Space: Above and Beyond Review #3: The Dark Side of the Sun
Originally aired October 8, 1995
The 58th are assigned to sentry duty at the Icarus mining colony in dark reaches of the Kuiper belt. There mission is to guard a shipment of Helium 3 vital to the war effort. However, at the colony the 58th find a new enemy of robotic humans, the Silicates, who have other plans for the Helium 3.
I haven’t watched all of Space: Above and Beyond since the late 1990s, and it was always my belief since that the early episodes of the series, barring “The Farthest Man from Home” were better than later ones starting with “The Dark Side of the Sun.” And some 15 odd years later I still really dig this episode.
“Dark Side of the Sun” has a more heavy story for a 90s show. Here, Shane Vansen (Kristen Cloke) spends much of the episode trying to come to terms with the execution/murder of her parents that took place in front of her and her sisters when they were children. Vansen suffers from nightmares where she relives the murders over and over again.
We’ve heard of the slightly Terminator-esque Silicates/AI’s before in the Pilot episode, that they were a subservient class of robots who rebelled and waged a terror campaign against humanity. And we learn a little more with “Dark Side of the Sun,” mostly that a virus that implanted “Take a chance” into their coding sparked the rebellion with them vs us and that they’re compulsive gamblers as well.
Visually, the Icarus mining colony is an interesting place. It seems like some real refinery was shot at night to double as the colony that’s supposed to be some three billion +- miles from the Earth. And this mostly works, even if from time to time a few moths fly into the stage lights. 😉
In “The Dark Side of the Sun,” it’s interesting how Vansen comes to terms with battling the Silicates. First by running away, then by warily confronting them and finally by destroying them when the lives of the rest of the 58th are on the line. But sadly enough, even after Vansen confronts the Silicates at the mining colony and almost single handedly wipes them out, in the end she still finds that the Silicates still haunt her dreams.
Goofs: This episode exposes a big problem, and of the whole series as I see it, of the notion the the armed forces of Earth would have pilots sometimes be pilots and other times be ground soldiers as part of their regular duties. It just doesn’t make sense. Even today the Marines can “make” a soldier in a matter of months but it literally takes years for them to make fighter pilots. It’s not like they just can trust anyone with multimillion dollar jets.
I can see how the 58th pulling double duty works in terns of SAaB — it means that there just has to be one group we follow no matter if they’re flying or fighting on the ground — but realistically it doesn’t hold true.
Shane Vansen: “Do you ever feel like there’s something out there, waiting?”
T.C. McQueen: “Feeling like maybe you’re not coming back? Everyone gets that.”
Vansen: “How does ‘everyone’ deal with it?”
McQueen: “They go out and they come back…or they don’t.”
Paul Wang: “If any friendliest find my body, I want my ashes spread over Wrigley Field.”