Thursday, February 24, 2011

Outcasts (Episode 5)

Now on to this week's Outcasts, which at the start almost seems like a repeat of the last episode. Another mysterious figure from the wilderness moseys on over to the frontier town of Forthaven - this time somehow able to bypass the guards at the entrance. Probably because they're all drinking at the town's only bar I suspect. Why is this the only apparent source of relaxation and entertainment in Forthaven, other than Tipper's old-time radio show?

The old visitor starts throwing around bags of diamonds in the bar, which causes a good ol' fashioned (though sadly brief) bar brawl and then runs out, with Cass and Fleur - the only deputies in the town it seems - hot on his tail. Again, he manages to get out of Forthaven without being stopped by the non-existent guards and heads off towards the ocean, where he wants to show the two PAS officers something.

Now, the story about the diamonds - spread by Julius Berger - causes unrest in Forthaven as everyone wants one. I'm not sure why though because they don't seem to use money on Carpathia and Forthaven doesn't seem to be an ultra-capitalist state where the rich have everything whilst the poor go hungry. So what use are diamonds to them?

Meanwhile, outside in the pleasant looking countryside, we get our first hint as to why the folk of Forthaven perhaps haven't explored the rest of Carpathia. Apparently there are Closed Zones - areas of high radiation - in the wilderness. Though Jack, later, is able to plot a course through these without too much trouble as he and Stella go after Cass, Fleur and the old man. Why only those two (and an XP redshirt who gets shot by some roving ACs) were sent to find them and not, say, a dozen XPs I don't know. Perhaps the rest of them were nursing hangovers after visiting the bar the night before?

Stella wants to go because "the ocean is where all life starts" and she wants to find out more about the fossilised remains. This seems a bit of a shot in the dark - why not just dig up the area around where that jawbone was found last week? Anyway, at least someone is finally exploring the planet whilst at the same time proving she's a crack shot with a pistol.

The old man called Pak turns out to be Patrick Baxter, the now almost-legendary person who first set foot on Carpathia. Although, as we find out from Pak, he wasn't the first to land on the planet. An AC (called Tigger? A tiger link?) was sent down first but, of course, no one considers them human so they don't count. Unfortunately, the scientists who modified the AC forgot to give him a decent immune system (seriously?) so, like a martian invading Earth, Carpathia's "invader" died of a cold.

We also find out that, after apparently killing his commanding officer, Pak tried to fly his plane to get away but crashed. It seems it's now well known that planes don't work on Carpathia. Why? What is it about the atmosphere that prevents flight? Or do they mean he tried to fly off the planet but was caught out by the same problem that hampered the transport ship in the first episode? Again, more questions.

Eventually, they make it to the unnamed ocean and find lots of cut diamonds in the water. How did the water cut the facets in the diamonds like that I wonder? They also find some more fossilised bones, though they didn't particularly look like fossils to me. Meanwhile, Pak - who somehow knows his time is at an end - heads off into the water followed by his ghost dog... where he promptly falls over and dies. Which, of course, means he's unable to tell them what his vague proclamations concerning "the planet not wanting them" were about.

So, was Pak's ghost dog linked in some way to Tate's visions of his children? Tate is adamant that he's not going crazy but isn't that the sort of thing mentally disturbed people say? After a while does the planet start to affect it's inhabitants, giving them strange visions? Whatever, Tate's admission to Stella that his children are with him will only help Julius' rise in the council.

Regarding Julius, there's another meaty cliffhanger at the end of this episode. Another transport ship is out there in space on it's way to Carpathia and someone on this one (perhaps every one on board?) has a dark motive with regards to Forthaven and Tate's 'mission'. From Julius' transmitted message, it appears he's there to clear away any resistance.

So, will this new storyline be resolved within the next 3 episodes? Will all these questions be answered? Is being a cross between Lost and Battlestar Galactica really such a bad thing? So many questions and so little time...


The Acrobatic Flea said...

The cut diamonds thing was very strange, wasn't it? Are we to assume they are natural, left by the earlier civilization or 'dropped there' when some other ship crashed?

Increasingly you get the impression that things are being "made up as they go along" to explain earlier plot holes (e.g. the sudden revelation of the 'Closed Zone', which, as you pointed out, didn't really cause any major barrier to exploration!)

Nimbus said...

Originally I had a comment in there that wondered whether this show was just going to remembered for a despondent start followed by lots of little plot holes papered over by some decent acting and nice views. I'll keep watching but I sort of get the feeling that for every genuine mystery there's about three plot holes.

And goodness knows about the diamonds. I think that was just a dodgy props mistake.