Thursday, July 17, 2014

#759. Seven Reasons - Earth: Final Conflict

In the late '90s, a decade flush in Star Trek, Majel Roddenberry helped bring a few of her late husband Gene's aborted projects to television.  The first of these efforts was Earth: Final Conflict, sort of V without lizards.

Kevin Kilner, as William Boone, was the original series lead, replaced by Robert Leeshock, as Liam Kinkaid, in the second season, succeeded by Jayne Heitmeyer, as Renee Palmer (who debuted in the third season), in the fifth season.  Others who appeared as series regulars throughout the five-year run from 1997 to 2002 included Lisa Howard (Lili Marquette), Richard Chevolleau (Augur), Leni Parker (Da'an), David Hemblen (Jonathan Doors), Anita La Selva (Zo'or), Melinda Deines (Street), Guylaine St-Onge (Juda), and Alan Van Sprang (Howlyn).  This constantly shifting cast line-up was a source of frustration for fans, but realistically reflected the volatile nature of the Resistance's efforts to thwart to an alien invasion that seemed on the surface to be totally benevolent.  Fortunes changed all the time.
via Earth: Final Conflict Wikia

My favorite character was Ronald Sandoval (Von Flores), who appeared throughout the series.  He dies a punk, but embodies the best of Earth: Final Conflict's instincts.  A few of the following episodes unabashedly feature Sandoval's unexpectedly nuanced role at its most dynamic, plus a few key developments otherwise:

1. "Sandoval's Run" (1x12)

Prior to this episode, as with most of the series, you may be forgiven to assume Sandoval is merely a stooge for the Taelons, the so-called Companions, helping to carry out their secret agenda.  Except he's as much victim as anyone.  Thanks to the CVI implant all Protectors receive (along with the Skrill weapon!), he's the opposite of what he'd otherwise be like (a parallel dimension seen in the second season episode "Dimensions" helps confirm this, where Sandoval is definitely one of the good guys).  Turns out his is a tragic story, worse than Boone's experiences from the pilot.

2. "Gauntlet" (2x11)

Expanding the mythology of the series by explaining who the Jaridians are and their relationship to the Taelons, this one hints at how the series ends.

3. "Crossfire" (2x22)

The end of the second season sees Jonathan Doors' bid to become President explode in his face as he clashes with his son and the Resistance seems to come to a tragic end.

4. "Thicker than Blood" (3x6)

Liam Kinkaid's surprising link to Sandoval is exposed to his allies, who find it difficult to reconcile, especially when it means they probably ought to save the dude's life, too.

5. "Atonement" (4x17)

Sandoval's great bid for redemption on his own terms is probably his greatest moment as a character.  Unfortunately it's all downhill from here.

6. "Boone's Awakening" (5x5)

As the title suggests, Boone returns, appearing for the first time since the first season finale, in a moment that helps explain the strange new circumstances for the final season, in which the Taelons and Jaridians have merged back together and become something worse.

7. "Final Conflict" (5x22)

The final episode of the series, in which Renee Palmer and Liam Kinkaid finally get to embrace humanity's destiny in space.

Classic opening theme (one of the best ever):



I think I saw the first season, after that I don't remember much.
The late 90's were not kind to me.

Pat Dilloway said...

I think it was the 4th season I watched late at night. It was OK but then that start to the 5th season where they changed the whole premise of the show was pretty annoying. Shows can survive losing a character or even a few, but most don't survive a complete change of format.

Tony Laplume said...

The late '90s weren't kind to Superman, either. (Actually, the whole decade wasn't!)

I always struggle with calling the fifth season a format change. Technically everything that happened that season was introduced earlier, and the struggle is essentially completely the same.

The Armchair Squid said...

Yet another one I don't know but again, five seasons is a respectable run.

Tony Laplume said...

Five seasons is grand.

The Armchair Squid said...

Enterprise only managed four.

Tony Laplume said...

You know, the more I think about it, four was exactly what Enterprise needed, insofar as what it did with those four seasons.

The Armchair Squid said...

I think Enterprise also ended particularly well. They must have known, too, that it would be a while before the next Star Trek series.

Tony Laplume said...

What a lot of fans don't really seem to appreciate is that Enterprise ended knowing full well that it was closing a whole chapter of Star Trek history. To do so without the participation of cast members from another series would have been very curious indeed. And so the decision to have that other series tacitly acknowledge the legacy of Enterprise was entirely fitting, and reflected the whole franchise to that point.

The Armchair Squid said...

We're undoubtedly in for more Trek at some point, given the enormous success of the re-boot films. It'd be good to see a new series on TV, too. May be a while, though. The Next Next Generation?

Tony Laplume said...

I suspect that we won't see a new TV series until after the third movie's released, at least. The future of the movie reboot, how long it remains popular, controls this situation. The Avengers model, how its associated TV spin-off has failed to be similarly popular, might serve as an indicator.

The Armchair Squid said...

Well... I think the Avengers situation is different. Trek was born on TV and a return to the tube seems more natural. But I think you're right: it'll be a while.

Tony Laplume said...

I equate the two mostly because at the moment they're both known as blockbuster movie franchises. Though there were ten movies previously in the series, none were nearly as popular as the last two Star Trek entries. Combined with the fatigue having four TV shows run in the span of fifteen years, only the fans are clamoring for more at this point. Just as, clearly, no one was really begging for a TV show based on the Avengers movies, no matter how popular they are. It seemed like a good idea, but for now it works far better on the big screen.


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