Alien Nation #12: Chains of Love

Cupid's arrow - or the Newcomer drug equivalent - is getting men killed, and Matt some unwanted attention.
SLAGS LIKE US: Sardonak = Ecstasy?

REVIEW: We were already aware the Newcomers bonded for life by taking an aphrodisiac (since Fifteen with Wanda), but it wasn't made clear then that George and Susan never took the drug; they just fell in love naturally. This is surprising given George's protestations then that his people mated for life, and his vile jealousy in this episode. While it's all very interesting that the drug was used to force slaves to pair up, and that Susan rejects its use to experience true freedom, it begs the question... Why were they NOT paired up this way in the first place? I'm not sure the episode plays fair with the audience, which is actually the least of its sins.

Oh, it's pleasant enough, I suppose, but its drama is ill-defined, and its comedy not always funny. Let's start with the former... The plot of the week is all about a scarred woman who uses the drug to get men into bed, but they wind up dead because her first such lover is murderously jealous. I've got and spoiled all the twists, but I found a good portion of these rather predictable anyway. There's some fair action, and a cameo by Ted Raimi, but I'm never really sold on the woman's motivation. She's been mutilated and needs to use the aphrodisiac to get a man? Fine. But her justification for entrapping many more men, because one wasn't enough for her apparently, which flies in the face of Newcomer culture, is slim at best, terrible melodrama at worst.

As for the comedy, I do enjoy much of it - Newcomer names are mostly amusing (like Marvin Gardens), and there's some laugh-out-loud repartee between Matt and George concerning the latter's guilt over suspecting his really very naive wife of infidelity - but there are a lot of forced moments as well. Maybe it's because I'm not a particularly big fan of the Three Stooges (unless they're cyborgs - if you get my reference), but it annoys me that it's the go-to gold standard in comedy where many TV characters are concerned. Poor Cathy, it's not because she's an alien that she "doesn't get it". It really is kind of lame to force your girlfriend to marathon it. Especially while Matt emits forced laughter throughout. Never one to be outdone, Cathy will force her own laughter when the dull, robotic Marvin Gardens follows Matt home fresh from being hit by Cupid's arrow. That's right, the aphrodisiac will work on the first person you see, even that person is the wrong (according to one's preferences) species or gender. Pepé Le Pew silliness that only narrowly manages not to offend.

As in the film, sea water is used to mutilate a Newcomer body to prevent its identification.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Not necessarily unpleasant, but much less than the sum of its parts.


Timothy Brannan said...

Ahh..I was waiting for this review cause I could not for the life of me remember the name of the drug used.

We got a kick out of this episode in college because it was right when Ecstasy was hitting campus and everone knew someone that had taken it and ended making out with someone they would rather have not have.

Siskoid said...

It was called Sardonak, sorry I omitted the name, I just couldn't trust myself to spell it right.

But you're right, there must be a connection there.


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