90’s Rewatch- Earth: Final Conflict, S1E2: “Truth”

The early, post-pilot episodes of a show are kind of notoriously rough. For every Battlestar Galactica with a “33,” there’s a dozen shows with episodes that seem bizarrely small stakes, a meaningless digression, or something totally out of character. (I’m looking at you, SG-1, with your “Carter as a damsel in distress” episode.) It’s mitigated a bit with our current trend of serialized story telling, but back in the day, it was a real issue. Voyager‘s first post-pilot episode is so forgettable I couldn’t even remember the plot besides some Marquis/Starfleet angst.

Props for the effort, FX guys.

If nothing else, Earth: Final Conflict‘s second episode is at least thematically on task. Having been successfully inserted into the role of Taelon protector, with his shiny new brain-boosting CVI and bioengineered, symbiotic energy weapon, William Boone decides to solve the mystery of his wife’s death. We get to visit a hacker, Augur, who will be come a recurring character, track down a psychotic assassin that just reeks of 90s exxxxtreme, and learn about the memory enhancement functions of Boone’s CVI, along with the identity of his wife’s killer. (It’s not a Taelon!)

This isn’t actually a terrible episode. It’s mildly frustrating in that it’s a bit of a divergence from the questions we want to know (Why are the Taelons here?), but it works. We do get some new story crumbs doled out to us– our first glimpse of the natural form of the Taelons, for instance, a transparent humanoid network of energy pulses. Boone acts in character, following a goal that makes sense, even if the incidentals are a little off, like the dramatic reveal of an electromagnet in the wreckage of his wife’s car. Man, I work for a national company in automotive repair, and I’m sure even our most experienced techs would look at that and be like, “Huh. Never knew they had an RF choke in there.”

This is a 90s Rewatch, and I suppose it would be beating a dead horse to mention how steeped in the 1990s tropes this episode is, but I kept coming back to it. It reminded me, in a lot of ways, of the original Deus Ex. The weird mix of grunge and high tech– the rich hacker living in a warehouse full of bundled up, discarded monitors, for instance, or the not-quite-gentrified apartment of the unstable-but-deadly assassin hired to kill Boone’s wife. Heck, even the Taelon’s animation in their energy form brought back memories of chatting to NPCs in Deus Ex. But some shows seem timeless, even if they’re clearly a product of their times in terms of production– Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, for instance, or, weirdly, the actually-set-in-the-90s The X-Files— but EFC takes the ball and runs with it, for better or worse. The cheese is a actually little endearing.

High Points:

  • Some well done sequences involving Boone’s new perfect memory
  • Augur’s a fun character, and his hacking channels Gibson more than Hackers.
  • Makes sense as the next step in Boone’s arc

Low Points:

  • I can buy the assassin as a psychopath, but not a competent professional.
  • I roll my eyes at every glimpse of the bar Jonathon Doors hides in
  • Seriously. There ain’t nothing suspicious about an electromagnet.

Previous Episodes

Season One

Joshua Young

Joshua M. Young lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife, son, and two more feral cats than the optimal number of feral cats. (That is, zero.) He holds a Master of Divinity from Ashland Theological Seminary, and yes, he's quite aware that writing this kind of stuff isn't exactly what you'd expect from a trained theologian. A life long lover of science fiction and fantasy, one of his earliest memories involves some confusion with a Klingon Bird of Prey and an X-Wing in the middle of a theater showing The Search for Spock, and, once upon a time, he could select the desired Robotech novel from his bookshelf, in the dark, by the feel of its spine. (Don't ask why that was a necessary skill. He couldn't tell you.) He has been published in numerous anthologies, including Planetary: Mercury, Planetary: Venus, and Tales of the Once and Future King.

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