Starhunter 2300–Torment (2003)   3 comments

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana


The crew members of the Tulip spent the first few episodes learning about each other.  They were on the same vessel, but were essentially strangers who did not always trust each other.  By the time of Torment, however, they constitute a family of sorts, helping each other while sometimes disagreeing.  Banter serves as evidence of these relationships.  Consider this exchange:

RUDOLPHO:  I bet you made out like a bandit.

TRAVIS:  I was a bandit.

There is another wonderful exchange, in which Travis speculates that Callie was “hell on wheels” as a teenager.  Callie answers that she was–then.  But, the way the says it, we viewers understand that she is half-serious, for she is still hell on wheels–but in a good way.

Indeed, family is the heart of this episode.  How far will one go for the sake one’s family members, even if one has not seen them for a long time, or ever?

According to Relativity, if one travels close to the speed of light, time slows down for the traveler yet not for the rest of us going about our daily lives.  So almost no time passes for the traveler but a great deal of time passes for others.  This is time dilation.

I explain this because it figures prominently in the story for this episode.

Arthur Santiago

At Syn City, Io, Jupiter Federation, Arthur Santiago receives a transmission from one Darnell, who has abducted his (Santiago’s) parents.  Darnell demands a large ransom in twenty hours, or else….

Von Flores as Darnell

Santiago, desperate, says that he will do what he can.  Then he asks to see his parents.  Darnell consents to this.

Santiago’s Parents

They are quite young.

Von Flores as Agent Ronald Sandoval in Earth:  Final Conflict–Sandoval’s Run (1998)

An observant viewer might recognize Canadian actor Von Flores, who plays Darnell in this episode, from Earth:  Final Conflict (1997-2002).  In that series, the first season of which is the best of the five, aliens walked openly among us.  For the first four seasons the aliens were the Taelons, beings of pure energy who could solidify when they chose.  They had cured many diseases, united Ireland, and performed many other great works, but what did they want from us?  Flores played Agent Ronald Sandoval, who served the Taelons while looking as if he had just stepped out of the pages of Gentleman’s Quarterly.

Back to our story…

Santiago explains the situation to Travis and Callie.  His parents are environmental engineers who went to Earth, to help rehabilitate the planet, when he was a baby.  Before they left they left him with an aunt.  But Santiago’s parents disappeared in the North American jungle.  The presumption was that they were dead, but Darnell had abducted them.  This was fifty years ago, according to Santiago’s time, but a mere eight months from the perspective of Darnell and Santiago’s parents, due to the fact that Darnell has been using an antimatter engine and traveling at sublight speeds.

Travis agrees to take the case, pending the consent of his crew mates, despite the relatively small amount of money Santiago can afford to pay.  Travis, a former bandit, is really a nice and compassionate person these days.  Besides, his father is missing.   (He does get majority support for taking this case.)

An Angry Message from Gina DeLuna

On the Bridge of the Tulip, Rudolpho is enjoying a private porno when a message from Gina, one of his three former wives, interrupts his pleasurable experience.  Gina, his “favorite ex-ball and chain,” demands an immediate payment, which is more money than he has.  This explains why is late with that money.  She needs the money to pay for correctional camp for Serena, their daughter with discipline problems.  In lieu of payment, however, Gina demands that Rudolpho spend some quality time with his daughter.  “I’ll take the little hellcat,” he says.

This exchange does help explain why Rudolpho carps about money throughout the series.  He has three ex-wives and a child.

Rudolpho DeLuna

Ah, paternal affection.  Isn’t it grand?

Poor Serena, flung between an angry mother and an absent father.

The Intrepid Crew of the Transutopian

Rudolpho talks his crewmates into consenting to Serena’s visit.  She is a “sweet, kind girl,” he tells the incredulous bounty hunters.  But Travis does not want to keep a parent and a child apart, and neither does anyone else.

Serena and Rudolpho

Yet Serena is already on board.  The others take this well when Rudolpho reveals this fact.

Serena is not “sweet sixteen.”  She says, “Shut up, Rudy,” to her father.  She also comments on his girth, saying, “They saved the biggest chair for the biggest ass.”  Furthermore, the daughter calls her father a “two-timing bastard.”  This is a dysfunctional relationship.

Side comment:  Actress Lindy Booth, who played Serena, aged 16 years, was 24 at the time.  A certain age differential is obvious just by looking at her.  But this was not the only case of hiring a mid-20s actress to play a late adolescent.  Tanya Allen was 25 during Starhunter (2000-2001).  Her pig tails and hair highlights disguised this fact somewhat.  That said, these were still cases of good casting.  Besides, maybe adolescent females will mature at an accelerated pace in a few hundred years.


Rudolpho needs to talk, and Percy is nearby.  He explains that Gina was a stripper when the two met and fell in love.  But he filed for divorce when Serena was two years old.  The former owner of the Tulip asks Percy, the current owner, to speak to Serena.  Percy will be a good role model, he says.  She has a ship, a purpose, and a future, he says.

But Percy does not want to speak to Serena.  Why?

My ship’s a hole, my purpose is to waste my life on it, and my future is more of the same.

Let us take a little time to consider the character of Percy Montana.  She has long had a dark, cynical side.  This was evident in The Man Who Sold the World (  Yet she has also balanced it with a sense of humor, as in Goodbye, So Long (  And her light side was on full display in Super Max (  Yet she has become more sullen over time, even allowing for each series being set in a different reality.  More than one Starhunter 2300 episode contains a scene in which Percy refers to an event from a Starhunter episode.  Percy Beta (in Starhunter 2300) had many of the same experiences as Percy Alpha (in Starhunter).

Percy’s life looks the way it does because the Raiders attacked Titan one day years ago, abducted Travis, and killed her parents and her aunt Penny.  So uncle Dante became Percy’s guardian and took her on board the Tulip when he commenced a new career as a bounty hunter and started searching for Travis.  So Percy’s range of possible decisions has been limited.

And actress Tanya Allen did an excellent job of bringing this character to life.  She has an impressive range as a thespian, a fact I have come to realize while viewing various Tanya Allen movies, from comedies to dramas, some of which I intend to review on this weblog after I complete the Starhunter 2300 posts.  Until then, I pass along this hint:  watch Fancy Dancing, whatever you do.  Tanya Allen, as Karen, the photoshop person at the advertising agency, is fun to watch.

Marcus and Serena

Back to our regularly scheduled program…

Serena has eyes for Marcus, so she comes on to him.  Marcus, however, rebuffs her advances.  He has work to do, for maintaining the Tulip requires his full attention.  Besides, she more or less attacks him.

Callie and Percy

A few scenes previous, Travis asked Callie to speak to Serena.  But Callie was unwilling to do so.  That was then.

So it happens that Callie approaches Percy in a corridor and suggests speaking to Serena.  Percy is still reluctant, so Callie drags Percy to Serena’s quarters.

Callie and Percy

Callie and Percy, wearing artificial smiles, visit Serena, who retorts, “Here come the social workers.”  The conference ends badly, with Percy telling Callie that Serena is “an idiot.”


Shortly thereafter, on the Bridge, Callie informs Rudolpho of the meeting.  She says, “Let me spin this in the most positive light I can; I didn’t strangle her.”

Now, back to the Arthur Santiago subplot.  (I had not forgotten about it.)  Travis and Rudolpho (mainly Rudolpho) devise a plan for securing the return of Santiago’s parents.  After an unplanned shootout at the ransom drop-off point, Travis identifies Darnell’s ship, which has an antimatter pod tethered to it.  Fortunately, Rudolpho has read many technical specifications and retained them in his memory.  So he advises disabling Darnell’s ship by severing the antimatter pod.  (A collision with it does not lead to disaster.)  The pod collides with Darnell’s ship, damaging it further, and then scrapes one side of the Tulip, which suffers merely superficial damage.  Then Darnell agrees to release
Santiago’s parents.

Serena, who has observed all this from the Bridge, is impressed with her father.  Yet her mood shifts immediately when he tells her that she cannot stay on the Tulip indefinitely; she must return to school.  Nobody wants her, she complains.

She sends a message to Darnell after Rudolpho leaves her quarters.

A Family Reunion

A grateful Santiago waves to Callie and Travis as he stands between his parents.  But there is bad news, for Rudolpho discovers that Serena has left the Tulip for Syn City.  Where could she be?


Serena is sitting in a strip club.  Vayla, a waitress, walks toward her and speaks to her.  Serena is too young to be there, Vayla says.  But Serena lies, saying she is 18.  “Tell me another lie,” Vayla replies.  Then Serena admits her actual age and says that she has “danced” in clubs before.


Darnell enters the strip club and sits beside Serena.  He offers to take her to the outer planets.  Vayla, concerned, watches from a distance.

Darnell really plans to adduct Serena and demand ransom.

The bounty hunters find Serena’s message to Darnell.  So they follow her trail to the strip club, where they speak to Vayla, who turns out to be an old friend of Marcus.  She tells them what she knows.

Darnell, Serena, and Rudolpho

Travis and Callie confront Darnell from his front while Rudolpho approaches from the rear.  Rudolpho subdues his daughter’s abductor while Travis and Callie take the criminal into custody and the father comforts his daughter.

Rudolpho and Serena

Father and daughter speak in her quarters.  Their relationship is not ideal, but now it is at least positive.  Serena reveals that yes, she has stripped, and that her mother put her up to it.  This was the life that Gina knew, and Rudolpho did not always make child support payments on time.  So Gina and Serena needed the money.

But, for now, matters are better.  So father and daughter begin to look at family pictures.  It is a moment of grace.

Next:  Painless, a story about drugs, death, and an old Montana family friend.  Sometimes, to catch a drug dealer, one needs a former drug dealer, that is, Travis.



All images are screen captures I obtained using the Power DVD program.  I encourage viewing of Starhunter 2300 and Earth:  Final Conflict (especially Season One) only by means consistent with United States copyright laws.

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