Warning: I've spoiled. Plus, I'm seeing slash where it doesn't exist.
Scene 64: Danton breaks radio silence, since their approach isn't a surprise to anyone. He orders them to engage, anyway. Naturally on his scope, his squadron has eight ships, even though we know they only have six pilots.
Scene 65: We cut to Buck smirking from his pilot seat at Wilma in her ship. He tells her that she didn't have to take out both guards. She exclaims she got excited.
Commentary: I know. Told, not shown. I'm disappointed too... a scene of Erin dashing around Buck just as he's ready to do his kicky-thing and taking out the foe first would have been really amusing. Plus, we don't get enough of Erin kicking ass, probably because she's constantly walking on hard tile in heels and doesn't want to slip and pull something.
We cut Ryma on the surface still, sneaking around Kaleel's base for a way to contact the resistence cell....
Scene 66: In space, more effects shots of ships to eat up time. Galen notes that pilots 93 & 94 have disrupted the attack pattern. These are naturally Buck and Wilma.
They manage to raise Duke and inform him that they're ready to join the fight. Buck also lays out that Galen is the important one - once the quarterback is sacked (oh, you clever script, you) the rest will turn tail and give up the fight (which isn't very mindlessly devoted of them to Kaleel).
Scene 67: Kaleel and Stella are monitoring all of this on their Atari scope and see only eight ships for the Earth Squadron. They're highly amused.
Commentary: Of course, there are only supposed to be 7, but Kaleel doesn't know that. I desperately wanted to hear Doctor Huer's voice over the comm... having unexpectedly joined the pilots at the last minute, but no. Also, with Buck and Wilma there are now 10 -- jackass.
Scene 68: Space battle is joined... but naturally, we only see Kaleel's shirtless men getting blown up. None of the middle-aged, robed women getting slaughtered here (and I'm sadistic, so I wanted to see woman-who-turned-in-her-husband scream and get blown to atoms).
Scene 69: On the planet, Kaleel is a forward thinker. He sees his red triangles disappearing rapidly and tells Stella to make sure his personal craft is ready for an emergency take off.
Stella gives him a conflicted look, but he orders her to go. She side glances at him on her way out (taking it as a show of weakness in him maybe, or that she's just realizing that he doesn't completely believe they'll be successful as she just assumed that he was).
Ryma is spying on them and smiles at Kaleel's sudden lack of confidence in his followers.
Scene 70: At the battle, Danton finds one of his pilots getting fired upon. He moves to intercept.
Commentary: And, what do you know? We pull away to the model effects shot and it's a re-use shot... OF HATCHET FIGHTERS, not the fighting craft that were actually being used. Now, really! Would it have been so hard to have Wilma point out that it looks like Kaleel has been purchasing pirate fighters as well for his forces when her and Buck were watching the ships launch? Even if WE didn't see that, it is a 3 second sentence that would have allowed them to insert these shots without a bat of the eye.
But, no. Instead we have Just. Plain. Laziness.
And that irritates me. Fuck You, Editor.
Twiki & Theo next come under fire (by the correct craft), but Brigadier Gordon saves their circuits. In the meantime, Galen is getting more and more flustered and frustrated with his losses and Earth forces' lack of same (with more fucking Hatchets buying it).
Commentary: Here we get joke number one between Buck and Buck (Gordon). Rogers asks Gordon if they've met after complimenting his ship handling. Gordon tells Buck that they haven't met yet, but Crabbe adds to Gerard, "We're from different times".
Scene 71: Ryma in the meantime has located the resistence cell within Kaleel's base, who have somehow managed to not be drafted into flying fighter craft with everyone else (No, no, that doesn't make much sense, but let's just allow it to pass). She convinces them that Kaleel's ordering of his escape craft to be ready shows that he isn't nearly the Hand of God that he keeps claiming.
Scene 72: The dogfighting goes on with Wilma taking out one of those misplaced Hatchets. Finally, Buck is able to take out Galen in a pretty anti-climatic scene.
Scene 73: On the planet, Kaleel overemotes in the way all despots do when they see their plans comes to ruins.
As expected, Kaleel's force turns tail back for the planet. He tells Stella it's time for him to get to his cruiser and they leave radio communications guy sitting in the background apparently with no clue.
Scene 74: Back in space, there is congratulations (and not a mild bit of surprise) all around.
Commentary: And, here's second inside joke #2 between Buck and Buck - and the one that really makes me grin nerdishly - as Brigadier Gordon is complimented by Buck again on his flying. Gordon informs Buck that he's been doing that sort of thing since before he was born.
This is cute on two levels: Obviously Crabbe was space-battling long before Gerard was born, so it's all winkingly meta. It's also a fact that Buck, being time displaced, is much much older than Gordon gives him credit for, so he's actually mistaken. A fact that Gerard points out with the line, "You think so, huh?"
I love this scene. I love Gil's charming amusement over reciting these lines - the joy on his face is plain at this winking at the audience. We'll be talking a lot more about Gil's onscreen charm as the series progresses, especially when we get to Season 2....
Scene 75: Below, for a base that had been nearly completely evacuated by everyone going off to war, Ryma sure did find a lot of resistance fighters hanging around to organize. They quickly take shirtless guys into custody as they close in on Kaleel, himself.
Kaleel has a minor breakdown in the corridor as he realizes that the tables have so completely turned against him. Stella, bless her, is far more practical about getting the hell out of dodge right now.
They run for it, but are cornered in the meeting hall.
Commentary: I don't like this portion of the scene, because of course Buck and Wilma are front and center. Somehow, they've managed to land, disembark and run into the base before Kaleel and Stella got anywhere near their escape vessel. Right.
But it bugs me too, because they're not necessary here. This should be Ryma's moment. She and the resistance should be standing up to Kaleel without the outsider's presence as back up. Buck, Wilma and Danton did their part and this should be all about the Vestulans, with Buck etc. showing up in the closing scene back at the Vistulan capital for the "lesson learned" by the governor.
Kaleel turns on Buck here with the glowing hands, insisting he is a dead man. Why Kaleel isn't just stunned with a blaster, is just another one of those things.
Commentary: But again, this isn't about Buck. This scene should be Ryma's with Kaleel making one last effort to convince her of his powers, touching her in an almost desperate move to prove to himself that he can hurt her, and then have him completely crack with nothing happens and all further hesitancy caused by fear in the resistence fighters dissipate.
And, if Stella then tried to intervene and Ryma punched her out, so much the better.
Buck confronts Kaleel with his only power being the deep fear he held over his believers. Kaleel keeps dramatically whispering 'Stay back', but it is an entirely empty threat and both Buck and Ryma know it. The last of Kaleel's resolve collapses and he and Stella are grabbed by the resistance.
Scene 76: Later, on Earth, Governor Saroyan is confronted with the realization that Kaleel and his closest advisor were using him all along. Saroyan tenders his resignation. His son accuses him of still avoiding responsibility and demands that he go and clean things up on Vistula himself.
Commentary: And, my first thought is that resignation is exactly the right choice of action. In fact, his son should be expressing gratitude for him doing this so easily and then telling him that with the Vistulans assuming responsibility for their own government now, they'll need advisors. People who know how to go about governing, and suggesting that his father would be perfect as an advisory attache to the planet, rather than quitting completely.
Remember, Saroyan was appointed by Earth to oversee this semi-autonomous colony. This should be where that cycle of Earth's dominating their choices are ended. And, what is even more galling is that Ryma is standing right there, not protesting that her people can appoint their own governor!
Saroyan laments always putting Julio's opinion above his son's when he was trying to warn him. So begins the drippy reapproachment between the two. Blecchh.
So. Saroyan agrees to stay in his position telling the Vistulans how to run their planet. Ryma warmly smiles over this development when asked to help him. She should be slapped.
Huer also goes along with this, rather than agreeing that Saroyan is no longer suitable for this position and recommending his ouster to the Food Directorate.
Commentary: Why couldn't we just end this episode with the bright future ahead of the Vistulans now that Kaleel's scheme has been stopped and everyone associated with it ostracized?
Scene 77: Buck, Wilma and Danton leave before the saccharine poisoning can take hold. Buck asks Wilma to do something that evening, but she reveals she has a date with Danton. Duke practically orders Buck to come out with them (chicka-chicka-bow-wow... I know, entirely inappropriate sexual reference for the scene). It's smiling, smiling, smiling and freeze frame.
The Good: The first thing that is really good is the Star Gate effect when it is activated.
I also like the model work on the ships.
Erin Gray, Gil Gerard, David Groh, Brianne Leary, the woman who turned in her husband to Kaleel and Buster Crabbe all handle their roles quite well. I liked all of them.
But, I have to give special attention to Jack Palance and Karen Carlson both of which were outstanding in guest roles.
I really liked the action music score when the boomerang of murder was being thrown at Huer, and the score while Buck is sneaking around the food plant. It's light, it's slighty jazzy, it's just fun music.
I'm going to place the directing here.
The Bad: I hate commenting on actors in 'the bad'. Hate it. It's fine to be snarky privately, but this is going to be posted in a semi-public way and it feels much too personal to rag on someone, but it also doesn't seem fair to glide by it if it was enough to really draw attention to itself. So:
Michael Mullins as Regis Saroyan was a) awkward in all of his scenes, none more so than when he was confronting his father. In each, he sounded like he was 15 rather than well into his 20's. So, b) was miscast - they needed someone who looked like a fresh faced youngster and he simply wasn't it. A better choice, it this actor were hired, would have had him be more cynical about his father. Rather than being this fresh face running to the academy, it should have come across as someone who'd been trying for years to get his father to see the light and finally ran to Earth as a form of giving up. This would have allowed the reapproachment at the end between father and son to have more of an emotional resonance instead of seeming so cliche. The character/actor combination just doesn't work.
And, Roddy McDowall's Saroyan, Senior was likewise miscast. This isn't the performance of someone in tune with his character's self-blindness. This is an exaggerated buffoon. Again, scriptwise this could have worked IF this was his first posting and he was full of himself. Perhaps some sort of comment by him (even better, have him point it out several times) that he was first in his class at diplomat school or whatever. But this is the guy's third term and he's this utterly in the dark about EVERYTHING? Even the resentment of the Vistulans around him being sold into servitude? Really? It doesn't help that Roddy's mannerisms are so overacted, it becomes almost pantamime.
The Komedy of Twiki is also lame, but the musical sting they insist accompany his every witty comment is downright painful.
The editing - and I'm speaking of inserting space ship shots for vessels that are not even in the same hemisphere of looking the same as what was previously established. Yes, Buck was a tv science fiction show, which means that good money was spent on these effects and they had to be used more than once or it would have been expensively and prohibitively expensive. That is WHY editors exist ... to edit things in such a way that it is far less noticeable that shots from different episodes are being reused. There were two working on this episode, so I don't know where to assign the blame - but your department gets a 'You Suck'.
Other Thoughts: There are some script problems throughout this episode that I've mentioned in commentary, so refer there. They're not bad enough to be listed there, but there is some seriously muddled concepts here: the exact nature of Vistula's governance, introducing slavery as an accepted labor practice with no one wondering why Buck is reacting so strongly over it, Kaleel's exact abilities and the relationships between Earth and its colonies (in fact, often it is difficult to know whether a culture is a human colony or if they're just supposed to be budget-conscious Terran-class aliens).
The development of a relationship of some sort between Regis (the ruling class) and Ryma (the servant class) is so underdeveloped that it may as well not have been introduced. There is no part for it to play in any of the discussions or Regis' confrontations with his father and there are so few scenes between Ryma and Regis that you can't even remember that they are involved until the denouement at the end. The only thing I can think is that this may have been added last minute to give a reason why Ryma isn't falling all over He-Stud, Buck. And, the fact that someone does manage to avoid falling into Buck's embrace was welcomed but why did there have to be another love interest present for this to be so... Ryma's attempts to rebel and save her people weren't enough?
I'd like to mention the pacing here too, because I found it to be quite good in all of part I and most of part II. It seems that there wasn't quite enough story at the end, and instead of flashing out some plots a bit more, they went with just inserting more one person dialog scenes basically repeating what we've already seen and heard before. This is unfortunate, because about the last half to third of part II, this was moving right along.
The Score: I like this one and have a good time with it up until that last part where the inserted time-wasting scenes start dragging it down. The guest actors really elevate things nicely and Gil, David and Erin do a terrific job of playing charmingly off of one another. The pacing is (mostly) excellent and all of the scenes with Jack or Karen (post undercover work) are fun. If you're a Buck Rogers fan, you should like this one.
3.75 out of 5
Or return to part I or Part II of the review