'Flash Gordon' vs. the Nighthunters

Ericjohnson_flashgordon_240 This week's Flash Gordon was pretty packed. There were a lot of elements that were finally put in place to ensure a season finale with a lot of punch. Sure, there was the Mongo Villain of the Week, but there was also a lot more in relation to the main plot (Find Papa Gordon!) than there has been in weeks.

I am the spoiler that flaps in the night!

The big main plot involves Flash, Baylin and Zarkov (who impulsively jumps through the rift) going to see the Verden tribe on Mongo. Their little field trip revealed a few major bits and pieces:

  • Not only did Flash's dad stay with the them, he also built a water purification machine to help the village thrive and, more importantly, stay out of Ming the Mundane's grasp. Also, he shacked up with Nia, one of the village elders/council members. She told Flash that Dr. G talked about getting back to Flash and his mom back on Earth, but that barely softened the blow of that news - and I don't blame him. Even though, as he points out, there probably aren't "zip code rules" that cover other planets, I'd still prefer not to here about my father's intergalactic nookie partner while I'm risking my life trying to find him, thank you very much.
  • We find out what made Baylin so bitter and bad ass - The Lottery. See, once the Verden population is too much to be supported by Ming the Mercilessly Dull's water rations, everyone picks stones out of a box and the families with black stones have to leave the village. This happened to her as a kid and she still a little ticked about it. Especially since, not only was she almost killed, her parents were killed while trying to save her from Nighthunters outside of the village - creatures who hunt at night, capture people whom they hang upside down, and drink their blood. Kind of like vampires but way less friendly. They're the one thing she's afraid of...which was solved when she plunged a knife into one's chest. Kudos to Karen Cliche. She's done a great job on the show. As a matter of fact, Baylin is my favorite character. I like my chick heroes with some bite to them and she's been exhibiting quite the set of chompers.
  • We're finally introduced to Prince Barin (played by one of my faves, Steve Bacic - Stargate SG-1, Andromeda). He's the proud leader of the Verden who is trying to keep them from submitting willingly to Ming the Flavorless' rule. Unfortunately, with the advent of another lottery, he caves a little too soon and ends up getting roped into an arranged marriage with Aura - neither are particularly pleased with this. If the show follows conventional mythology, that won't last that long.
  • Flash, Baylin and Zarkov end up getting trapped on Mongo.

Flashgordon_240 The show's been improving steadily and, now with these pieces in place, I'm actually optimistic about its direction.  Despite being important to setting up a world and a tone and all that, Villain of the Week agendas are very difficult to maintain . There's such a fine line between subtly progressing the plot and being a meandering throwaway episode that anytime a serialized adventure can really sink into a strong arc, the show automatically gets better (I'm looking at you season premieres/finales of Smallville).

While the three caballeros are facing mortal peril on Mongo, Dale is back on Earth trying to mend things with Joe but that plan goes awry when he turns down some afternoon delight so they can talk about their relationship. Afterward, she shows up at Flash's house with a dozen donuts to talk about it, but gets Momma Gordon instead. The whole point of this was to accelerate the doomedness of their doomed relationship. Joe is just enough of a developed character for you to feel something for/about him one way or another during all this. Personally, I'm starting to find this whole "I'm a cop and I keep discovering pieces of what's really going on without really knowing it" thing tedious. Either thrust him fully in the middle of the whole situation or get rid of him. Or both. I know his purpose is as one of the obstacle that stands in the way of our hero and heroine's togetherness, but he's not doing enough to really make an impact. It's a waste of a character.

The only real drawback to this episode was Ming's presence. Not that he didn't have great lines or that the actor is bad...he's just...blah. Seriously, can he get with the disfiguring accident (that makes way for a new actor) already? Please? It'll be really easy to do and it can totally be Flash's fault. That would add a little zippity to his do-dah.

Okay people, out with it. Is this show going in the right direction or have you given up on it? How awesome is Baylin? Is Ming a saltine without the salt?