After a brief hiatus (for reasons of books and life), we’re back with our Intergalactic Academy Space Cases rewatch! Today’s episide is 1.07, “Desperately Seeking Suzee.” For an introduction, please see this post, and feel free to watch along with us on youtube!
The episode opens with the boys gossiping in the engine room like a couple of hens. They’re trashing Catalina, who, if you haven’t guessed by now, is a bit nutty [and wonderful]–discussing her imaginary friend Suzee. Radu, as usual, defends her. His wig looks quite jaunty today.
We cut to Catalina, arguing with Suzee. She’s discovered a comet and they both want to name it after themselves, because they’re vain. One of them, for good reason. I’ll give you one guess as to which!
In a nice bit of acting by Jewel Staite, Catalina freaks–screaming at Suzee to leave her alone. She manages to hit all the right notes in an adolescent argument despite the fact that she’s arguing with herself. And then, when Suzee does leave her alone, she manages to look adorably terrified.
Cut to theme song (we’re spaaaa-aaa-aaa-aaace cases. dun dun!)
Back in the engine room, the boys are grappling with the ship’s alien design, and Radu is adorably grappling with humor. Unsuccessfully, I might add, but it beats his usual routine of alternating sulkiness with creeptacular anger.
Their engine adjustments are unsuccessful.
The next scene is largely a bit of infodump that reiterates the opening, where THELMA asks Catalina what’s going on and Cat explains that Suzee’s disappeared. But their conversation features one of the more disturbing exchanges of the series:
THELMA: Tell me, do human beings always yell at each other like you and Suzee?
Catalina: No, only friends do that.
Catalina goes on to talk about engagement with friends and how friends yell because they care, but it’s still a little disturbing. Catalina and Suzee have a really fighty relationship, and it’s not exactly the best model of friendship for teenage girls. Nevertheless, I guess it’s a fairly accurate one. Friend fights can be vicious–I suppose I just wish that the show had revealed more positive exchanges between Catalina and Suzee before Catalina was put on a bus to Pluto, if you know what I’m talking about (and I think you do).
There’s more talk about Goddard’s work in the engine rooms. He’s shaved six months off their travel time, and Harlan is a whiny turd about it.
Harlan: Thanks, I guess.
Davenport very sweetly confides in Goddard about her concerns over Catalina–now that Suzee’s gone, what does that mean for Cat? It’s a nice note of tenderness, particularly since Davenport usually seems more than a little annoyed with Cat and her “imaginary” friend.
The ship comes in close to the comet to get a better look. Educational opportunity! Davenport quizzes the students on the parts of a comet, and there’s a scene which is pure science fact. They rattle off the parts of a comet, and to this day I remember that the nucleus is the head and the tail is the tail and the . . .
ah, uh, blub . . . fire?! is not part of a comet at all.
The kids answer a bunch of questions about comets. Radu gets one wrong, and Catalina gets two wrong, which is probably completely traumatic for her because she’s used to being awesome. Harlan doesn’t help matters–he taunts her and calls her names. She admits that she’s nothing without Suzee and storms off.
You know, when Suzee is later introduced as a regular character (because reasons), many of her character traits are the same as what’s established in the first season–she’s a pompous genius. Supposedly this was all because the writers didn’t have time to develop her into anything better, but it looks to me like they had plenty of time.
Maybe Suzee was just meant to be kind of a jerkbucket?
Harlan goes after Suzee, and he continues to insult her. She gets all competitive with him and starts moving around the engine crystals for no apparent reason. Not only does their bickering screw up the power system, but it also aims the ship straight at the comet.
Disaster and shakycam strike! Strobe lights! And slow-mo! And screaming! I mean, literally, Cat screams at the engine and somehow fixes it.
Goddard comes up to bust the kids, but shockingly, tells Catalina she’s amazing–she’s discovered a mechanism by which the Christa can manipulate time. But now the hull temperature is rising!
Catalina begs Suzee for help. But no dice. Instead, she has to use her own feisty little mind. She realizes that there are ions in the comet’s tail that can help . . . diffuse . . . the thermal . . . warp. Or something.
There’s a nice visual joke among all this where everyone is thrashing about and Radu is just standing there like a stone cold fox.
Suzee comes back and she and Catalina immediately start bickering about the solution. Catalina insists that Goddard should listen to her. He does. Then Suzee suggests that Rosie release the heat into the engine to “jump start it” and it turns out that their teamwork saves the day. Zabagabe!
There’s an epilogue in this episode with two points worth mentioning. First, there’s a really sweet exchange between THELMA and Cat where the robot asks if they’re friends and Catalina says they are. Secondly, Catalina says something about Suzee being “the best kind of friend” because they’re “friends because they want to be.”
This rustles my jimmies a bit. Suzee was conspicuously absent through most of the episode–even when her friend needed her–and the moment she showed up she was trying to one-up her and prove her wrong. The Aesop feels broken; the friendship feels a bit broken, too. Even though Catalina displays some real tenderness toward the other female characters (and I would say strong relationships between the women–Davenport, Rosie, Catalina, and even THELMA–is one of the series’ strengths), that’s often absent in her relationship with Suzee. In this episode, Catalina shows that, while she may not be an engineering genius, she’s got brains and moxie all her own. But subsequent episodes with Suzee make it clear that this relationship isn’t really reciprocal.
That’s my first of many problems with Suzee. I can only promise you that there will be more to come.
Catalina Awesomesauce Rating: 9/10. It’s hard to watch her founder, but Catalina proves that even her impulsiveness is a strength in this episode.
Harlan jerkass rating: 10/10. He’s sent to comfort Catalina and he mocks her instead.
Radu cornball rating: 6/10. He gets in a cheesy, Bova-esque joke. I’m reminded of Data’s attempts to understand human humor. His failures, I mean.
Currently shipping: THELMA/Catalina. But just for hugs.
Tune in in two weeks for a recap of my all-time favorite episode, “It’s My Birthday Too (yeah!)” and until then, ZaBaGaBe!