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02 June 2013 @ 10:13 am
Review: Buck Rogers' "Unchained Woman" Part II of II  
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Scene 31: On the outskirts, Wilma has been tied to a chair and is under the watch of Mr. H. Enchman.

She asks why she's being held prisoner. Our mercenary is a blabbermouth and tells her he's received a thousand credits to keep her busy and Wilma laughs at how he's been ripped off compared to what is at stake. This leads mercenary to jump to the conclusion that she's the infamous woman who has been smuggling illegal gems on-world.

Wilma plays along, suggesting that whoever paid him to hold her is tearing apart her ship right now looking for the contraband for themselves. She then smiles at him coyly and tells him that they'll never find them aboard ship. She gives some outrageous sum that would be worth a fortunes of avarice and then tells him she isn't going to just tell him where she's stashed them, of course.

Rather than simply beating it out of her [ew, but what the hey -- he's supposed to be a hardened criminal], he naturally frees her hands. Wilma pulls out a judo-throw, taught to her by Buck, and quickly disarms our foolish thug. He's in for some questioning.


Scene 32: Across town, at the local bar, Jen and Buck wander in looking for any trace of Wilma and/or trying to figure out an alternate plan to get out of there. They don't notice, but local smarmy guy immediately notices Jen's security bracelet and gets weasel-face.

Smarmy approaches them at the bar, and in a none-too-subtle way announces that he couldn't help but notice that Buck and Jen are escapees. He flashes a tool to remove the bracelets... for the right price. {And, again, the entire bar is witness to both actions and dialog -- he isn't trying to whisper in the least}.

Buck announces they have no money, but Jen Burton does have a few future!coins that her mugging victim had with her. Smarmy accepts it as enough.

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While he undoes Jen's bracelet, Buck pumps him for information about Wilma. Smarmy asks if he's looking for a blonde, but any further information comes with an additional charge. Buck hands him a slim coin. Smarmy tells him the answer is no, there were no blondes see by him that day. Buck is annoyed at being ripped off, but Smarmy goes on his way. Jen's bracelet is now off, while Buck's wasn't removed.


Scene 33: Out at the sand squid trap, Hugo revives and crawls his way back to his feet. The sand squid is quite dead for trying to eat him.


Scene 34: At the outpost, Malary and Majel receive a visitor in the guise of Smarmy. He's there because he heard through the grapevine that they're looking for a male and female prisoner on the run. Obviously, he's there to sell their whereabouts.


Scene 35: Meanwhile, Wilma is free in the village. She's (hilariously) trying to stroll casually around town with a huge, honking blaster tucked under her arm.


Scene 36: In Pantera's room, Smarmy is counting his loot to Malary's obvious annoyance. He's allowed to go on his way, instead of simply dying as soon as he's spilled Jen's location.

Pantera tells Majel that he has a new job for her... to her wicked smiling, because she doesn't recognize a huge user when she's sleeping with one.

He gives Majel a large-stone ring from his finger and instructs her to slip it to Jen, who will know what to do with it.


Commentary: I'm going to give a kudo here for Bert Rosario, a character actor who has been in a lot of things. His character is an anonymous weasel, but he plays it with flair.


Scene 37: As Majel leaves, Wilma is in a shadowed corner where she had followed Smarmy. She watches Majel slip away, but before she can decide if she should follow, Anonymous Mook arrives to meet with Pantera.

By the time Mook is safely in Pantera's room, Majel is gone and Wilma stays put.


Commentary: Which, no, doesn't really make sense in regards to her main mission which isn't to keep tabs on/arrest Pantera so much as to find Buck and Jen. Presumably, she thinks that Jen will be brought to Malary's at some point but the village isn't that large. She could just as easily hang out in the square and Buck would find her.


Scene 38: Wandering the town for the fifth time, Buck is both worried and frustrated with Wilma remaining missing. Jen is suggesting she's had to hide out also, but Buck worries she was caught and is locked up somewhere.

While Buck is walking ahead of her and yammering, Majel bumps into Jen and to her momentary confusion shoves a ring into her hand before continuing on.

Jen recognizes it, as she slips it on her finger. As she returns to the oblivious Buck's side, he's decided to go back to the space port and use Wilma's on-ship communications to report into Earth for a pick-up for Jen and a backup for Buck to continuing searching for Wilma.


Scene 39: Back at Pantera's, he's calling out Mook onto the carpet for not having his escape vehicle ready. Apparently the settlement is short on coolant which Malary isn't trying to hear. He sends off cowed Mook to figure out a way to get his ship ready, come hell or high water.

Wilma watches him storm off with a "oh, man... being a mook sucks" look on his face. She then listens into Pantera's room which is covered by the galaxy's thinnest door. She hears him reporting into an unidentified partner that she's out of commission and that he's set a trap for Rogers. He assures whoever that Jen Burton is as good as dead.

She takes off for the village center... again....


Scene 40: Meanwhile, Jen and Buck are still headed toward the unseen space port. When they enter a now-very-familiar archway, Jen stops Buck. She apologizes for having to make her escape at his expense. She zaps him with a sonic beam from the power-ring, sending Rogers collapsing to the ground.

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Scene 41: Meanwhile, Hugo is marching toward the outpost. For being an android, he sure is acting pissed off with his kicking random rocks and now knocking over random trees.


Scene 42: Sometime later, Buck receives an injection. This turns out to be Wilma, who has found him unconscious. As he struggles to pull his head back together, Wilma informs him that Pantera is here, and that he plans to murder Burton.


Commentary: And, lord only knows where Wilma was hiding the convenient revive shot in that skin tight, polyester cat suit. She tries to play like she has a back pocket, but trust me... there is no place to hide that cylinder without a cloaking device.


Scene 43: At Pantera's room at the boarding house, Jen arrives only to quickly be disabused of any notion that Malary ever thought of her as anything more than a wench.

She's ordered to come with he and Majel, but is resistant since she sees her death occurring shortly. She tries to tell Majel that she's in for the same treatment eventually, but of course, Majel thinks she's indespensible.


Commentary: And no. It doesn't make any sense for him not to kill her immediately, since we already know that the outpost citizens don't get involved, and it isn't like he can't just stun her (to avoid the noise) and then strangle/stab/snap her neck/beat her head in etc.

In fact, since he seems to avoid getting his hands dirty, there is little reason to presume that Majel wouldn't slit her throat for him if he ordered it.

I do like Jamie Lee's performance throughout this episode though, and Michael has been doing quite well now that he's not twirling his invisible mustache.

I'm also going to give it to Tara, who has been fun as the smart-alek right-hand woman. She especially good at the sidelong, sarcastic looks.



Scene 44: Back on Earth, Doctor Huer finds Doctor Theopolous in the Data Center. He asks about Wilma's expected update and is worried when he's told that her report is long overdue. Huer complains that with the Ambassador watching every move they make for the diplomatic consequences, he can't simply order more agents to the penal moon.

With Huer's mention of Warwick, Theo brings the conversation around to what he suspects. Huer expresses sorrow, but not shock as he had noticed how much his once-close friend has changed in the intervening years. Tellingly, he doesn't even suggest that Theopolous must be mistaken, but instead simply asks him to review his data with him.


Commentary: Tim O'Connor is always the strongest actor in the room for this series and he really sells this scene. His expression about how his dear friend has changed, and how he had so many dreams that never ended up fulfilled is a really nice moment. You can almost wonder if Huer, at that moment, is reviewing his own ambitions that didn't quite come to reality... despite the prestigious position he currently holds. I also really liked how the script doesn't have Huer pull the cliche "You must be mad! My friend would never...." spiel for simple, dejected acceptance. You can see that his interactions with Warwick throughout this mission was niggling the back of Huer's mind that something wasn't right, and now Theo is just putting what was bothering him into focus.


Scene 45: At the outpost, Smarmy is smarming a womanly patron of the bar with his new found money, which he is rapidly blowing through. He's spinning a line about being independently wealthy who is eccentric enough to wander the space lanes and see the galaxy as a wanderer.

Wilma and Buck wander in, with Wilma mentioning that Pantera wasn't at the boarding house or the spaceport, and now this place is a bust, too. Buck opines that somebody must have tipped off Malary about Buck's being there with Jen. He spots Smarmy at the bar.

He leaves Wilma at the door with her casually tucked under her arm blaster, which is as big as a small boat. At the bar, Smarmy finds his evening of debauchery cut short by an irritated Buck Rogers. At first, Sergio plays dumb, but when Buck decides he'll be coming with him to search the desert grain by grain, he's more forthcoming.

Buck is directed to a service station, where Smarmy assures him that Pantera's ship is being prepared for departure.


Commentary: Y'know, for being the comedy relief character, somehow Bert managed to keep Sergio from slipping into odious -- so great job, Mr. Rosario.


Scene 46: In the desert, Hugo finally spots the Outpost as he remains locked on, presumably, to Buck's prison bracelet.


Scene 47: Back at Earth, Huer and Theo have just found the Ambassador missing from his quarters. Doctor Theopolous has sealed off the city and security is looking for Warwick. Huer tells Theo that security is to locate, but not to interfere with Warwick in any way. He doesn't even want the Ambassador to know he's being followed. Instead, he is to be informed at once, where he will confront the Ambassador himself as a Federation official and Warwick's friend.


Scene 48: Back on the penal planet, Pantera has led Jen to the outbuilding where Wilma was being held. He's berating a frightened Anony Henchman for letting Wilma escape, which mercenary insists wasn't his fault -- even though it so obviously was.

Pantera has picked up Mook #2 and he and Mook #1 are with them, though I don't see Majel -- she, presumably, is off to check on the ship's status.

Malary lets mercenary leave, though without payment, of course. {I'm really starting to doubt Pantera's reputation for being a merciless killer.} He next turns on Jen, telling her that he's going to have her placed in the airlock and ejected into deep space.

Behind them, the door is blasted open. Buck has taken over Wilma's blaster and quickly shoots the bad guys' hands forcing them to disarm. Everything looks wrapped up, but Majel makes her return then with her own blaster and has Wilma and Buck dead to rights. They're quickly counter-disarmed.

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Scene 48: Outside the village square, the continuing to electrical arcing Hugo has truly flown off the rails. With a primal yell of aggression, he tears down a village gate and storms into the square.


Scene 49: We cut back to Buck's bracelet to remind us that Hugo knows his location, as Malary blathers on with bad-guy speak. Pantera still refuses to just shoot the prisoners, or at least order them shot. He hears the racket outside and orders somebody to check on the noise.

He needn't have bothered, as Hugo shows him by busting through the wall.

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Buck throws Pantera, also getting ahold of the blaster again. Instead of taking off for his ship through the hole in the wall, Malary actually attempts to double fist the android's back. This gets him beaten.

Buck, Wilma and the still armed Majel fire a triple blast into the android's chest. This fails to stop him, and not even Buck's patented kicks is enough to put the Android down. While the rest are distracted with stopping Hugo, Majel tends to Malary who is having trouble escaping as it appears that the kick he received from Hugo may have broken his leg.

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Buck notices Hugo seems fixated on him, and Wilma points out he's still wearing the homing bracelet. This proves remarkably flimsy and easy to remove so Buck can place it on Malary, who is forced to hop off one legged.

Majel glares at Buck and accuses him of getting Pantera killed with that stunt. She pleads for Buck's help in saving her boyfriend.


Scene 50: Meanwhile, Pantera is limping [Okay, so not broken -- but severely bruised down to the bone, at the least] away from the raging Hugo. The android is also having problems with running, now. He manages to body check Malary into a wall (in a nice stunt) and knocks him out.

Malary is scooped up and hauled away.

Meanwhile, Majel is whining at Buck not to let Malary be dragged away, and for reasons I'm sure not to understand or agree with, Buck decides they can still cut the android off and save Malary for his later conviction and imprisonment.


Scene 51: With the dropped blasters, Wilma, Buck, Majel and Jen are all armed. Buck orders Hugo to drop Malary, which he does, but only to march threateningly toward the foursome. Buck orders them to turn the blasters to full power and aim for the same central spot.

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Hugo is finally disabled/destroyed. Majel rushes to her man's aid, where he still lays on the ground. This leads to Malary ... to nobody's shock but hers ... berating her for letting them grab her gun and capture them. He pushes her away to her fallen face. Jen points out that she warned her she was next.


Scene 52: Back in New Chicago, Ambassador Warwick stuns a hangar deck technician. Huer confronts him on the hangar deck. While at gunpoint, Huer asks Ted to give himself up and informs him that Pantera was captured and Jen Burton still lives. Warwick monologues about his lost dreams of prominence, but surrenders his weapon to Huer.


Commentary: Again, I want to point out the acting here. Tim and Robert really do a nice job opposite one another and you can feel that Huer and Warwick really were close friends at one time and both are heart stricken over where they now find themselves.


Scene 53: At the Star Gate, Wilma returns with Buck and Jen in her Star Fighter. Buck congratulates Jen on taking Pantera's arrest in stride and Jen reveals she's so over it all. She is keeping her prison bracelet as a lesson to herself, though.


Scene 54: Back on the moon, Hugo is still not permanently destroyed -- nor has anyone bothered to remove him from where he fell.  He gets twitchy-handed and we hear the homing beeping, leaving it open ended on whether Jen is going to eventually regret holding onto that souvenir of hers.

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The Good: The model work for the ships remains a high light of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

The desert location is shown off A LOT and it is filmed gorgeously. I cannot emphasize enough how beautifully this episode is filmed.

The guest stars are really good in this episode, for the most part. There are a few off-moments, but nobody really humiliates themselves acting-wise. I really want to give special mention to Robert Cornthwaite and Jamie Lee Curtis and to focus praise on the scene of Huer confronting Warwick as particularly strong.


The Bad: In order for Buck's cover to be blown, the script depends on Doctor Huer -- the head of the Defense Directorate, and Theopolous -- representative of the ruling computer council to blab all of the intimate details of an illegal action to the Ambassador to Zayta. That's just so stupid.


Other Thoughts: I'm more than a bit ambiguous about Earth Defense Directorate breaking out dozens of prisoners and letting them go free just for one eye witness against one pirate. That seems... well... I used the word prick and I'll stand by prickish as my descriptor.

I will admit there are a few pacing issues, mostly involving the continued cutting out to the desert where Hugo the Security Android is implacably making his way toward his confrontation with Buck. Despite the beautiful location shooting, it becomes ridiculous to keep reminding us that he's still walking, and walking, and walking some more.

I also want to say that I generally like this script, excepting the Huer-Theo blabfest. It hangs together remarkably well and I didn't feel the need to go off on a rant, such as during the dreaded Wilma-lesson stuff in the last episode.

I think we really could have done without the "it may not be over" ending, as it seems highly unlikely that Jen's bracelet could be of any threat to her over such distances, through a Star Gate, even if Hugo somehow felt free to try to continue the chase.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the humorous smarmy character to not slip into odious comedy relief. And Twiki managed to avoid it as well! Double-bonus.


The Score: Okay, there were a few pacing issues and some script-dumb to complicate Buck's mission. But, this episode was fun and the guest actors really lifted the material, instead of getting in the way. There were some really nice character scenes for Huer, Jen and Majel. The scenery was stunning and everything felt like more than a b-grade sci-fi television show. I really had a good time.

4.0 out of 5


Next Review: A movie review for "The Devil's Sleep" from 1949.

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