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My 2 Cents on Battle
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Bilbo67
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 Posted: Tue Dec 19th, 2006 05:53 am

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My 2 Cents on Episode 3.10: Battle
(8/22/02)



Before I get down to business, would anyone care to tell me why they air a parental disclaimer before every single episode of Lexx? The violence is hardly gratuitous (…most of the time) and it’s not like every episode contains ribald, risqué, raunchy, or downright wrong material, so what’s the big deal? Hell, they even put a disclaimer before Brigadoom, which garnered a TV-G rating! I think this is a clear sign that the higher-ups at Sci-Fi (you know, the two or three Wall Street fatcats and their legion of heavily caffeinated chimps in pinstripe suits) don’t give a tinker’s damn about this show. I’m willing to bet a good number of them have never even watched it, and just assume it’s some kind of soft-core porn…you know…like most of us did at first (one of the few early Lexx advertisements I saw certainly made it out to be that way).

Moving on, Battle is one of the most celebrated season 3 episodes, and as visual effects go, it is pretty much the end-all-be-all (or is it be-all-end-all? I get them confused sometimes…what a good little English major I am). In fact, the opening shot is one of my all time favorites: a long, slow shot of Fire/Water set to the tune of Kai chanting the Brunnen-G fight song. Definitely an attention grabber.

And while we’re on the subject of Kai, the dead dude hasn’t done much in the last couple of episodes (except kill Prince, but then who the hell hasn’t? Killing Prince is like contracting Chicken Pox). Well the beans must have realized the error of their ways (yeah, I said it, they’re not infallible), because they more than make amends with this ep by allowing ol’ Mr. Excitement to kick some serious ass.

Tweedle’s Law* seems to be in effect right off the bat. Given that there are only half a dozen people in the garden city, Prince certainly pulled out all the stops (a jilted lover scorned?…ok, I swear, that’s the last “Stan nailed Prince” joke…for now). He must have been hedging his bets, for while Prince is an evil, semi-omnipotent genius, he’s well aware of the fact that most of his hired help is functionally retarded, and will simply stand around obediently waiting their turn to be sliced into chum by Kai’s brace. Speaking of Kai, why did he bother to sound the gong? It’s not like the three gardeners could have put up much of a fight, though to be honest it would have been funny if they’d showed up to answer his call, armed to the teeth with enough firepower to make Prince think twice. Once again, the road not taken (I’ve been doing a lot of that lately).

Poor Lyekka. With the exception of Prince I think she dies more than anyone in this series. Gotta admit she’s durable though. I counted at least five arrows in her back (Custer, the morning after), and she was still up and moving after that.  Everybody say it with me: “It’s just a flesh wound.”

Poor Stan. Once again he thought he’d found happiness—the kind of genuine emotional companionship he’s been longing for pretty much all his life—only to have it ripped away from him one more time. Considering all that he’s lost over the years, and all of the horrible, sick, twisted, perverted, agonizing, cruel, demeaning, emasculating, unmentionable (and, let’s be honest, pretty damn funny) things that have happened to him it’s a wonder he’s not a bitter old misanthrope by the time season 4 comes ‘round. I wish I could take everything in stride like him. If half the stuff that befell him happened to me I’d either be reduced to a pathetic, sobbing recluse, or I’d have one hell of a grudge against...well, everything (I’d sure as hell be leery of dating, if you know what I mean).

Moving on, this is the ep that introduces/popularizes what I have thoughtlessly dubbed Canadian Tossing.  That is, the act of taking some nameless Canadian extra and throwing him from a very high place, often accompanied by a variant of the Willhelm Scream and lots of useless arm flapping (analogous to the MST3K “railing kill”). I didn’t bother to keep count of how many superfluous hosers took the plunge in this episode…I’ll leave that little factoid to someone with a keener eye for detail (i.e. someone who doesn’t average five hours of sleep a night because he stays up to catch reruns of Lexx).

So one strategically placed squeeze and Stan’s sure it’s Xev in that bag? First and foremost, how would he know (certainly couldn’t have happened before, as evidenced by the fact that Xev hasn’t killed him)? Turns out Prince has quite the sinister sense of humor. That’s twice now he’s duped the Stunner into thinking he’s getting physical with Xev, and as passionately as I’m willing to defend Stan’s actions 64% of the time, he’ll get no such sympathy from me this time around, because if he’s stupid enough to have already forgotten how dreadfully wrong things went the last time he laid a hand on “Xev,” he deserves to be blown up. That said, the Xev/bomb switcheroo certainly was creative, and just strange enough for Lexx (I mean honestly, do you think they’d employ such a tactic to blow up a shuttle craft on any other sci-fi show? Methinks not).

For those who are only familiar with his season 4 incarnation, here we see Priest in his original form: a sycophantic little kiss-ass (Prince’s “piss boy,” to use the Tony Soprano nomenclature)…not much of a departure really. I’d actually forgotten what a bit player he was. To be honest, even though I’ve seen this ep before, I didn’t recognize him at first; probably because he wasn’t acting as goofy as I remember him being. While both incarnations boast what might generously be described as room temperature I.Q.s, this version is quite the contrast to the farcical comic relief character he would go on to become.

The fleet of gondolas, set against a sweeping shot of the rising sun, was an absolutely amazing visual, but that got me to thinking: were Fire/Water supposed to occupy the same orbit as Earth (presumably on the opposite side of the sun), or were they out beyond Pluto? I ask because the sun, in this particular shot, appears to be approximately “Earth-sized,” but at the beginning of season 4 the Lexx is depicted as arriving from beyond Pluto’s orbit. I guess what I’m saying is it seems like somebody made a continuity faux pas at some point (as opposed to the hundreds of perfectly acceptable scientific liberties the show regularly indulges in). Still, inaccuracy aside, this was one hell of a shot.

Xev’s thought transference with Prince (where the hell did that power come from!?!?) was a fascinating, disturbing look at how miserable her upbringing really was. It’s one thing for her to regularly remind her friends that she grew up in a box…quite another thing to actually see it. After experiencing what amounts to little more than a taste of the brutal, loveless conditions in which she was raised you can’t help but feel sorry for her, even pity her (and here’s hoping that if the Matron ever was a real person, she got what was coming to her and then some). It adds a whole new dimension to her character, and suggests that perhaps—like Stan…hate to keep doting on that parallel, but I believe that’s precisely the conclusion the beans want us to draw—there’s more to her quest for happiness than simply slaking her hyperactive libido. After her miserable little trip down memory lane, it’s no surprise she didn’t want to leave Stan and Kai behind.

Speaking of Xev’s box (*insert rim shot), I’d be interested to know what the male version of the “Am I fat?” test is like. I imagine you’d be left to choose between three saccharine, highly ambiguous, self-defeating answers. After all, why resort to flattery when you’ve got the fine art of bullshitting to fall back on (and it is an art form...right up there with pretending to work and properly stringing curse words together).

And finally, while I’m on Xev (not in this lifetime), I realize she’s as tough as they come, but shouldn’t the whiplash from being thrown overboard with a defective bungee cord have broken her in half? I’ll chock that up to good old-fashioned cluster lizard resilience.

Well, Priest meets and exceeds our expectations by demonstrating that he is a blue-ribbon moron. If this is the kind of company Prince keeps then it’s no wonder he can’t seal the deal when it comes to fully conquering Water. Still, Priest gets to live out one of the American Dreams: he kills his boss. Personally I’d have stabbed him a few extra times just to be sure, but that just goes to show how one-dimensional Priest is. Prince gets the last laugh in the end, and you get the feeling that Priest’s ass is grass once Prince gets hold of him in the punishment zone.

Back to the action. Kai and Stan’s Indy-esque swing from one balloon to the next is gripping. I gotta hand it to old Stan; I’m less than half his age, but I’m sure I would have had a massive infarction midway through something as terrifying as that. Actually, come to think of it, if I knew for sure that I could survive, it would probably be fun. Still, prior knowledge of my survival would probably do little to keep me from weeping like a five year old girl.

They really need to tie a string around Xev or something. They just cannot get her to stay put. Still, the scene where she passes between the two planets is yet another goodie, especially when looking straight up into the atmosphere band. At times even I couldn’t tell which way was up or down. I’ve got to imagine that that would be the most disorienting feeling known to man.

EDITING ALERT: I’m looking at Sadgeezer’s write-up of this ep, and he has 790 reciting two Kai poems. We only got to hear one (which was quite enough, thank you very much whoever wrote those damn things). They also apparently left out a scene where Xev comes across a dying moth breeder after she lands on Fire. What the hell!?!? Yet another example of Sci-Fi’s hackneyed approach to editing.

Fire is certainly a diverse place. At first it looks like Arizona, then after a while, it begins to look like the Sahara (I’ve never been to either place, so I’m pretty much imagining them). I’ve got to wonder if some of those massive sand dunes really were that high, or if they were CGI. I guess Prince’s little “I get to watch you die” joke on Xev backfired. BTW, did anyone notice a physical change in Prince in this ep? During the battle he looked a lot like he does in season 4, with shorter, slicked back hair. However when he appears next to Xev, he looks a lot more weathered, like he did in the earlier season 3 eps. Was this intentional…perhaps symptomatic of whatever planet he was on (smooth and debonair on Water…rough and debonair on Fire) or did Nigel simply neglect to visit the makeup folks that day?

All in all one of my favorite season 3 eps (DAMN IT! Ok, look, I swore I’d stop doing that, but I really, really mean it this time…cross my heart and whatnot). Not the most exciting, which is odd, considering the title, but a visual tour de force.

Cheery bye.

*Tweedle’s Law- Regardless of where they go, bad things will eventually happen, primarily to Stanley.



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Ketana
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 Posted: Tue Dec 19th, 2006 10:02 am

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okay this is one episode I definitely am going to have to re-watch! OooooOo maybe utube will have it up soon!

Thanks Bilbo! For another brillant *and yeah I'm gonna say it and again and again without any apologies!* eppy review..ya da best!



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mayaXXX
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 Posted: Tue Dec 19th, 2006 08:04 pm

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You know, I hope someone is saving these reviews for posterity, because they're gems....

 

:xmasbanner2:



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Angel
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 Posted: Tue Dec 19th, 2006 09:27 pm

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One thing that I really thought was humorous in a way was Prince and Priest killing each other in this episode.  And poor Xev, when she only had the balloon that was spiraling down towards the planet was very harrowing.   I just love your reviews!



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Shenandora
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Mana: 
 Posted: Tue Dec 19th, 2006 11:13 pm

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Maya wrote:
You know, I hope someone is saving these reviews for posterity, because they're gems....

I've saved them all... ;-)

Oh, how I love this episode! I so much enjoyed watching 'Prince' and 'Prist', they were just great. Rolf Kanies is a wonderful actor.

I really should watch those eps again...

Thanks for this one!

Bilbo67
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 Posted: Wed Dec 20th, 2006 05:52 am

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mayaXXX wrote: You know, I hope someone is saving these reviews for posterity, because they're gems....
Way ahead of ya.  I rescued the original versions from the bboard the first time they "retooled" it.  They're all safely nestled in my jump drive, along with a few megs worth of unpublished writing that ranges from passable to truly godawful and, for some reason, a bunch of grainy pictures of the grass that I accidentally took when I was testing out a digital camera.



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If you're normal, the crowd will accept you. But if you're deranged, the crowd will make you their leader.
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