Alien Nation #5: Fifteen with Wanda

Sikes and Francisco babysit a witness in the throes of Pon farr while trying to deal with their own erratic teenagers.
REVIEW: I'm disappointed this is director Rob Bowman's only episode. He would go on to work on X-Files and Castle, and shows a higher caliber than has been demonstrated on Alien Nation to date. Instead of bright, flat padding, we get shadows and atmosphere, smoke and highlights, and interesting compositions even in the daylight stuff. It's almost a shame the fashions have to be so dated - the hair and costume people obviously thought the near future would be 80s big hair and shoulder pads, only more extreme; they didn't know we were already at the end of a rather terrible trend - because Fifteen with Wanda is really classic noir at times. The action is exciting, with one particularly dangerous-looking explosion, and the jokes are funny too. Definitely one of the better episodes.

Newcomer sex has been discussed before, in particular that humming was part of foreplay. Here, we discover people who want to get married take an aphrodisiac that bonds them sexually and emotionally during courtship, and hormones run wild when a witness for the prosecution can't fulfill his mating instinct because he's in protective custody. Some hilarity does ensue, and the script has some excellent zingers relating to sex, but really, cracking dialog throughout. Buster (Keaton, of course) needs babysitters because a contract killer called Ernie Jett is after him, but also to protect him against his own adolescent impulses. This ties into the overall theme of the episode, as the babysitters, Matt and George, are both in a parenting crisis, taking turns leaving the safe house to deal with their family drama. When they're together, they're like an old couple, fighting over how Buster is being "raised".

We finally meet Matt's ex and teenage daughter (she's called Kirby, so it's not just the Newcomers who have strange names). Matt was never a good father, mostly absent and now too permissive to make up for it, but Kirby's mother should take part of the blame. Kirby is frivolous and selfish, and judging by what we see here, mommy Victoria isn't much better. She's spoiled Kirby and now she's surprised the girl only wants to do what she wants to do. And that's using her tuition money to shack up with her boyfriend Thor (like I said) in an RV. Looks like Sikes is a man doomed to be bullied by women; these gals are not sympathetic in the slightest. Could have done with less melodrama and more shades of gray coming from this subplot. George's problems have everything to do with Buck putting his probationary status in danger. On the ship, they weren't allowed to be parents to their children beyond their tenth year, so teenagers are a mystery to George; naively, he thinks his circumstances are unique. The reasons for his absenteeism are different from Matt's, sure, but the present day shows that intense jobs like his would have done that to his family anyway. Buck does quit his gang, but he comes to it on his own, or perhaps because of his uncle Moodri's lessons. To embrace his new world, he must learn not to reject humanity, and in Sal, a punky biker played by Lori "Tank Girl" Petty, he finally finds a friend who has our DNA. Strangely, IMDB tells me this is the character's only appearance. Looked like she was being tapped as a love interest. Weird AND disappointing.

THE MOVIE LEGACY:
In the film, Sykes' daughter was called Kristin and was slightly older (as he was), but Sykes still had to face the fact he was hardly ever there for her.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High
- An episode that manages to be amusing, exciting, unusually well shot AND advance the characters. Bit melodramatic at times, and the fashions are dated to the point of distraction, but these are still minor complaints.

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