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My 2 Cents on Episode 4.23: Lyekka vs. Japan
We did it.
I know what you’re thinking:
“Like hell we did!”
“If THAT’S what you wanna call it.”
I know most of you also know what I’m actually referring to. But for those whose lives revolve around one or more non-Bilbo-related priorities (if you call that living), I’m pleased to announce that I recently published my first novel. Brace yourselves (and don’t forget to tell your friends!):
I’m not going to drone on and on about it, because I have a feeling this review is already shaping up to be as intolerably long as my last couple outings, and because I already addressed the matter in the hackneyed little tribute to Lex Gigeroff that preceded my 4.22 review, albeit indirectly. At the time I wrote that piece I already knew I had been published, but decided to hold off on announcing it because I wanted to wait until the first few hard (by which I mean soft) copies passed through my hands and went in the mail. What can I say, the only thing better than a surprise is a synchronized surprise! Having just glanced at it for the first time since posting it, it’s pretty clear I was fighting like crazy to keep the good news under wraps.
So rather than rehash what I’ve already said, I’m just going to quote it directly, because I don’t really feel like I could say it any better (unless I, you know, applied myself). The first paragraph is from a long, plodding post in a Lexxverse thread entitled “Your first time watching Lexx?” that snowballed out of control into an undercooked slice of my lackluster life story. The second is from the aforementioned Lex G. tribute:
Not long after that little late night side project began, my perspective started to change. I read the glowing, supportive feedback that other members left on my posts and thought to myself "Wow, these folks are genuinely interested in what I have to say." I can't begin to tell you how much that encouraged me, not just to stick with the project (for there were nights when I just wanted to shut the computer off, hit RECORD on the VCR, and say "the hell with it"), but to inject a little more of my own voice, personality, quirks, etc into it. Full disclosure: I've NEVER considered myself funny. So when people started saying things like "This or that comment you made had me rolling," I figured "Well, that's just me being me. I guess I should do a little more of that." I certainly never expected to win any friends/fans/what have you when I decided to log in for the first time and toss my thoughts into the hopper. But one thing led to another, and I wouldn't change a bit of it. I feed on your feedback...it's as true now as it was then, and though the creative writing efforts I'm still fighting like hell to push over the last big hurdle may ultimately amount to naught (got an agent who's head-over-heels about my work and absolutely refuses to give up on me, but publishers who share my brain-sphere seem to be few and far between), I'll be forever grateful to the Lexxian community for giving me the shot of confidence I needed to foist my ideas on the wider world.
[Lex’s] co-creation spoke to my idiosyncratic sensibilities as few things have. When I finally ginned up the courage to speak back in kind, I was shocked to find that there was an outlet for my less-than-conventional voice. That there was a little known community of somewhat-like-minded misfits out there with whom my peculiar vintage of mental runoff apparently struck a chord. It has since struck a few more chords, with a handful of people who believe in me more strongly than I’ve ever been capable of believing in myself, and are in a position to potentially unleash what I’ve wrought on an unprepared, unsuspecting world, if the stars align. I can’t give the Lexxian community sole credit, but I’m being 100% serious when I say that the feedback and encouragement I’ve received—and continue to receive—from my fellow fans over the years is one of the major reasons why I’ve continued to pursue writing, and why I no longer shy away from injecting my occasionally head-scratching sensibilities into my creative endeavors.
See what I mean when I say WE did it?
So to old friends, new acquaintances, and all you folks from the future (which I guess for you would be the present) who decided to hunt these old reviews up to see what kind of unmoderated atrocities your hundred and forty-third favorite dime store scribbler used to sporadically commit when he didn’t have an editor clawing and tazing to keep him at bay, I thank you from the bottom of my external Teflon heart. I couldn’t have done it without your support.
Now then, howzabout a little strange?
They certainly don’t come much stranger than Japan, do they? Now, before you go rifling through my desk in search of a transcript from the Michael Bay School of Cultural Sensitivity, know that I’m not referring to the Japanese as a whole (I’d punctuate that statement with the watertight, “Besides, I totally have a Japanese friend” defense if I actually had one). Merely their popular culture, entertainment industry, style of humor, vending machine fare, institutional Lolita complex, and the fact that their government pays people a living wage to lower a shoulder, build up a head of steam, and deliberately smoosh their fellow living, breathing human beings into ludicrously overstuffed train cars like party snakes in a high gravity peanut can (actually, strike that last one from the list, it’s the very definition of awesome). All reasonably explained away by a little reading and/or cultural immersion, I’m sure. But more than enough to make the time-pressed, taper-brained Westerner wonder aloud if the A-bombs made them that way…says the dyed-in-the-mung Lexxian who spent three of his key developmental years living about an hour’s drive from the Trinity site.
Those of you who didn’t immediately hop over to Google to hunt up videos of train pushers in action no doubt concluded midway through that paragraph that ol’ Bilbo doesn’t know a helluva lot about Japan. Can’t argue with ya there. Oh, I’ve dibbed and dabbed in a bit of this and that over the years—would have done this review entirely in right-to-left manga format were it not for the fact that the only thing I know how to draw is flies on a hot day, and even then, my left-handed stick figure Xev still probably would have gotten me sued—consider myself eternally indebted for them teaching me the word baka, and like you, have occasionally chuckled at gag reels of some of our most self-important, image-conscious celebrities sneaking off to the Orient to film trippy, seizure-inducing commercials for cheap crap (called “Japandering” in certain circles), but that’s about it. Hardly paints more than a few pixels’ worth of the full picture, but such is the foggy, Hello Kitty-emblazoned filter through which so many of us this far outside the know have been conditioned to view the International House of What The Hell? that is modern Japan. This being Lexx—and Jeffrey Hirschfield’s last credited hurrah as a writer to boot—I went into this episode fully expecting a faceful of the same. What I got managed to be both more subdued and more bizarre at the same time, which I’m pretty sure violates some kind of temporal causality statute.
We cold open in the lightly chilled depths of space, where we exchange passing familiarities with an asteroid the size of the Vatican seconds before it splashes down in one of Earth’s oceans with seemingly bupkis for consequences. I suppose you could point out that it’s not really an asteroid per se, but an alien spacecraft masquerading as an asteroid—perhaps for camouflage purposes, or perhaps because the Lyekka spores require some sort of inorganic foundation in which to gestate and mature—but the damn thing still hit the planet really hard. Sure, it fired some sort of breaking thrusters when it reached low orbit…only to rev up the jets and jack slap the Pacific rim even harder than it would have had gravity alone been allowed to do the deed! It’s at this point that you speed count backwards from ten and remind me that this is fiction, that to one degree or another—particularly this season—Lexx has always played like a sort of live action Heavy Metal comic, and that since I already made a couple of totally baseless assumptions about the Lyekkas’ technology, the conspicuous absence of a flame trail suggests the presence of some sort of phenomenally advanced type of (potentially energy-based) aerodynamic heat shield, and the relatively soft landing could be chalked up to something as simple as one of the Lyekkas feathering the brake all the way down, which leaves me no choice but to whip out the heavy artillery…by which I of course mean “jam my fingers in my ears and sonorously croon all hundred and eleven verses of the New Revised Western Standard Song That Never Ends.” Check and mate. Sorry friends, but you forced my hand.
From there it’s straight to the world news desk, with the avuncular, sharp dressed Clip Onnington and his trusty co-anchor, a Vesuviun cheek mole that can be seen with the naked eye from halfway across the galaxy. First things being first, he announces the winner of the annual worldwide Marilyn Monroe lookalike contest (pardon my dour demeanor, but that’s always been something of a tender subject for me…I mean, it’s just not fair! I’m a bubbly, big chested blonde who’s been known to occasionally store perishable articles of clothing in his freezer and aspires to marry a millionaire, but do they even bother to glance at my impeccably edited application? Nooooo. Little doubt this all stems from that incident with the kilt and the hyperactive floor vent. Totally not my fault, by the way—how was I supposed to know that the washing machine would break down midway through my one and only load of delicates less than half an hour before I was due to take the stage as Guy Who Dies #3 in a student theater adaptation of Highlander?—but until this entire generation of judges, critics, and contest financiers shuffle off this mortal coil, all I can do is grit my teeth, hold my tongue, feign enthusiasm at the big “clap for the person who beat me” banquet, and try—try—to age gracefully. That the President’s birthday has once again come and gone while my phone sat silently and collected dust seems to suggest that God may already have bricked up that window…) before kicking things over to one Dr. Ponts, tweed-encased knowitall extraordinaire and, unbeknownst to me, new acting chairman of the National Alliance for Making Bilbo Look Awesome(r). He succeeds in saying nothing in as many words as possible until he’s beset by a couple camera hogging carrots who’ve come to collect their diploma mill-educated due. Considerably scrawnier specimens, if my memory serves me correctly for once, though that’s entirely irrelevant, for as science has irrefutably proven from time immemorial, mass has nothing on motion. Particularly when the motion in question is capable of cracking through the sound barrier and boring straight through to daylight.
Just as the cold open starts to heat up we’re whisked away to the title crawl, where, to my enthusiastic approval, we’re once again treated to the full Yo-Way-Yo intro. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about that opening pre-verse and the accompanying pause that, to me, lends the chant a little extra gravitas (consider its original context: it’s almost as though the lead vocalist—someone other than Kai, because if you remember, even though he lead the attack on the ForeShadow, he was last to join in the chorus—had to stop and take a second to allow the full reality of their situation, their impending sacrifice, to set in before steeling his resolve once and for all). Without it the intro always seemed a bit, I dunno, hollow? Lacking? Something along those lines. I can’t begin to fathom why they elected to crop it during most of season 4, but more damning even than that: why is only the truncated version featured on the soundtrack?!
That’s your cue Marty. I want to give you my money, so hop to.
Anyhoo, while Marty’s pondering the precise meaning of “…or your radiator gets it,” let’s you, me, and as much assorted contraband as we can collectively swallow swing by da Lexx. As you all know, and therefore shouldn’t need to be told, but will be reminded of anyway because subjecting others to needlessly long rants is the closest I will ever come to wielding absolute power over my fellow man (provided they keep up their end of the bargain by fanatically reading, rereading, reflecting, revering, rejoicing, recklessly rebuking rebutting recalcitrants, re-rereading, reinterpreting, reevaluating, and revolting instead of just glossing over the damn thing and skipping straight to what the process of elimination has little choice but to deem “the good part”), the last time we faded out our heroes had just found themselves in a particularly salty spot of bother, in the form of a cryopod control that had been decimated by the seemingly innocuous quasi-sentient foreign object that they were all too willing to accept from a pack of hungry, hyperpredatory, hive-minded Hooters girls. Don’t really feel like rehashing the “why didn’t Lyekka just plant a bomb?” debate that no one felt compelled to take me up on or so much as acknowledge, so instead I’ll get some of my curmudgeoning out of the way nice and early by taking our heroes—particularly the guy who spent a period of time roughly equivalent to the entire Common Era of human history performing infiltration, sabotage, and assassination—to task for plopping the damn plant down on the control panel in the first place. What the hell, guys?! Lyekka couldn’t possibly have foreseen that Kai would choose last episode of all times to up and decide that when the dead say they have no interest in adorning their postmortem crash pads with trinkets, baubles, or knick-knacks, they are really only referring to neon Labatt signs. Much as I loves me a good cliffhanger—and this one ranks right up there with the best of season 3 in terms of leaving us itching for more—this never should have happened. The fact that the audience already knows the Lyekkas are a bunch of dirty, double-crossing doodyheads is irrelevant. Even if their intentions were demonstrably pure, the crew still introduced an alien organism about which they knew almost nothing—“ooh, pretty…” doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny—into their environment without taking a few basic precautions, such as having Kai order 790 to scan the freakin’ thing and give them a full report on its physiology, toxicity, and other potentially useful factoids (for the same reason you’d do well to learn a thing or two about your new pet crocodile before immediately letting it play with the bunnies).
*SIGH* Not sure why I’m getting so worked up about this. I’m usually all for the “sure, let ‘em stick their favorite pair of running scissors into a light socket and see what happens” approach to imparting common sense. Seems like a lot of needless fretting and wasted effort on my part, no doubt the byproduct of countless nights spent hoping against hope that a freak lightning bolt would strike my TV and John Hughes a certain coquettish, collagenated carnivore to life (who’s kidding who, I’d wind up ankle deep in Goleen grease and you all know it!), although it could have something to do with my routinely right-on-the-money contention that our heroes lack the average three-year-old’s capacity to learn from their experiences.
But by God, do they ever make up for it in cable reception! So says the hi def image of a Pontsload of carrots making stringy, iron-deficient mincemeat out of the erstwhile Nerds for an Amicable Mutual Brotherhood with Lethal Angiosperms mouthpiece, prompting Stan to quip—and rightly so—that this little blue planet of ours is “just a never-ending barrel of ass.” (I replayed that quote five times, and I swear that’s what I heard.)
Per the implications of picking up a basic terran satellite signal untold light years from its source, we can infer that the Lyekka problem has long since played out, and since we’re obviously all still here, we either managed to staunch their collective appetite with a single “So, did those jeans shrink?” seven billion voices strong, or took our licks and made peace with the fact that from here on out, bulletproof BVDs will be a staple of the new global fashion paradigm. Alas, Kai and Xev never learned how to read the stitches on a fastball, and as such, are hopelessly joined at the hip (…*BIG BREATH, STRETCH, SCRATCHSCRATCHSCRATCHSCRATCHSCRATCHSCRATCHSCRATCHSCRATCH*) with the “Lyekka is going to eat the whole universe, so we’ll have to deal with her sooner or later” mindset. Okay then…what’s wrong with later? Much later. Even if we assume that the season 4 Lyekka hive does not represent the whole of the species (and long term circumstantial evidence suggests that it might not), their reproduction rate is clearly a far cry from that of the infinitely self-replicating Mantrid drones. Ergo, while they could, in theory, strip the entire universe bare, it will take them a good long while to actually do it. Scientists have a name for this kind of temporally disconnected catastrophe: somebody else’s problem. (Think about it…just how much sleep do you lose each night over the knowledge that in about five billion years, the sun will expand to over two-hundred times its present size and vaporize the inner planets, Earth included?)
So naturally, our heroes are back orbiting ol’ Terra Quasi-Firma in the time it takes to light to travel between your toes. But as I pointed out in my 4.22 recap, I’m fine with that because this time around they have a totally legit reason for paying the little blue booger another return visit: Stan’s skirt-skirting shoe mirrors turned up in the Huffertainment lost and found box. Also, the cryopod’s FUBAR and fixing it would, like, take until after lunch, man. But it’s all good, because nobody bothered to call dibs on Vlad’s stuff after she made like petroleum soaked flash paper, which means her control unit should still be in pristine order, dank, mildewy, CHUD-infested environment and perpetual electrical storm notwithstanding. One of the choicest and most supremely logical episode callbacks, if you ask me. It’s as though the beans revisited the previous week’s cliffhanger, asked themselves, “Hmm…how might abrasively nitpicky, precious-gift-of-life-squandering fanfolk suggest our heroes fidget out of this one?” and went with it. (And yet my quadrice-hourly “Xev reverts to her season 2-era Lyekka goo costume” suggestion remains eternally disregarded.) Even Stan recognizes the plan for the straightforward stroke of necessity that it is, although he’s less than thrilled when Xev announces her intention to tag along, given what usually happens when her cripplingly compulsive catastrophic curiosity overrides her higher faculties (read: he’s scared to death she’ll bump into somebody he knows and blammo! Just like that he’s penciled in for couples tennis, with no possibility of partner swapping). Thankfully—as occasional—Kai’s got him covered. “If you don’t hear back from us, blow the planet up to stop Lyekka from eating (what may only turn out to be a portion of) it.” Sure, you could basically liken that plan to walling up a house and calling in an orbital airstrike because something vaguely spider-shaped may have gone somewhere near its general vicinity.
There’s no “however” portion to that statement. It actually makes perfect sense to me.
Gotta say, Transylvania has really turned a corner ever since the Queen Bitch was deposed. Right away we notice a slight improvement in the weather (recently downgraded from an unyielding killstorm to a mere maim-you-and-leave-you-pleading-for-the-sweet-release-of-a-death-that-will-never-come squall), turbulence-free skies, suggesting that the bats have either relocated or managed to settle their differences with the wolves (I’d like to think they took an honest-to-goodness stab at redistricting, abandoned the process to bureaucratic bickering, then patched things up by assigning a couple dozen bats to hoist each wolf off the ground and set about terrorizing the peasants as the nigh-invincible Flying Fang Alliance), and that collective sense of supernal relief inherent in the knowledge that we’re no closer to experiencing genuine smell-o-vision than we were in the old mutoscope days. Look out, world! T-town is back on track and ready to charge headlong into the 11th century!
Kai, meanwhile, is charging ever closer toward the cosmic speed limit, shrieking like a 200lb bottle rocket as he plunges into Castle Dracul, because it just wouldn’t be a routine, low-profile smash ‘n grab if he didn’t spook every four legged creature within a hundred mile radius. Either Assassins are built on the same design as WWII-era dive bombers, or the dead man—who once walked away from a low orbit faceplant more or less intact—built up enough momentum during his short drop from that moth to punch a perfectly round, perfectly smooth hole straight through to whatever part of China is on the other side of Romania. Thankfully, by the time the neighborhood watch manage hitch up their wagons and horn a volley of warning shots into their matchlocks, Kai and Xev will be long gone, because it turns out that cryopod control units—one of the staple technologies of a fantastically advanced interstellar civilization—run off a simple two-pronged 110 outlet. Doesn’t even appear to need an adapter, although I’m sure that won’t stop one or all of them from jamming the male end into some kind of unspeakably icky insectile power strip that has suddenly always been lying around since the Lexx arched its back and bid the Cluster take one last look at its nacelle. Probably would have been for the best if Kai had detached the entire cryopod and taken it back with him, seeing as Prince left them one unit shy when he played the old sorority house switcheroo trick on an unresponsive Xev at the beginning of season 3. Even if they never need to place all three crewmembers into stasis again, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a spare unit to swap out or cannibalize for parts, particularly now that Kai’s is down to his last few fingers of go-goo. Of course, schlepping that thing back up to the Lexx would require a great deal of space, which means surplus personnel would have to sit this one out, which means Kai would have gone down to Transylvania alone, got what he came for, hauled ashen ass back to home base without incident, Xev would have pouted for a while before deciding to shower her frustration away, and Stan—in one of those rare fits of genuine starship captain resourcefulness that periodically afflict him like a mismanaged venereal disease—would order the Lexx to recombobulate its swallowmatron so that it could gorge itself on the Lyekkas, thereby saving the thousand or so acres of Earth that are worth saving, glut-nursing the Lexx back to its showroom glory, and departing our brackish little backwater corner of the Dark Zone for an uncharted planetoid composed almost entirely of a reusable, easily synthesized protoblood substitute, the first of many continuing adventures that Science Fiction Central—an upstart premium cable network dedicated to washing the taste of Bonnie Hammer’s slime trail out of the speculative fiction community’s collective mouth—will continue to chronicle and broadcast to Lexxians young and old, new and…um…old the world over for years, nay, decades to come!
Damn it Xev, you just had to tag along, didn’t you? Couldn’t have sat on the sidelines just this once? Couldn’t have left Kai to his own devices and taken me up on my longstanding invitation while he was doing his thing? I guess the Matron never bothered to explain subtlety to you, did she? See, when I say, “I’ve got this biiiiig old couch and no one to share it with,” it’s more than just a cry for help and/or my way of complaining that I paid for more furniture space than I need. It’s a summons. A “Come on up and see me sometime.” And for once, I’m actually talking out of the right place when I say that it would have been for the greater good! *HISTORY’S HEAVIEST SIGH* Let this be a lesson to…whoever designed the moths to be dinky little two-seaters. I hope they fed him to the Giga Shadow sardine style!!!
Wistfully moving right along…
This just in - Eunice Broadflower - yes, that Eunice Broadflower - died suddenly and horribly when the Marilyn Monroe lookalike contest runner-up threw gasoline on her and lit her on fire at the trophy presentation ceremony. The assailant repeatedly screamed "Some like it hot! Some like it hot!"
Once again, I decided to type that quote out word for word because I have nothing to add. Not even gonna try; it would be downright indecent—and not in the “Duuuude, guess what club I just joined!” way—for me to befoul a bon mot of that caliber with my off-the-rack brand of crap. It’s perfect. Say what you will about the man…God knows I have…but Jeff Hirschfield is nothing if not a funny son of a gun. His best solo episode is a matter for much spirited, grenade lobbing debate, but in my humble, demonstrably infallible opinion, I believe the preceding snippet of dialogue may very well stand as Hirsch’s crowning moment as a writer. Clip’s killer deadpan delivery makes for a dollop of bliss favored icing on the quadruple-layered, fudged-stuffed, instantly regenerating, youth restoring, libido enhancing, fat burning/body sculpting, baldness curing, IQ tripling, energy crisis resolving, war/poverty/famine/prejudice/interpersonal strife abolishing, singularity ushering, Messiah beckoning, glorious-future-of-humankind-unfurling perfectly moist yellow cake. Also, there’s a glass of milk in there somewhere. Can’t have cake without milk. It’s just common sense.
While we’re on the subject of common sense, do please indulge me in a little aside:
Imagine for a moment that you’re not you, you’re J. Thaddeus Everyman. Just an ordinary, run of the mill, clock punching, story scribbling, large-cumbersome-object-hefting corporeal conundrum with a crippling crush on a two-leagues-above-the-third-league-above-your-league li’l filly named Xeneva Ellouisticia McChickwhoplayeddesh, or “XEM” for short. You could try to win XEM over by simply being yourself, but yourself has a tendency to make people booster-puke up things they haven’t even purchased yet, which is a recipe for disaster, for as the little-known Eastern philosopher Pah Pai routinely preached, “women is fickle.” So you rack your brain to try and come up with a big showy romantic gesture. Unfortunately, romantic gestures cost money. Real, paper, “the hell with your rules, I’ve got money!” money, most of which you spent getting your hand stitched up the last time you hauled off and drove your fist through a clock. In your haste to come up with a suitable gesture in your price range that doesn’t constitute a floggable offense in most jurisdictions, you flip on the radio and hear one of those hokey “Name A Star After Someone” ads. You’re well aware that actual astronomers don’t pay a lick of attention to that so-called registry list, but are equally aware that the vast majority of the population doesn’t pay a lick of attention to the astronomy community, else they too would have already stockpiled a decade’s worth of canned peaches, hollow points, and nose plugs (always remember: Nostrilrapeopods are vulnerable to small arms fire in the middle thorax region. Also, they’re deathly allergic to water, yet still decided to invade Earth for some hackneyed reason having to do with corporations and the environment…or something.) So you figure you’re in the clear. One phone call and one postdated check later, some faintly visible pinprick in the unfathomably vast night sky is “officially” named “XEM.” The gambit pays off, you win her heart, and everyone lives happily ever after (blissfully unaware of the would-be invasion that was snuffed out before it could begin by a hyperactive El Niño and the most monumentally botched landing coordinates in pan-galactic history). For a while. By and by you start to notice little things. Little things that you used to brush off—maybe even chuckle about—for the sake of that modified glow-in-the-dark trapeze you installed in the basement. Little things that gradually snowball into bigger and bigger things until you find yourself making excuses to stay late at a job you despise, while the trapeze collects yet another layer of dust. You know it’s just a matter of time before the match hits the powder keg, but still the resulting conflagration catches you by surprise. It burns…oh God does it burn. So very acrid, so very excruciating. But the fire also cleanses. Purifies. Strips away the slag, and though your breakup with XEM is the stuff of legend—at least according to your buttinski neighbors with the wall-full of glass rim indentions—you just know that ultimately, through sheer force of will, you will eventually claw your way from the rubble and emerge stronger, surer, and ready to move on (resolving to limit yourself to Goggling her name only once a week…day.) Time passes. The embers begin to cool. You start to stir. At long last, it’s time to emerge from that soot and ash chrysalis. You rise to greet the sun on this, the first day of the rest of your life. “I feel like going for a jog,” you say to yourself. So you flip on the TV to catch a glance at the weather report while you run your brain ragged trying to decide what color socks go with electric lime shorts. Except nobody’s talking about the weather. Nobody’s talking about any of the usual fare: sports, politics, the middle east, what brand of tacky, overpriced, glorified snot rags some crabby (in more ways than one) flavor-of-the-month celebsititute is wearing to her most recent televised court hearing. All anybody’s talking about is XEM. Seems at some point during your self-imposed hiatus from the idiot box (so imposed because, rather ironically, all your favorite shows made you think about XEM because they were her favorite shows too), scientists the world over detected a one-of-a-kind artificial radio signal emanating from the star you named after XEM. It’s been double, triple, quadruple verified hundreds of times over by thousands of independent assessments. Even the most ardent skeptics are certain this can mean only one thing: we are not alone. Oh sure, you already knew that—as those peaches and bullets you’ll be handing out for umpteen Halloweens to come can attest—but as far as the Court of the World At Large is concerned, this is nothing less than THE watershed moment in human history. Impossible to say where we’ll go from here, save one immutable certainty: for the next thousand years, the only thing anybody will be talking about is XEM.
Just goes to show you how an innocent, well-intentioned gesture can come back to take a Jurassic-sized bite out of your ass. And right now, Stan’s feeling the same nibble as Mr. Everyman, courtesy of that seemingly harmless couples seminar at the drive thru school of broadcast journalism he signed up for on a whim back when he and Izzy were still an item.
Yes, to Stan’s dismay Prince has commandeered the Weather Channel, apparently for the purpose of rehearsing his upcoming one man production, Lexx Season 4: The Abridged Wikipedia Version. If you’ll indulge me just a moment more while I gorge myself on fried dough and channel my inner Ebert, the production’s in need of a script overhaul. “Evil characters?” Come on, Iz. No one actually talks that way about the real world they live in. You and I don’t go around referring to our neighbors as “the deuteragonist in my tale,” although perhaps we should. Particularly if the neighbors in question don’t know that word! (Junk food for thought: what if, as a consequence of Kai killing his Earthly avatar and transporting him to the Other Zone, the entity that calls itself Prince gained some sort of medium awareness? In simpler terms, what if he’s now fully aware that he is a character—an all-powerful villainous character—in a fictional story? Not exactly an original idea, but if you analyze some of his behavior, particularly in the early portions of season 4 when he seemed right on the cusp of comprehending his purpose but couldn’t quite put a finger on it, it kinda-sorta makes sense-ish.) A few camera mugging minutes later, Prince kicks it back over to Clip, vanishing before Stan’s eyes with a snigger and one of those deeply unsettling “frozen face” winks after cryptically declaring, “And I’m not finished yet!” (Which sends a cold shudder through the stunner’s tenderloins as he suddenly remembers that he never was able to find that stack of non-transferrable, legally binding “NO REFUSAL” coupons he made on a lark when he was testing out the font settings on Lexx’s viewscreen.)
Their task complete, Xev naturally suggests that they endanger themselves, their sole means of offworld transportation, and the one-of-a-kind precious cargo haphazardly wedged behind the passenger seat by taking a protoblood-wasting jaunt to the Orient in order to seek out and confront a miles-wide weaponized space rock populated by people-eating predators who outnumber them about a kajillion to one. Kai is quick to remind her that the ocean is a big place, that he, by comparison, is a bit on the small side (sorry to be the one to have to break it to ya, gals), and that apparently this particular moth did not come equipped with whatever kind of scanny-findy thingy enabled Xev to pin down the exact point on a near-featureless water planet in which to cast her Kai catcher.
He suggests they play it safe by waiting to see how the situation develops before committing themselves to a potentially self-defeating course of action. Shades of his all-or-none chess match with Prince, and to Kai’s intermittently questionable credit, a bit more in line with what you’d expect from a super-strategist. Xev interprets his proposal as “Ahead full, helmsman!” and five thousand miles, six time zones, and one slow, leisurely blink later they touch down in a picaresque pagodaville that seems to have all but shrugged off the morning’s colossal tidal wave. They dump the moth and its irreplaceable Kai-saving cargo Omoikane only knows where, then idly comb the beach until they stumble upon a hopelessly lost Shaolin monk (second cousin to the “Why do Chinese buffets have sushi bars?” conundrum) whose consciousness apparently forgot to hang a GONE FISHIN’ sign around his earthly vessel’s neck before taking the afternoon off. Quick to adopt the local customs, Kai…[Show of hands, is it safe for me to type, “assumes the lotus position” without being avalanched by titters? If so, run with it. If not, put your thinking cap on and insert something a bit more psychological-age appropriate.]…and gets right to work accumulating coral. Xev, meanwhile, gets right to work wandering off to stir up gratuitous trouble despite knowing full well that when Kai says “I don’t know [when Lyekka will show up],” it could mean “a week from Tuesday” or “riiiiiiiggggghhhhhtttttt…NOW!” As a parting gift, Xenia treats us to some more of those amusing facial tics—something of a season 4 staple—while she attempts to goad Kai into following her. I don’t know what it is that I find so appealing about little quirks like that, except to once again say that I get the feeling that most of the principal cast—with the exception of Mike, although he gets his licks in at times—are comfortable enough in their roles by this point to throw a bit more of themselves into the mix (I’d attempt to back this up by citing some of Xenia’s other work, but the only other thing I’ve seen her in is Annihilation Earth, in which she pretty much looked bored and more than a little embarrassed. But hey, she got to shoot a guy!)
Xenia may be able to put up with being bored out of her mind if there’s a steady paycheck in it, but “fake it” isn’t in Xev’s vocabulary, so off she scuttles, mercifully just whistling her happy tune until she chances to meet another monk from the mystical land of Nebraska (casting lady didn’t even bother to pick up the phone this week). Let’s all say konnichiwa to Wyatt, of the Ancient Order of the Atrophied, to whom we’ll almost certainly be saying sayonara in two shakes of a Ghidora’s tail. They reflect for a moment on the tidal wave that technically should have erased the spot they are standing from the pages of history, after which Wyatt beguiles his new friend by jingling something shiny and pretending to effortlessly remove and reattach his thumb. Okay, so Xev isn’t that gullible, but the way she laps up his platitudinous jabber about the afterlife seems to indicate that she learned next to nothing from her two trips to Deadsville (which makes sense when you remember that reincarnated souls have no memory of the afterlife). Kudos for name dropping Jeff Pustil’s entire one-man rogues gallery though. That was a nice touch.
Then, for like the fourth or fifth time, a shady looking stranger with a puzzling name offers to introduce one of our heroes to The Master, who in this case will persuade Xev to give herself over to the enlightened ways of the East by peering deep into his mystical whatchamahatchit and revealing who she was in her past lives. Ummm…kay. First of all, setting aside the fact that Wyatt here sticks out like a still-quivering sore thumb in a Whitman’s Sampler box, do people from Asia actually refer to their region as “the East?” Because you know what’s just slightly to the east of the East? The West. Secondly, anyone who’s ever noticed the sweat that starts to pool up on her brow whenever she gets within long jump distance of a desert bar could tell you who Xev was in her previous life. I tell ya, this “The Master” isn’t exactly blowing my yukata up if this is all he can do. How much do y’all wanna bet Wyatt—if that is his name, which I doubt…I don’t think anyone has been deliberately saddled with that name in over a hundred years—is a freshly minted “graduate” of one of those “academies” that purports to teach dillweeds with disposable incomes how to manipulate susceptible young women into having instantly regrettable pity sex with them?
Whatever they charged him, it was apparently worth it, because next thing you know Xev’s happily skipping along at Wyatt’s side as he Torgos his way up the hillside to some sort of ramshackle monastery where his slightly more location-appropriate brethren are hard at work sweeping the dirt. Or raking it. To be honest, I kind of glossed over that part, because my index finger started to itch just then, and rather than scratch it with my other hand like most well adjusted primates, I bit down on the afflicted area and rhythmically ground the sensation away with my incisors. You all know what I’m talking about because you’ve all done it too. To try and convince me otherwise would be a crossfit-caliber exercise in futility. Anyhoo, right on cue Xev gives Brother Bony the matchbook version of her ultra-cloistered upbringing with that trademark cheerful matter-of-factness which I’ve always found just a touch unsettling, much as it belies the sterile, inhuman conditions in which she was raised and for which she was reared (which we know for a fact still play all kinds of emotional hell on her deep down). This time she tacks on a throwaway allusion to her parents, and the slim possibility that they may have still been alive up until Mantrid paid a visit to B3K. I suppose it’s possible, provided their world wasn’t in the Cleansing’s crosshairs (at that we can only guess, since we never learned a thing about B3K…we can’t even say for sure whether Zev’s Wife Bank training actually took place on that planet). Character ages are anybody’s guess, but seeing as the Matron probably wasn’t keen on wasting prime breeding years, I can’t imagine Zev was much older than about eighteen when we first met her, slow learner as she was (I believe Eva herself was like 18/19 when IWSH was filming). So it stands to reason that they could have been alive during the first two seasons…you know, provided you look past the fact that in the Lexx universe(s), you’re considered unusually lucky if you somehow manage to live through a three day weekend. You’ll probably take me for a blasphemer—which is to say, take me to the spider pit—for suggesting something so trite, but I think it would have been interesting if the crew had crossed paths with Xev’s parents (and siblings, perhaps…) at some point before the curtain fell on the Light Zone. Perhaps because they had some legitimate—or not so legitimate—business on B3K, or, if you’re of a mind that Zev was simply deposited on that planet for her training, it could have been a mere chance encounter. Might as well go all in if the idea’s trite to begin with. The beans could have played it any number of ways from there: for laughs, for drama, for revulsion. Perhaps they never actually intended to sell their daughter to the Wife Bank, and the whole thing was some kind of silly clerical error (they thought they were dropping her off at a medical terminal to have her inoculated for an easily remedied thyroid disorder). Perhaps they were so heartless and self-centered that they gave Zev up for some appallingly trivial reason, such as not wanting to pay for a babysitter for one night or flipping her for some quick cash in the same way that you or I might donate blood or drop some old crap off at the pawn shop. But let’s be reasonable here: these are the season 2-era beans we’re talking about, so the odds are overwhelmingly likely that we’d have gotten some fresh (which is to say nauseating) spin on the “lecherous old codger lusts after his own daughter” motif…which I’d be a bastard of bastardly proportions to so much as insincerely defend. Still, since the parental units in question almost certainly wouldn’t know who Xev was at first, the whole thing could be framed as a revolting case of mistaken identity (it’s entirely possible that Zev wasn’t even her “real” name, and that the Matron simply assigned it to her at random). As to whether we could have trusted the beans to call off the dogs after the big reveal…now what do you think? Of course, that might not have been necessary. Perhaps the reveal could have come at the tail end of the episode, with only Stan and Kai being privy to the information. Kai, per the 51% norm, remains entirely neutral about telling her, and so the burden falls on Stan to either come clean or twist the facts to spare her feelings. You can probably imagine which well worn direction I lean, but once again, just because an idea has been done before doesn’t mean it can’t still be done well. I think there’s oodles of story potential in an idea like that, and if that stopped up pipe dream of a Lexx comic spin-off were to somehow materialize tomorrow, you can bet that’s one of the story ideas I’d pitch (along with my aforementioned “Kai has an interesting, watchable encounter with one of his reanimated victims” plot…heck, you could do an entire multi-part series about each of the individual crew members coming face-to-face with some of the astringent remnants of their previous lives, although for what it’s worth, the beans covered Stan’s portion of that territory several times).
Holy Crow (and Wierzbowski!), we’re like five minutes into this episode and I’ve already rambled y’all into three fingers of FROVA and an early bedtime. Not exactly what li’l Bilbo had in mind when he stood in front of the mirror in his Pole Position skivvies and said, “Some day people will liken me to a mighty glacier!”
Wyatt is still talking? Fancy that. Anyone else find themselves as aggressively indifferent to his existence as I am? Anyhoo, he mentions something about having chest pains until he came to the temple, clearly a backhanded swipe at Western heart disease rates, before launching into a balanced ode to the simple, joyful life of simplistic balance and joy his non-speaking (and therefore pittance-earning) brethren taught him to embrace. I guess forswearing worldly possessions precludes wearing a target on one’s back, but the message rings clear as a gong (do gongs “ring?”): mourning threads on standby.
Speaking of messages, Stan, Stan the Subtext Man neatly sums up my feelings about Wyatt’s philosophicating by lazily flinging a selection of Freudian paperweights at 790 in a desperate attempt to beat back the sandman. Totally pointless in terms of narrative advancement, but it’s a fun little callback to IWHS, and pondering where those gnarly little knick-knacks came from and what purpose they serve will come in handy because…
…Wyatt’s still talking. Would that these were the kind of monks who took decades-long vows of silence and/or sewed blasphemers’ mouths shut. But ya know, it’s hard—though certainly not impossible—to get pissed at the guy, considering the audience he’s playing to. How come I never met anyone as gullible as Xev when I was hawking four dollar candy bars door-to-door for this-or-that shady school fundraising project? (Pu’fect’d me whoopin’ cough an’ Cockney waif aiksint an’ ev’rthin’, aye did!) That trip to Aruba would have been mine!
At long last, after snootily dismissing Xev’s inquiries about a couple monks with coolers lighting out for a tubing trip he clearly wasn’t invited on, Wyatt excuses himself so Xev can plop down on a weevily old Tatami mat and take that all important first step on her minutes-long journey toward enlightenment: twisting her ankle at some impossible, Theismann-esque angle. Quick as I typically am to make cartoon wolf noises at the mere thought of anything pertaining to Xev and flexibility, this time around I think I’ll do the exact same thing.
While I scramble to convince my neighbors that I merely sat on my remote and flipped to a nature documentary with brickwalled sound and good luck proving otherwise, because it was on a special ultra-premium Angolan satellite channel that only I get and no, they can’t come in because I’m naked and ironing a roast and cooking clothes and I just had the carpet aerated go away, nobody’s home, what say the rest of y’all hang back with Kai, as he discovers that one hand clapping sounds suspiciously like carrot scuttle. Easy pickins for Old Betsy (Kai’s seldom mentioned frat pledge nickname), provided the room temperature monksicle next to him pipes up and issues the insentient death warrant. That’s right, apparently you have to ask Kai to save you now, even from a mortally menacing mutual foe sitting three feet in front of his face. Anybody recall the Scooby gang ever doing that? Then again, in Kai’s defense, he did wait until most of the redshirts had been ventilated before so much as lifting a finger. How I weep for the glorious silence one eensy little feigned protoblood failure could have bought us.
Back at the temple, Xev is hard at work pondering the insides of her eyelids and practicing her ode to a test pattern when finally, after what must have seemed like a couple commercials’ worth of “I’ll look for it, but I’m not getting up off the couch” grade soul searching, she is summoned three feet to her left to appear before the Master. She pays little attention to the man behind the curtain while she eagerly prostrates herself before a pair of free floating hands for what appears to be a cross between amateur cold reading and class two misdemeanor sexual assault. (The latter is a twenty-five dollar fine in Bilbonia. The former will cost you an eye a month for seven months.) Hither, thither, and yither the hands effortlessly snake and slide, dressed to the threes in a pair of postapocalyptic mittens, because when you’re playing the “what’s in the bag?” game with Xev’s exposed flesh, you’d naturally want to put a layer of unwashed cotton and refrigerator grime between your respective nerve endings…dumbass. Little surprise that it was Wyatt behind the screen all along (boy is the Master gonna be pissed!), sporting a make believe aviator’s cap and a waist length fake beard in spite of the fact that his head and body were completely obscured. In honor of the aforementioned casting agent, I’m gonna phone this one in and assume it’s some sort of primitive bib. Up to you to decide why he’d need one.
Back to the Lexx, where the unsettlingly specific list of things Stan and I have in common continues to grow. We can both sleep standing up (for about three to five seconds at a time, anyway), we’ve both had to bed down in our primary means of transportation at one time or another, and we both eschew the traditional morning jolt in favor of three or four riveting installments of the same ten minute Weather Channel programming loop. Cue Prince’s magical meteorological pachinko machine, which, amongst a landslide of non-weather-related phenomena, indicates massive thunderstorms covering much of drought-ridden Africa. In other words, IT’S A MIRACLE! Substantially less miraculous is the figure the interim dimensional weatherman cuts. Could be the untended crud in the corners of my eyes playing tricks on me, but Izzy’s beloved puffy shirt looks conspicuously yellowed and grimy in this scene. I suppose that could have been a deliberate move on the beans’ part, given his manic, uncharacteristically disheveled demeanor in this scene, which stands in perhaps the sharpest contrast to the dark, contemplative stoic who so epitomized season 3’s mood whiplash. Also, Nigel looks a bit ‘faced.
Seems things are both “brewing” and “afoot” (so…he plans to get just tipsy enough to throw the switch on his mean streak, play keep-away with Stan’s self esteem until it drives him to drink himself into a highly suggestible stupor, then pry his boots off and film one of…THOSE videos. So very, very predictable), which means that once again, the sixty-seven thousand leu question at hand is, “Will Stanley H. Tweedle crack like a porcelain pile driver when the going gets tough?” which if you think about it, is pretty damn moot at this point. No, Stan is demonstrably not a paragon of courage, but he’s not a complete craven. Hell, some would argue that that was the whole point of Brigadoom, and on more than one tense occasion when his back was to the wall and his friends were in danger, the Stunner’s stepped up and proven that the gods slipped some slightly sterner stuff into the mix when they whipped him up on a budget (Lexx or no Lexx, facing down the Giga Shadow took a few tons worth of brass, and to my recollection it wasn’t Kai or even Xev who killed Vlad in a blind, potentially suicidal rush.) That said, none of those incidents have done all that much to bolster Stan’s self-confidence. It’s obvious to us, which means it’s really obvious to Prince, who, even in his post-Fire state seems capable of reading people on a near-molecular level and manipulating them to his ends. Do remember that it was Prince who orchestrated Stan’s damnation by preying on his fears and doubts. It worked splendidly the first time, and there’s no indication that Stan has undergone so radical a personality change as to suggest that it couldn’t work again. So while from a writer’s standpoint it seems like an unnecessary thematic retread, I’ll concede to its inclusion if only because Prince—creature of habit that he is—still boasts a Hall of Fame batting average when it comes to talking Stan off the ledge (to say nothing of the fact that they locked, shot, and archived the script more than a decade ago, and that my best attempt at time travel amounted to a double fine for doing eighty-eight in a work zone.)
Back we go to Pokemon Pointe, where the mighty Cthulhu sneezes (fhtagn = “gesundheit?”), the carrots resume their stationary recon patrol, and Mike looks genuinely confused as to why he’s still just sitting there. Almost as confused as Xev, whose pre-séance meditation has taken the form of spying on the dozen-strong Brewski Brigade as they hoof it to the old fishin’ hole (many are the times I’ve fantasized about zincing my nose, baiting my hook, and casting a line into some stranger’s artificial koi pond, only to read him three volumes worth of the riot act for scaring the fish away when he demands to know who the hell I am and what I’m doing on his property…even though I won’t actually be standing on his property. Trust me, I had this whole scenario worked out upstairs long before any of y’all ever knew me.) Whatever spiritually cleansing benefits come standard with being a Nosy Nelly must work quadruple fast on lizard hybrids, because Wyatt once again foists himself upon the audience—against my wishes, as usual—to inform Xev that for the second time in as many twentieths of an hour, her time of mediation and reflection has finally come to an end and she has been summoned to appear before the Master. Back we go, by way of the jumpiest cut this side of an all-ninja Parkinson’s ward, to the Tatami mat waiting room, where Xev decides to forgo idly thumbing through back issues of Highlights in favor of working on her impression of a vacuum with a broken belt…or possibly faking her way through one of the verse sections of End of the World as We Know It. Kinda hard to tell. Just like how it’s hard to decide how many hundreds of thousands of hours of community service Wyatt’s actor should have been given for his frightful “Me so solly” accent. David Carradine would be spinning in his grave if his will hadn’t stipulated that they handcuff his hands and feet to each corner of his coffin.
In what amounts to little more than a description of his third rate Game of Thrones fan fiction and freshman work-study gig, Master Wyatt succeeds in setting the bar two rungs below Satan’s septic tank as far as attempts at deceiving Xev go. Anyone who’s bothered to do his homework (i.e. scotch taped hundreds of copies of her “Sci-fi’s sexiest stars” TV Guide cover and that “Good head” magazine ad that probably did the show more harm than good over every square inch of exposed wall space, ceilings and floorboards included) could tell you right away that Xev is NOT the castle type (they’re drafty, practically invite spiders, and the plumbing situation can be summed up thusly: *SHRUG* “Don’t ask ME where it goes.”), and that in her previous incarnation she was one of the cool kids and therefore wouldn’t have set foot within a country light year of a liberry. My pitiful attempt at out-of-touch high school humor aside, I would never accuse Xev of being dumb, but it’s fair to say she can be naive at times. Like so many before him, Wyatt got his hooks into her with some choice words and a disarming smile, which in my opinion made it all the more rewarding when she blew huge, gaping holes in his BS! Of course, she turns right around and does a little shoveling of her own, claiming that in a previous life she was a singer who regaled lots and lots of happy people (…so she was the keynote speaker at the DeafNation Expo and somebody accidentally cranked the AC all the way up?), but I suppose we can blame that on the knockout gas that Mr. Living On Borrowed Time has been steadily pumping into the room. With little thought to the fact that she’s a biologically weaponized kickboxing champion whose tormentor is built like a handful of rotten chopsticks, Xev hits the canvas, clinging to consciousness just long enough to dimly rebuke Wyatt as “just another bad man;” a line I found particularly heart wrenching in its delivery as it essentially encapsulated all the myriad ways Xev has been spit on for most of her life. It doesn’t quite make me want to give Wyatt a Dr. Kazan caliber beating, but I certainly wouldn’t think anything of crossing state lines for the opportunity to swing a cricket bat at his face. Sideways.
Hey lookie, somebody finally told the beach monk, “Psst…dude, we’re rolling.” Guess Kai finally gets to do something. Or he would, if the carrots thought they could get a foot in the door. Unfortunately for them, their would-be abode is sealed up tighter than For Knox during fly season. Okay…
First and foremost, would anyone out there with a smattering of medical knowledge and a complete lack of shame care to officially name the operation the monk had performed? Think of this as your chance to enter the DO BILBO’S JOB FOR HIM SWEEPSTAKES! (Void where prohibited, six dozen itemized purchases necessary to enter, odds of winning subject to Bilbo’s four-dimensional mood swings.) Second of all, did anybody else notice that Kai never actually specified how the probes enter your body, and yet with his first breath the monk still popped off about his procedure? It would be like if I approached some random stranger out of the blue and said, “Hi-dee-ho, name’s Bilbo (sort of). Check out this socially inappropriate hernia scar from when I was a baby.” (Actually, that’s a bad example because I really did that when I was in preschool.) Finally, inasmuch as its officially distributed existence should make anyone who has ever busted their unaltered ass trying to get people of means to so much as glance at a story they’ve written grind their teeth and take stock of all the shins within kicking distance, I think we can now safely conclude that Dieter Laser’s most notorious post-Lexx project was conceived after five aghast minutes of listening to Jeff Hirschfield talk in his sleep. To suggest otherwise is out and out treason.
Turns out Master Wyatt and the Cooler Corps decided to go into the black market organ business after convincing their cash strapped followers that inner peace could be attained for the low, low price of a few perishable inner pieces. Hence the wind-up monk’s communicable serenity and night-terror-inducing external network of clunky, reconstituted Double Dare props. Probably a few too many paper towel tubes and crazy straws to warrant mention alongside the bio-engineers’ best work, but kudos to Wyatt for going the extra mile and inventing the “bliss bag” (which, by the by, is also the working title of the Church Strippers’ long awaited sophomore album…sure, they changed singers, guitarists, keyboardists, bassists [five times in a single recording session], drummers, roadies, record labels, genres, lighting guys, management, groupie demographics, nationalities, and signature post-gig pancake houses, but they still jaunt from gig to gig on Greyhound, so they’re still basically the same band.) His non-existent curiosity forcibly slaked, Kai bids the monk a cordial “seriously dude, I mean it, I don’t want to play hacky sack with your rubber appendix!” and makes his way inland to pay a size 13 tribute to the Master, content in the knowledge that his nonbiodegradeable new friend is safe and sound, and seemingly indifferent to the fact that the curious carrots he could have obliterated with ease will eventually wander off and find someone else to ravage.
I’m starting to think my Dr. Kazan allusion was no accident, because the ensuing cut-away to Wyatt leering over a prone, discombobulated Xev bore more than a passing resemblance to the latter half of Terminal. From there the callbacks they just keep a-comin’. Next up is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nod to Eating Pattern in the form of a curiously dry giant Lyekka with an even curiouser “Magneto’s helmet” hairstyle emerging from the sea. Yeah, yeah…I know what y’all are thinking, and like it or not, I’m with ya: thank Lexx-blasted heavens for her “condition,” because hundred foot legs + a dangerously cropped kimono = AAAAAHHH!natomy 101 with Professor O’keeffe-Giger!
(Minor aside here, but I’m reminded of the longstanding rumor that the plant entity who hooked up with the crew in season 2 was originally supposed to take the form of Wist, but Doreen Jacobi’s unavailability and/or lack of interest in returning necessitated the creation of Lyekka. Can anybody confirm or deny that for me?)
Confession time (*PAUSES A MOMENT WHILE HIS READERS SPEED DIAL EACH OTHER IN HOPES OF CASHING IN ON COUNTLESS LONGSTANDING BETS*): I have no idea, earthly or otherwise, why the six-millionths-of-a-dollar monk tore his guts off at the mere sight of Lyekka. However, since I’ve never been able to successfully turn anyone else on to this show in real life, I can’t technically prove that anyone else actually saw this scene. Ergo, I’m convinced I hallucinated it, even though this episode is readily available on DVD, Hulu, Youtube and countless torrent sites, I’ve seen it on multiple occasions over the years, and am in fact replaying it even as I type these words you are now reading. That’s the only possible way it could make anything in the cosmic vicinity of sense.
Last edited on Tue May 29th, 2012 11:24 pm by Bilbo67
(...continued from above)
Precious few opportunities left to browbeat the beans for bypassing that lonely ol’ road not taken, so what say we make it a two-fer:
*A grizzled old broad-shouldered washerwoman takes one look at MegaLyekka, casts a knowing glance at the camera, then pulls a jug of sake out from under her robe and tosses it away.
*Kai assays the situation with a flippant “Now there’s something you don’t see every day.”
…and oh, what the heck, while we’re at it…
*Some anonymous, bespectacled, prepubescent schoolboy just happens to crane his neck toward the heavens when MegaLyekka strides over him. Cue standard video game “level up” music and effects as he spontaneously grows a beard, breaks out in acne, and starts speaking three octaves lower.
Would that Xev could have similarly leveled up and Cluster kabobed the Master who baited her, but dead is dead, and despite what sixty years worth of Godzilla documentaries might have lead you to believe, human beings—who, at the end of the day, are little more than sacks of wet meat with teeth and sunglasses—don’t just sort of crumple up and lie still when something that outweighs them by four or five orders of magnitude steps on them. Ever take a tortilla press to a cherry Gusher? Same thing (and shame on you for wasting the most heavenly plasticine-based fruit snack known to Anunnaki and man!) Another round of bonus points to Jeff for Xev’s cute little “Lyekka stepped in” quip, although I’m wondering how she knew it was her, since all she saw was Wyatt’s head making like a zit beneath an atrocious Olive Oyl style hiking boot.
With that little bit of incidental heroism out of the way, MegaLyekka commences stomping, chomping, and strutting her size 4,000 figure up and down the streets of Japan ‘til she gets lost. In other words, sayonara, self control, I’ll start my diet tomorrow! And what a feast it is! Those of y’all who grew up on those slimy, preprocessed canned commuter trains have no idea what you’re missing out on if you’ve never plucked one fresh from the tracks. Piping hot news crew? Try all three ideologically prostituted flavors! And who would have guessed that helicopters, in addition to providing 200% of one’s daily recommended intake of Vitamin Q and whatever the hell xantham gum is, could, on a double-dog-dare, bump everything else on the See, Told You I Have No Gag Reflex Index down a spot? (Okay, I had a hunch, but when I pitched the idea to my editor he just started breathing into a bag and muttering, “What have I done? What have I done?” until I excused myself to go see if that jerkass in the lobby mirror who’d been eyeing me on the way in still wanted to tangle.)
About the only thing she isn’t eating are her words, since thus far, all this smashing and scarfing is in keeping with her original arrangement with our heroes. You’d think good ol’ dependably dispassionate Kai would be the first one to point that out. Instead, he suggests they subject the only remaining known cryopod control unit to even further danger by flying headlong—at head level—toward something capable of putting away ocean liners like after dinner mints. No surprise that this doesn’t sit terribly well with Stan, who’s content to sit back and let Lyekka tickle her MSG-spot without interference…unless she attempts to harm the rest of the planet, at which point he will promptly blow up the rest of the planet. Kai insists that won’t be necessary, and implores Stan to secure purchase on his allegorical Andalusians while he and Xev attempt to cash in her buffet tab the old fashioned way…with the added stipulation that he understands if he doesn’t feel up to waiting around, in which case he should go ahead and destroy the planet on his way out. I realize Kai has enough of an understanding of human nature to know what Stan will and won’t do in a situation like this, but was anyone else expecting a billion decibel “WHAT?!?!” from Xev when he casually invited Stan to atomize her.
Cue Izzy, who with one last mean spirited meteorological metaphor successfully—or perhaps unsuccessfully…not really sure what he was trying to accomplish here—steels Stan’s resolve, at which point Captain Capricious decides to rescue Japan by annihilating a large portion of it. Kind of like how you could theoretically stave off a sunburn by skinning yourself alive before you hit the beach.
What happens next is intriguing, if only because I’m still not 100% sure who Stan was talking to. Immediately after Prince vanishes from the viewscreen he is replaced by another manifestation of Lyekka. She implores Stan to spare her people, professes her love for him and basically plays his heartstrings like a neglected old fiddle. It’s a genuinely moving exchange, harkening back to some of the fleeting tender moments Stan got to share with the season 2 & 3 manifestations of his unrequited dream girl. But is Stan actually talking to one of the Lyekkas, or is that Prince messing with his head? I’m perfectly fine with assuming that the Lyekkas are capable of monitoring the goings on on the Lexx, but the timing and the situation are almost too convenient to suggest this isn’t Prince’s doing. If you think about it, Stan’s current situation is essentially an inverse of the May/Water dilemma, and we all remember how that turned out. To the best of our knowledge, there’s no physical hell left for Stan to damn himself to. But the incommunicable mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish at allowing the only people who genuinely cared about him (to say nothing of an entire planet of pseudo-innocents) to die horribly because he let his lifelong obsession/delusion get the better of him would weigh him down for the rest of his miserable life. It would be Ostral-B and the Reform planets all over again, minus the infinitesimal benefit of impersonality. A hell of his own making. A sin for which he could never atone—nor allow himself to (sure, he might eventually snap, fly into a rage and blast the Lyekkas to dust, but as Kai rightly pointed out when he had the MedSat terminal in his crosshairs, what good does petty revenge actually do the person you’re supposedly avenging?) Don’t know about the rest of ya, but as Prince’s malicious machinations go, that sounds like a bona fide work of art.
(Lest you suggest that the emotional blow might be an eensy bit mitigated by the fact that Kai is fully capable of surviving a Lyekka attack and/or Lexx blast, I’m bet-the-house certain that Prince would have tapped him on the shoulder seconds before the moment of truth and said, “Here ya go.”)
To the curious clamor of a very un-season-4-like lack of gunfire, the moth executes a midair about-face and charges MegaLyekka, who’s having a downright frightful time remembering how tall she’s supposed to be. Guess Xev was anticipating getting fried, because she looks a tad peeved when Stan breaks contact and it becomes clear that she’ll have to clean this monstrous mess up herself…by which I mean sit perfectly still and thumb-steer the craft that basically flies itself while Kai does all of the grunt work. Faultless course of action, but you can’t tell me I’m the only one who thinks it’s a cryin’ shame they couldn’t somehow plot device themselves a hundred foot moth and sic it on MegaLyekka. Or for that matter, a hundred foot Xev! A catastrophic catfight between two colossal alien monsters resembling disproportionately attractive, magically enhanced buxoms in navel-length skirts with plenty of kicking, jumping, unnecessarily fetishistic windblown power stance assuming, and subjectively subtle undercurrents of Sappho only knows what. You know, I think I just described every single creation myth and moist towelette advertising campaign in Japanese history. Or would have, if I could have found a way to shoehorn robots into that sentence. No robots ‘round these parts, though, unless you want to count previously pre-programmable steel-nippled automadavers with rustproof titanium tackle boxes.
So…Louise Wischermann flosses. Good to know. I s’pose. Must’a cost the beans at least half a day’s shooting talking the pepper spray out of her hands after Jeff set the scene with, “Okay, today we’re gonna need you to lie back in the chair and open reeeeeaaaaaal wide.” Word of advice to all changelings, metamorphs, shapeshifters, skinchangers, facedancers, Nordics, Starmen, and Veganoids (you harbingers of disappointment, you!): assuming human form will only get you so far if you neglect to shift all your vital organs and the seat of your central nervous system to some out-of-the-way part of the body that a century’s worth of action flicks hasn’t taught us to aim for. Tough even for a Divine Assassin to pull off an accurate foot shot, let alone your standard reluctant hero/only sane man type. Also, given their respective sizes, what Kai dished out to MegaLyekka is roughly equivalent to having a piece of fishing line driven through your brain. Not saying that couldn’t kill a full grown human under the right circumstances…just saying it shouldn’t be able to! (Different story if he’d gone for her waterslide-sized carotid.)
And with that, it’s time to roll her over and play Everybody’s Favorite Game: HOSPITAL, ORPHANAGE, OR OLD FOLKS HOME!!! Right after our feature presentation, Apollo 18 II: Tokyo on the Rocks.
I don’t know what else to say about the panoramic shot of the arachnostroid™ scuttle-stomping all over Tokyo except that it looks really nifty. Great cinematography—particularly that shot of Mt. Fuji in the background—and a bang-up job by the effects guys. And whaddaya know, as a cherry bomb on top we’re treated to the closest thing to a good old-fashioned space battle that we’ve seen in some time! Kind of a one-sided battle, though, because as soon as that white-hot plasma pelts Lexx in the…umm…whatever you call it, Stan is consumed by that oldest and most potent of primal instincts: HEY, QUIT TOUCHING MY STUFF! Cue one cruller shaped, Tokyo sized return volley, which succeeds in knocking the asteroid on what has a 25% chance of being its back, turning all of its intended victims into subatomic cinders, and immolating those fleet-footed few who decided to get a head start on fleeing the city before traffic backed up. You know, this being the tenth consecutive summer of the superhero, my thoughts drift to the epic, unnecessary Avengers vs. The Dark Knight Rises pissing contest that has been raging unchecked in geek hubs the ‘net over for too many months. Since liking them both is apparently verboten, permit me to settle this frivolous debate once and for all: Batman AND Iron Man (…and, you know, all those contractually obligated non-Iron-Man tagalongs) are BOTH equally inferior to our heroes when it comes to racking up collateral damage while saving the day. There, I said it. Now all you nerdlingers out there can put aside your petty differences, focus your inane animus on me, then line up single file while I dust off my cricket bat and pretend you’re all Wyatt.
How Xev and Kai got back on the Lexx as quick as they did is, as usual, anybody’s guess. Personally, I’m open to the possibility that they never left, and that we’ve been riding shotgun with two complete strangers for the bulk of this episode. I’ve decided their names are Sally and Dave, and that after disposing of MegaLyekka they hightailed it back to Virginia Beach to crunch the quarterly numbers for their mail-order envelope business. Got a new color coming out this fall: off white.
How Stan could miss the opportunity to tell Prince off with the old “middle finger film projector” gag is nobody’s guess, it’s just plain sad.
How Xev could bring herself to plant a kiss on Stan’s cheek without being goaded into doing so by some mustache twirling fiend who’s attached a time release vial of decarbonized flesh eating bacteria to Kai’s codpiece is easily explained: she’s still trippin’ wrecking balls from the knockout gas.
And how our beloved dunces could ignore the second, much larger asteroid loitering in low orbit? “Because Bilbo, you dolt, then there’d be no finale!”
For a quick, breezy A-plot episode with a tacked-on side story that owes its genesis to a throwaway joke in another quick, breezy A-plot episode with a tacked-on side story, this offering wasn’t bad. I don’t foresee it punching into my top-10 list any time soon, but it kept me reasonably entertained. I could have done without the organ harvesting subplot. Not sure why the beans felt the need to include it, save the possibility that Wyatt, the temple, and their extreme interpretation of “human resources” was a deliberate, small potatoes callback to the Divine Order. Be that as it may, it still came off like filler, and I’m wondering now if Hirsch was instructed to intentionally pad things out in order to preserve as much of the remaining special effects budget as possible for the finale. Understandable, if that is the case, but I still would have preferred something a bit more relevant. Perhaps fetching the cryo-control could have spiraled into full-blown quest after Xev and Kai learned that the new management at Castle Dracul hawked all of Vlad’s possessions. Or, if the beans were keen on making the most of the shooting location (the “filmed in Japanese Land” end credit stinger was a nice touch), perhaps Xev and Kai could have encountered one last resurrected guest star milling about downtown Tokyo. Meanwhile, Stan could have been approached, propositioned, and perhaps ultimately threatened by a physical manifestation of Lyekka, as opposed to simply palavering with the viewscreen. What a feather in his grungy red cap it would have been if he could have worked up the nerve to tell her off, perhaps even fight her off, metaphorically quashing his longstanding obsession with the real Lyekka in so doing. Something like that could have made for a much more satisfying—and once again, relevant—test of character than the one Prince haphazardly threw at him.
As I said, though, I didn’t dislike this episode. It kept a brisk pace, delivered what it promised, and while I would have preferred if the penultimate episode of the series had been the first installment of a two-parter or the first half of an epic, commercial-free two hour “Sci-nema” event (‘member those?), it comfortably dovetails into the big finish.
Now…I believe you folks have some shilling to do!
Kai kills- 18
|I agree about the episode being sort of a throwaway, so much of season 4 was just filler.
|"Filler" needn't always be a four-letter word. As a screwball quasi-return to the episodic format of season two, I can appreciate beans' approach, and quite enjoyed some of the complete or near-complete standalone outings such as the "Job Security Trilogy" of Prime Ridge, Mort, and Moss. The difference here is that those episodes had no bearing on any of the main story arcs.
Haley's Comet, VLV, and the disconnected portions of this episode, however, just seem to get in the way, hence my "they ordered a few too many episodes" hypothesis. Like I said, there's nothing wrong with sending Xev and Kai on a little side adventure to buy a little time before MegaLyekka burst onto the scene, but there is no reason this late in the game for the beans to concoct a pointless subplot when there are so many different big picture-related avenues they could have taken.
|I think Jeff once mentioned they threw in the kitchen sink during S4 to use up story ideas they had in spades.
|for the same reason you’d do well to learn a thing or two about your new pet crocodile before immediately letting it play with the bunnies).
OR LETTING KETANA PLAY WITH YOUR TESTICLES!!
oh goddess he's done it to me once again..I shall have to stop playing and seriously get down to stalking in earnest..Bilbo...take cover..I'm coming..and this time..will have no mercy in marking..uh..making you MINE..ALL MINE..down to the last brain cell..
David Carradine would be spinning in his grave if his will hadn’t stipulated that they handcuff his hands and feet to each corner of his coffin.
OH SHIT..OH NO YOU DID'NT!!
loved it Bilbo..no really..loved it to little itty bits..
|Would it be bad of me to say the only think that sticks with me from this one is the fact that Lyekka needed a Kleenex the size of Texas? That was a mighty fine booger that came out of her nose though.
|I kind of liked the Godzilla themed Lexx ep, it was a bit filler, but at least the booger was cute.
|I bow to y'all's attention spans, because I noticed no such thing!
I bow to y'all's attention spans, because I noticed no such thing!Now how could you possibly miss a perfectly Kai shaped booger? Shame on you!