September 7, 2013

Starhunter, episode 18 "Eat Sin"

Sorry we missed a post last Saturday. Between the Minnesota heatwave, the State Fair, and a looming move, Noel's time was tight so we decided to skip a week.

We open on a video where, with the Tulip and her crew now missing, Rudolpho waxes about how he once got lost as a child.

Following the TIME DAZZLE (they don't really clang this time around) of the last episode, Dante is alone on the bridge, but checks and finds out that their prisoner, Five, is still in his cage. Five talks about how his mission is to eat the universe's sins, and how only he knows the true future of events. When Dante leaves, the time ripple appears in front of Five and he greets it. After a TIME DAZZLE, the cage is now unlocked and empty.

Dante returns to the bridge, trying to figure out where every-- TIME DAZZLE - Percy is alone on the bridge, trying to figure out where everyone is. Caravaggio figures out some sort of time distortion is going on, but his systems are being affected and each subsequent dazzle leaves him unable to talk, with a disagreeable personality, or confused. Percy walks through the corridors, continuing to search for - TIME DAZZLE - Luc walks through the corridors, continuing to search for everyone else. She talks to Caravaggio, who - TIME DAZZLE - Dante talks to Caravaggio, who suggests they're in a time bubble where everyone has been separated by nanoseconds of existence and are each operating on a difference level of time within the same space.

Lifeform sensors suddenly detect that Five is roaming around free. Dante, unarmed except for a knife in his boot, races to the bridge, but all of the weapons lockers are empty. As he races off the bridge - TIME DAZZLE - Five is there, and he helps himself to the fully stocked weapons lockers. When Dante hears Five playing with the intercom, he races to the bridge. All of the weapons are stacked in a pile, and when Dante grabs one, he's floored with an electric shock and knocked out. Five calmly enters and checks Dante's vitals.

Dante comes to in the captain's chair, his hands cuffed and his ankles tied. Five is there, wanting the ship to take him to a point that doesn't exist on a map. He pushes Dante, even pulling out Percy's wrist computer and saying how much fun he had playing with her. When Dante doesn't help, Five drags him down to the storage hold at gunpoint, growing angry when Dante points out he's contradicting things he (or other hes) said earlier. Five pistol whips him and leaves. Dante uses the knife in his boot to cut the line around his ankles and takes off, Five returning and hot on his tail.

Dante is first to the bridge, where he gets a gun. When Five keeps spouting his insane rhetoric, Dante shoots him.


Luc finds out about time warps. TIME DAZZLE. Prisoner has escaped. She races to bridge, there's no guns. Leaves. TIME DAZZLE. Five has all the guns. Luc returns to find the pile on the floor. Sees it might be a trap and moves to confront Five with a large pipe, but is forced to go after the guns. Electrocuted. She wakes up, cuffed in the captain's chair, with Five talking about the Orchard and demanding to be put in touch with Darius. She spits in his face. He drags her to storage. She point out his contradictions. Pistol whip. He leaves her. She finds Dante's knife and makes a run for it. He chases her around. They eventually square off in a corridor where she whips the knife into his chest and he drops dead.


Percy hears the prisoner has escaped. While she starts pecking at her wrist computer, Five is on the bridge, taking all the guns. Percy finds the stack of guns, grabs one and points it at five, but it's empty and he knocks her out. She comes to, cuffed in the captain's chair. He goes off about how she's his angel to help him gift pain to the universe in return for all it's given him. She snarks. He shows how he's hacked control of Caravaggio and plays a video of Dante and Luc being tortured to death. She snarks some more. He drags her to storage where she snarks and he knocks her out.

When she comes to, he asks if she's ready to help. Alarms go off. He drags her back to the bridge and orders her to fix whatever's broken. Taking a seat at the controls, she instantly kicks up the gravity, flattening Five on the floor. As she flees, we find out she'd pre-emptively programmed Caravaggio to override any of Five's reprogramming, so the computer is fully functional. She finds the location of the time warp and orders Caravaggio to self destruct the Tulip once she's gone. She hops through, the ship and Five explode, and


Percy rounds a corridor corner, running into Dante. Five is still on their tail, so Percy drags her uncle to the time warp, again with orders to Caravaggio to self destruct when they're gone. Before Dante can react, they hop through, kaboom, and


Percy and Dante are in an elevator with Luc. Everyone gets their bearings and returns to the bridge, where they find out Five is still safely locked up in his cell.

As our heroes sit down for a meal, scans show no further signs of time anomalies. They track things back to still active machinery in the destroyed lab beneath the moon's surface, which they bombard with missile. And a few more missile. And some missiles set to explode throughout the day.

That "night", Percy climbs into bed. When she's asleep, Five slips out of her closet and wraps his hands around her neck.

Percy wakes up. Nobody else is in the room, but as she drifts off, her closet drifts open a crack.


In our last post, I talked about wanting to reserve my full judgement about "A Twist in Time" until I see the second part... And now I can see that I needn't have bothered. Because it's not really a two-parter so much as two episodes linked together by a cliffhanger.

Aside from establishing the fact that Five exists and the fact that there are portals, the previous episode doesn't really establish anything that appears in "Sin Eater", or anything the audience won't be able to work out from this episode. And, strictly speaking, we didn't really need another episode to establish either of these things. Five doesn't really have much of a presence is "A Twist in Time", and the portals don't even work the same way here as they do in the previous episode. Instead of letting a person jump back in time, they connect different bubble universes. Whatever Dante may have learned in the previous episode is rendered pointless.

The episode could just as easily have begun with the opening scene from "A Twist in Time", skipped to the scene where Dante finds himself alone on the Tulip and the audience would have missed nothing.

So, then, what do I think about "Sin Eater" as an episode?

Well, it's better than "A Twist in Time"... but not by much.

Strangely enough, "Sin Eater" suffers from the same sort of repetitiveness as the previous episode. In each universe, we see the same sequence of events. Five escapes. He captures [character]. He torments [character]. He takes [character] to shuttle bay, beats [character] up, [character] manages to get an upper hand, we move to another bubble universe, rinse and repeat.

Given that we're dealing with three different characters with three different personalities, I hoped the way they react would lead to a different sequence of events... but no. Not really.

To be fair, the characters do react differently, which keeps the episode from being soul-crushingly repetitive. Dante is angry but trying to negotiate, Luc remains a soldier who's looking for the opening, and Percy outright refuses to lose her cool and be intimidated. All three of them wind up stopping Five in different ways - I particularly like Percy using her knowledge of the Tulip's inner workings against him. So, like I said, it isn't horribly repetitive - but still far more repetitive than it should be.

And then there's Five. I hoped "Eat Sin" would show that he's more than just a bundle of psycho killer cliches, but my hope was dashed. Personally, I've long held that Psycho Killer Who Toys With Heroes is a lazy trope, but I think that it can work if we get some sense of who the killer is as a person and what he or she wants. The best Clever Psycho Killer characters always have some kind of underlying logic, some goal. It may be warped logic, flawed logic, and the reason may not be anything any reasonable person can relate to, but it has to be there.

We don't really get that with Five. He talks about being a "Sin Eater", about wanting to give the pain back to the universe, but what does it mean? We know that he knows Darius, so he's probably been involved with the Orchard in some capacity, but nothing really comes of it. At the end of the day, Five is just there to serve as a menacing presence that could hurt our heroes, something they have to overcome. There is nothing beyond that.

(I do have to wonder if we were meant to assume he had something to do with Brother Thirteen's cult. The numerical names, the talk of conversion... Maybe he was a former disciple who went insane... Or, heck, maybe he was the one who unlocked Brother Thirteen's Divinity Cluster powers. We'll probably never know.)

Oh, and if the final scene is supposed to leave the show on a spooky note, it doesn't quite work. Each member of the crew confronted a version of Five, and he wound up dead not once, not twice, but four freaking times. If you want to make a villain menacing, having him lose so many times doesn't really help.

There are parts I enjoy. I always like when Rudolpho's introductory monologue is actually related to the plot. For once, Dante doesn't second guess the Unusual Thing that happens in the episode, which is always nice. I liked that Percy is the one who realizes that destroying parallel Tulips will help to cut down on the number of Five duplicates and leave Fives with fewer places to go. And I quite like Caravagio in this episode. He's amusingly snarky and I can't help but feel a little bad for all the parallel versions of him that blew up with the Tulips. For Percy, it may not have been the end, but from his perspective, he was giving his life and Percy just sort of brushed it off. And I really like the bit in the end when he responds to "Thank God for that" with a "You are welcome."

But ultimately, those things are not enough to make the episode any better than average... at best.

A few side notes:
  • This episode, we get a very specific date - down to a month. I imagine that, in a universe where Starhunter had better scripts, better acting, and just plain greater exposure, fans latched on to this date and built an elaborate timeline of the Starhunter-verse history around it.
  • This is the show where we've seen breasts, but Luc gets cut off before she can finish cursing. What's up with that?


For some reason, they felt this whole time bubble plot needed to stretch into a second episode, which is unfortunate as, just like "A Twist in Time", "Eat Sin" is largely three segments of watching the same things happen over and over again. One of our main three crewmembers is wondering around wondering what happened to the other two. Caravaggio functions long enough to tell them the prisoner is loose, then find weapons missing on the bridge, bubble to Five getting all the weapons, then they find the weapons stacked on the bridge only to be a booby trap by Five. He messes with them, drags them to the docking bay where he leaves long enough for them to make a run for it, there's a struggle over elevator doors, and he's killed. We see this exact same scenario play out with all three of our leads.

The Dante bit is the least interesting, as he's lunking throughout it with constant declarations of "What the hell's going on?" He's not a skilled fighter like Luc, he can't use the ship against Five like Percy, so he's mostly just blundering until he gets lucky. There's a nice bit of emotional punch as Five uses Percy's wrist computer to convince Dante she's dead, but that's about it.

Luc's scenario plays out almost exactly the same, the only difference being Five's knowledge of the Orchard and Darius to mess with her. There's suggestions at the end that Five has been using time warps for quite some time now, leading to his scrambled awareness and personality, but when he claims to know Darius is still alive, does this tie into the broader Divinity Cluster plot? Or is Five just messing with her? Either way, the knife toss she finishes him off with is badass.

Percy's thread is where the story finally picks up momentum and really becomes entertaining, and that's mostly due to Percy herself. Her laid-back snarky air is at its finest here as she doesn't let Five ruffles her feathers one bit, even as he's knocking her around. And then we find out she's been several steps ahead of him, pre-programming Caravaggio to protect him from reprogramming, setting up a scenario where she can use the ship's gravity controls to her advantage, and not only killing the Five of her timeline, but setting the entire ship to blow up as soon as she finds the warp to hop into another bubble. That's one hell of a great twist, and I love when she does it yet again, finding Dante and blowing up the Tulip of his thread, too. The entire drag of the episode's first half is worth it for how fun Percy makes the second half.

Otherwise, it's a pretty blah episode, unnecessarily repeating itself almost as much as it repeats the previous installment. Until Percy, there's too little variety, too little thought given to each of the divergent bubbles. Howard Anthony's performance as Five is still mixed, with his flutters into cartoony voices being grating, but his massive physique making for a genuine looming threat. And I like the little revelation as to why he may be called Five: because One through Four have all been killed through this episode's events. It's not half as clever a concept as it thinks it is, but clever enough to be amusing.

We'll be back next Saturday with another Starhunter adventure: "Bad Girls".

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