Thursday, February 09, 2017

Logan's Run 40th Anniversary Blogging: "Half Life" (October 31st, 1977)

The sixth episode of Logan’s Run (1977) -- "Half Life" -- is written by Shimon Wincelberg and directed by Steven Stern.

The story concerns a society where all the citizens are "processed" through a machine that separates each individual into two parts, a good person (known as a "positive") and a bad person, known as a "cast out."

The bad folks get thrown out of the city to live in primitive barbarism outside the walls, while the "positives" live inside, in luxury. A force field barrier separates the two areas.

Logan (Gregory Harrison), Jessica (Heather Menzies) and REM (Donald Moffat) happen upon this society and are welcomed by the Positives.

In secret, however, the primitive leader, The Patron (William Smith) plans to “process” them all in the same way.  Apparently, he is unaware that his own wife, Rama 2 (Kim Cattrall) is actually a cast-out, one struggling to suppress her emotions.

Jessica is processed, and her “cast-out” half is sent outside the barrier.  Now Logan and REM must not only rescue her, but put all her pieces back together again.

So, the people of this strange post-apocalyptic community in “Half Life” have by design recreated the accident that split Captain Kirk into good/bad parts in the classic first season Star Trek episode, "The Enemy Within."  

It’s the same story, basically.

Logan and REM even share a conversation in “Half Life” which they discuss the light and dark sides of human nature, and assess both of them necessary to survival. 

It’s easy to forget it today, in 2017, but once upon the time, Star Trek cast a very long shadow across sci-fi TV.  The same stories (and same moral lessons) were often repeated, from one series to the next.

“Half Life” goes off in its own direction, however, in its exploration of a government that has gone too far to socially (and apparently, genetically…) engineer the nature of its citizenry.  “No one has ever shed a drop of blood in our society,” Logan and the others are told, and yet the society seems cruel. People such as Jessica are abducted against their will and forced to submit to the equivalent of an unnecessary medical procedure.  REM has a good perspective on this “experiment to tidy up human nature.” He understands it is a fool’s errand.

In this story of a "city where all are perfected," there's one individual worth noting in further detail: Rama 2. When she went through the processor as a child, Rama's positive side died...leaving only her cast-out side remaining. But ever since then, there's been a deception. Rama has been living as the consort of the Patron, the community leader and hiding her "negative" nature. Because she has been successful, Rama's presence proves that the processing procedure doesn't really work. A little good and a little evil resides in each split part of the citizenry...and so the attempt to separate these essential human qualities is foolhardy indeed.

 That fact makes Logan and REM's task easier, repairing -- or re-unifying -- the society.

"Half Life" is, like "The Innocent," diverting and entertaining enough, yet still ultimately rather derivative, and not grounded closely enough in the idea behind the series (exploration of a ruined, post-apocalyptic landscape). At least - finally -there's a whole society on display here, not just a little community with one citizen. That's a positive sign, I hope.

But the problems here are also severe. How did a post-holocaust society devise and construct the technology to separate two people into two physically identical (though opposite, emotionally) individuals?  That’s basically like someone in the Dark Ages inventing the transporter, and it doesn’t make much sense.

And again, how does the processor get its power in this post-apocalyptic landscape? Finally, with the society restored, and such abundant technology (including security in the form of the force field), why don’t Logan, Jessica and REM settle here instead of continuing the search for a hazy Sanctuary

Next week: the best episode of Logan’s Run: “The Crypt.”

1 comment:

  1. John fine review of this Logan's Run "Half Life" episode. This is a retelling of Star Trek "Enemy Within" in which we saw two Kirks physically identical (though opposite, emotionally).