Specifically, the episode lands the protagonist in a situation where the facts are against him, logic is against him, science itself is against him, and all he can muster is a vague character testimony (for an alien named Arra…) and a desperate admonition for his people to trust him.
Thus, once more, Space: 1999 focuses intently on the human condition as it stands now, and not in any fashion idealized or romanticized. As always, the series concerns modern man -- with all his frailties and foibles -- thrust into an environment for which he is psychologically unprepared. The episode builds to an emotional climax, and the pay-off is unexpectedly one of the most lyrical and poetic of the canon, a reflection of a kind of magic realism leitmotif.
From that vantage point, at the rim of the radiation cloud, Koenig detects a new danger. A planet thirteen times the size of Alpha is now on a collision course with the wandering moon. Only hours remain before total annihilation.
"Collision Course" thus concerns a human value: trust. It’s the battle between human and machine values perhaps, and one that explicitly fits in with what Science Digest tagged as the series’ central thesis: the downfall of 20th century, technological man.
The idea underlying this concept is that we don’t know everything ,and when we forsake human values for a reliance on technology, the outcomes may not be the ones we desire. This idea is encoded in the opening episode, “Breakaway,” which features a nuclear accident, and sends the moon (and Alpha) careening into space.
Again, I don’t interpret this episode as being a blanket approval of blind faith, but rather the importance of “seeing” faith, let's call it. Koenig comes to trust Arra after their meeting, and places his faith in her after assessing her, person-to-person.. His people on Alpha -- though they know him better than he knows Arra -- are not able to place this kind of faith in him. Koenig understands the situation well and harbors no anger, as the coda suggests. Were the situations reversed, he asserts, he would likely not be able to do “nothing” in the face of certain disaster, either. Accordingly, the story becomes a comment on the qualities we see in all human-kind, not just Koenig or the Alphans.
There’s no existing scientific theory, principle or axiom, to my knowledge, that could explain why these two space bodies touch instead of collide. But the episode surprises with its fanciful, even chimeric sense of wonder or vision. There are some things man does not yet understand, the episode expresses, and sometimes it’s necessary not to rage against the fantastic or otherworldly, but to put faith in a friend. Arra speaks of history, foreknowledge, and sacred purpose of mankind, and her vision proves correct, even if "fear" precedes apotheosis.
|Moonbase Alpha in a haze of darkness and confusion.|
|Devoured by fear...|
|A figure of death, in a funeral shroud.|
|Out of darkness and fear into light. Two worlds don't collide. They "touch."|
But in the case of “Collision Course” I’d submit the episode works splendidly as a one-off, re-asserting in dynamic visual and narrative fashion the idea that mankind is sometimes the victim of a sort of a tunnel vision, seeing only part of the picture and ignoring the rest. There are more wonders in Heaven and Earth, “Collision Course” suggests, than is dreamed of in our philosophy (or by our technology).
And this principle -- love it or hate it -- is a key element of Space: 1999’s creative vision.