Space: 1999
Episode by Episode

"Mission of the Darians"

From: South Central ( Date: Wed, 29 Apr 1998 20:21:49 -0700 Subj: Space1999: Mission of the Darians

So how many of the 14 original Darians are left after Carter barges in? The race banks destroyed, what is the critical number for continuance of the human race (by conventional means, ie., not cloning). How many savage Darians are on the ship?

This question has much import for Alpha. Is 311 enough of a varied gene pool to carry on the human race with out serious inbreeding happening?

Mateo (no one else has comments about this episode?) oh yeah, great music!

From: David Welle ( Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 14:00:06 Subj: Space1999: Mission of the Darians


Well, I really seem to be on a roll, this time on *this* week's episode! :-)

Petter and I were bantering around terms like "companion episodes" and "flip sides" in regard to comparing "The Infernal Machine" to "Guardian of Piri" and "Death's Other Dominion." While Petter compared "IM" to "DoD," I compared "IM" to "Piri." Now, though, I find myself wanting to compare "Mission of the Darians" to "Death's Other Dominion."

Both deal, at least in part, with the theme, "What price immortality?"

That's DoD's main focus, of course, and it shows a high price indeed. Stagnation, madness, entrapment, and a very nasty-looking death if you unwisely think you can leave the world with your immortality intact.

The approach is, of course, very different in "Mission of the Darians."

I won't get the chance to delve as deeply into each scene, but there is still a lot to cover, part of it the questions Mateo already raised.

The Alphans find themselves approaching not a planet, but an extremely large "ark," which is transmitting a distress signal. Both the ark and the signal are reasons to send a mission to the ark. Once in proximity, the Eagle is dragged to the docking bay -- the Eagle little more than a speck compared to the ark in a very effective special effect.

Once aboard, things quickly fall apart, in typical fashion. The Alphans get separated. Helena Russell and Bill Lowry end up in the clutches of "barbarians," while John Koenig and Victor Bergman are themselves attacked by spacesuited figures, but wake up in what seem like more pleasant surroundings. Appearances can, of course, be deceiving, and that becomes a truism in this episode.

At first, though, appearances seem the truth. The barbarians process Bill and Helena, declare Bill a mutant, for his missing finger, put him in a box (people are getting boxed in all the time in this series, aren't they? :-), and then he vanishes, in pain and terror. They declare Helena "clear," and proceed to offer her up as some sort of sacrifice to "Neman," who sounds like a god to the barbarians. Spacesuited figures appear, and despite the sudden interruption by Paul and Alan, one spacesuited figure spirits Helena away, while the other is left behind to be revealed as a human to the barbarians, who once saw the figure as a messenger of their god.

Meanwhile, John and Victor are finding out more of what is going on. The distress signal, they discover, was referring to a disaster that had taken place centuries ago. The signal had never been turned off. The effects of the disaster are, however, terrifyingly evident, not just in the "wilderness" that makes up much of the ship, inhabitated by degenerate savages who themselves Darians, but in the few remaining "true" Darians. One is the etherally beautiful Kara, who takes an interest in John.

Victor starts making disturbing discoveries about the systems of the ark, however, and he and Koenig confront Kara, and find out the rest of the story -- the dirty secret hiding under the beautiful exterior of these Darians. The savages were once Darians themselves, but cut off by the nuclear disaster, turned uncivilized, while the "true" Darians remained elsewhere on the ship, civilized but few in number. The "civilized" Darians could not reproduce themselves, and for hundreds of years, had been sustaining themselves by having tricked the "barbaric" Darians into providing sacrificies from the "barbarian" populations to the "civilized" population, who killed and used the organs of the barbarians to continually replacing their own. This isn't even organ donation from individuals who died for unrelated reasons, but instead is outright murder and harvesting. It is like the "civilized" Darians are growing their own crop -- a "crop" of their own people, however savage and/or partially mutated they are! Not for food, but for use of their organs.

Beneath beautiful exteriors hide the dirty secrets.

Kara is defensive of the practice, not so much because she likes it, but because that is she feels it necessary. Of course, it has turned her beauty essentially ageless, albeit with having to go through numerous surgeries as her extended life continues. (They're lucky their brains haven't died -- maybe they found other methods of extending that key organ's life as well.)

As if not revolted enough by this, John discovers a reason to be even more horrified, for when they get to a room where a lot of barbarians' bodies lie in wait for use, John discovers Helena is there. Koenig understandibly flies off the handle, and Kara quickly revives Helena.

Things, however, are spinning out of control elsewhere. The discovery that the "heavenly" appearance of the spacesuited figures hid mere men has angered the "barbarians," who, led by an angry-looking Alan, break through to other sections of the ship, to hunt down "Neman" and the rest of those behind the unholy structure of terror. One problem is immediately evident in that the horde looks ready to kill, and that will not solve the problems aboard the Daria.

The confrontation comes quickly, and ends disastrously for one of the elite, Neman himself. The former "god" meets his end at the hands of his key worshiper. Neman is shoved right through the bank of vials holding all the "pure" genetic material of the Darians. It was to be the future of the Darians. The mission was to reseed their people elsewhere in space, and the seeds came with them -- but have lost it now. The genetic pool has, quite literally, become nothing put a pool on the floor, and a stain on Neman.

Kara is roughed up, and would have likely been killed too, except Commander Koenig manages to halt the rampaging, and forges something of a truce between them. The Alphans, less one of their own (which visibly saddens Helena in a fine moment back on the Eagle), leave the Darians to an uncertain future, a mess with some hope for repair.

It seems that the "civilized" Darians have lost their future immortality. They had discovered how to maintain to cheap, poor-man's form of immortality, and, for centuries, have confined themselves in it, but the Alphans are the catalyst of the destruction of that system.

On 04/29/98 8:21 PM, Mateo (South Central <>) wrote:

This question has much import for Alpha. Is 311 enough of a varied gene pool to carry on the human race with out serious inbreeding happening?

Well, I want to briefly mention that cloning would perhaps only delay the inevitable. Unless you can guarantee absolute, 100% accuracy, you start getting what I've heard called "replicative fading." Just like using a photocopier and then making a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy..., where the print fades bit by bit (you could "darken" the copy, but the bits will still start turning into a blur of dark ink instead), copying an entire set of chromosomes artificially will led to an accumulation of errors, and since mutation is rarely beneficial or even neutral, the clones -- and be extension the whole population -- will become nonviable after several clonic generations.

Of course, bacteria and other asexual organisms are continually "cloning" themselves, but they are extraordinarily accurate, far more than we could be with technology, without at least centuries of development of cloning (if at all, and momentarily ignoring the ethical questions), by which time the population would likely be dying anyway.

Cloning would take enormous expertise at minimum, expertise which life has already had on its own for billions of years or from the beginning.

As to conventional means... I've heard a variety of figures, but the impression I've formed is that you need at least two dozen or so to even hope to have a viable genetic pool, and that if you don't have at least two or three times that figure, the two dozen individuals would each have to have several children, each child through different adult pairings adults. To be able to start out with monogamous relationships, the minimum is probably several dozen.

As an aside... that immediately implies a problem for two episodes: "Testament of Arkadia," where Luke and Anna are to become a world's "Adam and Eve"; and "New Adam, New Eve" which puts the issue right in the title (!) with two couples (John & Maya, Tony & Helena). Of course, in both those episodes, we have other forces at work, and I think I'll wait until we discuss the issues in those episodes.

For a population left to itself, however, without any outside influences, I don't believe there is a single "critical number" per se, because I think it would largely depend on how much genetic variety there was to begin with.

Anthropologists speculate that throughout history, villages, though non-moving themselves, would exchange at least a few individuals in each generation. Marriages were the obvious and typical way. A marriage between a man and woman of neighboring villages would not only cement better "political" relations between villages, but bring "fresh blood" (i.e. new genes) into the villages. This kept the population of small groups from becoming inbred, and is especially critical for small villages. Had a small village, based in one location on Earth for centuries, been suddenly and utterly cut off from all other populations, it would become inbred eventually.

Such a "village," as I just discussed, would not have a particularly great genetic variation, even with some interbreeding with neighboring villages, because they would have all been based in the same locale for centuries. Of course, it's not that simple in history either, for any one location wouldn't just experience a low-rate diffusion of individuals in intermarrying, but every few centuries, there would be upheavals from wandering or warring populations, which would remix people to a sudden, brief, but greater degree. The genetic "pool" was constantly being stirred up, and had its own edies and currents.

Yet, except for some startling exceptions, this was still a somewhat localized and rather sporadic phenomenon, and a single village might largely "escape," or find itself back at having a relatively uniform population (by "relatively uniform" I do NOT mean "identical," I just mean similar, and with only small differences, relatively speaking, compared to the rest of the world as a whole).

Yet had a same-sized small "artificial" village been created by first mixing people from every part of Earth, and then cutting it off, the amount of genetic variety would be far greater than a "natural" village suddenly cut off from everyone, perhaps enough to avoid inbreeding.

Or, put another way, the greater the initial genetic variety in a specific-sized community, the lower the critical number needed to form a viable population in isolation, and the better chance of avoiding inbreeding.

Given the size of Alpha's population, and the fact that it's members came from all over Earth, making for an even healthier genetic pool, I'd guess that was almost certainly a viable population on its own, without having to resort to cloning or other radical means. I'm even speaking in terms of Alpha's population perhaps plunging to 250 before they could make planetfall, or losses shortly after planetfall. Even 200 shouldn't be a problem.

Another advantage Alpha would have had with its greater genetic variety is that any major disease which suddenly cropped up would have less chance of wiping out most of the population. A fixed village, even with interbreeding with neighboring villages, could be almost completely wiped out by a major plague, and the few survivors would likely have to move to neighboring areas both for immediate needs and for genetic needs. Not that a really nasty plague couldn't crop up and wipe out most of the human population of Alpha, to the point were the survivors might not be able to avoid inbreeding, but a lesser plague could find it harder to spread in a more varied population.

Not to get too far off topic, but Alpha, surprisingly enough, faced another problem in terms of its small size: its plants. If forced to settle on a planet whose native plants were useless in food terms, Alpha would have to rely planting from its hydroponics and its seed stores, and one can only hope that *those* populations are sufficiently varied as well. Remember the Irish potato crop failures in the 1840s? If I recall the details correctly, only one narrowly-defined type (i.e. "breed") of this cultivar was used, and when a blight started in one area, it quickly spread because the lack of variation in the cultivar meant most of the Irish potatoes were more or less equally vulnerable to the same contagion. The result was massive blight, which caused starvation in the human population, and sudden emigration of some of the Irish population to other countries. Indeed, getting back to Alpha, the problem not only existed for planetfall, but theoretically on Alpha itself, though Alpha's essentially closed system after Breakaway shielded it from new contagions, unless one were to mutate and take hold on Alpha.

Alpha's position always struck me as being knife's edge as far as their current population surviving, especially considering that to remain populated, quite a few people are needed to run the place; but I always thought that if they survived to the point of planetfall, and if they survived the first few years, that they had enough population and genetic variety to be more than viable on a new world. Yet it is also apparent that since everyone is confined in one place in the meantime, a single disaster, whether it be a very destructive attack, or a virulent and letal disease, could leave so few people behind that even if they could survive long enough to have children, they still might not be a viable population.

The "War Games" attack, for example, had it been real, lowered the population to something like 150, if I remember correctly (it's been a few years since I've seen that episode). It's questionable whether 150 could have run Alpha even if it *were* intact; but since Alpha was so badly damaged, they could no longer live there, and had no choice but to relocate to the planet. That number would have been enough, as far as I know, to avoid inbreeding, but had the native population continued attacking the Alphans once they settled, the population would have likely continued dying.

Later in Alpha's history, they ended up with an extra wildcard in the form of Maya, who, assuming she was even compatible in the first place (which is a whole messy question on its own) brings in her own unique genetic material, though given she's only one, her genes would take many generations to spread through enough of the population to have any real impact, so her immediate influence on the question of inbreeding is moot.

Of course, I could throw in one more wrench, and that may be that different species may require less or more in the way of numbers to avoid inbreeding. That may be true of the species on our own planet. However, for the sake of discussion, I've been assuming the Darians are essentially human. After all, quite a few humanoid, and even quite human-looking, populations exist in the S19 "universe," so there evidently was one or more cultures seeding humanoids across numerous worlds, and many, perhaps including the Darians and Psychons, may still be compatible and thus similar.

Fourteen "true" Darians are, by most hypotheses, not enough to be viable, even if they resorted to mixing parentage, and I guess that was why I figured the "true" Darians resorted to such horrifying measures as they did. Of course, there were several other options, one of which was forced on them when the gene bank was destroyed, which brings up the rather key question to the whole Darian existence.

After the disaster centuries before, the "civilized" Darians, once they discovered "savage" survivors, had a few options. One was what they chose. Another option would to perhaps kidnap some individual "savages" to breed with. This isn't much less brutal either, but it seems somewhat better than what they actually did. Even "better" would have been to kidnap "savages" as children, not just to eventually breed with years later, but to bring them up as "civilized." The best would have been to try to find some way to civilize the rest of the population.

However, the last option was probably seen as far too difficult to the so few, and seemingly fragile, "true" Darians that were left, who could have been killed off before they made sufficient progress. As to the "in between" options, the "true" Darians probably couldn't imagine tainting their "pure" genes with the supposedly "mutant" genes of the savages. Could you imagine Kara being anything but utterly repulsed by the very idea of sleeping with a savage? This irrational attitude only delayed the necessity, which was eventually forced on them by the Alphans.

As far as how many "originals" were left after Carter and the horde barged in, I don't think it was very clear. Neman was obviously killed, and Kara almost was too, before Koenig could put a stop to the rampage, so I suspect at least a couple others were killed too.

I really wonder if the Alphans only ended up replacing brutal order past with future chaos, because to this day, I figure there was at best a 50-50 chance of the truce Koenig made between the two groups lasting long enough for the few remaining "civilized" Darians to make much of an impact on the "barbarians," either in restoring their common genetic heritage or mending the huge split in their society, before the "true" Darians, cut off from the possibility of maintaining themselves the way they had been, simply (and finally) died.

A daunting task indeed.

In fact, in one of my stories, I made very brief mention of an alternate course after Alpha's altering the Darians, and that was Koenig had failed to settle the rampaging "savages" down, and had no choice but to take the "pure" Darians with them to Alpha, leaving the Daria and its remaining Darians to their fate. Of course, this brings up even more questions. Presumably, the "pure" Darians would throw their genetic lot in with the Alphans', while the "savages" would go on, and maybe build their own civilization over the centuries, rediscover what their own ancestors once knew about the ship.... Hmmm, sort of sounds vaguely like "The Starlost."

Thinking of the Daria *before* its encounter with Alpha... the "true" Darians had centuries to figure out and start implementing some way of bridging the enormous gulf between them, but in their snobbish arrogance, they did nothing of the sort, prefering to hijack bodies and organs, go through constant surgery, only to end up facing that the same daunting question after the Alphan encounter.

Of course, there is a question about what the Darians did, and that's whether or not it would have really worked. Well, we're getting to the point where people can have organs replaced and continue on, though not without taking massive amounts of immuno-suppressants in many cases.

There was actually another solution open to the "true" Darians, I think, and that would have been to break open the gene bank and use at least some of it to boost their current gene pool back to a viable level, and start growing in population, instead of remaining stagnant. Yet had they done that, they would have even more certainly kept their "underclass" down, and likely would have destroyed them at some point, when their own population was strong enough to make the attempt. Given their already horrifying acts, I wouldn't put it past them, even with Kara's vehement "we had no choice!" type statements. They may not have liked what they were doing in some ways, but they had already crossed the line.

What a mess. No matter what, by the time the "cloud" cleared from the initial disaster, the Darians -- as a whole -- were trapped in a horrible situation, and they made even more horrifying decisions.

It is a very difficult, hard episode to watch, for it is rather horrifying. For me, the feeling is not unlike "The Silence of the Lambs," which was very well-acted and with a tense, thrilling, terrifying plot, but was so terrifying and disgusting that I don't particularly care to see it again. I hate "peering into" minds and souls that are so dark. Neither Neman or Kara are as utterly insane as Anthony Hopkins' character was, but they aren't much less troubling, perhaps even more so because Kara and Neman don't "look" particularly crazy. Kara seems so beautiful in appearance and behavior, until we start to see her aged, half-rotted soul.

A messy, disturbing set of topics indeed. Wasn't this episode banned by a few countries back in the Seventies because of the cannibalistic theme?

This episode also bears similarities in subject matter to "Soylent Green," "Goliath Awaits," and "The Starlost," but twisting their themes together, resulting in a episode involving a form of immortality, cannibalism, and the concept of a space ark. It also visited, in premise, "Breakaway," for the Daria suffered a nuclear disaster, just as the Alphans had.

"Mission of the Darians" is a hard episode to watch, and isn't one of my favorites; but it does raise a lot of troubling questions, some of which have little or nothing in the way of answers, but which have lots of potential implications, including for Alpha.

What would the Alphans do if put in a similar situation as the Darians?

David Welle

From: David Welle ( Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 16:52:09 Subj: Space1999: Maybe the Whovians Among Us...

... can clarify a memory which suddenly came to mind. It seems to me that the Doctor Who episode which introduced the character Leela (who became a Companion -- there's that word again <G> -- of the fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker) involved some sort of culture living in the ruins of its own past, divided into a "civilized" group which sometimes paraded about in spacesuits to impress the "savage" part of its population. I remember one of the groups was called the "Seberteem," which I think was supposed to be a corruption of the phrase "Survey Team."

Does anyone remember the name and first broadcast date of this DW episode?

Something tells me it isn't as similar to parts of "Mission of the Darians" as I'm remembering it here, so maybe someone can clarify this for me. Or if there *are* further similarities, maybe someone can point them out.


From: "Brian Dowling" ( Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 23:35:08 +0000 Subj: Space1999: Re: Maybe the Whovians Among Us...

Story 4Q from Season 14, The Face Of Evil. Exact transmission dates not in my Doctor Who - The Seventies book, but place it around late 1976 or early 1977.

Two tribes, each descended from a section of a spaceship crew - the Tesh (Technicians) and the Sevateem (The Survey Team). The story revolves around the trouble caused by the Doctor on an earlier encounter with the spaceship now wrecked on the planet below - he repaired the computer during this previous visit, caused it to go crazy and crash land on a planet. This psycho computer allows the Tesh to develop into hi tech psychics and the Sevateem to degenerate into savagery. Eventually The Doctor and Leela manage to restore the computer's sanity and normality is restored.

At least that's a summary of the book. I have vague recall of the story's last run on UKGold, and aside from the two polarised groups, I can't recall any similarity between this and Mission of the Darians. I might have the novel somewhere...

From: "Atomic Possum" ( Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 19:34:49 -0500 Subj: Re: Space1999: Re: Maybe the Whovians Among Us...

That's basically it. More specifically, the Doctor overlaid his own personality to rectify the computer Xoanon. However, he failed to wipe it from the computer, and it's schizophrenic existance led it to create an experiment in eugenics---pitting the refined intellectual group against the very physical savages, 'playing out his own internal conflict,' or something like that. It's not really very much like "Mission of the Darians" at all....

The spacesuit was simply a relic used by the high priest of the Sevateem, along with other various gadgets.

Actually, Mission of the Darians is a bit more like "The Time Machine," with the savage Moorlocks subjugating the peaceful Eloi to use them as food....not quite the same, but a bit closer...

From: David Welle ( Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 21:30:07 Subj: Re: Space1999: Re: Maybe the Whovians Among Us...

At 07:34 PM 04/30/98 -0500, Atomic Possum wrote:

It's not really very much like "Mission of the Darians" at all....

Oops, I'm barking up the wrong tree. Thanks everyone for all of the information!

From: JSchill824 ( Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 11:52:20 EDT Subj: Space1999: Our Mission

David Wells wrote:

The Alphans find themselves approaching not a planet, but an extremely large "ark," which is transmitting a distress signal. Both the ark and the signal are reasons to send a mission to the ark. Once in proximity, the Eagle is dragged to the docking bay -- the Eagle little more than a speck compared to the ark in a very effective special effect.

Nicely put David, thanks. I really enjoyed this episode as a kid and still do today. Once again the music and filming style (Ray Austin) is great. Plus it was good to see Paul get off the base and hooked up with Alan. (I would have liked to have seen more of these two characters develop together in other episodes) I thought that it was interesting that this story breaks up into 3 separate stories that all blends back to one. It calls for a more complex and interesting episode. Victor is also given a little more to do and I love the shot of him standing in front of the picture of Daria.

Another thing I liked about this episode is how well Austin & crew did at making the Darian space ship seem so large. Like the shot of the city with dead vegetation and the blackness of space through the background. Or Victor and John walking through the corridor of the ship wide eyed and voices which echoed. And lastly Paul seemingly running long distances to catch up with the Darian and Helena. All gave a good impression to me of this ship being - huge!

Yes, this episode is a little more violent/disturbing then others. I remember as a kid feeling really bad about the "mutant" and Bill being how Daivd put it "boxed" and then zapped. Or how about the dead bodies that moved when being jarred in the 'parts dept'. Kind of ghouly. Funny, I don't always remember what I felt watching S9 as a kid but I remembered these scenes vividly.

I felt the quite ending was very appropriate and good contrast to the rest of the episode. Both Victor and Paul attentive to Helena, concerned for what she'd been though, and Helena remembering Bill Lowry humming was touching. Too often in shows they kill off the "security guard with no remorse for the character being a person. I liked that there were many times during S9 that Alan, Koenig etc. felt the lose of there fellow Alphan. (I'll never agree that the characters of S9 being "wooden". )

Can't wait to hear from the rest - Pat, Petter, Daivd L., Ellen, Monica? P.S. Does anyone remember at the 1st or 2nd Spacecon someone asked Nick Tate if he'd ever gotten hurt doing a fight scene. He laughed and said no just the opposite, that when in MOD(?) he was be held, he arched his back and his back felt -- GREAT. :-)


From: Patricia Embury ( Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 20:54:33 -0400 Subj: Space1999: Mission of the Darians

I have to admit, I started becoming uncomfortable watching this episode. It wasn't anything that I disliked, I believe that this was an intentional effect on the viewer by the writer of the episode. This is a hallmark, to me, of good horror writing. The violence wasn't gratuitous, and it revealed the nature of the barbarians and helped Carter get the truth revealed. The use of forshadowing was so good, and the plot elements/the horrors of what the Darians were doing, were revealed in sequence really built up the discomfort. Carter even asked Koenig, on the return, if he would do the same thing, which Koenig laughed off. I only wished Koenig hadn't have laughed, and maybe come up with a serious answer, or a long pause fading into black. I know Koenig was repeating Carter's attitude/brushoff to Kano, but I don't think it fit as well.

I had a different take on what the Darians were doing, however, from what some of the previous posters have mentioned. The 'genetic purity' aspect, and the zest of the "pure Darians to maintain themselves through acts of barbarism, reminded me a bit of the Nazis. I thought it was very fitting to have Neiman (?sp) have his head put through the DNA structure.

I won't batter the organ transplant thing, but they were starting to do them during that decade, so those facts would be as accurate as possible for the year in which it was written. We know so much more today about HLA matching and antirejection methods. I hope this episode doesn't change anyone's mind about signing an organ donor card :) The barbarians would have had to have had enough genetic similarity to find a match for the intended recipient.

I liked the development and teamwork of Carter and Morrow working together, especially after Morrow's magic mushroom trip in Last Sunset. It's too bad Morrow didn't get off the base more frequently. I liked when he paused to see how Carter was faring during the fight, and then went through the doors to find Helena. You could almost see him debate what to do.

The special effects were good. I enjoyed the vastness of the ship. I thought I recognized the corridor used again in "The Day After Tomorrow", when the party enters the ship. The scene in which the Alphans get caught in the tractor beam and get pulled into the docking area, especially the look of the docking area initially, really reminded me of the sequence in Star Wars with the Millenium Falcon and the Death Star. I wonder if Lucas used this idea.

I wasn't crazy about the number of shots of Joan Collin's legs, at least I thought they were her legs. The costume didn't flatter her terribly well. I kept thinking how lopsided she looked. Also, Helena was wearing a pantsuit when she boarded the Eagle, but she had a slip on when they sent her with the spaceman. I realize that they did this to cover some skin, because an actress in a bra and panties wouldn't have made it back then, but it seems a bit odd watching it now.

Does anyone know the title of the song the security guard was humming? I recognize as it coming from an opera or operetta, but I'll be darned if I know the title!

From: Tom Miller ( Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 18:20:21 -0700 Subj: Space1999: Mission notes

Mission of the darians is dark. A deep look into what mankind would do for survival. It is reminicent of HG Wells "the Time Machine", where in the future, decimated by war, mankind moved underground and began to prey on itsself.

Mission shows Morrows logical and strong side, no overreaction, methodical.

It is also another chance for the alphans to abandon the base.

This is simular to the Star Trek Voyager badies who organ harvest in order to keep alive from a hostle diseze..


From: David Acheson ( Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 22:26:24 EDT Subj: Space1999: Mission of the Darians

Better late than never. On to this week's episode for discussion, MISSION OF THE DARIANS.

Not one of the top five but still a pretty good one from a pyschological viewpoint. Johnny Byrne gives us the familiar space ark tale with a dark edge that is expertly directed by Ray Austin.

The space ark I am referring to is the S.S. Daria, the mammoth ship passing by the runaway moon and to which a small expedition is sent. After all, it is emitting a distress signal. As it turns out the ship has been adrift for many years in a bad state. Much of the original Darian civilization on board deteriorated and new societies were developed. So far its the same plot as the cheesy Canadian sci-fi series from the early 1970's, THE STARLOST. This one goes beyond the simple plot and delves into the very future survival of the ship's inhabitants. A future many of us so-called civilized people would find disturbing - breeding babarians to provide a badly needed food chain for the few remaining original Darians.

However, given the extraordinary circumstances, the audience is left with the question: Would we have done things any different? Its easier to judge than to be judged! Was there alternatives the Darians could have explored over the years. Or was it the Metropolis scenario - the priviledged accepting their easy life without a thought for those who they live off of. Koenig then becomes the Maria-figure who shakes their complacency loose and becomes the mediator.

Someone earlier compared the plight of the Darians to those of the Alphans. I must admit there are definitely comparisons to be made. Koenig must always wonder how they will continue to survive their journey through nowhere. Yet, for morale purposes, not let the weight of it show. Alpha, by this time, has already had some threats to its food and power supply.

The episode is another ensemble showpiece. In this respect, it can be compared to MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, THE LAST SUNSET, and THE FULL CIRCLE. Although the characters were more interesting in the earlier ones. Paul gets a chance to join another expedition and add another small contribution to the series. His best was in THE LAST SUNSET (flipping out on magic mushrooms) but at least he is contibuting. Alan, of course, is the hot headed Alan of earlier episodes. Shoot first and ask questions later. Only Sandra and Kano was missing. However, Sandra would probably just scream her way through the sacrific scenes.

The guest cast was rather large this time round. Usually there is only one or, at the most, two alien guests. We have three main ones and several supporting ones. Unfortunately, there is no big breakout guest character. Yet, despite the ribbing she gets from the DYNASTY years, Joan Collins passes as acceptable. Her Kara, however, doesn't come across as memorable like her now-classic Edith Keeler on the STAR TREK episode, THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER.

One funny thing to pass along and please don't laugh. As a kid I thought Joan Collins was a blonde. It wasn't until she joined up with DYNASTY (and I was much older) that I realized she was really a brunette. Looking at the episode now, I realize the long blond hair is a wig but I never noticed during my childhood years.

The effects and Keith Wilson's designs seem to be of superior quality in this episode. Not since the Zenno city on MISSING LINK have we seen such great matte painting work. Filming probably only took place on a few small sets but we get the impression that the Daria is monstrously huge.

Thats about all for now.

David Acheson
Site Administrator, Return to Moonbase Alpha

From: "Ellen C. Lindow" ( Date: Sat, 2 May 1998 15:32:15 -0400 (EDT) Subj: Space1999: Definitions of survival

I just got a chance to watch Mission of the Dariens, which I really enjoy. this episode is definitely an open ended-- make you think -- sort of episode, and the questions asked have incredible consequences for the Alphans, and perhaps for those of us on crowded Spaceship Earth as well.

Once concern I have is that the Dariens seem to have trouble defining survival. Whose survival is important? At times they seem to be talking about genetic survival, at other times cultural survival. Despite their emphasis on the gene bank for making "pure Dariens" once they reached their destination, I got the feeling that they were more interested in preserving their culture. They bring to my mind images of the Nazis, searching for the pure master race, and the Dariens were every bit as ruthless as the Nazis. Both seemed to believe that the genetic inheritance of the race would determine the behavior of the society. I'm not convinced that is the case. I think those Dariens would have been in for a serious surprise when they started hatching genetically pure kids who wouldn't necessarily think like them-- in face they would have very little in common with them, needing to use their energies to survive in a completely different environment. Kara and her friends, with their frills and high heels, didn't strike me as pioneer material.

One of the interesting things about the episode is that you constantly wanted to think the best of the Dariens. Right up to the point where you realize that they would be trying to use the Alphans to boost their protien levels and organ banks, you're hoping that maybe they can make a go of working with them. The choices the Dariens made were tough choices, and at every turn, they might be reasonable, given the circumstances under which the choices were made (compare this to the rise of Nazi Germany, again). But it turns out in the end that the Dariens are more deliberate than you would think. How many other well meaning space-farers had been lured to their deaths by the Dariens?

The Dariens biggest mistake was destroying their breeding stock. Of course the barbarians were dying! They were culling the worst of the mutations, but also killing off the best! Idiots.

From: Date: Sun, 03 May 1998 20:18:50 -0400 Subj: Space1999: Mission of the Darians

One thing really bothers me in this episode: It appears that Paul and Alan are watching the events when the mutant woman is put in the death chamber. They then (I assume) watch as the security guard is put in the chamber and killed. Them crouching there with two lasers, which could stun everybody and free the guard and Helena. Unless there is something I missed, either they just watched the whole thing happen (and after the woman's death they knew what was going on) or there is a gaping hole in the structure of the story.

It is amusing that the Daria ship will take 100 years to reach it's destination, while the randomly traveling moon is a safer bet.

Anyone else laugh out loud that it was Joan Collins eyeing the rough barbarian men and thinking "Hummm...I'm gonna mate with them...all of them."

Very nice at the end with the empty eagle seat. Usually these shows tend to forget the dead extras by the end of the episodes.

From: "Petter Ogland" ( Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 10:53:13 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: Mission of the Darians

David Welle wrote:

Now, though, I find myself wanting to compare "Mission of the Darians" to "Death's Other Dominion."

Both deal, at least in part, with the theme, "What price immortality?"

This is an interesting comparision, I feel. There are many comparisons that could be made. Martin Willey has written a very interesting comparison with THE DORCONS on his site, focusing on the themes of democracy and Greek history.

Trying to understand Johnny Byrne and his contribution to the series, I think Martin's comments make a lot of sense. Personally I would perhaps also have a look at the other late Byrne/Austin contributions, such as THE END OF ETERNITY and THE TROUBLED SPIRIT. The three Byrne/Austin collaborations show interesting aspects of both Byrne and Austin, I feel. The grim side of Byrne's writing takes on extra proportions with Austin's emotional and kinestetic directing.

In the case of MISSION OF THE DARIANS the result is impressive, but not very pleasant.

It is a very difficult, hard episode to watch, for it is rather horrifying. For me, the feeling is not unlike "The Silence of the Lambs," which was very well-acted and with a tense, thrilling, terrifying plot, but was so terrifying and disgusting that I don't particularly care to see it again.

I feel very much the same, and I noticed that Janet said something similar. Peter Bowles as Balor of END OF ETERNITY has some of the Anthony Hopkin's charm and wittiness, I feel, but how the Darians explain everything they do in a friendly manner and do, in fact, seem like charming and likeable people, makes things worse.

I hate "peering into" minds and souls that are so dark. Neither Neman or Kara are as utterly insane as Anthony Hopkins' character was, but they aren't much less troubling, perhaps even more so because Kara and Neman don't "look" particularly crazy.

Balor is obsessed with power and proving the his actions of the past were ethically correct, psychologically disturbed in a similar way to the less villainous Tony Cellini in DRAGON'S DOMAIN, but the Darian's do not seem particulary disturbed. They claim that their actions are solely motivated from the will to survive, and we know that in extreme circumstances even cannibalism has in real life been the result of this will.

My impression is that Johnny Byrne is investigating to which extremes humanity is willing to go in order to survive, using, like he did in VOYAGER'S RETURN, references to World War II and the Nazi ideology. The theories of some races being superior to others is probably as old as when two different races met for the first time, but the name Darians does sound a bit like Aryans, and the story seem to focus a sort of "white man burdon" idea as well. The Darians do not only have a will to survive, they also have a mission, a higher purpose of survival.

Perhaps more than Nazi ideology, I get the impression of the Darians being modelled after the Cecil Rhodes and Rudyard Kiplings of the imperialist Victorian England where certain types of rationalist explanations would have to be given in order to have England live and prosper without constantly thinking of how the Indian and African natives might be experiencing this. Better even, as many people believed who lived in these countries, the natives were as children compared to the civilzed world, and had to be treated accordingly.

From this point of view the talk about giving the less fortunate a god to believe in, "true science", "clear knowledge" etc., makes some kind of sense. Byrne seems in this episode, like in THE END OF ETERNITY, to be asking with what right we have to meddle in other peoples lives and decisions. Being an Irishman living a sort of exile in Endland, this does not seem to be too illogical a thought to state, I feel.

What would the Alphans do if put in a similar situation as the Darians?

This seems to be the central question Byrne is rising. What would we do if we were the Darians? Would we give up and extint ourselves, as the Kaldorians propose in EARTHFALL, or would we fight to survive at any cost?

It is a disturbing episode, I feel, and while philosophically interesting, it doesn't seem a particulary happy watch. Survival at all cost does make one think, but it's difficult achieve too much enthusiasm for. I believe Johnny Byrne has stated that this was the episode he was most pleased with in regard to Year One. I understand that it is also partly influenced by the Icelandic "Njaal's Saga" from the thirteenth century.

Keith Wilson said once that he understood it was a sort of Space: 1999 version of Fritz Lang's silent classic "Metropolis". I enjoyed reading some of David Acheson insightful comments in this respect in a recent letter.

As I write this, it's already turned DRAGON'S DOMAIN week. I believe there is still a lot more to be said about MISSION OF THE DARIANS, but there have been some rather intense posting during the weekend, so perhaps we should move on with DRAGON'S DOMAIN as this is an episode that often seem to attract much attention.


From: Date: Wed, 06 May 1998 22:27:01 EDT Subj: Space1999: Mission of the Darians (belated)

Overall grade: B

The only comment I have is that when this episode was rebroadcast in the DC market on WJLA, channel 7, the scene in the transplant room with the Darian placing the body on the mortuary table was cut. Anyone else out there have that scene cut in your area?

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