Friday, May 21, 2021

Star Blazers, Episode #21

Rather uncharacteristically, this twenty-first episode of Star Blazers (1979) commences with activity on the planet Gamilon as General Lysis is prosecuted and held under house arrest for his failure to destroy the Star Force.  

Lysis is found guilty for his failures, and destined for execution until Desslok intervenes and claims that Lysis is actually the only general he can count on.

With Desslok in his corner, Lysis gets a (dangerous) second chance to destroy the Argo.  Acting immediately, he takes a war fleet consisting of four space carriers to the Magellanic Clouds to intercept the Earth vessel.  

Predictably, he also has a brand new secret weapon available, one (hilariously…) termed S.M.I.T.E. (Space Matter Instant Transforming Equipment) to move ships through space instantaneously.  Lysis believes that this will be the critical factor in destroying the Argo.

Lysis then issues a challenge to the Star Force to meet at the rim of the “Rainbow Galaxy” and settle their differences there.  After prodding from Derek Wildstar, Captain Avatar agrees that it is time to confront the Gamilons, once-and-for-all.  “We must face and defeat them before we get to Iscandar” is the thinking that dominates discussion.

This episode ends with preparations for the mother of all space battles, and tension builds nicely throughout the half-hour as all-out war nears.  

In this episode, Avatar walks with a cane and looks weakened, which is a good, consistent character touch.  He addresses his crew in the Assembly Room of the Argo and notes that “no man ever had a better crew.”  This compliment is especially poignant given the facts that Avatar may not live very long, and that he is lauding his crew at the same time he is reflecting, essentially, on his final command.

This episode features the typical “Gamilons invent secret weapon to terrorize the Star Force” plot-line – which recurs every other episode of Star Blazers -- but nonetheless succeeds because of the character touches on Argo, and because the episode opens on Gamilon, with more background on the enemy than we’ve seen before on the series.  At the very least, we get a sense of Gamilon “justice” from Lysis’s trial.

The secret weapon plot, I know, relates to World War II and history, and so I understand and appreciate it.  America dropped two atom bombs on Japan in 1945, two devices of frightening, staggering, and heretofore unknown destructive power.  The recurring plot of Star Blazers is one that suggests that even as an alien invader develops fierce new weaponry of unimaginable destructive power, the old-fashioned qualities of sacrifice, honor and dedication to duty will win out.  

This through-line represents a nice, romantic construct, but it’s a shame that the same single point is reiterated constantly, at the expense of more creative and varied narratives.  Still, the next episode is a very strong one, and everything is on the line for the Star Force as the battle begins…

Only 215 days left! 

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