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My 2 Cents on Haley's Comet
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Bilbo67
Heretic


Joined: Fri Oct 27th, 2006
Location: The Daisy Hill Cluster Lizard Farm
Posts: 469
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 Posted: Wed Apr 20th, 2011 12:48 am

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My 2 Cents on Episode 4.19: Haley’s Comet
(4/19/11)






The human body is remarkably ill-designed.




Yeah that’s right, I said it!



Regardless of where you stand vis-à-vis the origin of life as we know it—be it the product of the invisible hand of an omnipotent, all-knowing creator; the abiogenic emergence of self-replicating molecules from an eons-long spontaneous chemical cook-off; cheeky and/or doomed extraterrestrials sprinkling this misbegotten little corner of the galaxy with the genetic equivalent of starter seeds (as more than a few “experts” on the moldering, besotted carcass of what was once the “History” Channel have posited); or the mindless daemon sultan Azathoth wolfing down an entire stuffed crust supreme before hitting the sack—there’s little denying that someone or something really Princed the pooch when humankind was still in the beta testing phase.  Nothing less than cosmic cost-cutting, if you ask me, and as a shareholder, occasional contributor to the company newsletter (currently awaiting feedback on my proposal for the seven-part human interest series Fists of Fab: A Week in the Life of Pit Fighting Socialite Maya Xiong), and graduate-level socially stunted buttinsky, I hereby exercise my Constitutionally mandated License to Bitch.

Already my accustomed ears steel themselves against your sonorous sighs.  “Sakes alive,” you wonder en masse, “what manner of highfalutin’ fabricated transgression has got his emerald sequined Fraggle Rock banana hammock in a bunch this time?!”  To be honest, it really isn’t any one thing in particular.  More like the sum total of countless minor biological design flaws that I would spare no taxpayer-footed expense in setting right if the Almighty ever dumped his drafting tools onto my desk and said, “All right smartass, YOU do it!” before scurrying off to ComiCon to pester J.J. Abrams about lens flares and wonky turbolift physics.  For example, I can’t be the only one who’s more than a little miffed at our inability to fly.  Consider that a “Day One” issue!  (Though I should probably mention that I absolutely refuse to make wing-accommodating alterations to my beloved leather jacket, so we’ll be going with some form of gamma ray-induced psychic levitation.  Anyone who takes issue with that is more than welcome to take it up with my legal team at the Law Offices of Piss, Off, and Rot.)  Let’s see, what else is there…well, some sort of ultra-strong chitinous pincer would certainly come in handy for things like tearing open young coconuts and snipping cable box locks.  And I believe it goes without saying that a strategically placed retractable shell would do no end of good for the male of the species, as anyone who’s ever been a football center, a banister-grinding skater, or picked up a toddler with sudden onset restless leg syndrome could attest (my friends with kids all assure me that after a while you get numb to it.  I refuse to believe those words are anything other than a massive collective “If I’m going down I’m taking you all with me!” swindle).



Much needed modifications all, but they’ll have to wait their turn, because I’m reserving pole position for that most sought after of transhuman augments: a brachialis muscle that can bear the brunt of 300+ pounds of steel and stone for two agonizing minutes without getting flattened like silly putty under a cement truck then balling up like a meaty, irregularly throbbing Gordian knot.  How an evolutionary inadequacy of this magnitude managed to deadhead all the way to the tip-top of the food chain along with the rest of our collective corporeal carry-on is a Stockholm-grade biological noodle-scratcher for the ages at best; an embarrassment to bilateral carbon based life the multiverse over at worst.

A couple weeks on the shelf, in other words.  The cost of doing business when you spend your weekends playing human construction crane because you’re too old and uncoordinated to pick up a guitar, and the local needlepoint club cast you out and instituted a “taze on sight” policy after the sergeant-at-arms/cat lady got tired of shouting “Put those down this instant!  For that last time, you are not the ‘dude from Hellraiser!’”  As strongman injuries go, it’s quite minor.  A mere blip on the battle damage radar compared to the smashed up SI joint that knocked me out of competition for fifteen months (compounded, I confess, by misgivings and inopportune scheduling), which itself was fairly minor next to a couple of truly debilitating mishaps I’ve had the misfortune of witnessing.  So I’ll take this turn of events as a friendly reminder that while it’s fun to push the limit, every so often the limit reaches its limit and slugs you back; just as I’ve decided to take my thrice-weekly early morning physical therapy sessions with a chipper-to-the-point-of-cavity-inducing intern who I keep half expecting to say “So, like, can you buy me and my friends beer?” as a reminder that in olden times they would have hacked my arm off with a bladed mutton bone, stuck some leeches on the stump, and had me back at work mucking out his Lordship’s latrine that very afternoon.  Either that or they’d have listened to me explain my symptoms, shared a knowing nod, and bellowed “HE’S A WITCH!!!”



*sigh*…this sucks.






An appropriate, if somewhat blunt little two word segue, unfortunately. For it’s my sad duty to subjectively report that following a whiplash-inducing sharp left turn off the beaten path onto stranger tides that vaulted the series to soaring new heights (somewhere a physicist and a rhetorician are consoling each other), the beans partied a little too hard; patting themselves on the back until their innards sloshed around like Jell-O in a dryer when they were supposed to be brainstorming, doodling…things…on a catatonic Jeff Hirschfield’s forehead with the same royal fuchsia uranium-235 paint sticks that they penned the initial show pitch with (back when they still wanted to call it Jef ) when they should have been conducting table reads and doing draft punch-ups, and booking first class passage to Nadirland on the RMS See Ya Later, Suckers when it came time to deliver a finished product.  Reasonable opinions may differ (at least until I’m made king and the world’s drinking water, aerosols, and recreational body oils are laced with a delightful little mind altering elixir…delightful in that it will taste like blueberry sherbert!), but I’ve got a feeling that if you were to round up a hundred random Lexxians and poll them, you’d arrive at the following conclusions:




a) Somebody in the group is an undercover Fed.



b) “That Bilbo is such a joy to be around.  We should all pay him five dollars apiece for the pleasure of his company.”



c) Most of us hold this episode in a fairly low regard.  Those who claim to actually like it are either being ironic, lying their “PROPERTY OF THE LAST BRUNNEN-G” tattooed asses off, or are among the very few authentic individuals in the world…unencumbered by the capricious whims of popular opinion, they march to their own badass tune, blaze their own trail, and call no man master!  Whatever the case, swift and blinding punishment is obviously in order.





By now you’ve probably begun to suspect that ol’ Bilbo isn’t too fond of this episode.  Oh, how wrong you are.  For you see, I’m “not too fond” of things like icy roads, injustice, and hard to reach itches that lay in wait until the most socially inopportune time imaginable (not that you should ever let that stop you).  I flat out hate this episode.  Despite valiant efforts by a handful of other poorly conceived clunkers, this offering stands head and shoulders below the rest as the worst entry in the entire series, amounting to little more than forty-eight minutes I could have spent counting those hundred IOUs I mysteriously received in the mail.  Process of elimination being what it is, I guess it had to happen sometime. 



I just find it kind of strange that “sometime” just happened to be now, because on paper, the big picture premise of this episode checks almost all the boxes on my list: it’s set on the Lexx, they actually manage to stay the hell away from Earth from curtain to curtain, the occasionally overbearing season 4 zaniness is dialed down a notch, Xev and Bunny’s friendly rivalry finally boils over into a no-holds-barred strip-kickboxing match (did the rest of y’all see that, or did I merely conjure it up after staring at the little plastic drinking bird on my desk for so long that I began flashing back to past lives?), savage harm is visited upon one of my seventy-three most beloathed subcultures, we get another nifty—though all too fleeting—peek at a seldom seen part of the Lexx’s interior, and we’re reacquainted with a personal ordnance that makes even the BFG itself look like a pea-shooter by comparison.  Sounds like all the fixins for a fun, violent little throwback to the early days, eh?



Or in this case, a dull, mean spirited, totally inferior pastiche of Wake the Dead (one of the crown jewels of season 2). 



All righty, I don’t know about the rest of you (…and I’ve got a feeling I’d wind up personally bankrolling my shrink’s kids’ college educations if I did), but I think I’ve spent enough time playing Dimitri Downervich (great-grandparents changed it to ‘Downer’ after the war) for now.  I’ve already got your money (made you look!), so I might as well try to review this ep as objectively as I possibly can, in spite of the fact that I’d rather watch dust bunnies mate than dwell too hard on it.

As I already mentioned somewhere in my screed, this episode—like so very many before it, if you really stop to think about it—serves largely as an excuse to deal out death and destruction to a subculture of people who obviously deeply wronged the beans in some way.  Can’t exactly say I blame them this time around.  Because while many learned scientists, theologians, philosophers, sociologists, and crotchety old coots may vehemently disagree on just how many great scourges have been visited upon the Earth since the dawn of recorded history, the overwhelming consensus is that hippies and their ilk are among the very worst.[1] Granted, this week’s disposable drop-ins defy strict pigeonholing, as upon first glance, they appear to be cut from that non-specific Che-Guevara-t-shirt-sporting, “hey mister camera guy, look at me, I’m recycling!” shouting, the-revolution-will-be-televised-but-like-don’t-wake-me-up-before-noon-man, trendy hipster by way of wannabe-anarchist burnouts.  You know the type…people who can quote Fight Club line-for-line but haven’t the first clue what irony is.  Not exactly hippies in the traditional sense, but screw it…I’m lazy and I’m nursing a bum wing, so I’m painting with an extra broad brush today. Anybody who doesn’t like it is a commie!!! (Now get the hell off my lawn and get a haircut!)

 *pauses to gun down a Prozac smoothie*


Anyhoo, we open on a capsule cruising through the inky depths of space, inadvertently laying in an intercept course with the Lexx as our heroes bid a final farewell to the little blue spitwad with all the sincerity of a chain smoker boisterously flaunting his most recent “last one.”  Like anything worth putting in one’s mouth, the little rocket powered roach motel is crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and crammed full of empty, non-biodegradable sterility-hastening additives.  A quick off-camera spin of the incontestable Wheel-O-Plot-Devices decrees that this time around it’s Xev who’ll take a vested interest in the big bug’s eating habits.  No surprise there; after all, in addition to being almost suicidally curious, Cluster lizards are known the universe(s) over for their ravenous appetites.  Couple those instincts with the latent strands of sea cow DNA that the lusticon was unable to completely purge when it was snaking out the plaque bonanza that was Zev v1.0’s arteries, and it becomes perfectly clear why the mere mention of a little nosh sends her scarf alarm rocketing to yellow alert.  Somewhat less comprehendible—by which I mean “Oh dear God, I’ve thought it, now I can’t unthink it!”—is why she appears to be drooling like a St. Bernard wearing a retainer and perhaps even a little turned on at the sight of the titanium Toblerone Lexx is about to inhale.  Inquiring minds ought to be ashamed of themselves.




So gobsmacked is the lil’ lizard by the utterly alien concept of a “snack that makes noise” (so the Light Zone = a universe without pop rocks?  Good riddance, I say!) that she risks a formal dressing down by rousting the captain from his much needed presentability sleep.  In a move we’ve all pulled when we don’t want to go to school, don’t want to go to work, or “had a really long day, honey, maybe tomorrow night,” a half-animated Stan groggily shuffles onto the bridge, in full spite of the fact that he just left five seconds before and obviously wasn’t asleep.  It’s worth mentioning that Xev is acting quite a bit more chipper and bubbly of late—I’d be all hugs too if I’d just survived what she went through (hell, I’m like Scrooge on Christmas morning in the wake of a spider attack…in other words, if you ever need a big, strapping rube to reshingle your roof for crumbs on the dollar, just set a tarantula on me, kill it at the last second, then wait for the uncontrollable weeping to cease)—and though Stan is predictably peeved at being denied the opportunity to indulge in his favorite recurring dream (the one where he musters up the courage to tell Prince that he needs his space, and that perhaps they should think about seeing other people), their repartee is chummy, if not outright pleasant.  Further evidence that for all her “go hurl yourself into the protein bank” talk in the early days, she has, in fact, grown closer to him, if only in a platonic sense; a slow, stammering tonal shift that I believe became especially apparent after the two of them shared a brief, tender moment of consolation in K-Town.  Stan, for the most part, seems increasingly accepting—or perhaps more like acquiescing—of his “just friends” status, the occasional bout of rakish recidivism notwithstanding.  No doubt this shift also owes itself to the fact that Brian and Xenia, as I’ve also mentioned before, seem to be injecting a little more of themselves—personality quirks, mannerisms, etc—into these later episodes (save the occasional “Kai gone haywire” scenario, Mike McManus is an obvious exception).  Everything I’ve ever read suggests that the cast got along great, so it comes as little surprise that traces of that camaraderie bled over.



While we’re on the subject of blood, a Slurpee’s worth of it shot out of my ears when yet another phone started ringing.  Apparently the Lexx has a land line now?  Whatever…at this point I’m content to fish for my hip flask (not what you think…it’s where I keep my Excedrin), cross myself under the table and handwave yet another capital violation of the laws of science. 



So Stan and Xev whimsically banter about snacks and mistakes (alright, I get it, Salter Street’s caterers suck…now quit yer bitchin, tough it out, and make Paul spring for ribs when shooting wraps) while Lexx’s…whatever it is…rings off the hook.  On and on it drones while our heroes weigh the pros and cons of killing the lights and pretending nobody’s home.  Eventually Stan cracks and reluctantly takes the “baeyt,” fully aware that anyone still holding out for a response after ten or more rings is either some sort of vengeance-seeking hopeless romantic, or a mob informant who’s been buried alive with a TracFone.



Or in this case, renowned communications officer Lt. William Preston, who totally hails the most triumphant rescue dudes who’ve come to save him.  Excellent!



Interesting that they opt for a Kai-spacewalk-assisted tow job.  I wonder, in hindsight, if that’s how a lot of the small-craft-faring guests were invited aboard the Lexx, or if the chronically indifferent corpse man who may in fact lack an olfactory gland decided to go the extra mile to avoid stinking his moth up with hippie musk.  Whatever the case, His Shadow neglected to install a delousing station, so the vaguely meat-like contents of the USS Like, Woah! are cleared to board and immediately given the grand tour.  Let’s meet this week’s dartboard brigade:



Haley- the titular (crack open a dictionary before you smirk like that!) starry eyed, dusty brained, idealistic  curd-chewing ultra-vegan who nonetheless boasts more rolls than a Jewish bakery.



Lt. William S. Preston, Esq.- something of a wyld stallyn, my disapproval of his existence is oh so marginally tempered by the fact that I very nearly bought a skull shirt just like the one he sports.  However, I cannot abide someone wearing the same outfit as me, so both I and my charge card gleefully await his grisly end.



A Skank- a skank.



A cloud of factory-rejected Axe body spray that somehow congealed, acquired a crude form of sentience and assumed a vaguely humanoid shape.  For reference purposes I’ve dubbed it Skinny Mickey Rourke.





Right away the new arrivals ask to see the galley, in hopes that maybe, just maybe, the Lexx’s food shooter knows the recipe for charisma.  Unfortunately, Haley will have none of that, as it’s widely known that the secret to five-star charisma is to start with a hearty beef-based broth (hence my weekly au jus whirlpool sessions…ladies).  Her “friends,” while not quite as finicky, insist that everything they eat be organic…prompting me to throw my first challenge flag of the day…right at Skinny Mickey Rourke’s head!



Isn’t ALL food organic?  Okay, so in this hemisphere most of it is processed and chemically augmented past the point of digestive recognition, but with the possible exception of Fruit Rollups and the McRib, in order to produce food, something has to die.  As St. George himself once put it, “the Earth is little more than a revolving buffet with weather.”



From there, Thing 1, Thing 2, and Captain Chlamydia engage in their favorite non-hemp-related pastime: mursilussly moking Haley’s pryvit skool ejumakashin.  Because really, nothing screams LOSER! like having frugal, hard working parents who care enough about your future to send you somewhere where “free period” does not involve ducking and weaving past the afternoon knife fight while picking mystery meat roach limbs from your teeth.  Like, how totally L7 can you get? (Don’t know if kids still say that, don’t care)



Per the Big Book of Lexx Tropes (banished from shelves the same week it was published, after a few too many PTA groups opted for the Salman Rushdie approach), at least one of the guest stars is required to develop the sudden onset hots for Kai.  As he looks to be thoroughly coated in what is either a highly flammable amount of body glitter or a translucent moss colony, my money was initially on Skinny Mickey Rourke, and in hindsight, I believe much bile-raising hay could have been made out of another perpetually priapic “male” butting heads with 790 for Kai’s affections.  Alas (er, um, which is to say, THANK GOD) the beans objected, possibly on the grounds that work would be involved, and before you can say “ho-hum,” the skank lets her hair down and starts batting her pestilential peepers at the dead dude.



At this point, no one has yet bothered to ask why the Four Noble Doofs are in space to begin with.  Alas, that doesn’t stop them from telling us.  They prattle on for a bit about their ingenious plan to…something…the evil multinational corporations that secretly control everything, speaking in a round like incense-reeking kindergartners at a sing-along (tossing the occasional line to Kai, apparently because Mike either forgot or refused to get out of the shot).  The scheme, such as it is, basically amounts to a reenactment of the last ten minutes of They Live, despite the fact that they lack machineguns and are not collectively qualified to carry Roddy Piper’s jockstrap.  Little wonder why Xev—who almost certainly tuned out mid-word to avoid committing the horrifying social faux pas that is snorting like a sow with a sinus infection at the hurricane force hogwash spewing from her guests’ yapholes—responds with a totally out of the blue “So, do you guys like sex?”  Their replies really aren’t all that immediate or enthusiastic, but then again nobody ever said catlike reaction time was a prerequisite for fighting The System.



By and by Stan finally gets around to explaining what the Lexx is (guess the concept of “need to know basis” is lost on a man who spent a decade and change asking people to provide their security clearance before we hooked up with him), and braggadociosly informs them that he’s the captain, to which Xev—who, chummy or not, is usually all too happy to break out a chainsaw when Stan’s perch gets a touch too lofty—cheerfully mimes: “He’s the captain!” (It’s as though the camera caught Xenia doing her impression of a parrot…or a small child…or an assistant Southern Baptist preacher, and the editors just decided to toss it in).



From there our heroes hold an impromptu conference wherein they debate the pros and cons of taking the four recently acquired talking toadstools with them (namely: is having four relatively low maintenance meat shields on hand to absorb carrot probes and random gunfire during their next final trip to Earth worth risking the possibility that an impromptu drum circle may break out at any time?).  Stan insists that they at least hold on to the Skank, since in its present form, the crew is somewhat “unbalanced” (one man…kind of, one woman…mostly, two outwardly genderless automatons…seems like a fifty/fifty split to me), Xev’s all for hustling them into a zit-oil powered moth with a Burning Man or Bust! bumper sticker and punting them back in the general direction of the Earth, and Kai votes “present,” for as we all know, the dead do not intrude on the affairs of the living (for example, they would never make a potentially lopsided wager for someone else’s mortal soul).



Kai gets a pass from me this time, though.  Because in the midst of his latest attack of strategically timed indifference, the skank—who’s been dangling from his frozen forelock like a contagion carrying Christmas ornament—asks him if his clothes are machine washable.  You’d think even Kai would react to casual contact with her by coughing uncontrollably and fishing through the cabinets for some iodine.  Instead, the dead man stalwartly resigns himself to a bleak future filled with penicillin injections and painful burning sensations and informs her that his clothes (and probably Stan’s as well) are constructed out of tiny organic (periodically self-replicating?) structures that clean—and clearly also repair—themselves.  I really like that little aside, and not just because it validates every “self-stitching clothes” joke I’ve made whenever Stan or Kai got penetrated (no, no, and NO! Besides, Prince is a perfect gentleman, ask anybody) but because issuing every denizen a single set of garments that never need to be washed or swapped out seems like just the sort of minimalist move the honchos on the Cluster would make (that it was idly tossed into a lackluster episode near the end of the show’s run seems to mark this exact moment in the show’s production history as the point when the beans got fed up with reading fan letters that included some variation of, “Now, Stan’s had the key coaxed out of him a few times, and yet…”)



790, meanwhile, should thank his lucky circuits he’s immune to skinborne pathogens, and can therefore chew on Lil’ Miss Mattress-Back’s ankle without having to worry about contracting cold sores the size of tennis balls.  Like anything with two X chromosomes and a pulse that happens to occupy the same habitable zone as Kai, he’s convinced she’s cruising for a Corpse Cuddle (loved their early stuff, but it’s been all downhill ever since their lead guitarist dropped out mid-tour to go open that fried ice stand).  Sure, he’s as paranoid as they come, but even a blind squirrel is right twice a day. 



So while Kai touts the merits of his brace to Amber—which may well be a name that he arbitrarily plucked out of his chicktionary, as we’ve yet to hear anyone else address the skank as such—Stan, meanwhile, is cornered on the bridge by Lt. Preston and SMR, who question the Stunner’s credentials with patchwork SoCal accents that occasionally plunge to Boondock Saints level badness.  They claim he doesn’t look like a captain, and while most astute Lexxians know better, their skepticism isn’t entirely groundless, because it’s not like we regularly see Stan engaging in captain-like activities (i.e. hawking rum, punching Nazis, posing for cereal box photos, etc).  Whereas I would have flaunted my authority by tossing both their asses in the brig and then having them keelhauled (which you could easily do on a spaceship, if you think about it), Stan is content to hop on the pedestal and tickle Lexx’s protocol ganglion, after which they promptly sod off.

Shortly thereafter, SMR drifts his way into Xev’s bedchamber like the cloud of formless gas that he is.  He puts the move on her (or perhaps has a small stroke…once again: don’t know, don’t care) with all the goopy verve of an Irish-Canadian surfer dude who studied interpersonal relations at the Colin Farrell/Guinness Extra Stout Regional Elocution Academy (aka McGinty’s Pub), haphazardly working in a couple questions about the key, to which she responds with a verbal speed run of its history that even I kind of wish had been delivered in flow chart form.

The next of our many awkward propositions comes in the form of Haley uneasily offering up the goods to Stan.  Seems this whole “Save the Space Whales” campaign was merely a ruse to wrest control of the Lexx from our heroes, and that Haley—who’s dreadfully lonely, terminally confused, and apparently the only one actually committed to their phony cause—was being strung along by the others so that they could use her father’s money to pay the Russians to blast them into space.  You read that right.  Now they want her to relieve Stan of his command, and while Hepatitia and the two pinpricks guffaw at the very notion of Haley bringing anyone anywhere near the edge of sexual ecstasy, they’re apparently unaware that the Stunner’s standards are so down-to-Earth that they’re permanently immersed in molten rock, and that compared to Stan’s last there-but-for-the-grace-of-a-gunfight conquest Dulcibella, Haley’s a chocolate covered Amazonian lingerie model.



Sidebar time: Though I poked a little fun at her appearance as well, and am therefore a beltway-grade hypocrite whose every opinion is hereafter null and void, all things considered, Haley really isn’t that bad looking.  While I suppose she fits the Hollywood definition of “ugly,” at most I’ll go so far as to say that she merely looks average.  I.e., like most of us!  Yet her vapid, self-obsessed “friends” make her out to be some kind of hideously deformed Tom Savini creation.  Much as I dislike this episode I’m going to give the beans the benefit of the doubt and assume that this was a deliberate move on their part.  That they purposely cast her role with that warped, all too real superficial perspective in mind instead of justifying their taunts by finding someone truly revolting to look at.  To that end, our sympathies clearly lie, or are meant to lie, with Haley, and therein lies the second of two major underlying problems with this ep (the first being that most of it is just plain boring!)  The entire second and third act amount to little more than the emotional and psychological demolition of an already tormented, unstable person, who in turn seals her own fate by violently lashing out at her tormentors.  Nothing we haven’t seen countless times before, and while such a character arc can pack quite the wallop when handled well (Carrie, Full Metal Jacket, the second half of The Dark Knight, etc), it fizzles here due to thin characters and a hallow, frankly mean spirited script that fails to so much as pay lip service to her genuine turmoil.  I find it all the more lacking when I compare her arc to those of Fifi (who we got to watch degenerate over the course of a couple episodes) or the Wozzard (who was pushed over the edge before we ever met him, but still visibly racked by his fall), two conflicted but essentially “good” people who were kicked off the slippery slope by skewed self-image and the underhanded machinations of others.





Cold feet and the disclosure of her friends’ true intentions are all it takes to push Haley over the edge, whereupon 790 begins pouring a little homicidal honey in her ear.  Meanwhile, Princess Pathogens bites her lip and attempts to seduce Stan, lustfully informing him that she’s never been this close to a real live captain before (seems the captain of the football team had already had one life threatening run-in with jock itch and wasn’t about to risk another).  Just when things are starting to get hot, heavy, and hazardous she persuades him—for no discernable reason other than to stretch the episode out—to put Kai on ice.  Which he does, upon deciding that the time has finally come to have that oft-avoided “we’ll wake you if we need you” talk.



So at last Scabies McGee’s scheme is coming to a head.  Unfortunately for her and the teeming microverse of highly contagious, toilet seat-dwelling life that calls her rent-to-own body home, 790 has plans of his own, the chief ingredients of which are a mentally unstable Haley, and a blackpack.



First things first: screw cutting down telephone poles with a lightsaber.  I want a blackpack (I hate getting out of my car).  That out of the way, how the heck did that thing get there?  I’m perfectly comfortable with assuming that whatever powers that doohickey has a half-life of about a gajillion years and never needs to be field stripped or maintained, but I for one can’t remember a single instance when somebody brought one aboard the Lexx.  To the best of my recollection, the only people who ever carried them were soldiers on the Cluster and the B-Cup Battalion on Woz.  The latter never came anywhere near the Lexx (they never went anywhere near it either [rimshot]), so it must have been left there by some klutz on the Cluster, likely while the big bug was still under construction.  Of course it’s equally likely that it could have been placed there by design.  I’m sure that if HDS had actually gotten to command the Lexx he would have taken an armed escort with him (there are two types of people in the world: those who briefly sketched a mental image of a gun-toting call girl when they read that sentence, and liars).



At 790’s urging, Haley does her part to help control the pest population by reducing Lt. Preston to a small heap of what appears to be environmentally friendly compost just as the Lexx executes a flyby of that ringed, sideways planet whose name I don’t feel all that comfortable mentioning in this milieu.  A few dull, yakety-yak-laden minutes later 790 mind-rapes Haley even further.  Rather than securing a permanent place in my heart by giving him the Pele treatment, Haley sets her sights on the Skank, whose measured, delicate approach to talking the weapon out of a homicidal maniac’s hands includes such glittering reverse-psychological gems as “the only reason we didn’t kill you is because your body would have stunk up the capsule.” (Oh?  And I suppose unwashed threadbare and enough yeast to open a chain of breweries didn’t?  I’m tellin’ ya, Kai kept his distance from that clunker for a reason).



ZAP!  Exit Amber, stage left.  Reduced in an instant to a steaming splotch of communicable sludge that the Toxic Avenger himself wouldn’t dare poke a thirty foot stick at.  Post-homicidal transition shot #2 shows that the Lexx has already reached Neptune.  Factor in commercial breaks, cutaways, and other standard live action time skips, and you figure it’s been about two hours max since the capsule docked with the Lexx.  Being that Neptune is approximately four “light hours” from Earth, that must mean that the Lexx has been cruising along at approximately twice the speed of light, and has therefore become infinitely massive and arrived at its destination before it ever left.  Somewhere that aforementioned inconsolable physicist just climbed out onto a ledge.



God, let’s just call this a day before I follow suit (it’s only a three foot drop, but it’s right onto a nasty looking barberry bush!)



Haley corners the others and hesitates, despite being armpit-deep in Bloodlust Bay at this point.  790 eggs her on with his most savage verbal berating yet, Stan and Skinny Mickey Rourke shake like meat-based maracas, and Xev once again conveniently forgets that she has an entire arsenal of Cluster lizard ninja kicks to unleash on her hesitant, unathletic attacker.  I can’t tell you how much this scene made me hate 790, who’s already been on the outs with me for a good part of this season.  Clichéd though it would have been, I was actively rooting for Haley to do an about-face and blow him away instead.  Actually, kneejerk disgust aside, I think that would have been a splendid little swerve that could have marginally salvaged this episode, as well as thrown the remaining season for a bit of a loop.  First of all, by reinforcing the notion that anyone can die, especially now that the series is winding down (barring yet another next-day resurrection, of course).  More importantly, removing 790 from the mix would create a helluva quandary for our heroes, because in spite of how many times he’s double crossed them this season, they really do need him.  In certain circumstances he’s as much a lifeline as Kai, if not more so.  They’d be lost without him, both in a navigational and technological sense.  If nothing else, his destruction could serve as a reasonable impetus for the crew to return to Earth yet again.



But nope.  Instead we’re handed a “meh…why take the chance” ending that involves Haley taking a tumble off the bridge but managing to fire off one last shot that turns SMR and the moth he hijacked into radioactive tapioca, while the good guys simply shake their heads and essentially mutter “What a maroon.”





The episode (mercifully) ends with talk of rebooting 790.  As always, it’s an empty threat.  I think we can all pretty much agree that the Kai-lust angle had more than run its course by this point, so I’ll once again plug two potential follow-up ideas they could have explored: either reset 790 and try to force him to fall in love with Stan, only to find out that even his hyper-libidinous love slave programming finds Stan revolting, or have him fall in love with his own reflection.  I think the beans could have struck comedic gold with either one of those scenarios (hell, even having him fall in love with the Lexx itself could have wrung out a few chuckles), and given a character who had come downright unbearable a fresh lease on life.

Can’t say I was sorry to see the credits roll this time.  Everything about this episode left a bad taste in my mouth, from the trite, recycled plot to the downright mean spirited treatment of the title character.  I’ve probably used that phrase half a dozen times by now, but it bears repeating, because for a show that has always cheerfully worn its nihilism on its sleeve and routinely—and successfully—treated the wholesale annihilation of entire populated worlds as a punch line, this is one of the very few times where I thought the beans came off as truly callous.  I guess what really got under my skin about that is the fact that I’ve known and befriended a few socially/emotionally beleaguered Haley-types in my time, and while I’m a firm believer in the “sticks and stones” philosophy, I’ve got a bit of a protective streak and will freely admit that on occasion I’ve used the fact that I’m a verbose, card-carrying smartass who also happens to be built like a small truck to make the people giving them a rough go of it think twice.  The beans’ kick-the-dog treatment of Haley struck a couple old, unpleasant chords, and made them come across as real jerks. 



Now all that said, I don’t believe the basic story itself was the problem.  Sure, it was the very definition of “filler” and borrowed liberally from a classic, but had they garnished Haley’s downward spiral with a little humor (i.e. Cleesby in Prim Ridge) or a little genuine pathos (i.e. Zev’s slow torture and demise in Terminal, which PISSED ME OFF to no end, but for all the right reasons) then they might have had something worthwhile on their hands.  As it was, I believe they missed the mark in just about every conceivable way.



I’m always hesitant when people tell me ahead of time that I’ll hate something.  When I was first getting into the show and read some of the early reviews that inspired me to take my own run at the recap game, there were a handful of episodes that were routinely cited as the very worst of the lot.  Chief among them were White Trash and A Midsummer’s Nightmare, both of which I ended up finding quite enjoyable.  But reputations wouldn’t be reputations if they weren’t occasionally lived up to (it’s late, I hope that makes sense).  In this case, the armchair critics were right on the money.



Swing and a miss.








Cheery bye.










[1] 67, Bilbo.  The Sputum-Flecked Rantings of…, vol. XVII



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mayaXXX
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 Posted: Wed Apr 20th, 2011 01:33 am

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Loved the new font size, much easier to read !! I'll take a few hours to stew in the lusciousness that is your latest review and discuss it over brandy and cigars at the club with the fellows...*wink*



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 Posted: Wed Apr 20th, 2011 10:03 am

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I believe the weapon she found, in season 1 or 2, on one of the episodes, cant say exactly which one without looking back through them, im pretty sure one time that it dropped from the bridge, 790 would have seen this, and had no use for it, until now.

He used Haley as a puppet, and just made me really hate what he had become, his character needed an overhaul, but it never happened, he just rapidly became more insane and paranoid.

Thanks for the read, first review i read on here, the first few paragraphs did not appeal to me, so i skipped through to when you actually talked about the episode, and im sorry but i did not get the majority of the references you was making, but in the end i understand what you was trying to portray, so its alright :)

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 Posted: Wed Apr 20th, 2011 12:48 pm

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Actually the more psychotic 790 became the more I actually liked that little head. 790 was the crown jewel of this episode for me because he made that transition from auto-erotic obsessive to full blown fatal attraction homicidal stalker pushed to the edge of his tolerance

Last edited on Wed Apr 20th, 2011 12:49 pm by Abby1964



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 Posted: Wed Apr 20th, 2011 10:07 pm

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mayaXXX wrote: Loved the new font size, much easier to read !! I'll take a few hours to stew in the lusciousness that is your latest review and discuss it over brandy and cigars at the club with the fellows...*wink*

Club, you say.

*Visions of Maya skipping down the street with a bundle of singles and some fishing line*




kylos wrote: Thanks for the read, first review i read on here, the first few paragraphs did not appeal to me, so i skipped through to when you actually talked about the episode, and im sorry but i did not get the majority of the references you was making, but in the end i understand what you was trying to portray, so its alright :)
Welcome aboard!

And don't worry...on a good day I only understand about 40% of what I say!



Abby1964 wrote: Actually the more psychotic 790 became the more I actually liked that little head. 790 was the crown jewel of this episode for me because he made that transition from auto-erotic obsessive to full blown fatal attraction homicidal stalker pushed to the edge of his tolerance

Ah, different strokes for different folks.  I can see where you're coming from, but I still felt the insane Kai-lust angle was running on fumes by this point. 

As for the "homicidal stalker" angle, they should have incorporated that into 769, the episode where he had a body.  Only problem there is that it probably would have necessitated a second episode to get the most out of the arc, and the beans weren't really all the keen on carrying over smaller sub-plots from ep to ep during the latter half of the season (Deedee anyone?)




Glad y'all like the new font.  I'll try and remember to stick to it.

Moment of truth time: I was futzing around trying to convert it to TNR-12 (which for some reason I have to jump through hoops to do every third time or so), when I noticed it was almost midnight.  I REALLY wanted to be able to post the "4.19" review on 4/19, so I settled on this path-of-least-resistance font and hit send with a couple minutes to spare.

Crowning achievement of the spring for me so far!!!  Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go rethink my life...




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 Posted: Thu Apr 21st, 2011 12:10 am

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Bilbo67 wrote:
A cloud of factory-rejected Axe body spray that somehow congealed, acquired a crude form of sentience and assumed a vaguely humanoid shape.  For reference purposes I’ve dubbed it Skinny Mickey Rourke.


Ha! How very apt. Both Skinny Mickey Rourke and frightening plastic construct Mickey Rourke are... smarmy.

This episode is forgettable. Literally. I've seen it several times and yet never manage to remember anything about it. And I have a damn near photographic memory! Hmmm... Perhaps my brain is trying to save me by selectively blocking out the mediocre bits so that Lexx will forever remain awesome.

As a child, I read the dictionary. You know, for fun. Not cover to cover like a novel, mind you, but I would spend hours looking through it. New words were like toys to me. I get the feeling that you, Mr. Bilbo67, might understand (or perhaps share) this particular insanity, given your verbal dexterity. Kudos!
:2567:



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 Posted: Thu Apr 21st, 2011 06:28 am

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Kaden wrote: As a child, I read the dictionary. You know, for fun. Not cover to cover like a novel, mind you, but I would spend hours looking through it. New words were like toys to me. I get the feeling that you, Mr. Bilbo67, might understand (or perhaps share) this particular insanity, given your verbal dexterity. Kudos!
:2567:

Naww....he was just dropped on his head as a kid....



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 Posted: Thu Apr 21st, 2011 03:16 pm

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Ah, different strokes for different folks.  I can see where you're coming from, but I still felt the insane Kai-lust angle was running on fumes by this point. 

As for the "homicidal stalker" angle, they should have incorporated that into 769, the episode where he had a body.  Only problem there is that it probably would have necessitated a second episode to get the most out of the arc, and the beans weren't really all the keen on carrying over smaller sub-plots from ep to ep during the latter half of the season (Deedee anyone?)


I think much of the problem there was with how it developed.  Kind of in spurts that didn't give it much continuity.  790 just sort of leaped from point to point.  It sometimes felt like they had the end of the earth in mind at the beginning of S4 and forgot about it until the last minute and then were playing 'catch up'.



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 Posted: Sun Apr 24th, 2011 07:57 am

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I choose B above, *hand Bilbo a fiver....err...takes it back* I choose C above.

I didn't like this episode much at all. 790 was peevishly evil, pushing Haley to the brink and beyond, seeing it as his way to finally get rid of Stan and Xev so he could be alone with his Kai-muffin. The ep didn't do anything for me or for the show.



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 Posted: Mon Apr 25th, 2011 11:53 pm

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Angel wrote: Kaden wrote: As a child, I read the dictionary. You know, for fun. Not cover to cover like a novel, mind you, but I would spend hours looking through it. New words were like toys to me. I get the feeling that you, Mr. Bilbo67, might understand (or perhaps share) this particular insanity, given your verbal dexterity. Kudos!
:2567:

Naww....he was just dropped on his head as a kid....

My imaginary friends never wanted to play with me.  Webster, never laughed at me! (Now Gary Coleman, on the other hand...let's say we got off to a rocky start)

I'd say we certainly share a few symptoms.  I'm hardly what you'd call a linguist (cunning or otherwise), and I'm guilty of tossing the occasional "ain't," "y'all" and a few of their kissin' cousins into my everyday speech.  That said, I have something of a layman's fondness for and fascination with language, at least from an aesthetic standpoint, and have always striven to take Mark Twain's axiom about the "right word" vs. the "almost right word" to heart.  I certainly fall short of that standard from time to time, but, like...ya know...whatever... :D

To this day, if I'm reading a book and come across an unfamiliar word I'll stop what I'm doing and look it up (regardless of whether I've already discerned its meaning from the context).  Obviously I don't retain everything, but I try to!  Splashes of local color notwithstanding, I more or less talk the way I write, which, in the meathead circles I run in, begets the occasional raised eyebrow.  One of my training partners--a trilingual philosophy major/concert quality violinist who can bench press twice his weight and throw bikers out of bars--once told me he'd never heard anyone who talks quite the way I do.  When I asked him to elaborate, he opined that I sound more like a movie character than an actual person.  When I asked what the hell that meant, he had his four-year-old attack me!  Kid has a wicked right cross.

Every now and then I'll encounter an author or a screenwriter with a way above average command of the English language (Cormac McCarthy, for example...good God that man is a human thesaurus.  Same goes for the creators of Deadwood...well worth your time if you can look past the incessant swearing!)   While their casual mastery of both vocab and syntax can be frustrating as hell at times--particularly if I just feel like shutting my brain off--there's an odd delight to be found in deconstructing a sentence and coming to the conclusion that the writer couldn't possibly have said it any better.

[*Webmaster's note: the preceding was taken word-for-word from Bilbo's hilariously failed eHarmony profile]



Abby1964 wrote:  It sometimes felt like they had the end of the earth in mind at the beginning of S4 and forgot about it until the last minute and then were playing 'catch up'.


As I'll continue to maintain until TPTB finally get fed up and pin a Pulitzer on my chest: I think part of the reason for that is that they ordered a few too many episodes. 



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 Posted: Sat Apr 30th, 2011 01:06 am

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Bilbo67 wrote:
My imaginary friends never wanted to play with me.  Webster, never laughed at me! (Now Gary Coleman, on the other hand...let's say we got off to a rocky start)

I'd say we certainly share a few symptoms.  I'm hardly what you'd call a linguist (cunning or otherwise), and I'm guilty of tossing the occasional "ain't," "y'all" and a few of their kissin' cousins into my everyday speech.  That said, I have something of a layman's fondness for and fascination with language, at least from an aesthetic standpoint, and have always striven to take Mark Twain's axiom about the "right word" vs. the "almost right word" to heart.  I certainly fall short of that standard from time to time, but, like...ya know...whatever... :D

To this day, if I'm reading a book and come across an unfamiliar word I'll stop what I'm doing and look it up (regardless of whether I've already discerned its meaning from the context).  Obviously I don't retain everything, but I try to!  Splashes of local color notwithstanding, I more or less talk the way I write, which, in the meathead circles I run in, begets the occasional raised eyebrow.  One of my training partners--a trilingual philosophy major/concert quality violinist who can bench press twice his weight and throw bikers out of bars--once told me he'd never heard anyone who talks quite the way I do.  When I asked him to elaborate, he opined that I sound more like a movie character than an actual person.  When I asked what the hell that meant, he had his four-year-old attack me!  Kid has a wicked right cross.

Every now and then I'll encounter an author or a screenwriter with a way above average command of the English language (Cormac McCarthy, for example...good God that man is a human thesaurus.  Same goes for the creators of Deadwood...well worth your time if you can look past the incessant swearing!)   While their casual mastery of both vocab and syntax can be frustrating as hell at times--particularly if I just feel like shutting my brain off--there's an odd delight to be found in deconstructing a sentence and coming to the conclusion that the writer couldn't possibly have said it any better.

[*Webmaster's note: the preceding was taken word-for-word from Bilbo's hilariously failed eHarmony profile]


I like your brain. :D

There is something so powerful about an artfully constructed sentence. It's difficult to describe the feeling I get when I come across a group of words strung together in just the right way. Sometimes, I'll read something or hear dialog, as you mentioned, and it's like this clear ringing that resonates to the heavens. Okay, that's a bit sappy. But it's as if everything falls into place and for just that moment, everthing becomes clear. It's like discovering a universal truth. (Or witnessing, rather, as the author did the actual discovering.) The light dawns... and you see.

I find it funny how something can be so profound and, at the same time, so unsatisfying. Immediately after the parting clouds and the ringing heavens, yada yada, I feel an intense desire for... MORE. We are bombarded daily with an unforgiving stream of information that is completely devoid of any value or meaning. Yet somehow, miraculously, I manage to occasionally stumble across something transcendent. You would think I would be grateful for this, such treasures being as rare as they are. But no, I'm greedy. I want more. More brilliant words, and ideas, and dreams. More philosophies and questions. More points of view. These are the things that make my heart go pitter-pat.

You mentioned a fascination with language from an aesthetic standpoint. This makes perfect sense to me. There are some words that are just plain fun to say, whose sound is just pleasing. (No, not those words. Although, I think f**k may possibly be the most versatile word in the English language.) They just feel good in your mouth, so to speak. One of my most favorite is askew. I love that word. The sound of it just makes me happy. Also, confoundingly, the word pfui. But, and I cannot stress the importance of this enough, it must be spelled P-F-U-I. Pfui spelled P-H-O-O-E-Y is simply unnacceptable.

I know, I've been told I need to get out more. I am embarrassingly easily pleased and fixated on minutiae that often leaves others comatose. (Also, I enjoy alliteration. It takes so little... *sigh*)

I really think there is something almost mystical, and definitely mystifying, about books and the people who manage to write them. As much as I would love to, I can't do it. It makes me appreciate even bad books, in a way. I might not want to read them again, but the simple fact that someone managed to put their ideas on paper deserves some respect. Maybe not a lot, but some. :c030a:
:FISHEYE:



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 Posted: Sat Apr 30th, 2011 06:57 am

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I still think he was dropped on his head.. :c030a:



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 Posted: Sat Apr 30th, 2011 08:00 pm

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It does explain a lot.
:bouncebig:



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