As anyone reading this knows, the network has more-or-less abandoned “Defying Gravity,“ and made a hokey announcement that episode 8 was the “Season Finale,“ when in fact there’s at least four more episodes in the can. I’d asked our foreign readers to pitch in, but so far no dice. In the meantime, astute Republibot-in-Training “nwkeys01” actually found the episode online. Special thanks, man (I assume). We will now all pause for 15 seconds to sing your praises.
My original intention was to review the episode for some dead space on the site in November, but as my intended content for today turned out to be illegally infringing on someone else’s property (And again, guys, sorry about that, and thanks for letting me know), I’ve had to take it down. Then I got to thinking, “Well, what the hell? Why not review it? We were damn near the only website in the ‘States bothering to cover the show before, now we can be the *only* one covering it! Woo-hoo. If you, the reader, would like to watch it *before* reading my review, go here http://www.casttv.com/shows/defying-gravity/eve-ate-the-apple/zrto7z
PLAY BY PLAY
2017 - Eve is born in New Orleans, Louisiana.
2021 - Eve, age four, picks up one of her dad’s violins and composes a song on the spot. Her dad proclaims her a prodigy - he’s a musician himself - and teaches her the classics. She continues to play her first song pretty much every day. After a short, but promising career in New Orleans, Eve is accepted to Julliard, and moves to New York as a ‘tween, she barely sees her family, but she has a bright future ahead of her.
2033 - Hurricane Ophelia strikes New Orleans and the city is devastated in pretty much the same way as it was with Katrina in 2005 and Betsy in 1965. Eve’s family is killed. Eve is devastated, and refuses to ever play violin again.
2038 - Eve is now a member of the American Crisis Corps, and she’s part of the relief efforts in Nazca, Peru, where there have been massive floods and landslides and loss of life. Meanwhile, a Bertrand Corporation radio observatory notices some focused signals coming from a specific location on Mars - Gusev Crater ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gusev_crater ) - which is being beamed specifically at Nazca, Peru. The observatory techs name the Martian source “Alpha” and the Peruvian receptor “Beta,” and quickly realize that Beta is actually responding.
Meanwhile, in Peru, Even is having a hard time adjusting to the high altitude, she’s having a hard time breathing, sleeping, eating, whatever. She’s on the edge of exhaustion. One night, while not able to sleep, she hears a violin playing *her* tune on a plateau in the distance, though no one else can hear it. She wanders off alone, climbs the plateau, then walks across the top of it to an unmarked spot where the hallucinatory sound is overwhelmingly loud, and she starts digging. At just that moment, helicopters and military-looking goons (Who may not actually be military) show up, arrest, and interrogate her. Whoever they are, they’re working for the Bertrand corporation, and they clearly don’t believe her story until she tells them about the music. Then they have her show them where the sound is coming from, and dig up “Beta” - a golden, glowing, fractal kind of blob-thing that just sorta’ hovers there. The Goonsquad commander tells Eve to go back to her camp and forget all about this, and tell no one about it, with an implicit threat in his words. She hastily retreats.
Back at camp, Eve is even worse off than before, distracted, depressed, relentlessly exhausted, unable or unwilling to eat. It becomes apparent that she’s probably dying by degrees, and she speaks of feeling like a part of herself was missing. After several days or weeks of this, the goodsquad commander shows up and asks her to come with him: “Beta” is dying, and while they don’t know what the hell it is, or why it’s dying, their eggheads suspect it’s because she’s not there with it. She goes, and from then on, she’s in the Betram corp.
2042 - A manned mission to Mars lands in Gusev crater, to retrieve “Alpha“ and bring it to earth. The crew - or at least most of them - are not informed of the true purpose of their mission. Donner, Shaw, and Goss, Donner’s girlfriend, and a red shirt are involved, and as we all know, the girlfriend and red shirt both die.
2047 - the Ascans for the Antares mission are introduced to the media for the first time, and told to play it cool, since the media is evil. Shaw and Donner are told by Goss to keep out of the spotlight, and Eve concurs, but confides that she thinks the two of them are the best choice for the mission, no matter what Goss thinks.
2048 - Eve and Shaw marry. Donner is best man.
2052 - 38 million kilometers from Earth, the crew defy orders and go in to Beta’s room. They open a special hatch, and see the a golden, glowing, fractal kind of blob-thing that just sorta’ hovers there. Jen, like Londo Molari before her, sees nothing, however. Eve tells her story, both to the Antares folk, and to the ground control folk who happened to be on hand when the crew disobeyed orders. Donner notices that there’s other containment units just like Beta’s, and Goss admits their mission is to pick up all the Betaoid whatzits from all the planets on their flight plan.
The crew react in varying ways - Nadia is increasingly freaked out, Zoe feels life-affirmed, Donner is a bit perplexed, Shaw is happy to have it off his shoulders, Wassenfelder is entirely-too-enthused, Jen is a bitch, Evram is struggling to understand, and Paul goes in to hyper religious flight-or-fight mode. Beta, meanwhile, starts communicating - by whale song, apparently - with “Gamma” on Venus, which they can hear. Paula equates this with the horn of judgement, and quotes Jeremiah 25:30 saying this is the last sign before The Rapture.
Evram notes that his hallucinations had to do with guilt or shame, and asks if the others did as well. Jen didn’t have any, and Paula won’t admit to any shame because she’s forgiven of her sins, but everyone else - including Eve on Earth - admits to it, and they ponder why Beta would choose shame as a form of communication.
Meanwhile, back on earth, an Ascan washout with a limp - Arnell - who’s been getting a lot of lines in the last three episodes - is having a hard time dealing with this. AJ prattles on about some new agey ancient astronaut twaddle, and the English reporter dude hits Arnell up for info about what’s going on, but Arnell won’t tell him anything. Meanwhile, everyone who happened to be on duty during Donner’s “Mutiny” now have level 12 clearance, way-high above Top Secret.
Still trying to figure out what the hell is going on, Donner eventually realizes their landing site on Mars is the place his girlfriend died, and realizes what that entails. Jen, meanwhile, goes nuts and cuts down all the tomatoes in a fit of atheistic pique.
I know it doesn’t matter, but if they’re 38 million klicks from earth, that’s 23,612,105 miles. It should take about 127 seconds for a radio signal to get to the Antares from earth, and an equal time for the reply to get back here again. About four and a quarter minutes round trip. Though they’re ignoring the light speed lag, as of this episode, they *have* put a bit of static in the vid-com.
Jen and Shaw have been feeling more than a little betrayed by their spouses’ withholding information, and Jen has made it clear that she’s still attracted to Shaw. Assuming the show continues, I don’t think it’ll be too long before those two start knocking space-boots.
“Paula” is the feminine form of “Paul,” who was, of course, the man who spread Christianity through the Roman Empire. “Morales” sounds a lot like the English word “Morals.” Coincidence? I think not. It’s interesting that Paula’s religious freakout is viewed as a source of annoyance, but everyone was pretty understanding of AJ’s similar freakout in the first episode. Ok, I don’t mean “no one bugged AJ about it” - obviously a major plot arc revolved around resolving that. What I mean is that the candor of the episodes suggested that AJ was merely stressed, while Paula - who’s also merely stressed - is being made out to be kind of a pain in the ass for basically doing the same thing.
Jen’s inability to see anything is interesting. She’s keeping that secret, too. I’ve long disliked her character as long on ‘me too’ liberalism and short on an actual personality apart from bumper sticker philosophy, but it might be that I’m *supposed* to think that - maybe there’s really something wrong with her, which is why she can’t see Beta. Or maybe it’s just her utter lack of faith in anything?
What is Beta? Is it an alien? A natural form of life? The first life? What? Why are analogues of it on or near the other planets? What are they trying to do by bringing them together? Is this supposed to make things better, or are they trying to assemble Exodia, The Forbidden One, or what? Seriously: do they have a reason to think getting the band back together is a good thing, or are they risking super-voltron for no reason here? The “Leap of faith” comment (Used apparently incorrectly, btw) makes me think they’ve got no clue beyond Kier Dullea saying “Something Wonderful” a lot.
Did Goss know the true purpose of the Mars Mission? Well of course he did.
What are Beta and the others talking about?
There seems to be some technical confusion on “Gamma.” Heretofore, when they use this term, it’s in conjunction with hallucinations and whatnot, and they’re obviously talking about Gamma Waves in the brain. This isn’t a form of radiation, it’s simply a kind of wave form. In this episode, however, they repeatedly said “Beta emits low-level Gamma” in such a way as to clearly imply the writers think Gamma Waves (Which everyone has) and Gamma Radiation (Which turns David Bruce Banner in to the Hulk), though they’re not even remotely related.
Gee, the goonsquad commander had an odd voice, didn’t he? Something about the way he said “My God” when he saw Beta kind of telegraphed the idea that Beta might be some hokey SF equivalent of God, or at least god-lower-case-g. Nwkeys01 has said he thinks it’s Gaia. That’s a valid theory. If so I’d assume the concept is to reassemble the bits of Gaia, and then haul the Cosmo-DNA back from Iscandar to heal the earth, or some such hokum. In fact, I’m kinda’ sure that’s it, but I do hope I’m wrong because that’s just so damn clichéd, stupid, and anti-intellectual.
Another thing that seemed telegraphing stuff is when Donner says Nadia is “Beautiful and smart” and when Nadia says she wants to see how far “Man” can go. Consensus seems to be that her hallucinations indicated she used to be a dude. I’m icked out by this, but we’ll see if it’s true or not.
In a groan-inducing bit of New Agey twaddle, we’re told that Beta is burried beneath the Nazca lines ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazca_lines ) Despite the fact that perfectly rational explanations for these things have existed for a very long time, aggressively ignorant people persist in parroting the Eric von Danikin view that this things are landing strips for UFOs. The “Vimanas” that AJ talks about from Indian Sanskrit Epics have similarly been co-opted by UFO nuts to “Prove” (With no evidence) that flying saucers, or at least airplanes visited earth in the antediluvian past ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vimana )
Wassenfelder’s babble about fractals being the language of the universe fits in with this. Fractals *are* extremely important in nature, but when the scope of fractalization - it permeates everything - began to be discovered in the early 90s, there was a ton of crazy New Age fascination with it, attaching mystical significance to the organization of seeds in a sunflower and whatnot. This of course ties in to his fascination with the Fractalized Tomatoes from last week, and explains the spacescape-made-of-fractals in the opening credits of every episode. I’d been wondering about that. Wassenfelder still reminds me of Owen from Total Drama Island, by the way.
Still and all, not a bad episode. A lot of stuff got revealed, and the show zagged when it should have zigged. I totally did not see this coming.
Be sure to watch it at the link above, and then check back in to tell us what you thought of it! And again: All hail nwkeys01