodgy, we can at least applaud Season 2's attempts to give the characters more development. I was disappointed that Maya wasn't given some kind of integration story - she's just sitting at her own station, in uniform, as if she'd always been a member of the crew - but they are using her to build relationships. There's a weird scene in Helena's quarters where she tests Koenig's sense of humor by confronting him with two identical Helenas. Even after a kiss, he can't tell which is which, though he knows the one who gets jealous will be the real Helena. It's an amusing bit that undoubtedly spawned some fanfic, and one that also introduces Helena's abilities as a sculptor. Her auto-portrait in clay is later used by the aliens in a very creepy scene, essentially using voodoo with it. The kissing incident apparently makes the rounds, because Tony brings it up at the end. Maya offers him one too, changing her face to that of an old woman's to expose Tony's shallowness, but laying in a possible romance between them. Lest these scenes seem sexist today, I would like to point out how, when an explosion occurs on the base, it's a female extra who tries to save a male one, and it's Maya, albeit morphed into a super-strong ape man who manages to get him out from under a beam

Between the beautiful kids who turn out to be monsters, the two Helenas, and the various images of beautiful faces turning to ugly ones, The Exiles' theme of uncertain identity is revealed. This comes to a head in the conference scenes where Koenig's hardheadedness about not helping aliens they know nothing about prompts Tony's questioning their own humanity if they DON'T try to help. Koenig relents, but doesn't want to be thanked yet, and it's pretty shocking when he gets Cantor to come to his office just so he can try his gun's effectiveness on him. The new Koenig won't let anyone make decisions for him, and he won't be held hostage by sentiment. Also, if two versions of his girlfriend come at him together, he's into it.

HEY, ISN'T THAT...
Peter Duncan is Cantar; he would become a Blue Peter presenter, which ensured the scene where he grows old in a few seconds would never die. Stacy Dorning is Zova; she was on both the Adventures of Black Beauty and more than 15 years later, the New Adventures of Black Beauty.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - If not for the silly climax, I'd be a lot more willing to forgive The Exiles' plot holes, given it has some fun character bits and a real theme.

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