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|My 2 Cents on Episode 4.10: Magic Baby
Now here’s something I never thought I would do. No, not slide down a bowling lane in a beanie-copter hat and "Free Tibet (with purchase)" T-shirt, shouting "This is SPARTA!" at the top of my lungs as I crash into the pins…I still plan on doing that before I got to see my maker.
For the first time since hitting upon the idea of girding my Boo Radley-esque interpersonal skills by telling other people what I think of a TV show, I had to go back and re-watch an episode. Not that that’s a bad thing…Lord knows there’s no such thing as too much Lexx (unless you sleep standing up in an old Norwegian icebox, begin every conversation with "I have killed…", subsist primarily on an intermittent diet of bile-colored Jell-O and the occasional accidentally ingested hunk of pureed human flesh, and your approach to showering looks like digitally colorized hidden camera footage from Barney Frank’s executive washroom…then you’ve probably bee watching too much Lexx). It’s just that between working myself to the brink of a mild cardiac episode, prepping for another tendonitis-hastening strongman contest, fixing my car (turns out you can’t solve all your problems by shaking your fist and cursing them out), and watching my brother kick ass every Friday night, I could scarcely find time to sit down and string two thoughts together. By the time I finally found a window, it had been so long since I’d watched Magic Baby that I had forgotten most of it. I swear, that has never happened before (if I had a nickel, etc. etc.).
Adrift in murky, unfamiliar waters with zero provisions and only a single, kiwi-strawberry flavored cyanide lozenge, I faced a choice: either watch the damn episode again, or pull myself up by the bootstraps, dig deep into my lil’ sack-‘o-savvy, and bullshit my way through it! Anxious as ever to confront a challenge head on and stomp its guts into the dirt, I shook my head of all distractions, cleared my social calendar (which required little more than my customary heart-wrenching glance at a whole bunch of empty squares), turned off my phone, changed into my thinking shirt, dimmed the ambient lights, stubbed my toe in the dark, got comfortable, flipped on the computer and...watched the damned episode again. I had to…too much had slipped my mind, and if I had tried to wing it the finished product would have been a threadbare skein of go-nowhere asides, third rate pop culture references that no one who can rightly claim not to have frittered away the precious gift of life could possibly get, and profuse prattling prate/pompous personal poppycock; the collective response to which would likely be either:
a) "Bilbo…yeah, I remember that guy. Didn’t he used to post here?"
b) *whispered aloud* "You guys, we’ve gotta do something about Bilbo. His grip on reality is weakening with every passing second, and I’m afraid if we don’t step in we may forever lose him to the inky abyss of madness…how will we ever find his gold then?"
c) "Why that no-good, manipulative, scum-lapping…curiously intriguing, sonofatwofacedjackalbastard tried to play us all for saps! That’s the last straw! Attention! Can I have everybody’s attention, please! I SAID SHUT THE HELL UP! Now then, if I could have everybody line up. Come on, chop-chop, single file according to your maternal great-grandmother’s next door neighbor’s height…he neighbor on the left, that’ll make it go faster. Is that everybody? Good. Now then, as I read your names you will file past me in an orderly fashion and pick up your torch, pitchfork, ice pick, unwashed athletic sock full of old batteries, three rotten tomatoes, sneezing powder, super glue, water balloons, lightsaber, sandpaper, feather, lemon juice, ivory inlaid riot control baton, Amazonian bird-catching spider, brass knuckles, whiskey, cat dander, and disposable camera. You two on the end may have to share. Okay, who called dibs on the wishbone?"
Plus, this was an episode I had never seen before, which meant the first time I watched it I was totally unprepared to deal with anything hammy, shocking, or downright cringeworthy. Not so for round 2. And what’s more, I just plain got a kick out of Uther. Sure, he’s not the greatest one-and-done player the beans have unleashed on us…I mean, he’s certainly no Schlemmi or Thodin or that one guy in that one ep who did that one thing (how I loathed him!), but he was a fun guy, and as one of the eight beings—real or otherwise—in this dimension with a worse singing voice than me, he gave my self-esteem a forty-eight minute alley-oop, to which I say cheers, mate!
Righty-O, ‘bout time we dispensed with the how-do-ya and got our kit off, innit?
After a brief, innuendo-stricken stopover in New England (which the Crown is welcome to reclaim at any time, provided they agree to take Nebraska as well), the midseason European vacation kinda-sorta continues…in a vague manner of speaking.
Recall that at the conclusion of the previous ep our heroes were scattered halfway across the eastern seaboard. Stan was still in chowder country, where he somehow managed to get himself thrown in prison for "forgetting" to pay for porn (in which case anyone who has ever thoughtlessly clicked on an unassuming popup that promises a thousand frequent flier miles and a free X-Box to the first ten people to complete a five-question survey about their credit score, only to reel back in horror as their server is flooded with a potentially debilitating dose of Eastern Europe’s third most bountiful export—i.e. things that would make Bret Easton Ellis blow his groceries—should be staring down the barrel of a nationwide class action federal indictment), while Kai stood idly by as Xev embarked on an estrogenocidal feeding frenzy that dealt a crippling blow to the Distinct of Colombia’s once-thriving backroom dinner theater scene (which galvanized me into rethinking my proposed one man show about the life and times of Jeff Hirschfield…although to be perfectly honest I was leery of some of the wardrobe requirements to begin with…don’t get me wrong, I was committed to giving my audience as frank an account of the man’s life as possible, but there are some parts of my person that I am just completely unwilling to paperclip live rattlesnakes to…)
Due to rampant prison overcrowding and his stalwart refusal to omit the letter "R" from his everyday speech, Stan has been summarily declared insane and locked away in a dingy, ill-lit nut house where we find him strapped to a gurney in preparation for a live-action game of Operation. For as tough a customer as Stan has occasionally proven himself to inadvertently be, they had a remarkably easy time restraining him. Then again, considering most of his blood and adrenaline were otherwise occupied throughout the preceding episode, it’s a wonder he can so much as keep both eyes open, let alone plead for his life. His scalpel-wielding bunk buddy—who is not a doctor, but technically plays one on TV—asks him which he would prefer first: the lobotomy or the castration, and while I assume most of you ladies responded with something along the lines of "What’s the difference!?" and tittered like hyenas on helium, I laid nice and hard on the ol’ pause button and hearkened back to an old high school English unit on Athenian rhetoric that I slept my way through, running the two sides of my waterlogged brain through the gauntlet as I weighed, measured, and taste-tested the pros and cons of what, for me, would be the third most harrowing decision I’ve had to make this week. I know, I know, it’s a no-win ethical dilemma on par with "Do you still beat your wife?" or the story of the Lady and the Tiger (you know…provided the lady is some kind of shotgun-wielding cannibal), but I went ahead and made a ruling anyway: opt for the lobotomy first. I figure if you scramble my frontal lobe and effectively obliterate my personality, then the castration part technically becomes someone else’s problem (plus you can always hold out hope that the sawbones will accidentally clip that part of the brain responsible for adrenaline suppression, in which case…HULK SMASH!)
But of course that’s just lil’ ol’ mere mortal me talking. Stan? Why, he manages to single-handedly free himself and subdue his captor in practically no time using a potent combination of quick wits, brute strength, and good, old-fashioned Light Zonian chutzpah…nah, I’m just yankin’ ya, Xev kicks the door down and Kai strolls in blastin’! (if someone—anyone—can offer a reasonable, succinct explanation for how they found out Stan had been arrested…and committed…and what room on what floor of what building he was in, I will personally fly out to wherever you live and paint your fence…provided, of course, you supply me with a work alibi, lodging for my entire entourage, and discretionary access to your refrigerator and thermostat).
Yes, if the diminutive mental patient whom no reasonable court of law outside of Texas and certain parts of Oregon would legally hold responsible for his actions had only been clutching a black pack, plasma caster, or the shiny red launch control button for a massive, worldwide nuclear chain strike, the dead man would have cordially disarmed him and sent him on his merry way, at most pausing to give him a reproachful once-over filled to the brim with that special brand of concentrated contempt that we all know the dead secretly harbor for the living. Unfortunately for him, he’s packin’ a small pointy stick roughly twice the length of a human child’s index finger, thereby earning his innards a one-way trip to Tile Town, courtesy of Kai’s brace, and it’s master’s recently acquired laissez faire approach to eviscerating the relatively harmless (much as Kai lashes out this season you’d think he’d just quit smoking or something). All right!!! Nothing like some good, old-fashioned, All-North-American bloodletting to set the mood…one question though: how does a guy whose heart has just been turned into cherry chutney manage to keep walking for several paces, much less find the strength to open a door? One word: passion. The type of passion that says, "If I’m goin’ out, I’m taking you all with me," which is precisely what happens to two over-armed guards who were just doing their jobs (although for the sake of circumventing moral ambiguity, I choose to believe that one of them kicked a small dog on his way to work, and the other routinely spit gum on the sidewalk, so they got what was coming to them…bastards).
Jailbreak time! Together again for the umpteen-skillionth time, our heroes charge out of the asylum (apparently shot on location at Dartmouth) hellbent on returning to the Lexx as quickly as possible…until their attention is usurped by a batty Brit in an off-yellow slug bug. Yes sir, this leg of the European vacation stars a certified—and certifiable—bloke: Uther de Glastonbury…or as I would have called him, Manfred Winston Fizzlewick. Despite my initial misgivings and the staggering amount of hatred I amassed for his droning Druidic lifemate, Uther won me over in short order. Sure, the guy’s got more cracks than a plumbers convention, and I missed every third word that came out of his mouth (Kwayne’s Aynglesh mee fookin’ arse!), but he’s a jovial gent who resembles a slightly husky early 80’s Ozzy, which is fine by me.
As Kai and Xev brought no moth, and apparently ran out of exact change bus fare, they settle on Uther’s cramped Kaefer as their last, best hope for securing transportation off the planet. The guhvnah’s more than happy to welcome them aboard, provided they agree to accompany him to something called the Feast of Mograth, which they do in a heartbeat, in full spite of all the horrifying things that happened to them at the last feast they attended. That settled, the ol’ dodger gleefully hits the road with our heroes in tow, and although he manages to spirit them from New England to Cape Canaveral in roughly the time it takes light to figure out which way to travel when it hits a prism, the incessant, metronomic chanting from Uther’s buddy—whom I’ve arbitrarily decided to call Fuzz—must have made it seem like the very flow of time had folded inward on itself, and I’ve a sneaking suspicion that during one of their many Slurpee stops along the way Xev considered devouring him, only to hop out, stretch her legs a bit, and opt for a pack of Jujubees instead.
When they finally arrive in America’s manhood, half-mad from listening to Fuzz and going on three hours without speaking to one another following a heated "Who gets more legroom?" blowup they come upon a group of tourists observing a space shuttle launch…from about ten feet away. This is obviously either a bunch of those Voluntary Human Extinction jackasses I’ve read about (best of luck to those people…really, if there’s anything I can do to help…), or a gaggle of animal right’s wackos protesting on behalf of the dozens of innocent insects that get splattered against the windshield every time a shuttle takes to the sky. Whichever the case, the impending torrent of white hot fire will put them out of my misery in short order…you know, provided a wisp of clouds doesn’t blow by and cause them to scrub the launch.
Kai must have perused the weather reports beforehand, because he doesn’t waste a second. While Xev attempts to glean fashion tips from one of the locals and Stan quietly mocks our primitive, backwater civilization for thinking we could possibly construct a space-faring vessel without the essential layer of flaky phallic fungus, the dead man slingshots the whole carsick lot of them into the cockpit just in time for launch. Xev, for having recently eaten such a large meal, does pretty well in zero-g (which I must file away for future reference…I’ve been looking for a girl to go bungee jumping with), but the real MVP of the ride is Fuzz, who didn’t even get a seat, and technically should have had most of his bones turned to sand when the g-forces slammed him against the back of the cockpit like a diesel powered meteor. A slight misappropriation of the laws of physics, but since this episode formally introduces the concept of magic into the series, I now have carte blanche to lean on that most time honored of fantasy copouts: "Umm…a wizard did it."
Considering our personal conveyances and public transports can apparently run laps around light when the plot calls for it, the space shuttle moves intolerably slow. While the beans could have used this lull to explore the side effects of weightlessness on the shapely female form, Stan blows that opportunity by pressing Uther for information about the Druidic code he spent most of the ride down babbling about.
According to legend (i.e., science), when Mars and Venus disappear from the sky—which they technically didn’t do…the Lexx did not remove them, but merely reduced them from two large masses to billions of small, fragmented masses…some of which are almost certainly hurtling toward the Earth at a high rate of speed, which you’d think would be cause for global alarm…although if I’d recently waddled away from an encounter with a carrot probe, I would probably greet a catastrophic impact event with open arms—the Red Fool (the little-known original working title for Hagar the Horrible), the Dark Man (eeewww…could have gone with a less culturally insensitive name, but I guess Uther’s just from a different generation), and the Dead One (one what?) will walk the Earth. Doesn’t really specify what they’ll do…or why…or how their appearance fits into the greater scheme of things. But those points are moot, because as we all know, the key to a great prophecy is to be as vague and as broad as possible (I predict that at some point, something is going to happen somewhere…just you try and prove me wrong, heathens). Provided he ignore a few glaring contradictions, which he happily does, Uther believes our heroes to be the three figures he’s been looking for. We’ve got:
The Dark Man- Kai. An obvious reference to his clothes, seeing as his actual person is the color of bleached goat’s milk…but suppose Stan and Xev had decided to outfit Kai in penny loafers and a golf shirt in an attempt to help him blend in…would that wreck the prophecy? Or would Uther have simply announced that he came seeking The Casual Male?
The Red Fool- Stan. Another stretch, considering that in medieval times, fools—or jesters—were either rapier-witted political satirists, or genuinely mentally handicapped, of which the Stunner is neither (not to say there isn’t quite a bit wrong with him…), though that may explain what ol’ Top was doing casing a loony bin. I wonder if he’d already hit up all the comedy clubs.
The Dead One- Xev. This one actually hits the closest to home. Uther describes her as "a beautiful woman clutched in the icy hands of death." Xev’s got the "beautiful" part covered (anyone who disagrees is welcome to join me for pistols at dawn). As for the second part…well, think back to last season. How many times did she almost get it on with Prince, the self-proclaimed manifestation of Death (you know…before Stan cut in line and jumped her claim)? Shaky as his logic is on the first two, Uther flat nailed this one.
Despite having left Britain and all the inconsequential little principalities that surround her in their dust, Uther—who may or may not be cognizant of the fact that they’re in outer space—still insists they join him for the feast of Mograth, a rippin’ shindig that takes place once every 1,500 years (which would mean that there have been what…seven or eight since the beginning of recorded human history?) at Glastonbury Forest in which the dead are raised to party with the living…who probably have to pay for the whole affair and do all the cleanup/bobbie bribing themselves once those unliving ingrates shamble back from whence they came. But I shouldn’t harp on the negative side too much, because the thing sounds like a blast. I for one have always dreamed of swapping limericks with Ben Franklin while arm wrestling Genghis Kahn and having my hair braided by Richard the Lionheart.
In what is either a rare moment of sound judgment or some kind of script error, Stan doesn’t instantly succumb to Uther’s proposition. In fact, he doesn’t really say anything. Instead, we’re treated to another one of those oh-so-mesmerizing Marty-Simon-enhanced shots of a shuttle auguring its way through one of the Lexx’s many redundant tracts. I never get tired of watching those, and wish I could see a compilation of them in HD…or hell, even IMAX. This one especially, because it introduces another of Lexx’s previously unseen features, the docking cradle, which takes the form of a monstrous patch of hundred-foot-long tentacle-like appendages, the mere sight of which would leave me pale, shaking, and babbling incomprehensible prayers into the darkest corner of the cockpit. Uther, to his credit, barely raises an eyebrow as the fulminating internal extremities ensnare the shuttle and drag it to a halt. He’s more concerned with extolling the virtues of Old Holly, the Druidic Pusser stuck that Fuzz has been clutching and occasionally scratching his back with since first he beset our anguished ears with his incessant chanting (candidly, I’d be less than honest if I said I didn’t want some sort of vile beast with teeth the size of surfboards to appear out of nowhere and devour him…I don’t care where it comes from, we’ll worry about little things like plot holes another time).
Stan’s none too impressed with the stick, because…it’s a stick (careful how you wave that thing at Kai, he might perceive you as a threat…if you must point anything at him, make sure it’s something harmless, like a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile). But the ersatz Festivus pole is more than enough to win over Xev, who should already have asked him "What’s all this stuff about me being dead?" ten or twelve times, but decides to chat him up about his life instead.
Turns out ol’ Uther isn’t exactly the erudite seer he seems, or so it would seem. No, the Druid thing is more of a phase, probably some sort of mid-life compromise that he settled for after realizing that he couldn’t afford a Porsche or a bubbleheaded twenty-year-old mistress. Before he donned the cloak he was Nigel Bunson (hey, I was close), and he was in a band…apparently. To be honest I could hardly understand a word of his story (why do foreigners talk so damn fast?), except for the part where he explains that the revelation that he is actually a body-hopping immortal warrior just happened to coincide with some floozy sticking a mega-dose of acid under his tongue (I got the biggest kick out of Stan's reply: "Acid...oh, I bet that stung"...I don't think there are too many actors who can mix condescension and naivete as seamlessly as Brian Downey). In a bright orange flavored instant he came to realize that his purpose in life was to scour the Earth in search of the Man/Fool/One. At least that’s how he tells it. I personally think it happened a little differently. I think ol' Nigel's penchant for sweaty leather and his militant aversion to showering was cramping the other Druids' style (you know...if there even were any other Druids...always the possibility that his friends were nothing more than the fevered constructs of a chemically blighted mind...or so the rapping purple giraffe that shares a loft with Jeff Hirschfield might tell you), so they put their heads together, came up with a seemingly asinine on-the-spot "prophecy," and sent him packin'. My oh me, how their jaws will bounce right off their sheep-gut sandals when he rolls in with out heroes in tow.
Speaking of our heroes, after indulging Uther for far longer than even Kai’s inexhaustible patience would ordinarily be able to tolerate, they finally get around to looking for Huff, Lyekka, and the key. Upon locating an unconscious, upended 790—which should have been their first clue that something was amiss, but let’s think about who we’re dealing with here—and pumping him for information (which is like pulling teeth from a running grain combine) it occurs to them that after upwards of fifteen seconds trekking through space, a wit-splitting encounter with the docking cradle, and a spirited round of planetocide (…what would you call it?), their houseguests probably built up a powerful thirst. And because a man would have to be dehydrated past the point of irreversible dementia to even consider taking a swig from one of the Lexx’s many squat, spongy, self-esteem squashing spigots, they probably went looking for some kind of refrigerator, which they would quite naturally assume they’d find in the coldest part of the ship, which is also where…oh no, say it ain’t so.
For the first time since slamming the lid on her two episodes and three mental lifetimes ago, our heroes stop to entertain the possibility that maybe—just maybe—a few layers of space-age Saran Wrap mightn’t be enough to indefinitely keep the millennia-old, inexhaustible, indestructible, unstoppable harbinger of death, plague, pestilence, and chaos from beyond the darkest, most dreadful nether-regions of this or any other cold, capricious universe at bay. And so what do they do? Charge heedlessly into the cryochamber like good, oblivious little veal calves, of course! You’d think they would at least send Fuzz ahead (or maybe tell him that Stan dropped his keys in the toilet, and would he please mind reaching in and trying to find them…God, I hate him more than Garfield hates Mondays…and that’s sayin’ somethin’!).
Well, as the scriptwriter’s whims would have it, Vlad is still nestled cozily in her Plexiglas sepulcher, and despite the fact that the good guys—who pose no physical threat to her whatsoever—are crowded around her tube in a tight, inviting little semicircle, she continues to play possum, because she’s got something even more nefarious than a quick death in mind for them. Something so ghastly that she’ll need another fifteen, or even twenty minutes before she can even think of visiting it on them! (*Cue ominous, three note suspense music…and lightning…and a few of those damn bats, if there are any leftover*)
Since danger of the most…uh…dangerous kind might or might not be lurking two feet from their oblivious faces, the group defers to Kai, which just goes to show you that the learning curve on this ship is best illustrated by a bleak, bottomless pit from which nothing, not even light, could ever hope to escape. Aside from offering some juicy incidental insight into Vlad’s origin (she’s decarbonized dead, just like him, which settles one of the questions that had been pestering me, but at the same time has me wondering after the nature of the selection process…were Executioner candidates chosen at random, perhaps as a form of eternal punishment, as Kai was? Maybe…but given what we know about them—that they possess a level of sentience/autonomy that seems to be completely lacking in Divine Assassins, and that they seem to enjoy, and almost revel in their work—I wouldn’t be surprised if Executioners were, in life, loyal followers/soldiers of His Shadow who were hand-selected for the transformation process. If that is the case, then it would seem to me that being chosen to become a Divine Executioner would be counted among the highest honors in the Order…comparable, perhaps, to servants and loyalists in ancient Egypt who were entombed alive with the Pharaoh when he croaked. Definitely some mind-munchies for a rainy day), the dead man has little to offer, aside from opining that it is best Vlad remain in stasis until they control the Lexx. Good…fine…stands to reason, I suppose…but what about when you did control the Lexx? And sure, you may not have the key right now, but you’re still plenty capable of chopping her head off and kicking it off the bridge, and really, what possible harm could that do? For the love of God, somebody ask him to do it!!!
No takers…you’d all just rather wander off to the galley without a care in the world. Fine then, whatever happens to Fuzz between now and the end of the episode is on YOU! I hope you can live with that.
For someone who’s almost oblivious to his fantastical surroundings, Uther is mighty impressed by Xev milking Lexx’s ketchup gland…and let’s face it, I don’t think there’s a one of us that wouldn’t do a double take at such a sight (and perhaps wonder aloud what the salt and pepper shakers look like). He chats her up a bit, inquiring as to just what it is that love slaves do (smart man…for all he knows the name could be some kind of brutally misleading metaphor), and she informs him that she is specially skilled in the arts of pleasing a man (misleading is right…she hardly ever shuts up, and I’ve never once seen her cook a nice meal or fetch a pair of slippers!). After alluding to his other magic staff—the one Fuzz isn’t constantly clutching tightly to his person…if you exclude that one drunken three day weekend in Leeds that they swore never to speak of again—Xev saucily informs him that she likes…loves…is thoroughly excited by big…hard…stiff wood…but-she’s-tired-and-has-a-headache, goodnight.
Wow. That’s all I’ve got to say. A scant couple of days on Earth and she’s already speaking like one of the locals.
Now Vlad’s ready to join the party. Why she didn’t decide to pop back to life thirty seconds earlier is anyone’s guess, but clearly having all of her pitifully outmatched prey standing in close proximity to her did not mesh with her finely tuned plan to stand in one place and kill everyone, so she let the moment pass. But now? Oh, it’s on!
Elsewhere, Stan rehashes the basic plot of season 4 to an apathetic Kai and that braying bastard Fuzz before suggesting they have 790 create a new key for them (another in a long line of glaring examples of the wastefulness and excess of the Canadian culture…if something’s broken or missing, or on top of a particularly hard to reach shelf you just get a new one…tsk tsk tsk). Unfortunately, that isn’t even remotely possible, as the Order specifically designed the key to be impossible to duplicate…even though Thodin didn’t seem to have much trouble tracking down somebody who could do it (I’ve always wondered why Thodin only had one copy made…why not have the bio-code specialists make a bunch of copies and give one to every member of his militia? I supposes it’s because Thodin pretty much knew from the get-go that most of his flunkies were going to get mowed down, and didn’t want to risk letting a key to the most powerful weapon in the two universes go sailing off into the nearest bystanding doofus’ hand…which is precisely what happened). So it’s on to plan B, which involves hooking 790 directly up to the nerve clusters in Lexx’s central drive in hopes of overriding his driveshaft and manually flying away from Earth, which makes sense in a quasi-flaccid pseudosciencey sort of way. Kicker here is that the main drive takes up much of Lexx’s tail, so it will take them anywhere from ten minutes to the remainder of eternity to find the right nerve. Thank goodness there’s nothing pressing afoot.
Gotta hand it to ol’ Uther. The man just doesn’t know how to take "I feel so fat and bloated" for an answer, and so he follows Xev to her boudoir, where he praises that most time honored staple of minstrelsy, groupies (speaking of which, do authors have groupies? Because I plan to stick with the writing thing for better or worse, but I’m not quite at that age where I’m too old to pick up a guitar).
Alrighty, 790 is strapped on (go ahead…I’ll wait). If all goes to plan, he should be able to wiggle his nose and manipulate one or more of the big bug’s motor functions…kind of like how they say brain surgeons could technically get you to make funny faces or hit yourself simply by poking various regions of the exposed brain (God, I hope that’s just an old wives’ tale…toss in a few spiders and that’s pretty much my definition of hell). First try…oops, that one triggers the weapon, which accidentally vaporizes the Hubble (cheap-ass mirror couldn’t even hold up to concentrated plasma bombardment…your freakin’ tax dollars at freakin’ work!). Okay, if at first you don’t succeed…you waste another satellite (MTV, MTV, MTV *fingers crossed*). I think it’s safe to assume that most of those little ganglions feed into the weapon…ah, but you know what happens when you assume ;)
Here’s a hint…the same thing that happens when you presuppose the dead will respond to context. I imagine Stan felt like telling Kai to go jump in a river, but pulled out at the last second (and again…) when he realized he didn’t want to be left stranded in Lexx’s driveshaft while Kai hopped in the moth, zipped back down to Earth, and did a cannonball into the Hudson.
Meanwhile, Vlad’s revenge plot is taking shape. Step one: enslave a moth breeder. Just in case she needs a little help running down a particularly slow moving victim.
Oblivious to the impending danger of which she is thoroughly aware, Xev continues shooting the breeze with Uther, who decides to serenade her with a ribald little ditty from his back catalogue. He loses the robe, under which he has been decked from head to toe in leather the entire time (he must smell like one of those meat packing plants that Upton Sinclair wrote about), takes to the non-existent stage as a spectral crowd cheers him on (either an acid flashback, or Lexx just had a small stroke), and with a creaky, arthritic swivel, launches into It’s Magic, Magic Baby. It’s seedy, nonsensical, and shamelessly rips off the tune of the main anthem from Brigadoom. In other words, I loved it! I ran it back several times, took a few whacks at singing it myself in my best Brian Johnson wannabe falsetto (if I knew the first thing about shooting/posting YouTube videos, you can bet your uncle’s hubcaps I’d have a piping fresh hyperlink for ya!), and would really like to hear someone like Jackal or Buckcherry do a cover of it. Great stuff.
At least I think so. Vlad…not so much. She pops up from out of nowhere, as she is wont to do, and puts the bite on the Cockney crooner just as he’s starting into that rarely heard, largely improvised third verse that only appears in live versions and as a hidden bonus track on one out of print Japanese B-side. It doesn’t dawn on Xev that she should be running like a cannonball out of hell, but then again, she whooped Vlad the last time they faced off, so it’s understandable if she’s a little cocky. Vlad demands to know where Kai is. Xev more or less tells her to drop dead(er), so Vlad whips out her impaler and…
…kills her. Damn.
What the hell, I was not expecting that. Up until this point this had been a silly, low-key, and to be brutally honest, largely forgetful episode. And then boom! The beans catch us with one hell of a gutshot. I figured there had to be a catch to this (as we know there eventually will be), and so I waited for something to happen. Instead, a look of shock, terror, sorrow, and regret washes over Xev’s eyes (it’s eerie how well Xenia sells this scene) as her mouth wells up with blood and she collapses. By post-season 1 standards, it’s a pretty graphic death. Past that I don’t know what else to say…really caught me by surprise.
The ensuing scene provides yet another opportunity for Brian Downey to flex his acting muscle. Stan’s reaction to the discovery of Xev’s body is exactly what it should be. Denial, rage, and bitter, heartfelt sorrow, all wrapped into one shell-shocked package and helped along by a haunting, faintly audible background choir (aces Marty). For all their quasi-adversarial repartee throughout much of the show’s run, it’s little moments like this that succeed in plumbing the depths of these characters’ feelings for each other, however one-sidedly platonic they may be. You’ll notice that from here on out, nearly every trace of cowardice seems to drain out of Stan. Kai has to practically order him to depart the Lexx, and his steadfast refusal to leave until he freezes Xev announces to one and all that at least for the time being, self-preservation has taken a backseat. I haven’t seen this kind of anguished intensity in Stan since…well, since the last time Zev died.
So they freeze her in the hope, however futile, that they may still be able to do something for her, after which Kai orders Stan not to try and help him, but to abandon the Lexx and destroy the space shuttles so Vlad can’t follow him. Stan reluctantly agrees, proclaiming before they separate that he has never been very good at being a hero, which, in the Stunner’s defense, is only true most of the time.
Before Kai has a chance to weigh on Stan’s erratically intermittent bravado, Vlad attacks. After booting 790 off the bridge (which I really wish the beans had used as an opportunity to reboot his personality again) she swoops down from the crinkly, moss-encrusted rafters, effortlessly deflecting Kai’s brace and visiting her wrath on Fuzz, both of which earn her a heaping plate of my respect. Unfortunately, he doesn’t die right away, but chooses now, of all times—when his lungs have been shredded like crepe paper—to finally talk. He insists Stan take Old Holly, belching his words out like he has a gullet full of steel wool and holding the staff aloft. Notice how Stan conveniently forgets to say things like "Don’t worry, we can freeze you and fix your injuries up good as new with the protein regenerator." Instead he just stares at the stick while Fuzz—who’s not even completely dead yet!—rolls off the bridge. Screw him! If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a quitter.
Nothing left now but to run for it…too bad Uther can run faster. Who knew twenty years on the shepherd’s pie and Guinness diet could make a man so agile? Hopelessly enslaved by Vlad’s parablood, Uther hold’s Stan hostage while the combatants circle each other and share an interesting exchange:
VLAD: Why do you care about him? Why do you care about anyone, Assassin?
KAI: I do not care about him
VLAD: You behave as if you do
KAI: You behave as if you cared about me
VLAD: I do care about you. I care about your destruction
Interesting in that Kai’s words can be read in a couple of different ways…neither of which contradict his character as we’ve come to know him.
Another inherently irresistible but largely pointless volley of braces. This time they collide in midair. Kai’s ricochet manages to take out Uther (his bloodiest s4 ep yet!) while Vlad, her tendril still attached to the blade, buries the business end of her weapon in Kai’s back and amuses herself by bouncing him around the bridge like a yo-yo (which had to be high up on the beans’ to-do list when the Vlad character was first conceived).
Anguished by Kai’s plight but helpless to intercede, Stan climbs down and retrieves 790 (which is a mighty charitable thing to do, but the crotchety little cranium fell quite a long way…why isn’t there an elevator?) then beats a reluctant retreat, which gives way to another awesome shot of the docking cradle. Apparently there is a second space shuttle lying there in wait, and since I can’t for the life of me remember where it came from (it might be the one Prince hijacked), I’m going to err on the side of caution and refrain from adding it to my list, since it was probably already on there. Per Kai’s instructions he bleeds the fuel out of one shuttle, then boards the other and prepares to leave (wouldn’t it make more sense to waste both shuttles and leave in the last remaining moth?). Unfortunately, just as he’s adjusting those hard-to-reach space shuttle side mirrors, the moth breeders crash the party (I wonder, do they share a collective consciousness, or did Vlad go around biting them all?)
They drag Stan back to the bridge just as Vlad injects her protoblood sucker into Kai’s chest. And that’s when it really starts to get…interesting. As Vlad drinks her fill the moth breeders start convulsing while Old Holly crackles and begins to glow. Enraged, and with nothing to lose, Stan snatches up the staff, rears back, and drives it as hard into Vlad’s side as he possibly can. In his mind, I imagine it was meant to be a suicide charge…going out on his own terms, so to speak. Instead, the old wood plunges deep into Vlad’s innards, engulfing her in crackling energy, and both she and the staff disintegrate. Security Guard 1, Invincible Divine Executioner 0. Stan’s kill roster just shot past the moon!
For a man with an ego made of peanut brittle, Stan takes the high ground and acts like he’s been there before, barely acknowledging his miraculous slaying of Vlad, when he has every right to pop off with a string of crappy action hero one-liners from now until the next cycle of time. But that will have to wait, because his friends need seeing to. First Kai, for whom he runs and fetches his Time Life commemorative Elvis-engraved protoblood decanter. Once he’s replenished, that leaves only Xev.
But Xev isn’t coming back. At least not in the way Stan wants. Kai tells him plainly that although the protein regenerator has repaired her body, she is still dead. What he wants, Kai explains, is beyond the realm of the possible. And even as he breathes a heartfelt goodbye, Stan steels his oft-wobbly resolve.
"Then let’s try the impossible."
Strong words from a man far stronger than he gives himself credit for.
This wasn’t my favorite episode. In fact, of the ten season 4 episodes I’ve reviewed thus far I’m tempted to call it the worst of the lot, although as I’ve mentioned before, that is primarily because when you make a list, something naturally has to occupy the bottom slot. It had some interesting visuals, and Uther was a pretty cool cat, but on the whole, the first 3/4 of the episode are kind of boring. The last ten minutes, however, make up for it. From Xev’s death until the closing credits, the story kicks into physical and emotional overdrive, and had the rest of the episode been this intense then it probably would have rivaled Vlad.
Speaking of which, the beans handled Vlad’s death as best they could, given the circumstances, but in hindsight it’s too bad they decided to interrupt her story arc with slapstick. Not that I don’t appreciate the silly stuff, but the pacing seemed all wrong. It would be like if they had cut into the middle of the last half of Giga Shadow or End of the Universe and thrown in an episode like White Trash. It just doesn’t flow. That said, Vlad’s final appearance, brief though it is, was well done, and I find it particularly intriguing that in both instances, Vlad is defeated not by Kai, but by one of his friends. This shows that Vlad, to some degree, shared His Shadow’s hubris, which we know he carried over from his human incarnation. It also shines a light on just how a deep a connection the crew shares when they aren’t at each other’s throats. It’s too bad we couldn’t have seen more of her. I can only imagine what hay they could have made out of a meeting/union between Vlad and Prince, but perhaps it’s for the better that they didn’t meet up. Prince is a recurring schemer whom the writers could use in a multitude of ways. Vlad was a one-dimensional force of nature. Brutal, all-powerful, full-steam ahead. Closer to Mantrid in that regard.
Xev’s death…we all know the deal with that one. It’s a cheap, lazy gimmick that sci-fi and comic book writers have pointlessly teased fans with for years. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well, and as far as I’m concerned, the beans blasted it out of the park.
Sorry as hell about the long layover. What can I say, they’re a necessary evil, and I’ll try to shorten them in the future. That said, it may be a little while before I get the next review cranked out. Not because anything will be dramatically cutting into my schedule, but because I plan to do something a little different with the next one…
(Oh Lord, me and my big mouth…)
Shuttles wasted- 3
Kai kills- 11
|Hrm...I choose B from the multiple choice above. I whole-heartedly agree with you about Xev's death. When I saw it for the very first time, I was shocked, it was sudden and brutal, and Xenia did an excellent acting job in that scene. The crew really was a family underneath it all, even 790. If they had pitched him over the side, I think even Stan would have missed him. It had its brainless entertaining points in this ep, but the fight scenes between Vlad and Kai were kick ass at the end, and Stanley showed that he could be a hero yet again, although not your conventional one.
You are the master of Lexx reviews and I can't wait to see what you do with the next one. 'Til next time... Keep on Lexxin'.
|oh Bilbo..here I thought you understood our relationship! How many times have I declared our love..ahem..my love for you? What do I have to do..hammer it home? Because I'm more than willing to purchase a top of the line pin-ball hammer *is that correct? Cause I have to tell ya Home Depot is not my first stop on my shopping spree's, preferring Victoria's Secret and I for sure know they don't have hammers there!* Where was I again? oh yeah..a hammer to hammer..*again with the toys* my point is..lost my point somewhere...*SINGS IF I HAD A HAMMER* gah..anyhooo loved your review..as I always do..ummm Bilbo..tell me again where you live cause I gots a present..yup..a present I so want you to have..pm me darlin'..*muah* ya she-cat..always and forevah..
|In spite of the fact that I'm still up to my nosehairs in that huge masterpiece Bilbo wrote, I loved every minute of this review. As usual, you're a GENIUS, A GENIUS I TELL YOU !!
Now if those dim-witted publishers would just get off their asses and get you a book deal, followed by a movie deal, hopefully, and then you'll be a big shot in H'Wood and we'll get to say we knew you when you were busting your ass lifting weights AND YOU WERE ALL OURS !!!
Hrm...I choose B from the multiple choice above.
Is that out of genuine concern for my well-being...or does the gold have something to do with it?
oh Bilbo..here I thought you understood our relationship! How many times have I declared our love..ahem..my love for you? What do I have to do..hammer it home? Because I'm more than willing to purchase a top of the line pin-ball hammer *is that correct? Cause I have to tell ya Home Depot is not my first stop on my shopping spree's, preferring Victoria's Secret and I for sure know they don't have hammers there!* Where was I again? oh yeah..a hammer to hammer..*again with the toys* my point is..lost my point somewhere...*SINGS IF I HAD A HAMMER* gah..anyhooo loved your review..as I always do..ummm Bilbo..tell me again where you live cause I gots a present..yup..a present I so want you to have..pm me darlin'..*muah* ya she-cat..always and forevah..
Let's see, the last time I got a present from a cat it was in the form of a dead bird and a violent allergic reaction...but I'm intrigued nonetheless.
And it's "ball-peen"...a pinball hammer is what you use when you break into an arcade with the intention of swiping a shitload of quarters.
A butane torch and a small tolerance for pain will clear that right up.
...what? I suppose you know a better way...?
Angel wrote:Hrm...I choose B from the multiple choice above.
It's my concern for the well-being of the gold. We have to make sure it's all right.
|What is that discretionary access to your refrigerator and thermostat?