Main cast: Michael Biehn (Sheriff Jones), Dan Cade (Young Sheriff Jones), and James Marsters (Doc Rowan)
Director: Guillaume Lubrano
Interesting, we kick off the second season of Métal Hurlant Chronicles with an episode set on Earth, at a time when cowboys and showdowns at noon are a thing. Of course, with an asteroid on the loose sowing madness and mayhem, things are never on the mundane side.
In the present, Sheriff Jones of the town of Totem interviews a young doctor who wants to set up a practice there. This leads the Sheriff to reminisce about what happened when the last doctor was around.
So we cut back to the past (“a long time ago”), when Doc Rowan is the town doctor. He is a drunkard and people who come to him tend to end up dying under his ministrations, even when their wounds are supposedly minor and curable. Sheriff Jones is disgusted with that doctor after one too many casualties, and the upset Doc is rambling aloud after leaving his favorite watering hole when the Métal Hurlant asteroid passes through in the night sky. His hands are set aflame as if by magic… and since then, things change.
Doc Rowan can now treat any wounds, even those would normally kill a person. This may seem like a great thing, but Sheriff Jones quickly discovers to his dismay that there is a dire consequence to the doctor’s newfound abilities. You see, when two mean cowboys have a feud and one shoot dead the other person, the feud dies there and then. But with Doc Rowan around to ensure that the two feuding gunslingers remain alive to keep trying to kill one another… before long, Totem becomes well known as a free-for-all for hotheaded gunslingers wishing to settle their score, without any fear of death thanks to the doctor, and worse, large outlaw gangs begin to flock there too, attracted by the apparent lawlessness of the place.
Sheriff Jones tries his best, but it’s like trying to put out a forest fire with a small water pistol. He tries suggesting to Doc to let a few of those criminals die, but Doc insists that he has found his calling: to save as many lives as he can even if those people are scumbags. How is the Sheriff going to make things right again?
Whiskey in the Jar is a pleasant surprise. While the first season had its ups and downs – more downs than ups, actually – the episodes all suffered from one kind of flaw or another. This one, though, is a solid episode all around. Solid acting, solid pacing, solid twist – just solid. Even the flashback device makes a lot of sense considering the nice bookend twist at the end. Not that this episode is perfect, as there is still obvious padding to drag things out and James Marsters tends to overreact to a hammy degree sometimes, but compared to many of the previous episodes, this one is really good. If the show keeps up the momentum from this first episode, the second season may be a blast after all!