'Flash Gordon' vs. The Environment
On this week's Flash Gordon, we learn how Mongo got to be such a crappy place to live, Zarkov acts normal for a change, and we see why Aura can't have anyone pretty.
While Dale, Flash and Zarkov hide all Mongo-related things in Zarkov's lab (for reasons I'll get to later), Baylin comes out of a trance and starts packing all sorts of random things in a duffel bag. When asked what she's doing, she says she has to go to Mongo because she's been summoned by the Voices of the Dead. She's been hearing them for three days and can no longer ignore them, especially as they call to her on Honor Day - the day where Verdans gather at the Caves of Sorrow to pay tribute to those in the tribe who had passed during a great ecological disaster responsible for killing millions. She's packing the assorted bits (food, air freshener, vodka, etc.) as a tribute to the Verdan men who guard the Cave. Because it's so important to her, Flash and Dale say they're going to go with her.
Once on Mongo and traveling to the Cave, Baylin explains that The Sorrow is what happened when the energy source their ancestors mined on the moon (the two small moons are man-made, placed there to make mining easy) ended up poisoning the atmosphere and killing millions. Good times. A small portion of the people, representatives from each tribe, were selected to live on the man-made moons until the planet could be inhabited again. So, each year, they perform a ritual and recite the story so the people never forget what happened and never ignore the warning signs of impending doom again.
See, the SciFi Channel is owned by NBC/Universal and that means some of its shows are also participating with the Green theme the network shows have been promoting. But, unlike some of the network shows, Flash Gordon was able to seamlessly work in its message about not taxing the planet's resources and heeding its warning signs. It also helps that environmental issues are a big motivator for Ming the Mercilessly Dull's actions (trying to invade Earth to steal our clean water) and it didn't have to be squeezed someplace it didn't really belong. But I digress.
When Flash, Baylin and Dale get to the cave, they find the guardians dead and the seal on the Cave broken. They all go in to investigate and Baylin states that there's been a desecration...right before taking an arrow to the arm. Flash finds the dude and starts punching him but Baylin says to stop, he's just a scared guardian with bad aim. The guardian says he thought they were the marauders returning (they came and stole the valuables placed with the bodies to buy entry into the spirit world). But that's not true. The leftover guardian, of course, is in league with the marauders and bails them out after a fight in which Flash gains the upper hand. They're then forced to help them grave rob, except Baylin who has the injured arm. The marauders raid the gift bags and eat the food, then start drinking the vodka. As the moons align, Baylin begins the honoring ceremony until one of the marauder jerks disrupts her. Flash talks him into letting her do it (him being drunk helps). It's a very cool ceremony and Karen Cliche acts out her part very well (it's cut with Ming the Flavorless' ceremony).
They finally get to escape with the help of that can of air freshener Baylin brought. Dale sprays Marauder #2 in the face with it as he tries to get fresh and Flash throws it into the fire in the middle of the cave whilst tussling with Marauder #1. Flash covers Baylin as it explodes and the Cave starts shaking - it's collapsing. Baylin and Flash get out okay but the entrance gets buried before Dale and the Traitor Guardian can make it out. They start to move the rubble out of the way and fortunately both Dale and TG make it out in one piece. TG used himself as a human shield to protect Dale as the ceiling was coming down. Baylin is worried because, during this whole ordeal, the Verdan delegation that usually sojourns to the Cave had not arrived. Something is definitely wrong and she is determined to stay and help. Flash and Dale vow to stay and help her as TG stays to atone for his poor decision making.
And what happened to the Verdans? Well, to bring about "justice" for Prince Baron's betrayal, Ming the Mundane has a plan which he tells Rankol to implement during the remembrance ceremony. Ming's cobra troopers attack the Verdan village and raise it to the ground, though I can't tell if they were just beating people and capturing them or killing some as well. Now that's just unfriendly behavior.
In other Ming the Monotonous news, he starts of f the episode berating Aura and, when he leaves, an actor taking part in the ceremony starts hitting on her. And she flirts back. He's probably going to die. Later, Ming has his "up with people" persona flying high as Aura flatly greets people before the grand remembrance. He tells her to smile, which she does when she sees Actor Boy. Ming at first compliments her, then slams the fact that she's flirting with a guy who's "beneath her."
After the ceremony, Aura goes to talk to Actor Boy (no name = short lifespan) and they flirt some more. She asks where he's going to celebrate Honor Day and he tells her the name of the tavern, but says that she can't follow him there. Before they can further their conversation, Ming the Mojo Killer pops up and says the son of some dude that works for him wants to meet Aura. She excuses herself and Ming stares down Actor Boy, who actually returns a little bit of his stare down. Naturally Aura goes to the tavern later and sees Actor Boy doing a political puppet show featuring Puppet Ming and Puppet Rankol. It's all about how Ming is a terrible person who kills everyone. Aura is actually enjoying herself, as is everyone in the packed room...until Ming the Destroyer of Fun shows up. They all scatter as he tells Actor Boy to continue. He does and, when he's finished, Ming the Humorless gives him a good dose of sarcastic applause. He walks over and asks to see his puppet...and promptly chokes Actor Boy to death with the marionette string in front of Aura. He told Aura it was her fault for paying AB any attention. Back at the palace, Aura confronts him and says he can't pin that cold-blooded murder on her. He gives her some lip service about him killing for her on Honor Day and how he'd have to live with that. Aura walks past him dismissively, saying "I'm sure it'll keep you up at night" sarcastically on her way out.
Other Highlights & Tidbits:
- Remember how everyone was hiding all things Mongo in Zarkov's lab? Well, that's because a Dr. Peterson is coming to interview him for a grant. He decides to play things straight and normal (as opposed to paranoid and erratic) in order to impress. Dr. Peterson ends up being Dr. Debra Peterson whom he went to school with. She's just as nerdy and scattered as he is and they flirt some. She brings up the fact that he was institutionalized and asks him about his stability. Before he can answer, he bumps into the closet door and out falls a piece of Hawkman costume, which he explains as being for Halloween. Well, it turns out he played things far too straight as Dr. Debra was a big fan of his crazy ravings - he was a scientist capable of pushing the envelope and that's good for the field. He tries to convince her of his true nature but it's too late. Hopefully he'll get another stab at it next week as Zarkov could sure use it. He needs to buy a new toaster among other things.
- They've really been trying to up Ming's menace factor. When he's killing people and doing other homicidal type things, the actor does fine but it's the calm moments that I don't buy. Again, I'm sure he's a lovely man and a fine actor, but he just lacks that special maniacal charm that I think Ming should have. Come on disfiguring accident so we can recast the actor! (Seriously, no offense.)
Quote of the Night:
"Can't you just ignore them? I know when I hear voices I generally just...never mind." - Zarkov to Baylin