In the wake of learning our lesson that trust and honesty must be maintained by the group, Four acts just as Six did previously and leaves the crew to handle his father’s assassination personally. Upon being ceremoniously captured, Four and his former master must traverse a violent forest while recalling their once proud mentorship. The crew search for Four whilst dealing with the next stage of their trust issues including One’s secret grudge against Three and Six’s self-loathing over his own past which negatively impacts Five and her continued attempts to bond with the crew.
While not as generally impactful as last week’s episode, the stakes were nearly as high but on a more personal level. Feelings were more intimate and hurt while the build up toward Two’s inevitable secret will cause the most blowback when fate calls on it. Some elements were done very well and as always, they candidly wiggle in a moment or two of ironic humor. There are a few aesthetic concerns, but they only really tied to the episode at hand and not as a global problem of the show. All in all, a satisfying episode with a mild but decent shoot out and probably an unnecessary death scene, but I’ll get analytical on that later in the review.
After a supply run, Four leaves the crew to meet presumably with his brother on a remote planet but finds his old mentor and his soldiers there waiting for him. Four dispatches the soldiers but is taken captive by Akita. Meanwhile, One reveals to Two that he believes Three murdered his original personality’s wife and is harboring a grudge about it. Six feels miserable and self-loathing over both The General’s escape and his role with him and takes his frustrations out on Five, who laments she’s just as much a friend to the crew and everyone else is. Three and the android share a brief moment regarding her self-diagnostic and thoughts toward rebooting her system if she can’t find or fix the flaw in herself. Back on the planet, Four and Akita encounter local bandits but dispatch them. Once Akita’s other forces arrive to take in Four, the crew show up and a shoot out occurs with only Akita’s men suffering casualties. Akita decidedly lets Four walk his own path but promises to take him in should they meet again. Four then kills his mentor and returns to the ship. In the final scene, the Raza is subdued out of FTL and surrounded by three larger ships.
I’ll start with the moment that caught me off guard which was Four killing Akita at the end. This act can be viewed a couple of different ways and as such try to dig as deep as I can having just recently viewed it. My first rationalization was that Four can’t afford to have Akita return home and tip his hand about Four’s suspicion that his step-mother killed his father. This could inexplicably put his step-brother in harm’s way as I don’t think Four truly believes his brother had a part in his father’s death. That seems like the easy explanation, but I know there has to be more than that because I certainly don’t think Four needed to kill his mentor. Honor can be thrown about with what it means to surpass one’s own teacher, giving an honorable death in combat, and of course having owned his life since it was revealed Four saved Akita from execution all those years ago over a bad call during a battle we never got to see. Four certainly didn’t hate Akita and the two did share a form of father/son relationship based on Four’s inability to understand his own father and his harsh teachings. So what was the real motivation behind the kill? Was it to save face with the crew, or did Four think the crew would have killed Akita anyway? I think if that was the case, Four and Two would have had that talk during their last scene in her quarters. In my honest feedback, I’d say Four was wiping away all of his past connections to deal with moving forward on reclaiming his throne. Akita was, at best a neutral figure in this struggle and Four needs people he can fully trust. By telling Four he would bring him to the emperor if they met again, he was in fact sealing his own fate.
One and Three’s macho showmanship reached a pivotal moment, one that Two now has context into which is good because, when it comes to everyone else’s problems she can rationalize quite well. When it comes to her own, she just can’t deal with anyone’s input or judgment, at least not yet. When two characters genuinely dislike each other but keep saving each other’s lives, on purpose or not, it creates the ultimate buddy cop effect. These two share that dynamic and that’s good because without it, Three is just a solitary smart-ass and One is just a whiney kid with a high-school crush. Keep them on one another like this episode did and they’ll eventually become great allies. It displayed the subtext of friendship and camaraderie, something that both Two and Five mentioned to Six and Four. Their alliance is necessary for survival, but more than that, it’s imperative they start to become a family that looks out for one another, at least until Two’s secret blows everything out the airlock.
A few minor nitpicks as usual, but they’re again aesthetic and don’t distract from the overall tale. Four’s subplot has been given a lot of screen time and thus far has the most impact considering if it is resolved then Three’s judgment was right, they’ll have a powerful and influential ally with the resources to probably fix all their problems. Which is why I can’t imagine everything going as planned, or at the best, being postponed due to more critical concerns like being boarded by three large ships that have been searching for them.
I didn’t like it, but it I understood why it was done and that was Akita’s death. He was a fascinating character that had just as many layers as four did and Four killing him just seemed so villainous and the exact moment it happened. After reflecting, it made the scene more genuine because of all the subtext and flashbacks built in to get us to care about a character who wanted to do right but was locked in a position he couldn’t really get out of. If they can keep writing characters with this kind of complexity it will serve the show much more.
I think Akita should get it. He’s a minor character but one created on the foundation of maneuvering Four into those moments of character growth. He was a necessary catalyst and treated Four with dignity and respect while still proving to be a more capable opponent, which is always good to help measure a main character’s ability and prowess. Good acting and all around a tough character with honorable roots.
The weight lifting cracked me up and not in a good way. Watching One handle that puny 15-20 pound dumbbell in frustration was comical. Did he just steal that from the weight room or does he have a stack of those by his bed? Do you even lift, bro? And as for Six, you call those hammer curls? Your form was all wrong and Five has to be completely off her senses if she thinks surprising Six while he was benching what looked like 255 was a good idea. Safety first people.
As much as I appreciate the cuteness and the look of Five adding steampunk-flavored goggles to her already rebelliously flamboyant clothing style, I’m going to have to have to shake my head on that cliché and hope they don’t become a part of her outfit. I know, I know, I’m harsh, but they don’t need to sell her personality with any more flair, it’s fine the way it is.
By now I have to imagine that someone else on the crew will catch or find Two without her bandage on which will spark the debate on her attitude toward being honest with everyone. Five can keep a secret and Four likely won’t care, but it’s better if Six or Three finds out about it first. One just seems obvious, but since they’re kind of sort of being bed mates, you’d think he’d find out first just because.
I liked the brief take on Two and Three’s deduction with who realistically could have been the “bad guy” and wiped their memories, but the more they pinpoint it absolutely having to be one of the crew members I find it’s painfully obvious it was either the android (since she was purposefully not mentioned) or someone we haven’t met yet that’s either still on the ship or got off to avoid suspicion.
I keep seeing Wil Wheaton on the guest star list for this show but he still hasn’t shown up yet. Is he perhaps on one of the three ships that just overtook the Raza in space? He’ll fit right in. He start out in space after all.
Okay, here was my biggest nitpick of the episode. Twice, Four is surrounded by people who just casually walk into a circle from outside the woods. This is not smart choreography. Both Four and Akita are trained soldiers. They should spot enemies surrounding him from a mile away especially if they walk up and super casual like. Even the locals barely made the effort to appear as a threat. I just think if these guys dropped from the trees or I don’t know, used the land in some way to mask their arrival that could have made them a stronger threat. When Akita, a trained badass gives warning that the forest is full of problems worse than wild animals I was expecting something more than tiresome looking forest-folk who are just looking for some boots and money. Granted he said “after dark” but still. K, rant over.
8 out of 10. Four’s storyline is one of my favorites because I like when they blend past and future cultures together. It’s not perfect by any means, but I like where it’s going, I just wish the step-brother was smart enough to understand that his mother blatantly spelled out for him that she killed the emperor. It’s okay, I’ll let that slide. Tonight’s episode had some decent sword fights and everyone on the ship is starting to get the picture that they are turning into a real focused group that depend on each other. Keep up this pace and they’ll be a really likeable crew in no time. I’d like to see if Six develops a drinking problem or falls off the deep end with his attitude, but since he’s already made amends with Five I doubt we’ll see him slip in any bad territory again until his enemy resurfaces. Overall, I like the episode, not quite as catchy and lavish as last week, but still a positive piece of the complete pie. Thanks for reading.