Saturday, June 11, 2016
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Flash Gordon: "Flash Back" / "The Warrior" (October 16, 1982)
In “Flash Back,” Flash’s rocket approaches a space phenomenon like a black hole. Flash disappears inside the vortex and materializes on Mongo. But to his surprise, it is an evil version of Mongo.
There, he encounters a sinister version of himself. “Welcome to the negative side of the universe,” he greets himself.
In the end, Dale must choose which Flash is “hers,” if she is to save the day. Fortunately, she chooses wisely.
In “The Warrior,” Flash and Ming end up on an unexplored continent together. They are captured by a warrior who judges them the two most powerful men on Mongo. He decides to hunt them, making them his prey.
This installment of Flash Gordon’s second season relies heavily on clichés, or more accurately, genre tropes.
“Flash Back” is a variation on Star Trek stories such as “Mirror, Mirror” and “Whom Gods Destroy.” From the former, the story adopts the idea of a negative dimension, where good people are evil, and vice versa.
And from the latter, the episode takes the idea of a person (whether Spock or Dale) having to select the “right” person from a pair of physically identical beings. That selection can only made on how well the "guesser" understands the identity or character of the person duplicated.
“The Warrior,” meanwhile, is pastiche of two other tropes.
It is part The Most Dangerous Game, a story of a great hunter choosing people as prey, and the commonly seen “my enemy, my ally” chestnut. In “My Enemy, My Ally,” for instance, committed enemies must work together to stop an immediate threat.
Intriguingly, I am concurrently reviewing another Filmation animated series of the 1980s, Blackstar (1981) and it also relies on the same tropes.
For instance, upcoming Blackstar episodes revive the “Mirror, Mirror” trope (in “Tree of Evil”) and the My Enemy, My Ally trope too (in “The Overlord’s Big Spell.”)
Next Week: ““The Freedom Balloon” / “Sacrifice of the Volcano Men”