Episode Review: 'Race Against Disaster' by UnpublishedWriter
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Race Against Disaster
Battle of the Planets, Episode Fourteen
Gatchaman Episode #27, Galactor’s Witch Racer
DVD and Veoh episode #24

Review/Summary: Center Neptune establishing shot and Zark VO: “Deep down here at Center Neptune, we’re on the alert 24 hours a day. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get a breather every now and then.”

And Zark in his sweater and tube. “Right now, it’s peaceful in the galaxy, so now everyone is relaxing. G-Force has gone off to a cross-country car race, and I’m taking a well-deserved 10-second oil break.”

Arrival in his ready room. “I wish I could go to the big race. Jason is driving in it.” [At last: mention of Jason’s other area of expertise.] “But I guess I’ll just stay here and catch it all on my monitors.” [Wait: he can leave Center Neptune? His lines imply that.] “Jason is one of the world’s best race drivers, you know, when he isn’t busy with G-Force.”

Guess who calls. It’s Susan. Zark tells her he’s taking a break, with some technobabble about what parts aren’t currently doing anything. She regrets having to activate his circuits. [I still haven’t recovered from the previous episode’s flirting, so I’ll spare you.] Zark says she shouldn’t apologize: he loves it. [Bleargh.]

According to Susan, Chief Anderson called. [Why didn’t Anderson call Zark directly?] Something about the big African 9000-mile obstacle race. [Hm, how large is Africa?] Zark says he’ll get right on it. Followed by some disturbing flirting that I will not inflict on you. [Hard to do your job when you’re busy with phone sex, O all-knowing, all-seeing Zark.]

On his way back down to his nerve center, Zark explains that drivers come the big race from every planet in the Alliance, and that some guests aren’t always invited.

Gatchaman animation. Headlights shining in the dark, followed by daylight shots of race cars, drivers, and others. In VO, Zark reminds us that the race is being run through some of the roughest terrain in Africa. [Want a different sort of challenge? Drive in downtown Atlanta on a deadline. GPS optional. If even one road is blocked, forget getting anywhere on time.] It starts in Egypt and goes south (and here he lists just about all the different landscapes in Africa). There are two drivers per car, to spell each other on the long trip.

And the Phoenix launches so that they can go to the big race. Zark frets that if Spectra ever wanted to get one of G-Force, the race would be ideal for it. [So you know this won’t be a ‘What G-Force does on their day off’ episode.]

They arrive for the 10-minute warning. Jason is just in time.

[Okay, so G-Force, on their time off, fly around in their command ship and wear Birdstyle. No wonder they were overdressed while posing as tourists in Panic of the Peacock.] Mark passes on Zark’s concerns about Spectra, and tells Jason to be careful. They’ll keep an eye on him.

A cool car driven by a hot blonde armed with a big gun is the next scene. When an off-screen Jason says, “Hi, Lucy,” she hurriedly puts it away.

He’s wearing his civvies. He apologizes for being late. She asks if that’s the way he drives (while shoving the gun out of sight). He wants to know what the gun’s for. Lucy reminds him that they’re traveling through some rough country, and it’s best to be prepared. Jason makes the valid point that they’re driving in a race, not going on safari. Then, she says, maybe she’ll need it for protection against him. [Nice innuendo. That’s the way to do it, folks. Not the Zark/Susan dreck.] He wants her to put it away: they have to decide who’ll drive the first leg of this race. She’ll drive, she says. [Jason will learn how to deal with women, one day.]

Zoltar and the Luminous One. The LO asks if everything is as ordered for the big race. Zoltar says yes. The G-Force driver shall never reach the finish line. [How did they find out that one of G-Force would be in the race?] The Luminous One wants favorable results, which Zoltar promises.

Back to the race.

Lucy and Jason take their position on the starting ramp, and the clock counts down to start the race.

The flag drops, and Lucy guns it so that the car shoots off the starting ramp over the crowd.

Before long, they’re out of the town where the race started. Panicked animals run ahead of them, kicking up stones and debris that strike the car.

While Lucy drives, Jason comments that last year she drove with Dave Leonard. Jason envied him. She remembers they ended up in a dead heat with Jason.

Lucy has some skills. She drives at speed along some hair-pin turns on a mountainside.

Suddenly, Lucy’s hitting the brakes and scared. In front of them are some very calm giraffes. Looking at them. That’s not normal.

She dodges around them and stops to look back. Jason tells her not to stop.

Then the giraffes turn out to be Spectra mechas. They shed their markings, and energy beams shoot from the antennae that replaced their horns.

Lucy gives the Jason the wheel and pulls out her BFG [the ‘B’ means ‘Big’, and the ‘G’ means ‘Gun.’ The ‘F’ word is – you know.]

As they flee, a giraffe’s neck becomes a rocket launcher. Lucy aims out the back window [with handy retractable glass] and destroys two of them.

Jason compliments her, and says he can’t quite figure her out. She points the gun his general direction and asks if it’s because he’s not used to women who can defend themselves. “Not with a gun,” he acidly replies.

They keep going, and then Lucy shoots the last robot. After they destroy the last mecha, Jason asks if she was expecting this.

She’s says she’s his co-pilot, and they have to trust each other if they’re going to win the race. In other words, she’s not answering that question.

Above flies the Phoenix. Lucy takes aim, and Jason pulls her weapon down. She thinks the G-Force ship is another enemy robot. Well, that’s what she says, anyway.

Now it’s storming, and Zark (in VO) is explaining that, after that narrow escape, the Phoenix is keeping a close eye on Lucy and Jason. He’s certain the robot animals were sent by Zoltar. But he’s mystified as to why she aimed at the Phoenix. [Well, maybe she really did think it was another enemy. She’d just shot three rocket-launching robot giraffes. Really, Zark.]

Lucy’s ready to take over driving, if Jason needs a breather. He doesn’t.

Rainy night gives way to sunny day – and our heroes stuck in the mud. Lucy’s at the wheel, while Jason pushes. No luck, and she says this will never work. He invites her to try.

She doesn’t have to. A robot rhino charges them while Jason’s leaning against the back of the car (in his favorite crossed-arms and crossed-legs pose). He jumps into the car just before the robot hits the rear bumper, freeing them.

The rhino pursues them, but before it can catch up, the Phoenix scoops it onto a wing and dumps it in a nearby river. Water and rhino-robots don’t mix.

Lucy wonders if that ‘strange plane’ is a friend or an enemy.

Commercial break.

Zark calls on G-Force. A different crappy-headshot Mark appears, just so that Zark can state what we already know: Spectra is trying to get to Jason. The tin can has located an enemy control point at coordinates 743 East, 1 degree North. [I don’t have a map of Africa, and even if I did, I bet I still couldn’t find that spot.] Mark acknowledges and signs off.

So that we can have a close-up of Zark as he keeps talking about Jason and the Phoenix.

Back to the race. It’s night again, and the car is passing broken, carved stones. Lucy says she has to put on some speed to make up for lost time. Jason replies that he’ll catch a quick wink.

A little while later, Jason says they should be coming up on the check-in point soon. Lucy thinks that, even with all their problems, they’re still out in front. [How do cross-country races work? Could anyone be missed?]

They pass other drivers, so they aren’t in front. Lucy wants to win this race.

The Luminous One is unhappy. The driver should have been destroyed by now. Zoltar says that he will check with Master Robot. [That’s the line.]

LO gripes that it’s given Zoltar the most powerful weapons in the galaxy, yet always failure. Zoltar begs it to have patience.

At the race, the Phoenix approaches the coordinates given by Zark. Mark (for those with short attention spans) tells everyone this is where Zark got ‘bad vibes.’ Through the trees, they see a peculiar-looking vehicle. It’s close to the checkpoint, so Mark orders Princess to lock her scanners on it. [But they don’t do anything else about it.]

Lucy’s passing the other drivers. The checkpoint is ahead.

Drivers stop, dash into a tent, and dash out again.

While Jason checks in, and Lucy holds her BFG, Spectra soldiers approach. Mark and Princess pop out of cover and presumably get rid of them (but it’s edited so that we don’t see how).

As she drives, Lucy asks about the two people she saw in the forest. Are they Jason’s racing fans? He says they follow him everywhere.

Lucy says the girl was rather pretty. Perhaps more than a fan? She’s been one of Jason’s fans for a long time, also. That’s why it’s such a thrill to drive with him.

“You’re a racing freak,” he replies. “You get thrilled over souped-up engines. It’s my car you go for.”

She denies it.

Zoltar tells the Luminous One that there is still time. Jason will be destroyed before the race is over. [Does that mean that Zoltar knows that Jason is a member of G-Force?]

The Great Blue Chicken says he warned Zoltar about the female agent. She has betrayed them. [First mention that Lucy is a Spectra agent all episode.] She must be eliminated.

Zoltar will transmit those orders to Master Robot at once.

LO does not trust robots. [But it sure does use a lot of them, anyway.]

As they drive through a desert area, Lucy regrets telling Jason how she feels.

Circling buzzards turn out to be Spectra mechas. They attack with missiles. As Lucy dodges, Jason calls the Phoenix for help.

The Phoenix shoots down a couple of mechas. Inside, Keyop asks for a chance to shoot one, and Mark approves.

It ain’t over, yet. Later, hyena robots attack Jason and Lucy. By now, he’s driving, and he tries to shake them. He turns down a side road, robot hyenas on his trail. Lucy says the road ends up ahead. The robots jump onto the car as he accelerates. He’s going fast enough that the car clears the sinkhole that breaks the roadway. The clinging hyena robots fall off just before he lands on the other side. Lucy calls it beautiful driving.

They rejoin the race proper.

A peeved Zoltar calls Master Robot. The robots have botched their assignment, and will self-destruct in 20 minutes. [The Master Robot looks like an overweight gladiator, and even has body hair.] Being a robot, Master Robot is not upset about its imminent demise.

At the finish line, Jason and Lucy are the winners.

In a rather nice dining area, Jason tells Lucy that he’s asking for her as a partner the next time he races.

She has something to tell him. He says he guessed that she worked for Spectra, and quit them sometime during the race. She says it was right at the beginning.

Whoa! This is on a monitor in the Spectra base. Zoltar says that G-Force will learn nothing, since the Master Robot was destroyed.

The Luminous One reminds him that the agent has not yet been destroyed. Zoltar assures LO that her destruction will begin in a moment.

In the restaurant, Jason tells Lucy that she can forget about Spectra. She contradicts him, then gasps in apparent pain and clenches up. As Jason tries to find out what’s wrong, she reveals that she’s a robot.

He’s not having any of that. Zoltar’s messing with her mind: she’s real.

Then her human coloring drops away, revealing olive-green and grey metal. She breaks free of his grasp and flees, hands over her face. As Jason chases her, she literally runs through a wall and falls into the street below.

Next scene is an angry, pensive Jason driving, as Zark in voice-over tells us that she was beautiful, even for an enemy robot, but that she forgot she was only a machine. Robots aren’t programmed to have emotions, but to be coldly efficient and perfect. [Then how to explain you, Zark, hm?] But, sometimes, a robot does develop emotions.

Gawd, now we have Zark. Were the show’s producers that afraid of leaving any sort of powerful image or emotion at the end?

Zark says this should be Jason’s proudest moment, but who can blame him for being sad? He’ll get over it, and be back to win another big race soon. [Do I really need to comment?]

Yes, now he has to address 1-Rover-1. He and Rover don’t have self-destruct buttons. The people who designed them want them to show affection. [Bleargh.]

Fic Alert: How did Spectra find out that a member of G-Force was in the race? Do they know the team members’ identities? Do they now know that Jason is in G-Force?

Gatchaman plot: The ISO receives information that a Galactor operative is willing to sell them information about the organization (particularly the locations of their bases). Joe enters the race as the partner of Lucy, who is revealed to be a cyborg constructed by Galactor to lure Gatchaman into a trap. The BotP plot follows the original during the race itself, except for editing (and Jinpei is not allowed to get near the Bird Missile controls). Lucy develops her own personality, and plans to betray Galactor for real, so that Leader X orders her destruction. In Gatch, it’s revealed that cyborgs have one-track minds, and cannot be distracted from their main goals, which was why Lucy didn’t reveal her information earlier. After she falls to the street, a car runs her over.
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