Space Precinct episode 16: “The Witness”

The 88th Precinct has a new and quite keen human officer. There’s also been a spate of murders of petty criminals on his patch. It takes our heroes a surprisingly long time to join the dots.

Complicating this, the Other Tarn Officer, Fredo, has a daughter, Estes (no, I don’t know either) who is having psychic visions of the murders and eventually winds up catatonic, either from the trauma of doing this, or from the fact that her parents are obsessed with her passing her telekinetics exam and are pressuring her at every turn.

Tarn children are a lot less cute than Tarn babies.

Seriously, what is it with this series and the emotional abuse of children and teenagers? Fredo and his wife clearly love their daughter, but Mrs Fredo’s first words on learning her daughter is catatonic are basically “oh no, she’s got an exam in a few days, will they let us reschedule?” When the poor kid finally comes out of it and passes her exam, her Dad celebrates by buying her… an educational toy so she can pass the next exam. I give it five years before she’s shaving her head and joining a drop-out cult.

There’s also a subplot about a boringly stereotypical evil reporter, who is irresponsible enough to announce on live television that there’s a witness to the crimes and she’s in the hospital and practically shouts “hey, murderer, come and get her,” and somehow does not wind up on the end of a charge of endangerment. 

Worldbuilding note: Tarn households have what appear to be shrines, with a kind of cthuloid image as the focus. It’s not a plot point, either, but a background detail, which is nice, as alien religions only usually feature in these sorts of things if there’s a direct relevance to the story.

Fredo’s living room: note shrine.

Finally, in one of little Estes’ storybooks we see dark-skinned Tarns. We have not seen any dark-skinned Tarns in Demeter City and I am now having some rather dubious thoughts about this.

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Fiona Moore

Academic, anthropologist and SF writer, living, teaching and working in a global city.

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