Space 1999 #40: Space Warp

Alpha goes through a warp, but Koenig and Tony are left on the other side. They strive to follow while the Moonbase is under attack from a feverish Maya.
WHEN: The episode takes place 1807 days after Breakaway on Aug.24 2004. It first aired on Dec.2 1976.

OH THE NOSTALGIA! Now I'm sure the last time I saw the series in any form was the Cosmic Princess combo movie, because I remember the warp and monster sequences being part of Maya's introduction. Cosmic Princess edits The Metamorph and this episode together into one continuous story. I think it left me with the impression at the time that the Moon was consistently warping to new places, as opposed to flying on simple momentum. Still not too far from the truth.

REVIEW: Space Warp has a few problems, notably Helena's opening narration that tries to link the discovery of a derelict ship with Maya's fever - bad medicine and a red herring - an alien ship with Arabic numbers on all its files, and the ultimately silly visual of monster-Maya frolicking on the lunar surface. Otherwise, it's a rare instance of Season 2 doing some good old-fashioned Season 1 astronaut procedural. At its core, Space 1999 is a big disaster movie, or at least, the pilot was. Space Warp is all disaster, all the time, and showing how Alpha would actually deal with such things. I'm all for it! The number of times Alpha has gone down some kind of wormhole, it was bound to happen eventually that an Eagle would be stuck on the other side. Seeing how both sides of the warp face their challenges keeps the episode momentum going.

Now granted, the Maya plot feels a bit grafted on, something to keep Alpha personnel busy while they wait for Koenig's Eagle to return. Visually, there is a link between the warp and the way we consistently zoom into Maya's eye, but there's no real connection. The plot is nevertheless successful because it creates disaster-type problems for the Moonbase, including a terrific accident sequence in the Eagles hangar and a firestorm that was surely handled by venting the air out into space (I'm guessing). There's also the matter of having to operate on one of Maya's monstrous forms, and not having the anatomical knowledge for it. And a fight sequence on the Moon in which Alan rips his backpack and loses air, which is handled realistically, the way they might have if this were a real lunar situation. (Of course, Alan gets his visor knocked open during the fight, so he really should have died earlier, but don't mind the bloopers.) We never find out what Maya's illness was all about, or why she became feverishly obsessed with returning to Psychon - it feels like the derelict ship should have had a Psychon origin all along - but there needn't be a reason. Psychons can contract diseases, infections and syndromes we know nothing about, perhaps even due to overuse of their shapeshifting powers. If there's a weakness to this part of the story, it's really Alan's presence. He should be piloting the mission with Koenig instead of playing Tony's role at mission control - and playing it badly, might I add, putting a kill order on Maya because, let's face it, he's not coordinating information between departments correctly - and even spending time in surgery like he's a doctor. What the hell, Alan? Jockeying for a lateral promotion?

Five light-years away, Koenig and Tony, in dire need of fuel find what they need on the derelict. Not more fuel, but information about the warp and how to find it again. The fate of the alien ship is tragic, with the entire crew committing ritual suicide by airlock rather than die a slow death aboard a dead vessel. At least they left the maths behind for anyone else who might need them. So while there aren't any fights with monsters (and we have to include not-Brian Blessed in that description), it's still a fair procedural where stranded pilots must find a way to conserve what they have so they can make it home.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - A return to what the series should really have been about, exciting and relatively well thought-out.


Anonymous said...

Methinks it's time for another link to "Space: 1899":


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