Heading for the centre of the universe, the LEXX flies into a giant space web and before you can say “isn’t this identical to the previous episode?” it literally is. At least two-thirds of this story is footage from the previous episode, telling the same story over again but with the single twist that we now know that Stan is in fact under the control of the parasite/spider organism; the original material covers how Xev and Kai find this out and get rid of it. I’m not sure if this is terribly clever and postmodern, or just the team admitting that they really do have more season than story (and at that, it’s arguably a more interesting way of dealing with that problem than DS9’s endless run of two-characters-stranded-somewhere filler episodes) but at least next week is “Brigadoon”, which should be fun.
The crew of the LEXX realise that the Mantrid clones are eating up all the matter in the universe, so they head for its centre in an attempt to escape to the Dark Zone, and before you can say “this is another of those stories where they mash up multiple episodes of Blake’s 7, isn’t it?” the ship has encountered a giant space web, and a sort of fungus/spider hybrid has taken control of the minds of the LEXX and Stan (though apparently its attempt to do the same to Kai broke it). The story is nicely creepy, particularly the bits where the crew gradually come to realise how serious their situation is, and the Mantrid clone plot line is an obvious but not too in-your-face climate change metaphor. I did spend most of the episode wondering what’s happened to Lyekka, though, since no one as much as mentions her and you’d think she’d get involved.
790 reveals that Xev has an expiration date, being technically a product, and before you can say “is this going to be a satire on free-market capitalism?” it winds up being a parody of The Wizard of Oz instead, as the titular Wozzard sends Stan (the Cowardly Lion) and Kai (the Scarecrow, I guess) off to defeat the Evil Green Lady as the price of his help restoring Xev (spoiler alert: he’s lying, he can’t do it).
There’s some unfortunate fat-shaming as well as implications that feminists are either insincere or deluded, but the parody’s entertainingly on point and the designer of the digital sets is having a field day.
Stanley is having nightmares about Gigguratha, so seeks out the Narcolounger, a device which can allow the user to control their dreams, and before you can say “does that sound even remotely like a good idea, given the people involved?” he’s trapped in a nightmare about Gigguratha from which he can’t wake up, and it’s up to Xev and Kai to get him out of it. A pretty good exploration of Stan’s repressed guilt over the things he’s done to survive, and it’s great to see Gigguratha getting to act as a sort of fearsome conscience, though the dream landscapes are actually less surreal than the cyberpunk junkyard-planet on which they find the Narcolounger. The titular “patches”, though, are an indication that the Mantrid drones are literally eating the universe, and a reminder that we’re going to have to get back to that plot within the next five or six episodes.
Somehow the scheduling got taken off my LEXX posts! Apologies for the hiatus. Resuming:
Stanley collapses from a mystery illness, the rest of the crew send out an SOS, and before you can say “Isn’t that Louis del Grande, well known from such cult favourites as Scanners and Seeing Things?” the SOS has been answered by a dysfunctional family who turn out to be custodians of the planet where all the undead husks of His Divine Shadow hang out. Before long Kai’s gone crazy, the dysfunctional family are trying to take over the LEXX, and Lyekka’s got loose and is eating anything with a brain. As you can probably already tell, this episode reads like it’s been cobbled together from previous episodes (crew member illness, dysfunctional family with designs on the LEXX, revenants of His Divine Shadow, Kai going crazy, Lyekka as a deus ex machina, or ex plant or something), and is kind of unsatisfying as a result. There’s sex again, but this time it’s lesbian for a change (Lyekka just wants to satisfy your desires, and, well, turns out there’s a reason Louis del Grande’s wife doesn’t like him).ETA: The set for the episode also looks suspiciously like the monastery exteriors from “Nook”.
The LEXX pick up Norb, the child who escaped the hillbilly clans in episode 2.8, drifting in space, and before you can say “it’s been a while since they touched base with the Mantrid storyline,” he turns out to be an undead Trojan horse for Mantrid’s self-replicating autonomous zombie arms.
This story has some great moments of genuine horror, with the sense of strangeness reinforced by the fact that, 790’s usual protestations of love for Xev aside, this is a completely sex-free episode. On the downside, they again have more episode than plot, and while the effects are again on the upward curve there’s some rather obvious repetition of footage.
The crew find a camper-van full of teenagers in suspended animation. There’s a jock, a fat guy, a bully, a party girl and a virgin, and before you can say “wow, all that setup needs to become an American-style slasher-horror movie is a serial killer,” Kai’s woken up and is butchering his way through them in the classic approved horror movie order. It’s really a lot of fun, particularly after watching “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” last week, to see the tropes in reverse, with the story being from the point of view of the murderer/s rather than the victims.
Finally, this episode we get to see what toilets are like on the LEXX, which really doesn’t disappoint.
Just a quick note to wish all my readers a great 2021, or at least a better 2021 than 2020.
I had lots of great plans for new and continuing article series on this blog last year, most of which largely went by the wayside. The reason had less to do with Covid-19, and more to do with the fact that I’ve been working on the book version of Leadership Lessons from Game of Thrones, which has wound up occupying the space in my attention normally reserved for blogging. However, once it’s finished, I have a few more ideas for things to do here.
In the meantime, have a picture of a cat:
Fans of the ace detective team of Wills FitzJames and Noah Moyo from “Jolene” can rejoice! A new story, featuring a home invasion, an unresponsive gardener AI who is the only witness, and an intuitive border collie, is coming out shortly in the anthology London Centric from NewCon Press. It’s a thrill to be in the company of such amazing authors! Click here to preorder.
From Sci-Fi Bulletin:
“Fiona Moore loves The Robots of Death as much as we do, unravelling the various threads that combine to create a pretty much perfect story. And as much as you might think you know there’s nothing new to say here, you might just be surprised. 9/10”
Check it out for yourself here, of course (ebook now available, print available from Monday).