[Episode Written By: JMS] (12/15/99)
Crusade pays unrelenting homage to the X-files, wrapped in a galactic conspiracy which is quite familiar. Gideon smells an interesting sub-plot coming a mile away.
Although I am doing this review quite a few weeks after the original airing, my tardiness comes at an advantage. It just so happens that a few days ago, a joint project between JMS (the creator of this show) and Chris Carter (the creator of the X-files) just fell through with CBS. So, the homage paid to the X-files in this episode, which is spectacular I might add, was in fact a prelim for what was to come, or in this case what was not to be. Why do brilliant minds like Carter and JMS continually have to fight to get their visions realized? I don't know. It makes one appreciate what we do have from people like them and makes us imagine what thoughts have gone dark through the ages.
As Matheson says "No good deed goes unpunished."
I am sure there are two groups of people that view this episode: the first are people who understand the homage paid to the X-files and find it flattering; the second are people who find this homage a rip-off and insulting. I come from the former school of thought. It is seldom that writers take the time to step back and have fun with the genre and this episode, odd as it is, is a welcome piece of science fiction. To those who complain that the episode is not original, I chuckle. After seeing so many failed integrations and cross-overs in my short time on this planet, the writing in this episode is a simple masterpiece.
Take note that this episode is date marked, May 3rd 2267 at 2:37 PM EST (assuming Eastern Standard Earth Time). I love this little touch. Makes the episode more personal right off the bat. Although this was obviously done as yet another reference to the X-Files where that type of mark is constantly used.
Also take note at the end of the episode of the probes sent down to the planet. Do you recognize them? Their padding is in the exact configuration that was used on the Mars Pathfinder lander. Perhaps JMS also threw this in as homage to the people at NASA, who have been helping to increase Crusade's accuracy.
MUSIC: (3.5 STARS)
I came to a revelation during this episode. Chen must work in the art of MIDI a lot. To those that don't know what MIDI is, let me explain. It is a music technique used on computers that has a very limiting set of tones. As with MIDI, Chen seems to limit himself to the range of tones he uses as if there were only a finite number in the universe. Aside from that revelation, Chen did a good job in this episode. The mood throughout was fun and I dare say cute. An appropriate fit.
ACTING / CHARACTERS: (2 STARS)
Gotta say the alien design in this episode was spectacular. Sure, creatures like this have been seen before, but the coloration and patterns of this particular design was terrific, especially in contrast to the business suits. Although I must say the characters themselves were a "bit" too cheesy for my tastes. If things were taken a bit more serious it would have went off better and more dramatically. Lyssa was particularly annoying and added nothing to the episode. Certainly not an ample doppleganger for Dana Scully (then again who is).
My complaints with Matheson's character continue. He is way too anal to be a second officer. If he had this many issues there is no way he would have been able to rise to the ranks of second officer. Its just not feasible. He acts like a second year cadet and is way too concerned about his abilities. He's only had them his whole life. Get a grip my good man.
Gideon shines here, in between the normal and the bizarre. He
seems to enjoy the challenge.
PLOT: (2.5 STARS)
In retrospect the whole "smell" situation and X-files homage is secondary in my mind when I think of the subtle wind reference made at the beginning and end of this episode. I've never thought about this in relation to space and space travel. Very interesting. Visiting the coast, throwing a fishing line in the water, and listening to the wind: there are so many things we take for granted and that is the most important plot point to be taken from this episode, if your looking for that kind of thing. However, in this case, most are not looking for deep thoughts. The episode is more of a playful romp, slapped together by a writer that needed a break from the ordinary. In that, the episode is a success.
After listening to JMS' conspiracy spin, I must ask the question "If a conspiracy helps the people, it is really a bad thing? Or is freedom worth the ultimate price?" With that in mind, are Gideon's actions at the end for the best? In the short term, probably no. In the long term, probably yes.
CGI: (4 STARS)
Beautiful work throughout. It was sparse but when it was needed it was done very well with detail. The shots of the Excalibur were some of the best to date.