Alien Nation #6: The Takeover

Thugs assault the undermanned police station and take Susan hostage when their plans go south.
SLAGS LIKE US: One of the things Alien Nation somehow gets right about the near future is the big riot in L.A. In the real world, it happened in 1992, very close to the show's time frame. The show doesn't have a clear reason for the riots (dubbed nonsense by the police and media). In the real world, the L.A. riots were caused by outrage over police brutality, specifically in the case of Rodney King. These racially-motivated events are more Alien Nation than what the show itself does here, though it was probably trying to echo 1965's similar Watts Riots.

REVIEW: Primarily an action episode, The Takeover creates rioting in Los Angeles for no better reason than to empty the precinct so a small group of criminals can rob its evidence room. When Sikes goes off to pursue a subplot, defending an old girlfriend from a knife-wielding stalker, it also devolves into mindless action. Even Susan, caught in the crossfire ends up with a gun in her hand. For a story that keeps most of the characters is deadly danger - Albert and George both take a bullet, Susan is taken over by overseer gas, Sikes gets his arm slashed - it all feels rather glib and danger-free - Albert has a second heart, George is wearing a vest, and so on. The riots themselves are just an excuse for an empty station and for Sikes getting stuck in traffic, but no reason is ever given for how they started, and the media are saying there doesn't seem to be one (in a world where race relations are a major theme, this is odd to say the least). It's not taken seriously either, with Sikes chatting up girls while George is stuck taking calls from old ladies with cats stuck up their trees and moans about everyone else's B.O. The final revelation that humans are susceptible to the "Holy Gas" that kept the Newcomers under control on the slaver ship is treated the same way. No one mentions any kind of ramifications. It's just a reason to have fun at Captain Grazer's expense, get him a mystery tattoo, etc.

He's the one character that comes out of this looking better than when he went in. This is the first episode he's really been featured in, and he's presented as a pretentious brown-noser with an ambition to turn his college history thesis into a police textbook. I know a guy just like him, who used to try and strike up conversations about Napoleon's strategies around the BBQ pit, and he was just about as irritating. Crazy thing is, it seems to work with the higher-ups, and they end up using his research and recommendations. But to his credit, when he hears his division is in trouble, he goes out to help, leaving the promise of promotion behind (predictably, if not particularly believably, someone takes credit for his work) and even ends up taking Susan's place as a hostage. Obnoxious, arrogant and tedious, yes, but rather valorous. After this, he really should be given more respect. But if this is like everything else in the episode, it probably won't make a bit of difference going forward. And you can bet we won't see Sikes' sexy old girlfriend again despite her standing invitation.

- It acts like it's exciting, but its aggressive stance against MEANING ANYTHING or having ANY CONSEQUENCES AT ALL means it's all rather pointless.



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