Starhunter 2300–The Third Thing (2003)   4 comments

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

EPISODE #7

Once the crew members of the Transutopian (the Tulip) get to know each other, they function well as a family, supporting each other often and even finishing each other’s sentences from time to time.  This familiarity and closeness is on display in this, the seventh episode of the series.

Yet this episode, for all its comedic moments, is quite serious.  It is the tale of a scripted reality program with a body count.  While watching the episode again, pausing it, capturing images, and taking notes, I thought of Network, the classic 1976 movie about a television network with executives willing to do anything for ratings.  They give a domestic terrorist group its own program, ignore their news anchor’s mental illness because it is good for ratings, and pay someone to kill him on air when his ratings plummet.  But hey, it’s entertainment, right?

The episode opens with the close of another weekly holocast of The Third Thing, a reality program.  The host, Mathylda, erases her fake smile immediately after the broadcast ends.  She scolds Julian Sanders and Nasdeen, segment producers, for the weak content.  Mathylda demands a good idea for next week’s show.  In a subsequent meeting, she gets it; Nasdeen suggests bounty hunters.  Mathylda is enthusiastic.

Little Colorful Balls, Everywhere

On the Tulip, Percy and Marcus are doing grunt work.  Percy owns the ship, so she could get out of such duty if she chose to do so.  Maybe Percy enjoys welding, for she does so much of it.  But Marcus is unhappy.  He demands to know why he and Percy get stuck with these dirty jobs.  The laconic Percy observes that maybe it is because they are “cute and funny.”  Marcus picks up a plastic box loaded recently from Clarke Station.  Small and colorful balls spill out of it.

Percy

Percy thinks that they are “pretty cool.”

Percy and Marcus

Marcus says that he and Percy should work the next bounty hunting case.  Percy agrees, and Marcus prepares to present this to Travis.

Travis is reluctant, but Callie persuades him to grant the request.

Nasdeen with Julian Sanders

Rudolpho brings Julian Sanders and Nasdeen to the Bridge, to meet the other bounty hunters.  Julian, Rudolpho says, is a “dedicated maker of small but important works of integrity and relevance and intelligence.”  And the series producers will pay the crew six months’ money for a few days’ activities.  Given the dearth of good bounties, this seems like a good idea.

Callie and Travis

Julian butters up the crew.  He says that he wants to make THE documentary about bounty hunters.  He also calls them the “premiere bounty hunters of all time.”  Travis, noting the hyperbole, says that most of their cases are not dramatic.  They usually entail pursuing people who have not made child-support payments or who have committed docking violations, he says.  Callie chimes in and comments that sometimes they have to hunt people who have bitten off the heads of documentary makers.

There is also the question of prudence.  Should our heroes holocast their faces throughout the solar system?  Travis wants nothing of it, but Julian records him covertly anyway.  Callie is initially reluctant, but she comes around shortly.

Callie and Julian

First, however, she shows her contempt.

Julian and Nasdeen use cortical implant cameras, so their eyes become cameras.  Marcus gets one, but Percy refuses, and neither Julian nor Nasdeen press the issue.

A case does come up.  A source says that Tremayne, a petty criminal, is on the loose.  This seems like an easy bounty for Percy and Marcus, but appearances can be deceiving.  Julian, desperate for an actual story two days before air, is creating a dramatic storyline, with Mathylda’s approval.

Mathylda

Mathylda broadcasts from a bare studio.  The studio audience is elsewhere, and a few technicians are her only company on set.  Yet one might not know that to watch the program.

Travis is away during the broadcast, earning 10,000 credits on a job to deliver twins to Ring Shepherd, in the Saturn Federation.  So Rudolpho minds the ship while Percy, Marcus, and Callie work the case and Nasdeen and Julian observe.

Marcus, a former Raider, recognizes a Raider at a bar.  Then Tremayne, who turns out to be a former Raider, meets the Raider.  A shootout ensues, leaving an innocent woman, a bystander, dead.

Mathylda, in the studio, depicts the bounty hunters as incompetents.

Rudolpho

Rudolpho, watching the holocast on the Tulip, says, “I don’t believe it” and “bloody hell” before dashing off.

Callie and Julian

Julian, lying, tells Callie that he feels guilty for the innocent bystander’s death.  He does not think he can continue in his job, he says.  Callie, being nice, tries to comfort him.

Mathylda

Mathylda portrays the crew of the Tulip in the worst possible light.  She says they are a dysfunctional family, and that Callie is a fixer.  Callie, Mathylda insists, must be the child of alcoholics.  And, according to the host, Callie, by trying to fix the problems of others, ignores her own deepest needs, including love.

How is that for dime-store pop psychology BS?

Marcus and Percy

Marcus and Percy have a series of shootouts with Tremayne and the Raider.  What they do not know is that Julian has equipped Tremayne with a cortical implant camera, too, and is working with him.  Furthermore, Julian and Tremayne have arranged for Callie’s abduction.  And Mathylda lends active assistance to Tremayne.  But it is a good story for an hour, is it not?

So this is not a reality program; it is a criminal enterprise.

Nasdeen tells Julian that she cannot “do this” anymore.  But Julian threatens her with unemployment; she and her child need her job.  Nasdeen will not “do this” much longer anyhow, for she suffers a severe injury during a shootout.  Percy comes to Nasdeen’s aid as Marcus, joined by Rudolpho, continue the shootout with with Tremayne and the Raider.

Rudolpho

Rudolpho’s arrival is timely, for Marcus removes his cortical implant camera.  This means that he suffers momentary side effects while Tremayne is pursuing him.

Nasdeen

Nasdeen dies.  So the body count is two.

Percy returns to find Marcus, but finds Rudolpho,  as well.  The older man explains all that has been happening, to the best of knowledge.  Marcus, as you might imagine, is rather irritated.  He beats up Tremayne and punches Julian.

Meanwhile, Rudolpho has subdued and detained the Raider.

The “reality” show is called The Third Thing.  In this episode Marcus, the protagonist, is the first thing and Tremayne, the antagonist, is the second thing.

The Third Thing

And Callie is the third thing.

Marcus coerces Tremayne into revealing Callie’s location.  The criminal was expecting snipers to shoot Marcus, but Julian reveals that viewers voted to eliminate that plot element.  Tremayne is disappointed.  This makes Callie’s rescue easier.

Callie and Percy

Callie and Percy enter the studio, and Percy ends the holocast with her weapon.

Percy, Callie, and Marcus

Back on the Bridge, the crew members learn that they have received payment from the show producers, who will not press criminal charges if the bounty hunters will not press charges, either.  They accept the compromise.  Travis returns and asks for an update.  “You didn’t miss much,” Marcus says.

But two women are dead and child has lost a mother–all for the sake of alleged entertainment.

Next:  Torment, or Rudolpho’s sixteen-year-old daughter, who is not “sweet sixteen.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 4, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures.  Thanks to Power DVD and a legal DVD for making them possible.  As always, I encourage the viewing of Starhunter 2300 episodes only in a method consistent with U.S. copyright laws.

4 responses to “Starhunter 2300–The Third Thing (2003)

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  1. Kenneth, thank you for your great Starhunter episode recaps. I recently watched the entire Starhunter 2300 series (streaming on Netflix), and it’s been interesting reading your recaps of both series. Despite the plot holes and odd dialogue pacing, Starhunter is a television show that sort of grows on you.

  2. Pingback: Guide Post to Starhunter 2300 Episode Reviews | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

  3. Pingback: The Third Thing/The Third Thing (Redux) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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