Space: Above and Beyond Review #4: Mutiny
Originally aired October 15, 1995
The 58th are on a civilian transport ship en route to the USS Saratoga. They must traverse a particularly inhospitable stretch of space when their ship is hit by a solar flare, or was it really the first blow from a Chig ship in the area? When things go from bad to worse can the crew of humans and invitros work together to save the ship and its cargo of hibernating colonists, or will their differences tear them apart?
“Mutiny” is another of the good early episodes that I think of when I think back to SAaB in the late 1990s. This one plays out like one of those old submarine movies, with most of the action taking place within the limited confines of the ship with a much stronger mostly hidden enemy outside.
Which, by itself, would have made for a great episode. But “Mutiny” adds an extra element to this mix; part of the crew of the civilian ship MacArthur is human and the other are “artificial human” invitros. The humans of the MacArthur are in command while the invitros are assigned the relatively dangerous work in the engine room of maintaining the nuclear reactor that powers the ship.
When the ship is damaged to the extent that the only way to save the MacArthur from doom is to cut power to one of the compartments of frozen colonists it’s a question of killing 400 human colonists or 168 invitros. It’s a tough numbers game and the invitros, who’ve spent a lifetime as third-class citizens, don’t like the idea of any more of their kin being sacrificed and stage a mutiny and take the ship for themselves.
“Mutiny” brings up some very interesting questions about the nature of identity. Do we find our identity in what we’re born with, or the groups that we choose to associate ourselves with later in life? For McQueen the answer is that he is a Marine first and an invitro second. For Hawkes who’s a lot younger than McQueen and more inexperienced with the realities of life, he’s struggling with this question. He finds some brotherhood with the invitro crew of the MacArthur, but he also has a brotherhood with his Marine squad mates as well.
The only thing I found a bit odd about the whole episode was that it seemed in previous episodes that the invitros had the same rights are regular people. Except here we learn that the invitros frozen on the ship have yet to be born and are assigned to work at a far off plutonium mining facility where the conditions are harsh enough that most would die there before being released from their contracts. They’re almost like slaves here, but I didn’t get the sense in previous episodes this was the case.
I guess I’m confused overall with the nature of the invitros? They’re described as being mix of DNA without a true mother or father and are born at 18 years of age so they lack much of the experience we take for granted. But in “Mutiny” it’s brought up time and time again that there are humans and there are invitros. But aren’t the invitros just humans without parents?
According to McQueen, the official name of the 58th squad is the “58th Air Commando Group.”
The MacArthur takes a shortcut down “Blood Ally” in order to get to the Saratoga as fast as possible.
In the future of SAaB there’s a Detroit Disney Land.
Solomon Monk: “Tell my wife, I don’t mind going–’cept for her…”
Paul Wang: “Is that a question or confession?”
Cooper Hawkes: “Feeling pain’s part of being human.”
T.C. McQueen: “Who said you were human?”
Crewman Ashby: “Did you ever try to do the right thing, only it turns out wrong?”
Hawkes: “I’m sorry.”