Back to Command Center

Back to previous episode Back to Episode Guide and Archive Forward to next episode

 

Main Mission is monitoring an operation to destroy an asteroid on a collision course with Alpha. A fleet of Eagles has been dispatched to place twelve nuclear charges at strategic points around it to create a chain reaction to ensure it's destruction. Victor notices that Alan hasn't reported in yet. When Koenig learns
that Alan's Eagle is having trouble with it's main booster, he pushes the time line back forty seconds in order to give him the time he needs to get the last mine in place. Alan run's into even more difficulty when the release mechanism jams on his Eagle. He finally manages to release the mine, but it's
too late. Much to Victor's dismay, Koenig is forced to delay the blast another ten seconds,
to give Alan time to put a little distance between himself and the explosion. Main Mission loses contact with Alan due to the radiation from the blast. Koenig is almost desperate to believe that Alan survived.
Koenig realizes that if they equip an Eagle with a transmitter capable of transmitting on the interstellar frequency band, that they will be able to set up three way communication between Alpha and Eagle 1. He has Paul prepare a rescue Eagle for the job. Paul joins Koenig when he lifts off in search of Alan
They fly through the radiation cloud trying to raise Alan on the radio. Alan is alive in Eagle one, but unconscious. He wakes to the sound of a woman's voice. She urges him to respond to broadcasts of his friends. Alan manages to speak enough to let Koenig and Paul know that he's alive. When they try to
get Alan's coordinates, he is unable to reply. While Paul is trying to compute his location, Koenig hears the same woman's voice giving him the orbital reference that will bring them to Alan. They find Eagle 1 singed but not too much worse for wear. When they move in to dock, the voice compels Alan to program the
docking sequence. Alan has a vision of a woman shrouded in black fabric. She tells him that his own people will take care of him now. When asked who she is, she simply replies "a friend". When the Eagles are docked Koenig boards Eagle 1 to check on Alan. He finds him unconscious. As he alerts
Paul to Carters status, Koenig notices a large planet out the cockpit window, and realizes that the Moon is on a collision course with it! Koenig flies the rescue Eagle back with Eagle 1 still docked, and Paul watching over Alan. After clearing the decontamination procedure and testing negative for radiation, Koenig 
makes his way to Main Mission. Victor has already begun work on a plan to avoid collision with the planet. He suggests a shockwave, created by nuclear charges moored in space between the planet and the Moon, to alter their trajectories. Alan wakes
in Medical Centre and sees the same veiled form at the foot of his bed. When he gets up to talk to her, she tells him he is safe. He reaches to raise her veil, but finds himself face to face with Dr. Russell. He ignores her, calling for the veiled woman to return. Helena is convinced that he is hallucinating
due to radiation sickness. Koenig walks in to find Alan being sedated. Helena tells John that she believes that Alan has been affected, and that he too must be suspect, having the second most exposure to the radiation cloud. They are interrupted by Paul announcing that the Commander's reconnaissance Eagle is
ready for lift off. Once in space, Koenig checks in with Paul to see how the plans for "Operation Shock Wave" are coming along. He tells Paul once Victor is happy with his computations, to start putting the mines in place. En route to the planet, Koenig's Eagle is intercepted by a large alien space craft.
Koenig tries to take evasive action, but the front of the ship opens up, and pulls Koenig's Eagle within. Main Mission is unable to contact him but on the chance that he is still alive, they decide they can't attack the alien ship. Until they have more information, Paul and Victor decide to continue preparations 
for "Operation Shock Wave". Aboard Koenig's Eagle, the cockpit door opens by itself, then as Koenig investigates, the exterior door opens as well. Across from the Eagle is a round door that opens when John stands in front of it. He wipes away the cobwebs inside, and enters the darkened chamber.
The lights come up slowly to reveal he is not alone. The veiled woman that Alan saw is sitting upon a dais at the far end of the room. She lifts her veil and tells Koenig that she has waited a long time to meet him. When asked, she introduces herself as Arra, Queen of Astheria, the planet currently on
a collision course with the Moon. She tells him that the destinies of both their peoples have always been intertwined. She explains that their two planets are to meet for the purpose of mutation. Her people are destined to evolve into a higher form of life. When Koenig asks what he is to do to help,
she replies "Nothing". On Alpha Victor tells Paul that the alien ship has taken up position right where he calculated the mines need to be placed between the planet and the Moon. Paul orders the cargo Eagles to lift off with the mines. Arra senses them approaching and tells Koenig that he must stop them.
He tells her that his people simply won't believe him, and asks her to come and explain it to them. Arra tells him that while he must do nothing, she has much to do, and that she has faith that he will fulfill the role that destiny has set for him. She repeats that she needs his help and then disappears.
Koenig gets back into his Eagle, and exits Arra's ship. He contacts Main Mission, and orders Paul to recall the cargo Eagles, and suspend all operations until he returns. Paul is incredulous, but reluctantly accepts his orders. When Koenig arrives on Alpha he
calls a command conference, tells the others what Arra told him. After Sandra reports that Alpha is definitely on a collision course with Astheria, Paul asks if Koenig really wants to cancel Operation Shockwave. When Koenig replies in the affirmative, Paul is certain that he's gone mad. Helena sees where this
confrontation is going, and intervenes. She tells Paul that there have been two constants in the dangers the Alphans have faced since they left Earth orbit. One: they have survived them all, and two: John Koenig has been in command. She tells him that she sees no reason to start doubting him now. When
Kano sides with Paul saying that Koenig's decision defies logic, Victor follows Helena's lead saying Koenig's choice is not based on logic, but on faith, and that they should continue to have faith in John. Believing the matter settled, John tells Paul to cancel Operation Shockwave and ends the meeting.
Helena and Victor follow Paul out into Main Mission and tell him he will have to take over for John, as Helena feels he is showing the same signs of radiation sickness (hallucination and disorientation) as Alan. They tell Paul that John will be confined to his quarters and sedated, and ask Paul to
continue with Operation Shockwave. As the Moon gets closer to Astheria, with less than seventeen minutes until the time the mines need to be detonated to avoid collision, Arra telepathically gets a message through to Koenig as the sedation begins to wear off. She tells him that his friends have betrayed
him. John manages to over power the guards outside his quarters and instructs Computer to lock the door. Alan is next to be contacted by Arra. She tells him that now she needs his help. He leaves Medical Centre and meets John in the hall. John tells him that he needs his help. With less than three
minutes until detonation of the nuclear mines, the tension in Main Mission rises. Alan enters through the Commander's Office, and throws a small trolley to disrupt everyone, while John enters from the front with his stun gun drawn. Koenig order's computer to lock the doors to Main Mission, but Helena and Dr. Mathias
arrive before the doors can close. Helena tries to reason with John. He tells her that she had fooled him, but she couldn't fool Arra. He explains that they must do nothing and let the Moon and Astheria touch if they are to survive. Helena simply can't believe this and moves towards the button that will detonate
the mines. Koenig aims his stun gun at her but Paul pulls her away. Koenig keeps his gun on them trying to let the clock run out. Certain that they are all going to die anyway, Paul decides it is worth the risk to try for the button himself. At the same time, a security guard on the observation balcony decides to
jump Koenig. Alan lunges at Paul to stop him from pressing the button, and a brawl ensues. Finally Helena sees an opening, and moves towards the button again, but before she can push it, time has run out. As Astheria continues to loom larger on the main screen, everyone begins to back away, leaving John
 alone, to see if his faith that Arra will save them is justified. As the Moon is shaken by the gravitational forces of the planet, so is John's faith in Arra. He grabs Victor shouting "I believed her!" Incredibly, the Moon touches Astheria and it vanishes, transformed, just as Arra had promised it would. Stunned, it takes
the Alphans a moment to process what had happened. Paul gets everyone moving again, and dealing with the fires burning in Main Mission. He gets other key personnel back to their posts to start monitoring their situation, and responding to the damages and injuries caused by their encounter
  Helena finds John and apologizes for not believing him. He tells her she was right, and that if she was taken to a ship and returned with a crazy story like his, he would be a fool not to lock her up. After all, how could they possibly know that two planets on a collision course could not collide but simply touch?

Screenplay..................................................................Anthony Terpiloff

Director..............................................................................Ray Austin

Guest Star

Arra........................................................................Margaret Leighton

Collision Course is one of my all time favorite episodes. It is highly representative of the existential style of season one of Space: 1999. Something I always felt set the series apart from many of its contemporaries. In this particular episode, they pit logic (or science) against faith. Another interesting thing about Space: 1999, is that even when dealing with faith, they never use conventional religion as an easy representation. It is always something less specific, thus more universal. In this case, we deal with Koenig's faith in the mysterious Arra (played by the magnificent Margaret Leighton in one of her last performances).

 

Of course, as mesmerizing as she was, it's not hard to see why Koenig would have believed her.  But it was smart for him to realize that as convincing as she was in person, he would have a hard time convincing the rest of the Alphans in the bright, sterile light of Moonbase Alpha.

This episode also features one of my favorite scenes with Martin Landau. When he tears up while trying to give Alan a chance to survive the explosion at the beginning of the episode, and he chokes up wishing him good luck. It just gets to me every time!

One of my other favorite scenes is at the end of the episode when everyone steps back from the view screen as Astheria gets closer and closer, isolating Koenig. It's almost as though they are trying to get away from the danger in front of them, as though those few steps would make much difference if they collided with another planet! Now that I think of it... shouldn't Alan have been standing there with him? He was helping John to fulfill Arra's plan. Of course you can't help but feel bad for John when he begins to wonder if he made the right choice. Who hasn't been in a similar situation? You know... wondering if you made the right choice, not the "planets on a collision course" situation.

I always kind of felt bad for Alan in the scene where he sees Arra in Medical Centre. If Arra decided to appear to him then, why would she do it right where Helena was standing? When she disappeared, she made Alan look like an idiot!

Another scene which always struck me a little odd, is the one where Alan and John meet in the hall after Alan leaves Medical Centre. While I really don't believe it is the actual intent of the scene, but the way that scene is filmed (with both of them speaking their lines off screen, while the other is on camera) always made me think that they were communicating telepathically.

Among all the things that make this one of my favorite episodes there are still a few minor flaws that I feel compelled to mention. One being the issue with the buttons on the commlocks. John's in particular, but even Helena and Victor have issues with theirs.

I suspect Barbara Bain and Barry Morse shared the defective commlock in question because in each scene the same button is missing, and when Victor has it, Helena doesn't seem to be wearing hers.

Another scene that gives me an unintentional chuckle is when Alan enters Main Mission through the Commander's Office and throws the trolley to distract everyone. Operative Kate looks too early, than looks away, and doesn't seem to know how to react when the trolley finally hits the floor.

The woman to the far left also doesn't quite seem know how to react. Luckily I usually focus on the main characters rather than the extras, but I'm not sure if I will be able to on this scene from now on. And thanks to me, you might not either!

I find it interesting that Paul suggests recreating the events that blasted the Moon out of Earth orbit, and the idea is discarded for the shockwave idea. While I'm not a physicist, Paul's plan does seem the more likely of the two to work. Besides, as far as the Alphans are concerned, it already worked once in Breakaway. Odder still, they return to the same idea in Sťance Spectre and successfully use it to alter the Moons course.

These are minor flaws in an otherwise brilliant episode which embodies most of what I love about this series. I love that we are left with the same questions that the Alphans are. Did Arra save them, or was she just aware of a greater plan, and knew that the M.U.F. would intervene at the right moment? I heard an idea that I liked very much, and can't recall the source. But someone suggested that it would be cool if Arra, the Black Sun Entity, and the M.U.F. were one and the same, citing that both Arra and the B.S.E. responded to the question "Who are you?" with the same answer: "A Friend." And both, at least, appeared to be instrumental in the survival of the Alphans in what should have been fatal circumstances.

If you would like to respond to any comments made here (or any section of this site)
please use the commlock in the Communication Centre to send me an e-mail.

 

 

Click here for full sized version
Click here for full sized version

 

Click here to play sound On a mission to destroy an asteroid
on a collision course with Alpha,
Eagle 1 is malfunctioning.
Click here to play sound Eagle 1 is missing, and Koenig
refuses to accept that Alan Carter
may not have survived.
Click here to play sound Koenig formulates a plan
to find, and hopefully rescue Alan.
Click here to play sound Sandra and Kano are baffled by
Koenig's illogical behavior.
Click here to play sound Alan makes a new "Friend".
Click here to play sound Koenig discovers a new, bigger
threat to Alpha.
Click here to play sound Paul suggests a plan to avoid
collision with the planet, andt
Victor suggests an alternate plan.
Click here to play sound Arra makes Alan look like a fool,
and Koenig defends him to Helena.
Click here to play sound Koenig meets Arra, who dazzles him
with her understanding of destiny.
Click here to play sound Arra asks Koenig for his help
in stopping the other Alphans from
interfering in their mutual destinies.
Click here to play sound Koenig's words on Arra's
behalf fall on deaf ears in the
Command Staff meeting.
Click here to play sound Helena does an end run around.
She places Paul in command, and
has Koenig confined to quarters.
Click here to play sound Arra opens Koenig's eyes to the
deception that has been played on him.
Click here to play sound Arra calls in an owed favor from
Alan Carter who breaks out of
Medical Centre.
Click here to play sound John and Alan try to convince the
rest of Main Mission that Operation
Shockwave is a mistake... at gunpoint.
Click here to play sound The decision is made "hand to hand",
then John has a crisis of faith.
Click here to play sound Helen apologizes for not believing
John, and he tells her she was
absolutely right to have done so.
Click here to play sound Background sound.

 

Back to previous episode Back to top Forward to next episode