Space: 1999
Episode by Episode

"Death's Other Dominion"

From: David Acheson ( Date: Mon, 02 Mar 1998 23:34:52 EST Subj: Space1999: Death's Other Dominion

Now that the silliness of the almost-collision with Astheria is over, our band of space travellers enter into a new alien solar system and encounters Ultima Thule. This is one episode that I will admit I do like. Anthony Terpiloff rebounds this time (with his co-writer wife Elizabeth Barrows) and gives us SHAKESPEARE: 1999.

The whole episode is played out much like a Shakespearean play. Not only does it feel like theatre as opposed to television but it is probably one of the easiest episodes to transform into a live stage production. It also helps to have a talented stage actor like Brian Blessed along for the ride. Here he plays a well-respected Doctor (Cabot Rowland) who, because of his talent and reputation, has a band of dedicated followers even when it has become clear that he has crossed the boundary. All this without the evil laughs and smiles for the cameras that would be used to full effect in any other program. In fact, he appears to be like the rest of us.

John Shrapnel as Captain Jack Tanner is the typical court jester. Everyone else thinks he is the fool but the audience knows that the fool is usually right. Koenig becomes the spokesperson for the audience in this episode and the only one to suspect Tanner is not as insane as he leads people to believe.

Its interesting to note the master-servant relationship between Rowland and Tanner. When the Uranus expedition left Earth it was Tanner who was the master. Nice role-reversal.

I must admit the snow storms do not come across today as well as it looked back in 1975 but I do admire the crew to tackle such a sequence. This is really one of the few places in the episode that Alphans other than Koenig get to put some meat into their roles. Alan's fight for survival and his return to the Eagle as well as Helena's brave attempts were nice to see. The latter in particular because the female doesn't scream her bloody head off or awaits a male to rescue her so she can shower him with affection. She is left to fight until she gives out.

Of course there is a moral to this story like most of Shakespeare's tragedies. And this one is similar to much of what we have seen in previous episodes: Do not attempt to play God! In this case: cheating death (or is it life?). The ending is a grim reminder that there is a reason why things are the way they are. Score: Tanner 1 Rowland 0.

Overall a good episode - still not one of the best but not bad.

David Acheson

From: Petter Ogland ( Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 10:10:01 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: Death's Other Dominion

Shrapnel and Blessed is the best thing about the episode, I feel, and Blessed is perhaps the more believable of the two. While Brian Blessed has a tendency of shouting his lines, it nevertheless fits with the theatrical style of the episode.

As David points out, Cabot Rowland is not played too much in the villain mode. This is one of the strong points of the episode, I feel. Very much like the second Terpiloff/Barrows collaboration, THE INFERNAL MACHINE, there is not a real villain, but a person who is so occupied with his own ideas that they finally conflict with communal interests.

In some ways Dr. Rowland Cabot is not very different from Commisionar Simmonds in Terpiloff's first script to be produced, EARTHBOUND, also directed by Charles Crichton. Both of them live in their own universes and take only superficial interest in the rest of the world if it does not fit in with their plans. In my opinon, however, Blessed's interpretation of Cabot makes more interesting drama, while Simmond's drive is explained as early as in the prologue, one is never being too sure what the intents of Cabot are.

On the other hand, in this case of Simmonds, he may get sympathy, perhaps, because he is so totally lost on Alpha, there is less sympathy with Rowland, it's more a question whether his goal is also the others goal.

One of the best scenes is when the inspect the Phoenix spaceship, Cabot going Scottish accent and talking about "being like gods" with his eyes sparkling like stars. Koenig takes notice, however, while Helena and Victor apparently do not.

John Shrapnel as Captain Jack Tanner is the typical court jester. Everyone else thinks he is the fool but the audience knows that the fool is usually right. Koenig becomes the spokesperson for the audience in this episode and the only one to suspect Tanner is not as insane as he leads people to believe.

John Shrapnel is good both as the sane and the insane Tanner, but some of his transisions are too fast, I feel. One sometimes gets the impression that he is only playing insane in order to not be allowed to make the kind of profound comments he sometimes make. On other occations he seems genuinely insane. The parallell to Hamlet is perhaps not too far away. It seems Terpiloff has also been inspired by King Lear, and perhaps Julius Ceasar as well.

The sane Tanner at the end of the episode, wishing Alpha bon voyage, is perhaps not the best ending to the story, I feel. I think it would have been more efficient with a more open ending, not knowing what would happen to the Thuleans after the death of Cabot.

I must admit the snow storms do not come across today as well as it looked back in 1975 but I do admire the crew to tackle such a sequence. This is really one of the few places in the episode that Alphans other than Koenig get to put some meat into their roles. Alan's fight for survival and his return to the Eagle as well as Helena's brave attempts were nice to see.

I felt the snowstorm was one of the weaker points of the episode. It would perhaps have been more efficient if it were heavily edited. As Crichton was responsible for the wonderfully tense storm on Terra Nova in MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, it's a bit sad to see how Year One lost impetus in some aspects during its course. The most interesting thing about the snowstorm, as far as I'm concerned, is Alan's singing. It's difficult to get the words, but he seems to be singing about Lucifer. Is it an Austrailan traditional? My impression is that it is used to indicated that the Alphan's may have landed in Hell.

On the other hand, MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH is a very different episode from DEATH'S OTHER DOMINION, and the endless scenes fake snow and pointless walking about makes some sense within the theatrical context of the episode. If this episode were to be played on a stage before a live audience, the more cinematographical style of MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH would not be neither applicable nor sensible.

Of course there is a moral to this story like most of Shakespeare's tragedies. And this one is similar to much of what we have seen in previous episodes: Do not attempt to play God! In this case: cheating death (or is it life?). The ending is a grim reminder that there is a reason why things are the way they are. Score: Tanner 1 Rowland 0.

Apart from not attempting to play God, I feel this story is also about growth and learning as a vital aspect of life and complacency as the ultimate death. "There can be no children on Thule", one of the inhabitants says. Although somewhat less apathetic than GUARDIAN OF PIRI, the people on Thule do not seem to be a particulary happy crowd, although they have lived for over 800 years with a promise to continue living on forever.

In fact, the only one who seems fairly content is Dr. Rowland Cabot who still has a mission, namely his science. All the other don't seem to feel any purpose to life. "Is it death that brings purpose to life?" is Koenig's final question before the curtains fall.

In some respects the episode is perhaps not unlike FORCE OF LIFE which also seem to raise a similar question about how we lead our lives.

Overall a good episode - still not one of the best but not bad.

I'm one of those people who also enjoyed COLLISION COURSE, both for it's philosophical content and for the direction. DEATH'S OTHER DOMINION is an equally philosophical episode, but directed in a very different fashion, much more abstract, almost like Brechtian theatre.

There is very little psychology of relationships in this episode, with exception of Rowland Cabot, Jack Tanner and John Koenig, I feel, so obviously it has to be watched in a very different mode than RING AROUND THE MOON, MISSING LINK and COLLISION COURSE.

There is also a diminutive musical score, perhaps fitting with the format, contrasting early episodes like BREAKAWAY and MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH and BLACK SUN, that almost seemed like Barry Gray symphonies. On the other hand, there seems to be the right amount of music within the framwork of a theatrical stageing.

The snowstorm is all too long and the laboratory of Cabot looks like it's built of Meccano or similar childrens stuff. Nevertheless, the philosophical content seem to transend the theatrical aspects and make it all worthwhile. In fact, the theatrical style perhaps even enhances this.

Like David, I do not feel this is one of the best of Year One, but I feel it grows on repeated viewing, and it is an episode I've seen quite a few times. Its style makes it stand out from the series, and there is an interesting fit between style and content in this one which makes it interesting. All the five Terpiloff scripts for SPACE:1999 are rather interesting, I think.


From: (B J Dowling) Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 14:11:27 +0000 Subj: Space1999: Lucifer

Hi folks,

If Alan is singing the song I think he's singing in Death's Other Dominion, it's not a reference to Hell but to a cigarette lighter. I know it as a World War 1 song called "Pack Up Your Troubles" and what I know of it goes something like this:

"Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile While you've a lucifer to light your fag Smile boys, that's the style What's the use of worrying, it never was worthwhile So pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile"

I wouldn't dare sing it, but if you want to hear it sung then Gerald James and David McCallum give it a go in the second Sapphire And Steel adventure.

Brian Dowling

From: Gordon & Carol ( Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 13:48:24 +1000 (EST) Subj: Re: Space1999: Lucifer

They are the words that I know as well. The only difference being I always thought a lucifer was a slang term for a match, not a lighter? Mind you I could be wrong, I do that frequently you know! :-)

Catch You Later ( back to Lurk-Mode )

Alphan #183
Temporal/Dimensional Historian.

From: "Ellen C. Lindow" ( Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 20:45:56 -0500 (EST) Subj: Re: Space1999: Death's Other Dominion

I have a love-hate relationship with this episode. I really like the mysticism, the eiree fate of yet another failed space mission, Cabot Rowland's charisma, and the ending showing that death wins.

My kids watched the episode with me, and my 13 yr-old called it the whipped cream planet, and my eleven yr old was calling for the landing party to use that rope on Victor's backpack to TIE THEMSELVES TOGETHER!! It seems that if a kid who has never seen snow in her life can figure that one out, Koenig & co should be able to do so.

Obviously the women in the Uranus mission have adapted to this planet better than the men-- they certainly seemed to need less clothing than the men ;p

This was the last first-run 1999 episode I saw in color. The ending left me screaming louder than Helena, which got me banished to my room for all future SciFi viewing until I left home. (My mother was, and still is, the world champion mundane. She dislikes all SF indiscriminately.)

So do you think that Rowland had developed some kind of psychic powers too? Tanner may have had the ability to see the future, but Rowland's charisma seemed rather overwhelming. He sure converted Victor and Helena fast. Victor has come away from the last few episodes looking pretty vulnerable to any new idea that comes along, but Helena is usually pretty level-headed unless there's some kind of outside influence.

What a gooey death. Did you notice that the body was steaming when Koenig was dradding Helena away from it? How gross!

From: South Central ( Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 20:10:22 -0800 Subj: Space1999: Episode by Episode

Just in case you're wondering (I am seriously late this week!)....This week's episode for discussion is Death's Other Dominion. March 2-8. Sorry all!


From: Petter Ogland ( Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 09:06:15 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: Death's Other Dominion

Ellen wrote:

So do you think that Rowland had developed some kind of psychic powers too? Tanner may have had the ability to see the future, but Rowland's charisma seemed rather overwhelming. He sure converted Victor and Helena fast. Victor has come away from the last few episodes looking pretty vulnerable to any new idea that comes along, but Helena is usually pretty level-headed unless there's some kind of outside influence.

It is not a bad thing that Victor and Helena were charmed and convinced by Rowland, I think. I only wish the reason why they trusted Rowland could be more efficiently explained to the viewer.

All in all the situation is not too unlike COLLISION COURSE, but unlike COLLISION COURSE where we see the problem from both points of view, in DEATH'S OTHER DOMINION we are living the experience through the eyes of John which make Victor and Helena seem fairly naive.

I believe the episode would have worked better if a more balanced view were presented. On the other hand, then it might have become too much like COLLISION COURSE. The idea concerning Tanner's developed psychic powers is also not unlike John and Alan's relationship with Arra. In CATACOMBS OF THE MOON, Terpiloff elaborates more in this concept, using images from The Ring of the Niebelungen as reference it seems.

On the other hand, in EARTHBOUND there is little reference to this kind of thing, with the exception of the irony of fate, perhaps, the the computer had chosen Simmonds after all to leave Alpha. I can't find any obvious references to psychic powers in the same way as in DEATH'S OTHER DOMINION in THE INFERNAL MACHINE, however, although it may perhaps be possible to read it in that way too.

It seems to me that Terpiloff is using psychic powers as a metaphor for artistic intuition as opposed to scientific rigor. It could perhaps also be read as the conflict between the creative artist and the critic. Perhaps Rowland Cabot is a reference to American literature and film critic Walther Cabot?


From: (B J Dowling) Date: Thu, 5 Mar 1998 01:07:37 +0000 Subj: Space1999: Death's Other Dominion

Hi y'all,

Please excuse any typos or very bad grammar, I'm rushing to get this finished so I can dash off to a friend in need...

This story is a real favourite of mine. Like Ellen, I like the mysticism, Rowland's charisma and the gruesome ending. Here we go with my thoughts on the story...

The first seconds of the first scene, seeing the moon above an ice planet - it may be an Eagle's view as it reports back to Alpha, we feel comfortable that this story starts on Alpha. Until we see Brian Blessed and John Shrapnel. Both clad in simple garments clearly not of recent Earth expedition uniforms - that's their most likely origin? - but Shrapnel is wild and unkempt, Blessed is tidier.

Tanner's first words suggest he's different - "Say I was right. Admit that I, Jack Tanner did foretell, did prophesy, long before you heard from that eyeless instrument" and his general behaviour backs this up. A jester, or a fool maybe.

Whatever he may be, Tanner knew before the computer that the moon would approach. This whole scene is pure Shakespeare and I can imagine seeing it at the RSC. Rowland may be the more "normal" of the two of them from what we've seen so far, but Tanner clearly has some kind of power Rowland doesn't understand - hence his question "Now tell me sensible, *how* you knew...".

Tanner's reference to Julius Caesar seems to confirm that he is a fool/soothsayer figure. Now we know they are from Earth themselves, and they know that Moonbase Alpha is likely to be manned. Tanner's line "but mortal! With we of the eternal breed there can be no contact!" says that something isn't right.

The message they send to Alpha is enough to convince Koenig to send an Eagle down, despite the doom-laden warning in the background.

Interesting blue snow gear. Why would a moonbase carry clothing like that? There's no snow on the Moon. The snowstorm and the Alphans' way of getting around isn't great. In fact it's downright terrible!

I'd love to hear what John Shrapnel remembers about this story, and I'd love to have a shot at playing the part of Tanner. His howling and subsequent comments get a response from Rowland that tells us Tanner does have some kind of gift. Its origins are unknown thus far, but because of his manner and behaviour, it is difficult to tell when he's being serious.

I'm no expert in arctic conditions, so I wonder why Victor and Helena suddenly get all tired and want to sleep? Is it some kind of effect of exposure to cold weather?

We see the living area of these other Earth people, ice caves with bits of technology we recognise from Alpha.

Ellen wrote:

Obviously the women in the Uranus mission have adapted to this planet better than the men-- they certainly seemed to need less clothing than the men ;p

Oh yes, I see what you mean!

Another prophesy from Tanner? "Good doctor revel while you can, the hour is late our end is near. The road to paradise has seized up". Something is definitely unusual, Tanner's haunting line "A death on Thule would be a marvellous thing" tells us.

Helena seems a bit more emotional than usual in this season. Maybe it's as a result of her coming round from the freezing conditions. Now we find out that this was another failed expedition, but from 1986. Tanner is introduced and his antics get some quizzical looks but no explanation.

The apparent loss of Alan is treated with due gravitas by Rowland - Tanner's comments about digging him up seem a little distasteful. Rowland's disabling of Thule's comm system and his reaction to Koenig's "Let's go to the Eagle" confirms him as the bad guy in the story.

Alan's report to Alpha saying that the others are most likely dead doesn't get the reaction I would have expected. No mention of going back to look for them seems unusual for Alan and Paul.

Tanner's "science in the belly and salad on the brain" line is great. That could be applied to so many project-obsessed scientist types. Meant in jest perhaps, but the "you take care - they'll twist you out of mind!" line is said with much more menace.

Now we find out just what is going on here - and suddenly Tanner appears sane, rational and very very clear for a frightening moment. Koenig now wears that sceptical look as Rowland's speech grows to the point "We shall be as gods" - and Victor nods in the background. Helena seems convinced by his speech as well.

Tanner recognises Koenig's scepticism and shows him the Revered Ones. Kept well away from everything else we've seen, these are the results of Rowland's experiments. Tanner volunteered to be first, and with him reduced to that level, there was nobody to put a counter argument against anything else Rowland wanted to do.

Now we find out what caused Tanner's change and what could happen to Victor and Helena. A very close escape. Victor and Helena really come out badly in this episode - both appear very gullible to this idea of immortality.

There is a rescue Eagle launched, and Bob Mathias is co-pilot. Bit risky, having both your top medics off base.

Does Tanner get a vision that the rescue Eagle is coming down? Koenig's contact with Alpha gets what we know to be the wrong response. Alan's found himself a nice looking lass and wants to move in. Bob, Helena and Victor do as well. Rowland's charisma does seem to be very overpowering.

Another prophesy from Tanner - "Death has dominion" - the look in his eyes as he stares at Rowland is that of unhesitating belief. His words to Koenig that "Thule is a jealous woman - she'll never let us go" mean something, but what?

Koenig and Alan discuss the vote when Helena screams. And it's a gruesome end for Doctor Rowland, especially with the remains steaming in the passenger pod. I didn't expect this ending when I saw if first time around, but it is a powerful way to finish the story.

I wonder if that scene caused the first showing of this episode to be later than the 8pm it was usually scheduled for? It's pretty horrific for 1975 standards.

Tanner surrounded by some scantily clad women... and sane, reports the new direction for the Thulians. Was his "insanity" a foil for Rowland's ambition and desire? With no one obsessed with the secret of this immortality the Thulians endure, there is no need for Tanner's antics.

The final scene was just the icing on the cake - the question of mortality defining us as individuals and a race has been asked and investigated. There is now only to confirm that both groups will go their separate ways, mortals and immortals. Haunting doesn't describe the fate of the Thulians - they didn't set out to extend their lifespan as in the Doctor Who story Mawdryn Undead - circumstances way beyond their control dumped them on Thule, and Doctor Rowland's curiosity and eventual obsession then did the rest.

Overall, I would give this episode a B-. Brian Blessed is, well, Brian Blessed - convincing, charismatic, strong. John Shrapnel steals the show in the wake of weaker characterisation of Victor and Helena, and gets some good lines into the bargain. Petter's comments about their winning over by Rowland being missed out strike a chord with me and detracts from the story a little. Koenig is strong in his beliefs about humanity, again standing almost alone against the ideas of other Alphans and being proved right in the end.

The effects let the episode down rather. The plot and writing are worth a B for the most part, but the snow effects and the Alphans' behaviour in the snow don't really hit the mark.

Gotta dash,

Brian Dowling - Birmingham, England
Online Alphan #144

From: David Acheson ( Date: Wed, 04 Mar 1998 23:31:17 EST Subj: Space1999: Thulian Snow Storm

I agree with the comments so far about how the snow storm sequences in DEATH'S OTHER DOMINION do not seem to be all that effective - at least from a special effects standpoint. However, I was quite amused at Brian Dowling's comments about behaviour.

As Ellen pointed out, the Alphans became lost far too easy - if her daughter could figure out what to do the Alphans are doomed. But since they did become lost I found Helena's behaviour quite natural. Anyone from a northern climate can relate to the loss of senses when one is out in the cold for too long. I remember many a cold, bitter days when I would actually reach a point where I would feel warm rather than the cold. This is quite a false sense of security and one may not realize they are worse off than they feel. It would be more unreal if she fell down complaining she was "oh so cold". Therefore, I am not surprised by Helena "not feeling the cold anymore" but am somewhat surprised that she escaped frostbite or hypothermia so easily.

Ultima Thule has, since 1975, been a measuring stick for myself and one of my cousins for cold winter days. In fact my cousin was caught in that ice storm which hit Eastern Canada and the U.S. this past January. His email updates were marked...."From Ultima Thule." Another example of the impact the series had on some people.


From: Date: Sun, 08 Mar 1998 21:19:07 -0500 Subj: Space1999: Death's Other Dominion

Practically no nits on this one. A very good episode.

I have mixed feelings about Helen's blind faith in Dr. Roland. I come up with equal arguments on both sides. And of course her and Victor on the opposite side from Koenig make for the necessary conflict.

Dr. Mathias is a fully qualified eagle pilot? Why are his hands on the controls?

It was very interesting to see Victor lost in the possibilities so he couldn't see the dangers.

I don't blame Alan...any place with sub-frozen tempertures and half naked babes is a paradise. (Unless they have dialog and have to be taken which case they have to dress sensibly.)

I like this episode because it's not another invading alien or odd force wanting to destroy Alpha.

Looking at the people on the planet, I couldn't help but think they could have been the Alphans if our heros had been the ones to settle.

From: David Welle ( Date: Sun, 08 Mar 1998 23:55:37 Subj: Space1999: Where Death Has No Dominion?

Well, I seem to have copied over a quarter of my copy of this episode, but I remember the beginning well enough... and I may be a little late finishing this up, but as long as I have....

Two unfamiliar men are looking at a viewscreen and having a strange discussion. "Admit that I, Jack Tanner, did foretell, did prophesy..." he shouts. The other man seems almost both amused and puzzled, from what I can remember, how Jack could know that a moon-sized object would appear; but Jack shouts that it IS the Moon, the "Earth Moon" -- a "gift wrapped in enigma."

They speak of possible people still being on Moonbase Alpha, but Jack utters a cryptic warning that "With we of the eternal breed, there can be no contact." The other man, though makes contact with Alpha, and speaks of a long life, and that Ultima Thule is a lost paradise.

On Alpha, the command staff listens, hearing both this voice and another in the background that contradicts the welcoming voice at every turn, saying to "stay away!"

The call is too intriguing, the mystery too great, and several key members head to the planet. What they find is no paradise, but an ice-bound hell. On the surface, howling wind and driven snow reduce visibility and make already bitter temperatures feel worse. They're soon separated from each other and the Eagle, and stumble about.

Eventually, several awaken, warm and cozy under blankets, and find themselves amongst humans. John, Helena, and Victor are there, but Alan is missing, and the situation is grave, as Dr. Cabot Rowland, the man who invited them down, mentions, for the cold is deadly.

They are introduced to Jack Tanner, who flutters about, speaking in a somewhat crazy sounding way.

Alan manages to stumble back to the Eagle. I think they may have missed an opportunity for a little extra tension: they could have left the fate of Alan unclear for awhile longer, perhaps.

That aside, the Alphans get a warm welcome amongst the humans, who have been reduced to a curious combination of cave-living, with robes and even some cave-woman-like clothing, and some advanced science, as seen already in items like the communications panels we saw earlier.

We find out they are survivors of the Uranus mission of 1986, which was presumed lost. These people plunged past the "edge of the known universe."

The last expression is a continuation of S19's annoying trend of sometimes overusing grandiose but inaccurate impressions, for the "known universe" could be anything from the Moon (farthest men themselves have gone), the edge of our solar system (farthest our machines have travelled), a few tens of millions of light years (as far as we can observe individual stars), all the way out to some 10-15 billion light years (the farthest objects our observatories have seen, namely quasars). Okay, that's the astronomer in me, protesting again at all the casual, vague references to concepts, sometimes misused.

Another, this time meteorological, word constantly used in this episode, both by Alphans and Thuleans, is "smog." Smog is more accurately a combination of fog, smoke, and/or pollution. This episode keeps mentioning how the "smog" is interfering with communications, and that the smog is moving in, when a better word would simply be "storm." Is "smog" perhaps an American word that didn't mean the same thing to those in Britain, that it might have been borrowed in a too casual fashion?

Okay, from a relatively minor complaint to a relatively minor observation. When Rowland said, "Stop it, Jack," I thought he was going to say, "Stop it, Maya," because it is, in a sense, Mentor's voice (being that both Rowland and Mentor were played by Brian Blessed). He even had the same chiding tone to his voice! It hits me too when he says "Commander Koenig" in that same deep voice.

Indeed, there are several parallels between Rowland and Mentor, which I remark more on as I write.

Getting back to the action.... As everyone sleeps, Alpha tries to reach the here-to silent Eagle One. It's heard from the Thulean residence. Rowland, sleeping closest, hears it, and rapidly moves to the panels and destroys a circuit board, to silence the voice. The Alphan signal manages to awaken Alan, who had collapsed in exhaustion after having reached the warmth of the Eagle some time before. He tries calling back, but as the people on Alpha realize, the Eagle's signal would be significantly weaker than Alpha's powerful transmitters, and with the "smog...." Alan turns on an Eagle camera showing the whole length of the Eagle, being buried under the continuing blizzard. (Nit: the camera viewpoint is impossible, unless it were extended on some mast at least 10-20 meters high, out of the pilot module.)

Later, when Koenig tries using the Thulean's system to reach Alpha, he fails. Rowland makes an excuse about the weather, but it is obvious to us that Rowland has some other agenda.

In the morning, Koenig and a few of the Thuleans go outside to try to find the Eagle.

Meanwhile, Victor is looking at the scientific efforts on the Thulean base. They're growing food ("Science in the belly and salad on the brain," Jack mutters at this point), and building machines with material salvaged from the crashed ship. "They'll twist you out of mind!" Jack shouts. From the beginning, we know Jack seems to have some curious perceptiveness, however much he ends up couching his words in what sound like lunatic ravings. So does he mean something?

Helena, who's still sleeping, is awakened by Jack whispering "go home" into her ear. He moves about in his mad way, and one of the women tells Helena the Alphans should not stay. This is the beginning of a great exchange of words:

Woman:   You must not stay here.  There is nothing for you.
         We are living people frozen in eternity.
         You must go home to Alpha.
Helena:  But Alpha isn't home.
         It's a barracks, on a barren rock, flying endlessly through space!
         We want a real home.  A place to live.  To.. raise children.
Woman:   There can be no children here.
Helena:  But you asked us to come.  There was a voice.
         It must have been Dr. Rowland.
Woman:   Yes.
Jack:    [surprisingly softly]
         Oh, yes.  The Doctor.  But he hasn't told you yet, that here,
         we live.. forever.
         That we've been here for eight hundred and eighty years.
         That we haven't since the day since we landed.
         That we are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
			And that the price of immortal life is.. [shouting]
         Impotence!  No growth!  No future!  No end!
         Just ever and a day!  This!
(I especially love the "barracks" line.)

John returns moments after, saying Alan was safe, but left with the Eagle. Helena quickly takes him aside, and tells him what she has heard. Victor makes a confirming word, though I thought he was in another room, so I'm not sure what he heard.

Nonetheless, the news is shocking: these people aren't entirely human, as we know it, anymore, for they are immortal!

The episode makes up for it's earlier poor use of astronomical and meteorological words by stating that there was probably a "time warp" involved, for Alpha believes the Uranus mission was lost 14 years before, while the Thuleans are claiming they've been here for sixty times longer, and even leave it unclear *who* actually went through a warp. Actually, I suspect they both went through different ones.

It almost seem like there's highways and intersections under space, or something, for something has drawn, through very different processes, to the same place -- for as a chance meeting, the probability is so vanishingly small in the sheer immensity in space. Or, of course, it could be the "Mysterious Unknown Force" at work again, for in the end, it seems they leave having learned some new lessons about the universe. I don't remember if there was any reference in this episode to the unlikely nature of this meeting in space, but it's now apparent this would have to go under the category of some M.U.F., or the Alphans' grand destiny, as Arra of Astheria alluded to in "Collision Course." It was an aspect of the series that I mostly missed in childhood, and that I finally see something of as an adult, though I still question what's going on -- which may be the point.

One thing is that whatever they've been told, the Alphans apparently don't let it go to their head. Had they made the mistake of /hubris/, they'd have probably made some fatal errors long before (although we get a bitter taste of all that in a later episode, "War Games"). It may not be the Alphans who got an overbloated sense of self-importance and power in this episode, but the Thuleans certainly have one -- or at least one in particular.

Dr. Cabot Rowland is trying to figure out exactly *what* has made the Thuleans immortal, but states how difficult that's been without having a mortal subject to compare to. Now he has a few. It seems simple to make some superficial comparisons, and the Alphans don't seem to think much about it at first, and Victor eventually submits himself to a comparative experiment. I don't want to jump too far ahead of things, but eventually, a peculiar phrase is used.

One phrase used at one point later in the episode was "adapt to Thule." Hmmm, what kind of adaptation could this be? "Adapt" is probably a bad word, because I don't see how an individual human body could respond to some situation by becoming immortal. Regardless of whether every source of disease, accident, or external aging factor could be removed, the human body eventually wears out. Of course, no one really knows exactly *why* this happens. Our bodies repair themselves all the time: assuming we're not outright killed, our bodies heal themselves after injury and illness. So why can't the human body keep repairing itself indefinitely?

Suddenly, for reasons that obviously aren't even known to the Thuleans, they've become immortal. Obviously, though, they want to know HOW! It's actually a well-posed situation. I don't think it really interested me much as a child. Since then, I've seen a lot of science fiction dealing with immortality, so when I saw DoD again in 1992, it didn't have quite as much impact as it might have been if it were a fresh topic. OTOH, it is one of those topics of eternal interest, pun intended. The S19 approach, as usual, is fairly unique. As I mentioned, no one even knows HOW the humans became immortal on Thule. They had not been striving to become immortal, finally discovering and implementing a method. It just happens to these people who crash-landed and are stranded on this confining world.

It comes with a price -- a necessary price -- however. Impotence. The Thuleans cannot reproduce, cannot know the joy and freshness of children. How could they? Just as the Alphans are confined on a moonbase with limited capacity that does not leave room for children (with the exception of Jackie Crawford, who was already "on his way" at Breakaway), the Thuleans are even worse off, having survived a crash that left them little, on a world that was nearly as inhospitable as the Moon. They've done well enough carving themselves a place to live in the ice, and there is mention of at least a couple species of plant and animal, but the Thuleans survive on little more than hydroponic plants (mostly from seed they brought from Earth), as the Alphans do. How could the Thuleans find a way to support their immortal selves and children besides?

On the other hand, the Thuleans would have one advantage over the Alphans, in that the former can did through the ice and rock without having to take so much care to stave off vacuum and even worse temperature extremes. Even if they could reproduce and dig homes and expand food growth so they could spread around the planet -- there'd be a limit, biological and/or technological, to how great a population could be supported, and if everyone's living forever, they ultimately would have no room for children anyway.

Of course, the problem is more fundamental than that. If there is no death, there's no physical aging, and if there's no aging, there's no growth. This was as Jack had shouted, but it is of course apparent that it was as literal as it was figurative.

As Jack had said -- shouted -- before: "Impotence! No growth! No future! No end! Just ever and a day! This!"

Rowland had complained about death cutting off the best minds; but immortality introduces the flip side of the coin. Things become almost completely static. It's the same people, doing much the same thing, year after year. No notable events. Most marriages undoubtedly occurred within the first decade or two, and then that would be the end of major events, people-wise.

These people could still change emotionally over time, and they'd learn more and more -- though they'd still hit some limits of knowledge, considering their technology advanced little. It would be the same people saying much the same things over the years, with no children to bring fresh perspectives -- both in and of themselves, but for how having children can change the way people look at their own lives and "worlds."

I rarely get bored, because I find interest in nearly everything, but I have no idea whether I could fill out 880 years, much less an eternity, in such a confined area as the Thulean base. Those are concepts not easily grasped by us mortal people. What are these people doing after so long?

The problem is that except for Rowland's experiments and Jack's half-mad actions, there doesn't seem to be a lot to do in the Thulean base, other than grow plants.

Hmmm... interesting. The plants certainly can't be immortal. They aren't immortal. Obviously, not, because the plants are being eaten; more importantly, they're GROWING. They have to be, or there'd quickly be nothing left for the people to eat. What about the ox-like animal reported to be on the surface? Well, we know *something* has caused the humans to become immortal. Heck, maybe it's something in the plants. That's one thought, but it becomes apparent later that's not the case.

They have been busy, though, for Rowland shows them they have been building a ship, a Phoenix rising out of the ashes of the old ship that crashed so many centuries before. Rowland's hope is to find the secret of immortality, then carry that out to humanity as a whole.

Cabot:   When we have the secret of eternal life; and
         when this ship is complete, then we shall be free.
         We shall not be dependent of your lumbering and uncontrollable moon.
         We shall travel wherever and whenever we please.
         Then together we'll step forward into the greatest scientific
         adventure in the history of man.
	 Unencumbered by death, we shall leap from planet to planet,
         from solar system to solar system.  From galaxy to galaxy.
         We shall be as gods in the universe.
Koenig:  [Softly:]  Gods...
Cabot:   Gods.
Rowland has fallen into the trap of hubris, though in this case he seems innocent of personal glory, being more caught up in helping the species, or so he seems to think. John seems more than a little disturbed sounding, while Victor and Helena are smiling, caught up in the scientific and medical wonders of being able to defeat death.

There's a lot to say about that, for better and worse, as far as this episode goes.

More to follow shortly....

From: Date: Mon, 09 Mar 1998 02:20:04 EST Subj: Re: Space1999: Death's Other Dominion

On Sun, 08 Mar 1998 21:19:07 -0500 writes:

Dr. Mathias is a fully qualified eagle pilot? Why are his hands on the controls?

2nd Rule of the 1999 Universe: Anyone can fly an Eagle. (Kano takes one down in Full Circle!)

BTW, 1st Rule of the 1999 Universe: Alan is never killed nor sustains any injuries requiring any medical attention .

Corollary to 1st Rule: Alan is never grounded for crashing Eagles.

David J Lerda,

From: David Welle ( Date: Mon, 09 Mar 1998 02:45:18 Subj: Space1999: Death Has Dominion


(arrrghhh, I'm already getting this out late, and now I'm having trouble getting this note through my ISP...)

Shortly afterwards, Victor even submits himself to one of Rowland's experiments, allowing the comparison between immortal and still-mortal humans. Seeing the professor look almost zombie-like is disturbing, yet not in the "right" way of well-written horror, but of simply confusing and inconsistent feeling characterizations, because his reactions and behavior strike me as baffling coming from him. Victor is a good scientist who thinks about the implications, good and bad, of scientific advancements. I don't know what happened to the philosophical Victor here. Yes, Victor is always very curious, and seeks knowledge; but I always thought he was a more responsible type as well -- had more wisdom. Perhaps it is his own older age driving his emotional response. Yet there is no indication this, or anything else, one way or another, as far as I can tell; and I'm left feeling it is way out of character. This bothers me.

Maybe that's the point. What is "responsibility" when it comes to the possibility of defeating the scourge of death? Is this a benefit to humanity, that should be pursued, or a danger? Is there a simple answer to *anything* when it comes to this incredible idea? Maybe I have too high of an opinion of Victor's character, and shouldn't expect him to hold to the usual idea of "responsibility" when confronted with the alluring promises of paradise, not just in the idea of immortality, but in the Rowland's constant use of this word. Still, though, it doesn't ring true for Victor, even *with* these possibilities in mind.

Of Helena, I have to be critical too, but not about something inconsistent with her behavior, but all too frequent with her. She remarks to Koenig that accepted the medical judgement of Dr. Rowland. Why? It seems too quick, too easy -- her acceptance, I mean -- especially when Victor Bergman is still an Alphan that Helena is medically responsible for, to say the very least. This is one of the reasons I've had trouble accepting Helena as a character, especially in the first season: it seems like one more lapse of judgement on her part. Not that she always acts this way, and I can't blame her for being human; but this type of thing is just too frequent with her, in my opinion. Yes, some Alphans had to be the ones that got caught up in the idea of immortality; but, in a sense, it is as if her character was sacrificed just a few too many times for this sort of thing. Instead of deepening her character with different aspects, it was so frequent that it became damaging, in my opinion.

Freda states: "We have the secret to eternal life. Must we also seek to understand it?" It is one more off-hand dismissal of science as a whole. Characters in this episode constantly ranted "science" this and "science" that, rather than looking at *who* is pursuing the knowledge and how -- not to mention "why" as well. It's not about science itself, but about responsibility vs. foolishness, or even the ancient concept of hubris. Freda does, however, have good reasons to wishing *Rowland's* search to stop, for the only thing he seems to be capable of is destroying people's minds with his experiments. She's seen it going on for centuries, and Koenig has seen more than enough in a few hours.

What baffles me is why SO MANY of the Thuleans have given themselves to these experiments in the first place! Not only is Rowland horribly irresponsible, to say the very least, but the people must be like sheep to keep giving themselves to these experiments, when they know the results. Of course, he might not have been able to get any subjects for centuries. Or maybe his silky promises, which we heard several times throughout, were enough to continually convince them that maybe he had made things safer this time. OTOH, we did not see that many "Revered Ones," yet the mad doctor seems to still carry enough respect to be continuing his experiments -- not to mention virtually running the place after the near demise of Col. Jack Tanner's mind. When Koenig tries to pull Bergman out of the glass cubicle, another man -- not Rowland -- ran to stop the commander.

John also used the word "dissidents" in regard to those, like Jack and Freda, who tried to get the Alphans to leave, making it seem like Rowland wielded some considerable power and sway over enough of the Thuleans, to remain in authority. Yet other than the word "dissident," none of this was more than hinted at -- but the dissidence was all words until late in the episode. What did the dissidents do in the centuries before Alpha put in its appearance? At times, I don't know whether to be disappointed by this or think this was to leave room for speculation, but I have always felt that it made the actions of the Thuleans seem a bit disjointed. Yet at the same time, though, I mentally applauded them when they finally rebelled and smashed some of Rowland's equipment to get Victor out of what seemed to be yet another ill-advised experiment.

I haven't said much about Jack Tanner, but he was an essential and well-done addition to the story. Had it been just about Rowland, it might have been a rather more standard type of story about the "mad scientist in search of the secret of immortality."

Jack throws in a wildcard (is there a pun here?), and far from weakening the story by being a distraction, he is the vital link to tell the rest of the story about Thule. He's not simple comic relief, either. His seemingly mad ravings are actually something of a voice of sanity; and his words are almost poetic, Shakespearian even. He's the sane muse of a mad world. Rowland's experiments altered him forever, and when he came out of the fog (or should I say smog? -- actually, it seems very appropriate here) of catatonia, he's gained some psychic powers, and a greater knowledge of what everything really means. He may be crazy, and doesn't make much sense most of the time, but his words contains truths about Thule.

His knowing of *The* Moon's approach was the first thing that tips the viewer to listen to what he says. This sets Jack up well, for we as viewers have been "clued in," and can watch to see how the Alphans react to him, and whether or when they "get a clue." The writer could have taken another approach, and not given us viewers this clue, but I liked being clued into Jack -- it didn't take away, but added.

He also seemed to grasp one other thing about the whole immortality situation. He knew not just the darkside of immortality -- but the deadly side of it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Alan has returned, for Tanner and Koenig have discovered Rowland's sabotage of communication equipment. Curiously, the system seems to have a lot of redundancy, for a simple circuit swap seems sufficient to bypass the problem. If it's meant as redundancy, it's a good idea. If not, then this is a nit. In any case, Alpha was contacted, and Alan and others have come.

John finds the rest of the Alphans do not share his overwhelming doubts. Koenig has seen, firsthand, the devastating side-effects of Rowland's attempts to discover the secret of immortality, but the other's just don't get it. He wants to stay -- in no small part ecause of the smiling, scantily-clad women, I'm sure. Curiously, the women only seem to be encouraging the Alphans to stay. Either they don't mind the immortality and the other problems on of Thulean life, or the chance to get new people down to Thule, after so many centuries of the same old people over and over again, allows them to smile. I don't know.

Koenig doesn't want Alphans to come here, but Alan (?) argues people should be able to decide if they want to come down or not. Smartly, the episode points out the all or none issue of Alpha. The moonbase takes too many people to run it, and having only part of its staff will cripple it and doom the people remaining, sooner or later, to death. It is one aspect of Alpha's delimna, parts of which are touched in several episodes throughout the series.

A general majority vote is what Koenig decides. He doesn't seem to have much other choice, and that's the only comprimise. The Alphans don't share his fears, and if he tried to command the choice, he'd likely be putting himself in an untenable position, and even if he managed to enforce his will long enough to keep the Alphans on the moonbase, he might not keep his position much longer. More likely, he'd have an immediate mutiny. The lure of immortality is strong.

Rowland himself decides to go to Alpha to convince even doubters of the paradise he hopes to find, or already has in part -- to show Thule isn't all eternal cold, but an eternal warmth of immortal humanity. Freda wants to go to Alpha to show the other side, but Jack starts screaming that she can't, and even says that Rowland shouldn't either. I'm not exactly sure why, but Freda backs down; though it's probably that she trusts him to know that he knows something. It also seems as if he loves her, though I'm not sure of that, or whether the feeling is mutual. I have only an edited episode from the Sci-Fi Channel, and missing the first quarter besides (though the latter has no bearing on Freda).

Koenig tries to convince to Jack to come, but he refuses. He says, "Thule is a jealous woman. She'll never let us go. NEVER!!!!" Knowing what we know about Jack, we suspect there's some meaning in his words, but what?

Before Koenig even has to worry much longer about the vote, the deadly side of Thule's form of immortality makes itself known. Aboard the Eagle, Rowland talks brightly of futures, he abruptly has none. It is startling, for we break from Rowland and Helena talking, to the pilot module where John is asking whether he can count on Alan's support (he cannot, for Alan still doesn't get the commander's concern). Then we hear Helena's screams coming from the back. Koenig and Carter quickly get out of their seats and rush to the back, where they find Helena being held by a skelton's hand. Rowland has turned into a horrifying mixture of what looks like acid-eaten flesh and bare bone. Despite Jack's words about Thule, and that "Death has dominion," what happens is still shocking.

It is haunting, to borrow a word Koenig uses at the end, for we suddenly find that the Thuleans have not only been mysteriously blessed and cursed with an immortality whose nature they cannot figure the source of, but they are trapped. Whatever has given them this form of immortality can revoke it at a moments notice, and in a most horrifying fashion. Jealous indeed.

It suggests Thule itself is sentient -- or at least contains some vague, unseen, unremarked-upon life form, not unlike the world-controlling intelligence of "The Immunity Syndrome." Something powerful is at play far behind the curtain. It's all rather bizarre, but it sort of works in that it leaves you wondering.

The remaining Thuleans, who appear that they will be led or at least guided by Jack Tanner, their former commander when their ship still plied space. They've decided that they'll abandon Rowland's attempts to figure out immortality, and concentrate on trying to discover a way to repair the damage done to the "Revered Ones" whose minds were badly damaged.

Koenig mentions how the fate of Thuleans will haunt the Alphans (though his tone sounded just a bit too cheerful for me at this point). It haunts the viewer -- at least this one -- as well. What will they do with all of eternity with their jealous mistress of a world. They are imprisoned in more ways than one, victims of a fate that threw them into deep space, got their ship crashed, killed a few of the crew in the first few days, and turned the rest into confused immortals. That's one harsh "woman," whatever that really means. Did those simple explorers deserve all this? Was it a test? Would they ever be freed from their eternal prison? Would they heal their fellow, brain-damaged people? Would they eventually return to the experiments, to figure out the immortality not so much to spread it beyond Thule, but to break away from Thule? What price, eternity -- and what to do with it? Would they even stay insane, and for how long (indeed, I'm actually kind of surprised they're not all insane already -- but maybe that's another modification of Thule)? Would they decide to launch Phoenix at some point eventually, whether or not they've figured out how to escape immortality? Haunting, indeed.

Finally, though I wanted to point out that there were some similarities and differences between Dr. Cabot Rowland and Mentor, and wrote several paragraphs, I think I'll hold off until "The Metamorph" is the current episode under scrutiny, since people will then be more "up to speed" on both characters. Far from cheapening one character or the other (or both), they are both similar and different enough -- and are both well-written and -portrayed -- that they both add value the S19's surveying the idea of scientists having crossed beyond the line.

I'm just glad that S19 has individuals like Victor and Maya to show the oft-forgotten fact that knowledge and science can be good -- and used for good -- as well.


    Immortality:  good/B+; taking an old theme but turning it
        somewhat on its head could have been a failure, but wasn't.
    Dissidents:  average/C+; I never really got much of a sense of
        anyone really resisting Rowland's efforts befpre, but at
        least they were there, and finally took some action.
    Backstory:  good/B; yet another human space mission gone awry,
        explained in a fairly good way.
    Ice Planet:  good/B+; it was an effective addition to the story,
        well used except for the repeated use of the word "smog."
        The planet was somehow just the right place for this story.

    Dr. Cabot Rowland:  excellent/A-; convincing, except it's
        unclear how he manages to maintain control after his
        repeated experiments
    Jack Tanner:  excellent/A+; a wonderfully mad yet sane character
        who's both an effective counterpoint to Rowland and whimsical
        in his own turn of words.
    Freda:  not featured much, but a sort of sane version of Jack.
        I just realized this, but why didn't *her* words have more
        effect on the other Alphans.  Jack finally got through to
        John and convinced him, but obviously sounded too crazy to
        be believed by the others; so why didn't the much more sane
        sounding Freda manage to get through to the others?  I don't
        see this as a problem with Freda as portrayed by the actress,
        but how the other characters were written to respond.  I'm
		  not sure this could have been changed without damaging the story.
    John:  excellent/A; he was consistently sensible.  Only missed
        opportunity is that he could have been shown as being just
        momentarily tempted by the idea of immortality -- just for
        a moment.  Not really a problem, just a thought.
    Helena:  poor/D+; she had plenty of good moments in this
        episode, but such episodes as this don't leave me much
        respect for her judgement, including in medical manners.
    Victor:  poor/D; he really lost it here, in a way I found too
        difficult to believe.
    Alan:  good/B+; well-used in this episode, and he made good of it.
    Other Thuleans:  fair/C+; I was left with the impression they
        were mostly "sheep," in a sense, in that it was a bit hard
        to grasp why they continued to follow Rowland.
    Other Alphans:  not much left for them, but they did okay.

    Physical Effects:  fair/C; the snow looked like foam, and I had
        to consciously ignore that otherwise.
    Sets:  excellent/A-; the interior sets of Thule were well-designed,
        and I liked the fact Alphan-style computer panels were present,
        to show common Earth heritage.
    Special Effects:  the Phoenix was a nice looking ship, but seemed
        to lack the feel of dimension that most other ships had; was it
        a well-shown matte painting rather than a somewhat weakly-
        displayed model?

A good episode with a couple of excellent guest characters but some troubling portrayals of some of the Alphans. An old theme put in a unique light, with a chilling end. Some of the sub-themes bothered me a little, but most of it was well-done. Either way, it was very thought-provoking, as you can no doubt see by the total length of these posts.

Call this one good/2.5/B-


(I'm a bit late on this one, but hope to get the next one out early in the week, for a change! :-)

David Welle

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