| Posted: Sun Oct 7th, 2007 11:28 pm||
|My 2 Cents on Episode 4.04: Stan Down
Before we get this freak show on the road, I must once again vouchsafe your pardon to rant about a pointless little curio that means absolutely nothing to absolutely no one but myself: why is it that Kai’s name is not incorporated into a single episode title? I realize it’s not a big deal…it’s just that they did it for Stan, Xev, 790, the Lexx, Lyekka, May, His Shadow, the Giga Shadow, Mantrid, Brizon, Norb, Vlad, Mort, Moss, and that sniveling little twit Haley, so you’d think they could have found some way to work Kai’s name into at least one of the sixty-one episode titles they had to come up with, he being the de facto main character and whatnot. Oh well, I guess the dead do not readily lend themselves to puns and portmanteaus.
…and for that matter, the title of this episode, though accurate in the strictest sense—Stan does, after all, get down from the wall—is something of a misnomer, as the bulk of the plot deals with Priest’s harebrained scheme to assassinate Prince…in that regard, I propose an alternate title. Something along the lines of Operation: Careful Consideration.
But I digress (and how!).
Having taken a nod from ol’ Freddy Nietzsche and triumphantly announced the death of subtlety in the previous ep, the beans are now free and clear to push the shock value and slapstick to new heights. As such, I expected the episode to open with something that would make my eyes melt; but, as they so often do, Pauly D. and his merry band of unregistered sex offenders hit me with a curve ball. Instead of grindhouse gore or sweaty, sizzling, robot-on-mottled-cadaver action, we open in Suburbia, on an innocuous old blue-hair bedecked in a mercifully modest bathrobe who moves like molasses on the moon and looks to be about three and a half feet tall (I wonder if they bothered to tell her what kind of show she was going to be in). Because the elderly have fared only slightly better than kids on this show (if I’m not mistaken, the last old woman we encountered was booted out of an airlock after being roundly screwed over by her HMO), I pretty much expected some horrifically hilarious fate to befall her, but as this is one of those ultra-rare prolonged head-fakes, she simply mutters a bunch of benign, nonagenarian gibberish while slow-shuffling to the end of her front porch to feed her cat Buttons.
A couple observations about the cat:
* As this show is a Canadian production, I assume the beans are not beholden to ASPCA regulations…ergo, I believe that if that cat could talk it would regale us with some truly unsettling horror stories about Jeff Hirschfield, firecrackers, and lightweight double-reinforced copper tubing (you could piece that one together a few different ways…however you choose to do so, you are both 100% correct, and an irredeemably sick individual)
* Buttons takes his meals from a brightly-colored bowl emblazoned with his name. To any of you prop hounds out there: I want to know what became of it. Don’t even begin to tell me you don’t know…for the love of God, I was given an unsolicited point-by-point history of Kai’s codpiece from season three! (…something about working its way through the cutthroat Canadian black market for a few years before finding a permanent home in a climate-controlled, candle-lit shrine in Ketana’s attic…or something like that). If you know the story behind that godforsaken thing, surely you can track the bowl down!
Now I’m just about the furthest thing from a cat-person (of the 100+ childhood allergies I was diagnosed with back in the day, it remains one of the very few that I haven’t outgrown…seriously, lock me in a room with a cat and I’ll pretty much turn bright red and swell up to about twice my normal size), but Buttons definitely speaks for me in this scene, as despite what his honed animal instincts tell him about the unsettling rustling noise in the bushes, he decides he would rather forego his meal and charge headlong into the potentially lethal unknown than listen to Ma Kettle prattle on for another second. Of course, dramatic irony being what it is, we already know good and well what that faint whirring sound in the bushes is, and just around the time when most of us have convinced ourselves that the closing scene of P4X was but the fevered product of our collective imagination, the cat comes back walking bowlegged, thereby cementing the fact that yeah, that really is how those little carrot shaped probes work. As for the cat itself, to the untrained eye it may appear that the stagehands swapped the flesh-and-blood felis domesticus for a crummy little windup toy, but I hold with the theory that it is the same cat—that in the interest of helping drive production costs down, Jeff and Lex decided it would be cheaper to merely traumatize the hell out of a real cat than foot the bill for an animatronic. How they got its eyes to glow like that is anybody’s guess.
All right, enough about the damn cat. What say we move on to someone or something with sense enough not to lick itself in public. Hmm…turns out that’s gonna be a little tougher than I thought. All right, we’ll go with Plan B:
The White House it is! When last we saw President Reginald J. Priest he was being sworn into office a scant fifteen or twenty minutes after the first dozen or so votes were tallied. Since then it’s been what…two, three days maybe? Well, for the purposes of this hyper-condensed sequence of events, let’s just assume that that’s more than enough time for the obligatory press holiday to shoot by, meaning its time for the googily-eyed Commander in Chief to stop kissing hands and shaking babies and start cracking the whip. It’s his first hundred days in office after all, and he has a world of work ahead of him…rubberstamping ludicrous pork barrel projects, brazenly welshing on all the crazy promises that got him elected, claiming any and all positive after-effects of his predecessor’s administration as his own. And signing stuff! Lots and lots of stuff…
…which is just what we find him doing…in a manner of speaking: feverishly pouring over a sheet of White House stationary as some guy dressed up like Stan keeps his coffee cup perpetually topped off while attempting to reconcile the meager government paycheck he receives with the big, thick slice of dignity he is forced to discard every morning when he steps out of the shower (can’t for the life of me figure out why Priest makes the guy dress that way…now Prince, on the other hand…I could understand him wanting to keep a few token Tweedles around for when he feels like venting a little frustration or burning a few hundred easy calories).
And what could possibly be so enrapturing as to command the whole of our fearless leader’s vise-like attention? His name; which, with a degree of success that I would be moved to call admirable were he fifty years younger and born with a partially eroded brain stem and two boneless flippers for hands, he is practicing writing over and over and over again. Well, to be fair, even the president is entitled to a lunch hour, and some people just can’t grasp Sudoku.
Actually, in addition to the lovingly backhanded social commentary, this is an important scene, as it serves as the first subtle indicator that Priest—like Prince—may be an anomaly amongst his fellow resurrected souls. It’s one of those little nuances that I’ve long praised the beans for, and to be honest, it completely sailed over my head the first time I saw this ep. Aces, gentlemen. Aces.
Sidebar: What the hell is up with Rolf Kanies’ eyes? He’s got kind of an Elijah Wood thing going on there…like his face is frozen in a perpetual state of shock.
Yeah, seems everything’s hunky-dory in the Oval Office. There’s hot java on tap, a magnificent oaken desk with legroom to spare (and a triple coating of just-in-case Scotchguard on the carpet), and enough blank paper to keep the President occupied until the State of the Union Address. Looks like smooth sailing…until the door swings open, freezing Priest’s blood and causing him to instantly forsake his busywork as death stalks across the office threshold in designer high heels. Turns out like so many of his predecessors, Priest is little more than a henpecked meat puppet suffocating under the iron thumb of a power-hungry spouse. Let’s meet the missus…
She’s an abrasive, overbearing hardass with a set of lungs that could shatter cement who resembles Madeline Albright after a month-long gin bender/bare knuckles cage-fighting spree. Hot damn, I like this lady right away! Not just because she looks like the type of woman who could throw bikers out of a bar two at a time without knocking a single fleck of ash from her cigarette, but because she comes right out and asks some of the WTF questions that have been fermenting in the back of our minds since the season began! Rarely do I get excited about a political figure, but my God, this is just the kind of no-nonsense leadership this country needs. I tell ya…if this lady was on the national ticket…why, I might very well take a moment to consider filling out my next voter registration card before fashioning it into a small Origami crane that will ultimately wind up entombed beneath my couch cushions or relegated to misbegotten solitude atop my fridge until I accidentally nudge it into the wastebasket on my way out the door some months down the line.
Right away she goes to work on her husband, calling him a few dozen variations of “idiot,” (which I feel is a bit harsh, as mid-20th century psychology textbooks define an “idiot” as someone with an IQ of approximately 20 or below…Priest has demonstrated the ability to breathe through his mouth without drooling all over his shirt, and it appears he knows how to dress himself…or at the very least stand still while someone else dresses him…so technically, it would be more appropriate to call him an “imbecile” or a “moron”), lambasting him for being little more than Prince’s lapdog and demanding he nut up and give ol’ Izzy his comeuppance. Gotta hand it to the old bag for being willing to get her hands dirty, and like everyone who has plotted Prince’s demise from time immemorial, I’m sure she and the Cretin in Chief will concoct an ingeniously simple, foolproof plan that will swiftly rid the world of Prince’s evil aura once and for all. Pretty sure the sun will rise in the west tomorrow too.
From there, in what has become something of a season 4 hallmark, we cut not to the Lexx, nor to any one of the principal characters, but to yet another group of incomprehensibly irritating one-dimensional stock characters who will most likely be obliterated in some terrible way before the credits roll. In this case, it’s the traditional American nuclear family, yet another thing Paul Donovan clearly has little use for. We’ve got a middle-aged dad who looks like a deeply disgruntled Steve Carrell, a saccharine mom who appears to be chock full of enough anti-depressants to make van Gogh dance a jig, and a whiny little pre-adolescent twerp who is not fit to lace Digby’s high-tops. To Dad’s exponentially mounting irritation they’ve crammed into the family station wagon for a road trip to Orlando. Next stop: the alligator pit (…I guess the metropolitan museum of art was closed that week), which Junior simply cannot shut up about. “ALLIGATOR PIT! ALLIGATOR PIT! ALLIGATOR PIT!”…damn kid really wants to go to the alligator pit, and judging by the steadily reddening state of Dad’s face, he also wants Junior to go to the alligator pit, if’n ya get my drift. Unfortunately, traffic is a harsh mistress, and with many an agonizing hour behind the wheel yet to go, Dad is left with little recourse but to get loaded and hope for the best. Alas, even this transitory reprieve from the maddening squabble is wrenched from his grasp, as his cold one explodes in his face, eliciting a bout of prolonged laughter from Junior, who promptly switches topics and declares that he wants to shoot something. You and me both, little man.
Speaking of shooting, does anyone know where I can get one of those “Trespassers Will Be Shot” signs with the exploding-head stick figure on it? For that matter, how much would it cost me to get that graphic professionally linographed onto a welcome mat? You see I’ve been plagued on and off by these girl scouts who refuse to take “I already bought some” for an answer, and…you know what, just disregard this whole paragraph.
So now we’re back at the ATF catacombs, where we find Stan very much as we left him, still chained to the wall via what some much-needed illumination finally reveals to be a nifty little joystick-controlled mechanism that moves him up and down (kind of negates Prince’s high-dollar cherry picker, doesn’t it?). To Stan’s credit, he’s taking his second term in stride, which I’m willing to attribute to low-grade Stockholm Syndrome and the golden era of silence that Digby’s slushy demise ushered in. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean he’s completely abandoned his escape plan, which basically consists of shouting at the top of his lungs and demanding to be released whenever another person wanders within earshot. Wonder of wonders, it looks like it might work this time, as he’s drawn the attention of none other than President Priest himself, who has forsaken the second half of his lunchtime grammar jamboree so that he might have a little heart-to-heart with the unjustly maligned enemy of the state.
He breaks the ice by assuring Stan that they are on the same side. “We both,” he explains, “have strong feelings about Isambard Prince;” to which Stan curtly replies, “Oh yeah, I’ve got some strong feelings about that guy…but not the same ones you have” (oh, now they’re just doing my job for me). Thankfully for Stan, Priest is incapable of reading between the lines—or at all—so his none-too-subtle allusion to the third degree rug burns he received from Prince’s unshorn legs sail right past the Prez, who drops the small talk and gets down to business: he wants Prince dead, ASAP; and rather than taking the safe, simple route (something along the lines of, oh I don’t know, having ten to twelve heavily armed snipers surround him and ventilate him with a hail of precision-guided white-hot lead), he’s decided that the best course of action would be to have Stan destroy Prince (who is but one man; or one…whatever the hell he is…the point is, he ain’t very big) with the Lexx (which was designed to blow apart objects that are tens of thousands of miles wide, and is about as precise as a paper airplane flung headlong at a typhoon). In exchange for doing the deed, Priest will appoint him king of Newfoundland—here described as an island paradise of strong wine, indiscriminate women, and everlasting song—a tempting gesture that is nonetheless woefully empty, for as we all know: BRIAN DOWNEY IS ALREADY THE KING OF NEWFOUNDLAND!
So, while Stan is left mulling over the consequences of committing murder for hire and the pros/cons of instituting a clothing-optional decree in a kingdom that regularly boasts sub-arctic temperatures, we take a short jaunt back into downtown D.C., where the beans—after mailing out their bi-weekly hush money checks to the families of all the children who have ever walked by Jeff Hirschfield’s picture window between the hours of 9:00am and 2:00pm—have pooled their remaining wad (dammit, you know I’m talking about money!) and popped for a new establishing shot, this one of the Capitol building, where a convoy of tour busses pulls up. The first appears to be peopled entirely with mischievous looking Catholic schoolgirl types who have no bearing on the story and serve no purpose whatsoever (except to compel a dozen or so gawk-eyed doofuses to say, “You know, that bus looks like it’s peopled entirely with mischievous looking Catholic schoolgirl types”), while the second offloads Kai and Xev with little regard as to how they found a bus that goes directly from Nowheresville, Texas straight to Washington D.C., how they were able to board it without attracting any unnecessary attention or killing anyone, or how they paid for the ride (less a problem here, as I can easily picture Kai plunging his fist into an ATM and being pelted in the face with twenties). You know, despite my criticizing season four for having too many filler eps, I could have gone for an entire episode devoted solely to Xev and Kai sitting on the bus eliciting weird looks from the other passengers and fielding stupid questions about their clothes. Methinks the beans overlooked a potential goldmine.
All right, enough sightseeing. Time to get down to business. They came to find Stan, and Kai will take no rest until they do. So, drawing on two thousand years worth of highly refined Divine Assassin know-how, he decides that the simplest way to accomplish that task is to grab the first random guy he sees and shake him down. Which he does; and because the random dude in question either doesn’t know what is going on or has grown tired of living, he insults Kai’s hair (but says nothing of his clothes, speech pattern, demeanor, complexion, the fact that he probably smells like a foot surgeon’s discarded gloves, or the scantily-clad vacant faced vixen with the rainbow colored weave who follows him around), prompting Kai to drop the “dead do not” act and rough him up a bit. In so many words, Kai says “take me to your leader,” and just when it looks like I’ll get to update my lately neglected Kai Kill Counter, the quivering little amateur fashion critic points our heroes in the direction of the White House. Just goes to show you how being assertive can pay off, while at the same time validating my long-held theory that there would be a monumental decline in discourtesy if we all carried lethal weapons with us all the time.
And so the rescue operation is in full swing; however, unbeknownst to Kai and Xev, Stan is in no need of rescue, because he’s royalty now, and as such, is being treated with dignity befitting his newly ordained station (never thought I’d use the words “Stan” and “dignity” in the same sentence). Yes, by virtue of the Divine Right of Kings (here embodied by a page of meaningless scribbles, another throwaway sight gag that offers astute viewers a hint at Priest’s true nature), the Stunner is declared the sovereign ruler of Newfoundland, liberated from the wall, festooned in a snappy new suit that is a little more commensurate with his rampaging ego than his security guard scrubs, and sent packing in his shiny, freshly oiled moth. Once again, for reasons I can’t quite explain, Stan looks absolutely badass without his hat. I’m telling you, Brian Downey needs to play a villain, because he’s got the look down cold.
With nary a backwards glance, Stan breaks for daylight, buzzes the White House (which is how many miles from the secret underground base in the middle of nowhere?), and catches Xev’s eye. She waves like she’s auguring a plane in, then wraps her arms and legs around something stiff while Kai takes aim and does a little Batman action with his brace (how long is that tendril and where does it all go?). One wild ride later, we’ve got us a big happy reunion.
Oh…wait…not the end. There’s still like forty minutes of show yet to go.
Well, since we’re still here, we might as well catch up with Prince, who has retreated to the sanctuary of his Mordor-inspired office to catch up on world events and brainstorm the perfect gift to give Stan for their forthcoming one-month anniversary. So he flips on the news, where some hollow-skulled talking head announces that Genevieve G. Rota, a Miami-based real estate agent who bears more than a passing resemblance to Giggerota, has just been elected Pope because the College of Cardinals was deadlocked and decided to pick a name at random, but the only piece of literature they had available was the real estate section from the Miami Herald. …folks, you know I’m rarely at a loss for words, but…there is absolutely nothing I can add to that. Nothing I could do or say could possibly make that scene any more outlandish. Except for Giggy’s impromptu victory dance, which had me rolling. I’ve got to wonder if Ellen Dubin ad-libbed that part.
It’s worth noting that Prince is noticeably somber during this otherwise irreverent scene, and it’s worth questioning why he bothered to watch it in the first place. The obvious answer is that it’s a gag, meant to get a laugh out of the audience while foreshadowing Pope G.G.’s future appearances, but I can’t help but wonder if Prince was in some way indirectly responsible for this chain of events. Without getting too far ahead of myself, he does mention that when Fire was destroyed, the Earth was tainted by his aura, which could certainly explain some of the bizarre things that happen throughout the course of season 4. I imagine that’s why Prince watches the news…to check up on all the bad things he has wrought in his short time on Earth, and revel in them.
Little does he suspect his reveling days may be coming to a close; which is to say, he begins to suspect foul play almost immediately when he is unable to put in a call to the president and notices, upon further inspection, that Stan has been replaced with Priest’s Tweedlized bellhop (I don’t imagine that poor schmuck will get down any time soon). And that suspicion morphs into absolute certainty as soon as Priest telephones him, chummily asking after his whereabouts (shouldn’t Priest know where the ATF headquarters is? For God’s sake, HE WAS JUST THERE!!! His wife is right, he is a retard). Prince, never one to show his hand, replies that he’s in Florida meeting with some Cuban hit men (great…more American jobs needlessly outsourced to third world countries).
Cut to the Oval Office, where in addition to his awkward conversation with Prince, Priest has somehow managed to telephone the Lexx with a parabolically-enhanced early-80’s cell phone that has got to weigh the better part of forty pounds. Were I to dwell on just how in God’s name this is possible I would probably start foaming at the mouth and experiencing horrifying visions of past lives, so in the interest of preserving what little sanity I’ve yet to part ways with, I once again choose to proactively apply the MST3K disclaimer, smile, nod, and relegate the reasoning portions of my brain to the cheap seats.
So the assassination plot is in play. With Stan on standby, Priest clumsily asks after Prince’s exact coordinates. Ol’ Izzy, who smells a rat—perhaps because his office is actually right under the White House—feeds him a set of dummy coordinates just off the coast of Miami (nice way to bring the Giggy gag full circle), which the Prez promptly relays to Stan, who’s primed and ready to send his erstwhile sugar-daddy a heat-seeking Dear John letter. Xev—because she hasn’t said much in a while—opines that the plan is a wee-bit half-baked and likely to end in disaster, indirectly citing some of Stan’s past escapades as evidence of the inevitable; and while it would be in keeping with Stan’s usual M.O. to completely ignore her or say something snarky, he dusts off that seldom-used shred of humility he carries around under his hat and stalwartly admits that yes, in the past there were one or two things he probably could have done differently (for a complete list, re-read all of my episode reviews, or re-watch the series from start to finish with a pen and paper handy), but he and the Lexx are really good together, so he’s got a good feeling about this plan (that alone should set off about eight million warning beacons…the last time Stan had a really good feeling about something, he thought Xev was about to take him to the mountaintop, and look what that got him…all the ice packs and vigorous scrubbing in the universe can’t make that kind of “good feeling” go away).
Well, let’s just see if this comes as a surprise to anyone: Stan orders the Lexx to take aim at “the bit that sticks out” (anyone else want to make a “pissing on Cuba” joke, or should I?), spits out some totally garbled, totally wrong coordinates (why didn’t he just have Kai remember them for him?), and proceeds to completely vaporize Orlando, Florida, gator pits and all—much to the long-suffering quasi-inebriated father’s amusement.
As is custom when a major city spontaneously combusts for no apparent reason, the bulk of the populace crowds around their television sets, eagerly anticipating a response from the leader of the free world. Unfortunately, the president cannot be reached for comment, as he has been cornered behind his desk by his wife, who proceeds to beat him about the head and shoulders with a broom; which, if you think about it, is among the more normal activities that have gone on in the oval office in the past century (or even further back, if you believe those rumors about Lincoln and his secretary). She’s really wailing on him, and looks to be softening him up for a kill shot when all of a sudden the door swings open and in walks Prince: alive, well, and definitely not in Miami.
He looks the first couple up and down with a considerable measure of contempt—due in equal parts to both the assassination plot, and their awkward, splinter-inducting foreplay. Well, playtime’s over for now, as Prince grimly announces that they’ve got “a spot of bother” in Florida that demands immediate action, prompting the first lady to step to the fore and hatch a new scheme while Priest sinks back into his chair and marvels at his hands like an intoxicated chimp.
Sidebar II: “A spot of bother,” in addition to being the perfect title for an epic three-hour biopic about the Clinton impeachment, is just a badass phrase overall. I’m officially obsessed with it, and will make it a point to inject it into my day-to-day speech from here on out.
Back to the Lexx, where we find a little dissention in the ranks following Stan’s apocalyptic faux pas. Rather than own up to what he did, or at least announce to all the righteously pissed off Floridians that Prince is to blame and they should petition him for redress with torches and pitchforks, the gallant captain proposes they get while the gettin’s good. Xev, naturally, wants to stay…and why shouldn’t she? While Stan was having his hypothetical off-world civil rights roundly violated and Kai was talking shop with Longbore and waging piecemeal war against the ATF, Xev became an instant internet celebrity. The whole world loves her, why the hell would she ever want to leave!?! Add to that the fact that the Lexx is famished and can’t possibly fly anywhere, plus even if they went into stasis the cryopods would eventually power down, and it looks like they’re staying right here.
But then lo and behold, 790 chimes in with something that does not make me want to jam my finger down my throat or swing a fire ax at my computer screen: in order to fly at full capacity, the Lexx only has to eat a tiny bit…more specifically, he has to eat Holland (why Holland? Is there some kind of longstanding enmity between the Canadians and the Dutch that I’m not aware of?). Sounds like a plan…but oh no, we certainly can’t do that! Eating an entire country is mass murder…so says the woman who caused the demise of Nook and instigates gunfights wherever she goes to the guy who just vaporized a major city while the most decorated assassin in the history of the Two Universes looks on (normally I abhor moral relativism, but for this show, it’s pretty much a prerequisite). In spite of her impassioned objection, Stan does not budge. He’s absolutely convinced that obliterating a few million people so that the three of them can fly away serves the greater good (and it would seem the beans agree with him…they must have had a bad experience during one of their frequent month-long “fact-finding missions” to Amsterdam), and if Xev doesn’t like it, too bad…he’s the captain, and there’s nothing she can do about it.
Except become the captain herself. Without batting an eye, Xev asks Kai if he would kill Stan for her (you’d think they’d have already had this conversation a long time ago) so that she could take possession of the key, to which Stan—with all the logic of a petulant fourth grader—counters that he would simply order Kai to kill Xev first. I suppose this argument could have drug on for a few hours, until one of them declared “oh yeah, well I’ll just order Kai to not not not not not not not kill you, and by the way the bridge is base, and I can’t be killed when I’m on base!” but thankfully Paul Donovan has a clause in his contract that permits him to veto such ideas. So instead of standing idly by and wasting even more protoblood (remember how super-conservative they used to be with that stuff…what the hell happened?), Kai decides to act as moral arbiter and throws his lot in with Xev, as Stan’s choice to destroy Holland tips the scales against him (reminiscent of when May attempted to seduce him into destroying Water).
So one way or another, Stan and Xev both have murder on their minds…so much so that they both fail to realize that the situation could be easily remedied if they simply had the Lexx go down and suck up a whole bunch of ocean water. Think about it: negligible loss of human life (so an errant Carnival Cruise ship gets caught in the colossal reverse whirlpool…can’t make an omelet, etc, etc), tons of fish—easy on the heart and one of the very best sources of protein—and best of all, no filthy, disgusting rocks to gag on. Honestly, does anyone see a downside to this plan? Sure, sure, it would probably piss Greenpeace off something good, but on the flipside, the resulting decline in ocean levels would shut some of the more militant global warming wackos up for a while and lead to a worldwide boom in brand new oceanfront property…my God, it’s a win-win-win situation, it’s perfect! Stan, my man, do the right thing…make a break for the Pacific and tell the big bug to chug!
And right on cue, he runs away, ordering the Lexx to seal the bridge behind him, which I sure as hell didn’t know it could do. I’m not altogether certain Stan knew it could do that either, but if he had some kind of advanced knowledge, he damn sure sat on it at some critical junctures. Think back on how many times the crew has been chased around the Lexx by psychotic stalkers, rampaging robot drones, and giant phallic tentacles straight out of some twisted Japanese cartoonist’s worst nightmares…now I’m not saying the bridge shield—which appears to be little more than a fleshy membrane that you could rip apart by staring at it really hard—would have impeded any one of those otherworldly aggressors, but damn it all, it would have been worth a shot! Just like it’s worth a shot here…until Kai busts through the barrier with his brace and lassos Stan, who instantaneously reverses his ironclad decree, condemning the Lexx to prolonged starvation and the audience to the sinking realization that the Earth isn’t going to get blown to bits any time soon. C’est la vie.
Well, while we collectively bemoan the little blue planet’s stay of execution, let’s check back in at the Oval Office and see how the first lady’s monumental C.Y.A. scenario is playing out. Looks like it’s fixin’ to be a real doozy, because the country’s senior journalists (all four of them?) have been invited for a top-secret briefing on the Orlando situation. Right away the post-menopausal pontificator takes the reigns, directing the newshouds’ attention to a VHS tape supposedly taken by ATF agents from a rival party’s headquarters an hour before Orlando went up in flames (damn Greens). And just what were those gold-plated traitors concealing from the public at large:
Why it’s a Cuban general (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Priest…with what looks like a bunch of old brillo pads glued to his face) puffing on a big ambassador and announcing his intention to fire a hand-me-down Russian nuke at Orlando for reasons that could generously be described as sketchy at best. From there he launches into the standard twelve-point anti-American tirade that every petty dictator/action movie villain is required to memorize before taking office, punctuating his diatribe by standing up, revealing his backdrop to be little more than a crudely-hung bed sheet draped across a window that overlooks the Washington Monument, which Prince calmly insists is actually the Che Guevara monument (…is there such a thing?).
Okay…so the first lady’s plan has more holes in it than a screen door (I guess the idea of shooting two takes never occurred to her)…or so it would seem. You see, while this attempt to explain away the disastrous happenings in Florida may seem like a mind-blowingly abject failure upon first glance, it is actually another example of the first lady’s genius (work with me here). Correctly banking on the fact that ratings absolutely trounce substance in today’s media, she knew that the invited muckrakers would be distracted by their notepads, too preoccupied cramming as many adjectives as the English speaking palate will permit into their sensationalist bylines and thinking up the best snotty euphemism for “you heard it here first, folks” to pay more than a few seconds’ heed to the tape. Most of them anyway. Seems the token skirt—one of those eternally meddlesome agitators from the liberal media, no doubt—is a hard sell, prompting Prince to lead her away for a personal tour of his “butterfly room” (an in joke?…or did the beans just pick a word at random from the dictionary?…I’m genuinely confused here) while Priest calls for the nuclear football—not a briefcase, but an actual football, which I doubt anyone didn’t see coming—and promptly nukes Cuba into yesterday.
Murder, mayhem, a bit o’ the old ultraviolence. By now you’ve got to imagine Prince is having the time of his life…that is, until he gets a call from NASA informing him that the Lexx appears to be leaving (even though it can’t leave…but let’s just agree not to think too hard about that), which puts a damper on the festivities. So ol’ Izzy gives our heroes a ring (I officially give up trying to figure out how people keep doing this) and practically begs them to stay, going so far as to bribe them by offering to make Stan the vice president (which I believe is just a ploy to get him in the Lincoln bedroom) and Xev the queen of England (I don’t know…she can wave pretty well, but can she cut ribbons?). And what does Prince get in return for his generosity, but a direct threat on his life, as both Stan and Xev ask Kai if he would be willing to kill Prince for them. Prince being Prince, he initially rebuffs their threats, claiming to be untouchable, which prompts Kai to relate the story of Ring Torbin of Phoebe 27, a hotshot heretic who buried himself in a planet’s core with fifty thousand bodyguards whom Kai dispatched in waves in order to get to him. In short, he could absolutely kill Prince…which kind of makes you wonder why Stan didn’t just have Kai do the dirty work in the first place instead of putting blind faith in Priest’s half-assed plan. Live and learn, Tweedle.
Never one to back away without getting the last word in, Prince insists that it doesn’t matter if they kill him. Even if he has lost his ability to reincarnate himself, the planet would still rot, because when Fire was destroyed, all of its evil/malice/etc tainted the planet. While that makes sense within the confines of the narrative, it also begs the question of why the auras from Water didn’t have some kind of balancing effect…but then again, with the exception of—well, nobody—the people of Water were ineffectual, self-centered dimwits, so perhaps their effect was felt after all (either that, or they found themselves right at home).
That’s quite a bit to ponder, and Prince leaves our heroes to do exactly that while he goes and confronts Priest, who cracks in Tweedle-esque record time and blames the first lady for the botched assassination plan. Not surprisingly, punishment is in order. Let’s see, the last time Priest betrayed Prince he got dropped out of a gondola…this time, he’s sent to Dallas (…da horrah…da horrah…). I assume they flew (unless being cooped up in a car for twenty hour with Prince, the first lady, and one crappy easy listening CD is part of the punishment, in which case I’d be pleading for the blessed release of a quick death before we made it halfway through Tennessee), for when next we see them, Prince, Priest, and the first lady are in an open-top convertible coasting through the streets of downtown Dallas at about eleven miles an hour (alas, subtlety, we hardly knew ye).
With nary a dash of consideration for this sequence’s wholesale butchering of good taste, Prince launches into an impromptu lecture about JFK, whom he explains had a nasty habit of flaunting the rules, and subsequently had to be punished. Kings, he explains, can be killed; regicide—a nifty little play on Priest’s first name—happens all the time…especially to the stupid ones who don’t follow the rules. All told, this was a pretty cool little speech, due in no small part to Nigel’s delivery (both he and Walter Borden belong to that rare breed of actors who can take even the most insipid lines and deliver them with grace…right up there with the likes of Morgan Freeman, Ian McKellen, Michael Caine, etc), that also got me to thinking (HIT THE DECK!). I doubt it was the beans’ initial intention, but in listening to Prince’s lecture I found myself harkening back to season three. The stuff about kings not following the rules brought to mind characters like Duke and Queen. They both had power and openly opposed Prince, but both were ultimately fated to lose time after time after time (because ultimately, they broke the rules). Could it be that Prince—who, in one sense, viewed Fire as little more than his own personal playground—propped up his so-called adversaries for his own amusement? That would certainly be in keeping with Valdron’s theories, to which I mostly subscribe.
Anyhoo, let’s wrap this up. Because metaphors are quite obviously lost on Priest, Prince orders the car to stop just alongside an innocuous grassy knoll, whereupon ten two twelve heavily armed snipers surround the car and ventilate it with a hail of precision-guided white-hot lead (where have I heard that before?)…sort of. About 95% of their shots miss by a country mile, and a few of the ATF goons decided to swap their sniper rifles for shotguns, which are more or less useless for long-range assassination jobs. It’s really impossible to tell who the target is, seeing as these guys shoot like snow-blind stormtroopers, but after what seems like five solid minutes of shooting everything in the car except the people, somebody manages to pick off the first lady, and Prince calls a halt to the action while Priest reaffirms his loyalty by practically choking on ol’ Izzy’s fingers.
…nope…seems I jumped the gun once again (don’t go reading into that).
From there we’re whisked away to a dingy office, where a veterinarian who resembles a sleazy P.I. is about to unwind with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s when the old crone from the show’s opening shuffles in, proclaiming “Something’s wrong with my pussy” (good Lord, if this goes where I fear it’s headed, then I’ll need a fifth of sour mash to get through it) as she hoists Buttons up onto his operating table. Seems the little fuzzball’s stopped eating…and he’s been walking funny for the past few days…and sometimes he just flies around the room for hours on end. Now, it’s at this point that most reasonable people would inject the old bat with some low-grade Doberman tranquilizers and resume getting wasted, but beneath this vet’s gruff exterior beats a heart of gold, so he temporarily foregoes his mid-afternoon nightcap to give the cat the once-over. Unfortunately, before he can so much as utter, “So, looks like this pussy of yours has aged well” (two can play at this game), the carrot probe emerges in a spray of blood and computer generated cat chunks and attacks, closing out the show and freeing me up to take a long, hot shower and whip myself with a knotted cord as an act of contrition.
All told, not the best season 4 has to offer, but not bad by any stretch. It caps off the first of the aforementioned miniature story arcs while setting the scene for several others, and offers a few vague but nonetheless tantalizing clues as to just what the hell is going on on the little blue planet. If it has a failing, it’s that once again the Lexx crew is absent for about half the episode, although this episode firmly establishes Priest—alongside Prince—as an honorary main character, so a little screen-time juggling is to be expected.
Shuttles wasted- 2
Kai kills- 6
If you're normal, the crowd will accept you. But if you're deranged, the crowd will make you their leader.
— Christopher Titus
| Posted: Sun Oct 7th, 2007 11:47 pm||
|Bilbo, I am once again awed at your stylish, inspirational and funny writing style. It's like watching the ep all over again without having to watch it. The Lexx should blow up the publishers that turn down your novel, because dayammm boy, you got the gift! Another excellent Bilbo review! :3_3_6::yourock:
The dead do not squeeze and please....
| Posted: Mon Oct 8th, 2007 08:46 pm||
|I agree, his reviews are always staggeringly good. Kudos Bilbo !!!
"Blah blah blah, Vampire Emergency, Blah..."
|Joined: ||Sun Oct 29th, 2006|
|| Posted: Sun Oct 21st, 2007 11:56 am||
In exchange for doing the deed, Priest will appoint him king of Newfoundland—here described as an island paradise of strong wine, indiscriminate women, and everlasting song—a tempting gesture that is nonetheless woefully empty, for as we all know: BRIAN DOWNEY IS ALREADY THE KING OF NEWFOUNDLAND!
LOL, wonderful, Bilbo!!!
As always, very well written! Finally found the time to read this one and I couldn't stop laughing. When reading your reviews I always make sure that I have emptied my coffee in order to 'protect' my computer ;-)
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