Space: Above and Beyond Review #2: The Farthest Man from Home
Originally aired October 1, 1995
Army special forces soldiers have rescued a survivor of the doomed Tellus colony giving Lt. Nathan West hope that his girlfriend might still be alive. Disobeying orders, West recklessly flies off to save her. But will his actions threaten his life as well as the lives of the 58th and jeopardize the whole war effort against the Chigs as well?
For the first real episode of Space: Above and Beyond, “The Farthest Man from Home” is not one of the best ones of the series. It’s an episode with a lot of problems that features the Nathan West character in a poor light. (Though I do wonder if the creators of the show Glen Morgan and James Wong were still trying to figure the characters out and that’s where this odd version of West from?)
Here, West disobeys a direct order not to go search for his girlfriend Kylen when he learns that not everyone was killed when the Telus colony ship was shot down by the Chigs. And when he disobeys, during his rescue mission, West himself is nearly shot down, crash lands and nearly becomes a prisoner himself.
The problem isn’t that West disobeys the order, it’s that he comes off as incredibly annoying when he does it. He essentially takes everything he’s learned in the previous episode, throws it away and goes off on his own. This is something I could have seen the Cooper Hawkes character do, but not Nathan West.
On the Tellus planet, we do get some eerie vistas of the skeletal remains of the crashed colony ship as well as a flag flapping in the breeze that could have only been left by someone that survived the crash. (Up until that point it was assumed there were no survivors.) I also got the feeling with things like the Army special forces soldiers and talk about the Chigs “hitting” Procyon and that the “3rd Wing are getting their asses kicked” that Morgan and Wong were trying to show that the universe of SAaB was much bigger than we’d so far seen.
What I found most interesting about the episode was one of the survivors of the colony, played by a pre-3rd Rock from the Sun French Stewart. He’s a guy who’s survived the crash of a ship from orbit, been alone for months on an alien planet all the while dodging alien patrols out to find him. And he’s gone a more than a little crazy. He’s a lone survivor of a mini-apocalypse, and while he isn’t the last man left alive in the universe, he most certainly is the farthest man from home.
This episode also features the first appearance of the nefarious Aero-Tech corporation that will play a central role in the main conspiracy theory elements of the SAaB story coming later in the series.
Favorite Quote: Tellus Survivor: “I’m the farthest man from home! Ok!? (Points to the sky) Look there, right there. See? There are twelve billion people, twelve billion lives — and then there me.”
Stray Observations: For the life of me I can’t remember why, but I totally missed this episode when it first aired and didn’t get to see it until years later.