|After sitting in on a command conference, Commissioner Simmonds berates Koenig for not focusing on trying to locate Earth, and attempting a return home. Koenig responds that it would be a waste of their time to attempt something scientifically impossible. Simmonds replies that the impossible takes a|
|little longer. Their discussion is interrupted when Sandra notifies Koenig of an alien craft approaching Alpha. They adjourn to Main Mission. Computer confirms that the vessel is manned, and predicts that it will go into orbit around the Moon. Unable to contact the vessel, Koenig has two Eagles lift off to greet|
|it. The ship's flight becomes erratic, and it crash lands on the lunar surface. Koenig orders a crash unit to standby at launch pad three, and recalls Alan Carter to pilot. He has Victor and Helena join him, as he leads the team. They fly out to the downed ship, and dock with it. Alan disengages the pod,|
|and returns to Alpha. Within the docking tube, they scan the alien vessel and detect no signs of life, atmosphere, or artificial gravity. They depressurize, and board. They see six translucent chambers with bodies in them. Helena suggests they may be in suspended animation. Koenig sends for Helena's|
|equipment, and has Paul extend atmosphere and artificial gravity, from their passenger module, to the ship. From as much information as she can gather through the chambers, Helena can detect no signs of life. She suspects the crash may have killed the ship's passengers, but Koenig that she cannot|
|learn more without breaking the seal on one of the chambers. Having exhausted every other option, he gives her the go ahead. As soon as her drill breaks the seal, there is a flash of red light, and the body within is reduced to ashes. Suddenly the ship's systems activate, and the rest of the crew awaken.|
|They silently rise and discover the remains of their shipmate, then turn to face the intruders who caused her demise. The Alphans explain that all of their instruments indicated no life signs, and only then did they break the seal. Without a word, the apparent leader gestures for the crew to gather around their shipmate's|
|remains, then gestures for the Alphans to join them in a silent commemoration of the loss of their comrade. Back in Main Mission, Simmonds is anxiously wondering what is going on inside the alien ship. Finally, Koenig reports that the aliens will be flying it on partial power to the base for repairs.|
|As Koenig leads their new guests onto the base, Simmonds rushes over, and insists on being introduced. He tells Captain Zantor that those responsible for the death of his crewman will be brought to account. Zantor, aware that the mistake was one of ignorance, not malice, assures him that no retribution|
|is necessary. As Helena shows them to their quarters, to freshen up before discussing their situation, Simmonds warns Koenig that they may not be as friendly as they seem. When they meet again in Koenig's office, the Kaldorians present the Alphans with eggs of the Libra bird (a symbol of peace and|
|freedom on their world) filled with gold as a gesture of good will. Zantor explains that the Libra birds, along with everything else on their planet was becoming sterile. His people sent out ships to every world they thought could sustain their form of life. He tells them that his ship was programmed to orbit the|
|Moon, re-animate the crew, and proceed to Earth, but random variations in the Moon's trajectory caused it's computer to err, and caused them to crash. They wished to settle on Earth if they were welcome. When asked if they were not welcomed, he tells them they would submit themselves to "voluntary|
|reduction" (take their own lives). Helena offers to determine the compatibility of Kaldorians with humans, and Victor offers to help assess the damage to their ship. When they leave, Simmonds tells Koenig that a return to Earth is possible if they commandeer the ship, as it is programmed to find and reach Earth.|
|While Helena examines Zantor, he explains the concept of their stasis chambers. Wjen Helena's results show that humans and Kaldorians are compatible, Zantor suggests that the spare stasis chamber on his ship may be adapted for human use, making the seventy-five year voyage pass like a dream.|
|Koenig has Helena investigate the process to make sure it's safe. When Simmonds' plan to seize the Kaldorian ship is dismissed by Koenig, Simmonds says that he should be the one to go back to Earth. Koenig tells him that Computer will select who goes, and he will have the same chance as everyone else.|
|Koenig is called to the Kaldorian ship, and learns that they are having difficulties reviving Helena from stasis. Zantor tells Koenig that Alpha's computer did not understand the human spirit, and because of that, Helena was placed in too deep a sleep. Zantor can attempt to revive her, but their is a risk of|
|brain damage. John is dubious, but at Victor's urging, allows Zantor to try. Helena is finally revived with no ill effect. With repairs almost complete on the Kaldorian ship, and the launch window closing, Koenig receives a list of three names from Computer. Koenig tells Kano to go back and have Computer|
|select one name. Alone in Koenig's office, Simmonds reiterates that he should be the one to go, but Koenig stands firm that Computer should make an unbiased choice, giving everyone an equal chance. Simmonds replies that he doesn't believe in chance, and as Helena, Victor and Zantor enter the office,|
|he takes Koenig's commlock from his desk, and replaces it with his own. Zantor tells Koenig that with repairs to his ship finished, there is only the matter of who is to join them to be decided. John asks if they are sure the process is safe. Zantor explains that it will be so long as his computer makes a matrix of|
|the person to be put in stasis. Simmonds makes his way to the Nuclear Power Station, and stuns the guards when he gets there. Koenig discovers that his commlock has been taken, has Kano track it, then deactivate it. They locate Simmonds in the Power Station, where he has one of the technicians at gun|
|point. Koenig contacts Simmonds and tells him he is trapped. Simmonds forces the technician to remove the core that regulates life support for the base, and tells Koenig that it is his hostage. Either he goes back to Earth, or the base freezes over. With only twenty-eight minutes till liftoff, and a half|
|hour of life support, Simmonds gives Koenig fifteen minutes to decide. Zantor is called to Main Mission. Koenig explains the situation to him, and Zantor agrees that Simmonds must be allowed to go. Simmonds is told that he will be allowed to go, but asks for a guarantee. Zantor offers to be his hostage.|
|Zantor goes to the Power Station, were the converter is replaced, then lead at gun point to the ship. He thanks Koenig, Helena and Victor for their help, and expresses his regret that Simmonds should succeed through the use of force. They board, and the ship is raised on the launch pad. Zantor asks|
|Simmonds to enter his stasis chamber, but is directed at gunpoint to enter his first. Only when all the Kaldorians are in their stasis chambers, does Simmonds put down his stun gun and climb into his. The ship takes off, and heads for Earth. The Alphans watch in silence as the chance for one of them to|
|return home fades in the distance. Simmonds wakes in his stasis chamber pleased to find there have been no harmful side effects from his hibernation. While the Kaldorians are still sleeping, he uses his commlock to contact Earth, and let them know of his arrival. His signal is picked up on Alpha. They realize|
|that Simmonds didn't go into suspended animation, and is not yet aware of that fact. As his hails go unanswered, he checks the time on his commlock, and realizes the truth of his situation. He pleads for Alpha to help him, but there is nothing they can do. He struggles to break free of his chamber, or|
|wake the Kaldorians, but is unable to. Helpless and broken, Simmonds collapses exhausted from his efforts. Back on Alpha, after a stunned silence when his transmission fades, Helena asks John who the computer finally chose. He tells her it was Simmonds, and tears up the computer print out.|
Captain Zantor..............................................................Christopher Lee
Earthbound ranks as one of my all time favorite episodes for so many reasons. First, and unrelated to the actual episode itself, footage of Barry Morse appears in the opening titles with his screen credit for the first time. I'm glad they chose to acknowledge his contributions to the show in this way. He has always been one of my favorite characters of the series, and I was sorely disappointed that he didn't make it into the second season.
And now to the episode itself... One of the things that stands out most about this episode is the fact that the aliens are not the "bad guys". But even better, we are not made aware of their benevolence, until after we get a little tension out of the possibility that they may be hostile. I think the fact that Christopher Lee played the leader of the Kaldorians (all being over six feet tall, adding to their potentially menacing appearance) played into this extremely well. For a first time viewer, the fact that the Alphans killed one of the crew, was a clear invitation for retribution by the aliens in question, but the pleasant surprise was that they were a peaceful race and understanding of the mistake that killed their comrade. I found myself thinking of them as Taoist in nature. The Kaldorians seemed to accept of the fate of their world without bitterness. They made attempts to save themselves by journeying to other worlds, but would not do so at the cost of disrupting the status quo at these worlds. Both Zantor's disgust at Simmonds' use of force, and the concern that suspended animation should preserve "the flavor of life" support this Taoist impression. as well
Christopher Lee was wonderful as Zantor. His silence during the teaser provided enough ambiguity to the nature of the aliens to allow a sense of danger for the Alphans, but didn't contradict the soft spoken nature later on which gave his character a serene dignity. I also enjoyed the tasteful flirtation between Zantor and Doctor Russell in this episode. It added a nice dimension to Zantor's character without taking away from the rest of the story.
Roy Dotrice recreates his role as Commissioner Simmonds, giving him the distinction of the being the only recurring character outside of the regular cast. And deservedly so. He turns in a brilliant performance as the unctuous Commissioner, highlighted by the scene in his hibernation chamber when he realizes he has woken up seventy five years too early! We truly feel his terror and desperation. This effect is compounded by the fact that the Alphans are forced to listen, helplessly. Add to this, the element of tragic irony (or is it poetic justice?) that he put himself in this position. We, the audience, are torn between feeling sympathy for someone in that horrifying a predicament (just think about the ramifications), and the feeling that he got what he deserved. I am always impressed when a show can bring out such opposing emotions at the same time. There is one minor flaw in this scene. As Roy Dotrice thrashes around his chamber, two of the actors playing Kaldorians, who are supposed to be in stasis, break character.
One of them sits up in his chamber, and the other turns his head, to see what is going on. Despite this, in my mind, this scene ranks as one of the best of the series, if not dramatic television in general.
Eartbound also has the distinction of the first appearance of an alien spacecraft in the series. I have always been intrigued by the unique design of the Kaldorian sleeper ship. It just looks so "alien" to me. It bears no resemblance to anything humans would build. The fact that it looks so impractical for operation within an atmosphere suggests to me, that it was designed primarily for travel in space, but must posses technology beyond our understanding to manage reentry .
This idea does create a small problem for me though. Assuming that the design is that advanced, how would Victor and the Alpha technicians be able to help repair it? Perhaps they only provided materials and labor under the guidance of the Kaldorians?
Another first for this episode... we get to see the separation of the passenger module from the superstructure of the Eagle. How cool is that?
Unfortunately, this also leads me to another small flaw in the episode. There is simply no way that thee Eagle could have docked with the Kaldorian ship, as shown, with the difference in height between the two craft. The Eagle sits far too low for this. It's a shame they couldn't have shown a little more extension to the landing legs on the pod to compensate for this.
Despite these minor flaws, the model work was generally excellent in this episode.
Another aspect that I love about this episode, simple as it may be, is the morality of it. We get to see that sometimes "bad guys finish last". Combined with excellent performances by all, it ranks as one or my personal favorite episodes.
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wants the impossible.
|An alien ship approaches Alpha.|
The alien ship crash lands,
and a team is put together
to provide aid.
The aliens appear to
have died in the crash.
|Simmonds tries to schmooze the aliens.|
|The Kaldorians offer gifts of peace.|
Zantor explains how his ship
came to land on the Moon.
Simmonds still wants the
impossible, no matter the price.
Zantor explains the concept
behind their hibernation chambers...
and flirts with Helena.
Zantor offers a chance for one
Alphan to return to Earth.
Simmonds wants to seize
the Kaldorian ship, or, at the very
least, be a passenger.
|Helena can't be revived from stasis.|
Alan points Koenig in
the direction of Earth.
|Computer passes the buck.|
Simmonds wants Koenig to select
him as the one to go home.
The hibernation process will
work for humans if a matrix is
made by the Kaldorian computer.
Victor thinks he would pass
on the chance to return to Earth.
Simmonds holds the base hostage
so that he can return home.
Koenig explains Simmonds
ultimatum to Zantor.
|Zantor says his goodbyes.|
Simmonds wakes up...
seventy-five years too early.
Helena learns that Simmonds
was selected by Computer
to return home.