Main cast: Joe Flanigan (Hondo), Kelly Brook (Skarr), Charlie Dupont (Kull), and Lygie Duvivier (Bar Girl)
Director: Guillaume Lubrano
Major spoilers are present in this review, as I can’t discuss the episode without dropping them. It’s pointless to use spoiler bars here, as doing so would cause half or more of this review to be obscured. If you wish to remain unspoiled, you know what to do.
Now, on with the review. If you enjoy the original Battlestar Galactica or Buck Rogers in the 25th Century in all their cheesy glory, then the messy Master of Destiny may just be your thing after a few strong drinks and some adjustment in expectations.
Men have been waging war with a race of giant space manta-ray like creatures called gamma-hydras for a long time, and when this episode opens, mercenaries Hondo and Kull take down what seems like the last of the surviving gamma-hydras. Humanity has won! More importantly, they are going to make a lot of money out of this, woo-hoo! Alas, Kull is fatally injured in the process. Before he expires, Kull shares with Hondo that he once met a member of a mysterious alien race, the Turtle Sapiens, in a previous mission. The Turtle Sapiens keep a record of the deaths of all human beings in their home planet, which is “very difficult to find” as it “rotates around the last sun of the galaxy”. Kull regrets not asking the Turtle Sapien when he’d die, as the knowledge might have allowed him to go home to his family after this mission.
Grieving and fed up with his current lot, Hondo passes his share of the reward along with Kull’s to Kull’s family, and proceeds to seek out the home planet of the Turtle Sapiens. Will he be pleased of the answer he will find?
Up to that point, the episode seems like a straightforward space opera dealing with what seems like a jaded antihero’s search for answers when it comes to his destiny. But that changes when he reaches the Turtle Sapiens, when – hilariously – this supposedly hard to find planet also sees the arrival of two more space crafts. One carries Skarr, a beautiful female criminal, and the other carries the law enforcers who want to arrest her. Hondo’s ship disintegrated on his way here, a result of clashes with hostile aliens, being hit by asteroid storms, and more, and here we have two shiny space crafts in perfect condition. Maybe, unlike Hondo, they came from the planet next door?
Hondo without hesitation kills the men who are after Skarr, as he is in love with her at first sight. The Turtle Sapiens share that they will both die in six years, at the same time, and together, those two leave to their happily for now… or will they?
As you can see, this episode goes through several shifts in tone and direction as it progresses, ending on a rather philosophical note that is a far cry from the tone and expectations set by the first ten minutes or so. Still, throughout it all, Joe Flanigan valiantly keeps it all together – his Hondo is a 180 from his John Sheppard from Stargate: Atlantis, and Mr Flanigan manages to channel enough woobie vibes from his hardened antihero character to keep things interesting. Kelly Brook shows up late in the episode, so she doesn’t have much to do other than to pose and look sultry in her catsuit, but her character’s appearance kicks off an interesting sequence of events that lead to a denouement that is almost poetic in its shades of tragedy.
I like what this episode wants to do. I mean, it starts out focusing on Hondo, only to slowly reveal that the story is actually about the futility of trying to take control of one’s destiny. Along the way, it tries to inject elements such as the transient, ever-shifting nature of love into the proceeding. While the result is a bit more messy than I’d have preferred – probably because its running time is too short to develop the story more coherently – I still find this a fascinating episode. Or maybe it’s just because I enjoy looking at Joe Flanigan far more than I’d like to admit. Whatever the reason, this is easily the best episode of the series to date, and oh yes, the Turtle Sapiens are so cute.