February 1, 2015

Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, episode 17 "The Eden Road"

The resistance leader Cypher is blindfolded and led to the Power Base to personally tell Captain Power about his discovery of a contact for the first of several stages in the underground railroad leading to Eden II. Dread's forces are closing in on the location, so if our heroes want in on a meeting Eden II is proposing, they have to do it now before the contact is relocated.

The planned meeting point is in a wrecked and polluted town full of acid fog that even the Power Suits will succumb to after exposure for a while. Biodreads are around the perimeter, but rarely go in deep as their circuits succumb to the acid fog and they go rogue and lose their bearings. Scout sneaks up to a Dread computer terminal with his holo disguise, but that gives out in the acid and a fight breaks out. Our heroes quickly take the Dreads down before an alarm can sound.

At Volcania, an Overunit walks Lord Dread through a study he's made of sightings of Power and his team's response team over the last few weeks. Dread realizes there's no way Power can cover so much ground so quickly... unless his old friends Stuart finished his proposed portal system before dying. Reports come in about Biodreads disappearing or going rogue in the polluted town, which the Overunit brushes off as a common occurrence of the fog, but Dread is suspicious. He sends Blastarr to investigate.

Our heroes follow a signal to a small house, completely refurbished inside and impervious to the fog, where they meet John, who promises them Eden II is real, passes along word of Vi to Hawk, and gives them coordinates for where the new railroad will be set up. Not much else is exchanged, though, as John still feels a need to keep information from leaking outside. And it's not long before Blastarr and Dreads crash the meeting. John tosses Power a package, then disappears down some tunnels. Our heroes fight off the Dreads, helped by Blastarr who's driven mad by the acid fog and starts blowing away his own troops.

Returning to the Power Base, our heroes open the package, discovering a freshly picked orange, which they gleefully enjoy.


Well, Eden II is officially a thing. At the moment, it's still just a speck on the horizon, but I think there can be little doubt now that it's what this show is building toward long-term. Or should I say "was" building toward long term. We may revisit it before the season is out, but don't hold your breath waiting for any major reveals. Discovering or debunking Eden II was likely the end game of a four or five season run. So yeah, those two blue things? Those are your balls, and I'd get used to them.

Despite its importance in laying track for future episodes, "The Eden Road" is an altogether dull and rather uninspired entry for the bulk of its runtime. It once again sees our team on a road trip through a strange land, and though Dark Town's acidic nature is a nice touch and has lots of fun potential, I don't know that they take full advantage of that premise. I do enjoy seeing Blastarr go Full Metal Jacket, but I would've liked to see our heroes have to deal with the environment and its challenges in a more direct fashion. Instead, they spend most of the episode milling about, seemingly attempting to milk the clock in the same way a kid might go sharpen his pencil three times in the last fifteen minutes of the school day. It's as if the writer had a start and a finish, but nothing of consequence for the middle. Even their interaction seems flat here. The quips lack zing, the performances seem phoned in. There's absolutely no energy in this episode at all.

The final reveal is indeed intriguing, but it's also retroactively frustrating when you realize that any payoff is unlikely to come.

Random thoughts:
  • I found it curious they chose to name the Eden II contact John. I realize it's a common name, even in a post-apocalyptic future, but really? How about Ted? Ted's a nice name for an underground sanctuary contact.
  • Every character has had their own episode thus far save for Scout. To make matters worse, Scout as written feels like more of a sidekick than main character, often getting the crumbs leftover after the other characters do their thing. That's a real shame, because not only does he have the coolest and most useful power, Maurice Dean Wint may be the best actor amongst our heroes.


So much in this episode, I hardly know where to begin.

So we have further confirmation that Eden II is a thing. This is awesome, as it presents hope for the future of this world, but I also like some slight hints of potential rivalry between the Edenites and the Power led refugees. There is mutual trust and respect, mutual acknowledgement of all the hard work being done between the two, but there's also butting philosophies and a hesitancy to trust. Power and his men aren't just going to blindly fall into the walls of Eden, and Eden isn't just going to blindly opens its doors to them, staying mum on specific locations or deals. Also, Power and his team are fighters, they're the resistance, slowly chipping at the edges of the Machine and trying to prevent it from sweeping even further than it has. Eden II, however, is an escape, hiding from the fight in the hopes of building anew. This will lead to a confrontation, at some point, but I like that it's not entirely one sided. Power may have all the fight, but he is still limited in resources to a degree, with no new inventions or manufacturing among his populace since the wars began. Whereas Eden has had resources to invent and perfect, not only machinery, but farming techniques. These two may butt heads, but pooling their resources may be the only way to ultimately triumph over Dread and Overmind in the end. This would have been a fantastic thread to see play out. Alas, very much doubt we'll get there in the span of 5 more episodes.

My only issue with the Eden plot here is that the lead dude we get to meet is named John, in a series where our main hero is Jon Powers, and the person running after John, Hawk, is the only member of our main team to regularly call his leader "Jon", which made for some momentary and unnecessary confusion at times. It's nice seeing Brent Stait in the role, though, as he's become a familiar genre tv mainstay since his role as Rev Bem on Andromeda (the second of that lead cast to appear on this show). John has a quiet, priest-like sincerity to him, a genuine golden promise of salvation, but there's also a twinkle of mischief in his eye as he's admitting he can't fully trust our heroes and tosses them a gift. Speaking of, how awesome is that scene where our team sees their first orange in who knows how many years. Peter MacNeill especially plays the hell out of it.

I love the setting of the ruins in the acid fog, where even Dread patrols fear to tread because any who wander too deeply in go rogue as their systems are corroded. It's neat to see, as Biodreads just drift aimlessly and into their own laser grids, and even their human Overunits just brush it off as a normal occurrence. That's a neat scene, by the way, of Dread actually going out among his human Overunits, and being firm yet fair as he instructs them through performing like machines. Back to the acid fog, it also makes for a great atmospheric setting to liven up the token action scenes, with the half-melted, breaking down Dreads adding a layer of horror to the scenario, and the needed full helmets of our heroes being a nice addition. I don't know that just giving Power a lower visor works that well, though I like Pilot finally having some form of head protetion beyond just cool shades.

And then we get to Blastarr. Oh, glorious Blastarr. I was a little hesitant when they chose to introduce him doing a jazzercise calisthenics routines in the desert, but once he enters the action and starts succumbing to the fog, it's an amazing sight to behold, especially as he roars in agony as he blows away anything that moves, even his own men. I haven't been a huge fan of that shield on his right arm that he's fanned out from time to time, but I like what they do with the CG here, with the blades swirling as out of synch as his melted logic circuits. That said, we've talked in the past about how Blastarr's regenerative abilities allow him to magically overcome any damage, but he's left to continue rotting in a fog of acid that's already caused significant damage. I'm surprised there'd be anything left after that. Sure, Dread probably sent in some troopers to fish the lug out, but still. There should be some lasting effects, if only for a little while.

But still, great episode. Does a nice job of pulling threads together while laying the path for how they would have continued to play out over time. I was skeptical of the portal system Power uses, but I like how Dread becomes aware of it here and how that could potentially play out. There's nice character bits, good action in a solid, atmospheric setpiece. A nice way to shake up the usual Biodread and Blastarr attacks. And that magnificent orange scene. This episode's a winner.

If you'd like to watch along with us, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future is available on DVD!

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