Our episode opens with some beautiful 90s CGI. You know, in this era my desktop backgrounds usually consisted of very, very nebulae-heavy starscapes. I wonder why!
The kids are planning some sort of joke on Davenport and–
wait a minute! Story by KRISTIAN AYRE?! Man, what a talented dude. Brains AND beauty!
Anyway, the kids have rigged up a video of a fake Commander Goddard floating outside of the ship. He then blows up in a cloud of purple CGI smoke. Then the real Goddard slides into the ComPost and Davenport screams, and faints. As women sometimes do.
Goddard is pretty angry about the whole thing–”A starship is not a toy!” I love this shot, by the way, and this whole establishing scene. Radu, Catalina, and Harlan really formed the core of the early show, and I think something was really lost when . . . well, we’ll get there, eventually. Goddard asks them to act their age and grounds them (“confines them to their quarters”). Harlan stomps off like a baby. “C’mon, Commander, don’t you remember what it was like to be a kid?” Harlan’s a kid? Anyway, We have premise!
A mysterious object teleports itself into the middle of the ComPost. Davenport thinks it’s a prank, but Goddard assures us that pranks don’t teleport. It’s clearly evil, whatever it is, because it looks like IT from A Wrinkle in Time and pounding techno music accompanies its appearance. It zaps the pair, and some impressive acting is on display. Goddard fondles the ship’s crystals as he falls. IT finds this hilarious, displaying that alien intelligences who are incapable of love do, in fact, have a sense of humor.
It’s Davenport and Goddard, and they’ve been transformed into children. They have no memory of just about everything, so Cat gives us all a helpful infodump as she fills them in. Little Davenport is really whiny and little Goddard has an adorable lisp. He and Harlan shout at each other, and it’s generally adorable. Aw! They contain IT within a power fence.
And then . . . gratuitous food fight sequence?
I, um, okay.
There’s a lot of high-fiving and fist pumping. It’s all really, really 90s. Only thing that’s missing is silly string.
Oh, wait. Never mind.
We cut back to IT, who is apparently watching all of this. And is. not. happy.
Meanwhile, the kids debate the merits of living in hedonistic filth forever. You know, maybe it’s just because I was once a pretty serious kid, but sitting around in a bed of cream pies, feathers, and silly string for the rest of my life just seems . . . gross. If this were a different kind of show (Fifteen, perhaps), then Harlan would at least have alcohol to explain his actions. But he’s apparently sober. Just weird.
The kids find out that the ship’s been turned around by IT, and Goddard utters a Draperesque “WHAT.” Only he’s twelve so it’s extra adorbs.
They all rush down to the ComPost and the probe tells them blah blah blah backstory. What’s most important is that we learn the name of IT: NINE-STEIN! Because it has nine faces, I guess? And is Jewish? Ninestein has transformed the adults into children so they can serve as his/its/their slave on the return journey to his/its/their planet. In the meantime, the kids have to attend school seven days a week until they’re seventy. Sweet deal! It beats sitting in their own pie filth for all of eternity, if you ask me.
The kids have their first day of NINESCHOOL and it sucks. They discover that THELMA’s been taken over and can now zap them if they disobey. That night, we get this image.
Creeper, no creeping.
They decide to crawl through the jumptubes to disable NINESTEIN. The conversation is pretty long and boring. The only interesting thing is a smidge of character development for Harlan–he asks Catalina to ask Suzee what she thinks. Clearly, they’re growing as friends.
Wait, I think Sean has an icon for this.
The kids weave a long cable through the jumptubes. This sequence is pretty long, too–miniGoddard even comments that “this plan is taking too long!” and I’m inclined to agree. Whereas last week’s episode felt rushed, this one feels draaaawn out, without any significant conflict. MiniGoddard finally suggests he launches himself out the airlock as a diversion, and Harlan plays the grown-up for a minute, telling him that the airlock is not a toy. Next thing you know, he’ll be telling miniGoddard that the vacuum of space isn’t fair. But MiniGoddard plans to leap out of the airlock anyway. The kid’s a pretty decent actor, and does a good STARDOG send-up.
But wait! It’s a trick! He really just plays the same video from the start of the episode, and the kids are able to electrocute NINESTEIN. All nine faces join together in one creepy, silver, IT face. He gives a heartwarming speech about teamwork. Aw. He also spiffies up the ship and restores Goddard and Davenport. We shall never see him again, he intones. And then we get a little coda about how Davenport and Goddard don’t remember any of it.
Honestly, this episode gets a bit of a “meh!” from me. I think that there was a lot of potential in seeing Davenport and Goddard as children, but they felt underutilized for lengthy food fights and scenes of pulling tubes through ships. It’s also truly a monster-of-the-week episode. Other than a slight nod to the growing relationship between Harlan and Catalina, and the friendship between Harlan and Radu, you could easily skip this episode and not know the difference.
Stein rating: 9/10
Kristian Ayre fangirl rating: 8/10. His original treatment is quite a bit better than the final episode.
Slovenly Peter rating: 10/10. The fact that Harlan wants to continue orgiastic food fighting forever is really just gross.
Currently shipping: Harlan/Catalina, but barely. This is an episode wholly without sexual tension. Disappointing.