Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Godzilla (1978): "The Energy Beast"

In “The Energy Beast,” a meteorite crashes near the Sundance Mesa and the hydro-electric dam there. 

A hostile alien that resembles a giant terrestrial centipede soon emerges and demonstrates an unending appetite for energy, but also the uncanny ability to mimic other life forms.

When the dam is cracked and begins to leak, the Calico’s crew summons Godzilla to help out.  The giant green beast uses his laser vision to solder up the holes in short order. But when fighting the giant centipede, Godzilla is drained of energy, and retreats from the scene in exhaustion.

Later, a being that resembles Godzilla appears at the hydro-electric power plant and begins consuming more energy from it.

Quinn, Peter, Brock and Carl are at a loss to explain Godzilla’s anti-social actions, at least until the real Godzilla shows up to put down the impostor from the stars.

“The Energy Beast” pits Godzilla against a fierce monster from the stars, one who nearly does in the Giant Green lizard. 

Thus far in the series, we haven’t seen Godzilla winded or fatigued, but this episode showcases him holding on…just barely.  It’s a bit disturbing to see an avatar of such strength reduced to exhaustion, and so the episode works very efficiently in getting us on Godzilla's side, and reckoning with the dangers of the space monster.

Indeed, Godzilla’s weakened condition is the very thing that sells the tension of the latter half of “The Energy Beast,” as Godzilla appears to attack an electrical plant.  We know that if Godzilla were in his right mind, he wouldn’t undertake this action.  And even though the audience knows the alien is a shape-shifter, there is still some doubt here. 

Could Godzilla be so weak that he has lost his senses?  That he needs to re-charge?  I enjoyed watching the scenes where the humans yell to Godzilla, and try to sway him from his anti-social actions.  They also wonder, rather amusingly, why Godzilla doesn’t recognize them.

Wouldn’t it be great to be on a first name basis with Godzilla?

The final battle in “The Energy Beast,” which essentially pits Godzilla against an evil twin or duplicate, vexes the humans, who don’t know who to root for at first.  When the real Godzilla demonstrates his kind nature by saving Godzooky during battle, they finally understand what’s going on.  This reminded me of the end of a Star Trek episode “Whom Gods Destroy” in which Spock was able to detect the real Kirk (instead of a shape-shifter) by a self-less act on the part of the Captain.

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