Ms Ann Reviews BoTP/Gatchaman Episode Four by msannomalley
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Author's Chapter Notes:
Originally reviewed in 2002.

As usual, another Zark opening.  He's got a heads up on some strange activity going on.  Zark tells us he's trained his "photon probes" and his "phase discriminator" on it.  This thing is approaching Earth.  Zark explains that violent changes in the orbits of some indicate that this thing is moving past them.  Then there's more astro-babble, which leads Zark to conclude that it's probably Spectra again.  Then he wipes his monitors rather noisily to get a better look.  He hopes he's not getting nearsighted, but, as he says, things have been a little blurry lately.  Zark thinks he should go and get his eyes checked.  I think he should switch to Windex and not rub so hard when he wipes the monitors.  Then he sees it again and it's passing Saturn.  Zark decides to alert Galaxy Security.

Now we're at an oil refinery.  Zark babbles on as the ground starts shaking.  The ground splits open and this big centipede surrounded by a tornado comes out of the hole, doing the Bump or the Hustle or the Lambada (The Forbidden Dance®).  Some people on the ground point at it in horror (whether it's just at the site of a giant mechanical centipede or the centipede's dancing, I'm not sure.)  Then two hoses with nozzles on it come out of the centipedes "nose" (right above it's mouth.  I guess centipede's don't have noses, but if it did, that's where it would be.) and attach themselves to two oil tanks and start sucking oil out of them.  Then the centipede starts trashing the oil refinery.  Zark chimes in to tell us he's learned what this latest mech is.  It's a giant Space Serpent. 

I stand corrected.  But I still think it's a centipede.  To me, it's always been a centipede.

Then the centipede/space serpent burrows into the ground.  Next we see an oil tanker sailing in the ocean.  Guess who shows up to attack that?  After it's finished, it burrows into the ground again, and then the Commander of the Week is seen talking to Zoltar on the screen.  The CotW looks like one of those cattle skulls you see in Old West movies.  He also talks in a monotone, suggesting that he is not a human being.  I suppose that's how Zoltar got him to wear his mask or something, because I can't picture a human who would willingly don one of those.  The Skull Head awaits his orders.  Zoltar tells him to steal all of Earth's oil and to create havoc with seismic disturbances.  In other words, cause earthquakes.  Then Zoltar laughs and in that shot, he looks just like The Joker from Batman. 

Next, we see Mark, in civilian clothes, racing in to see Chief Anderson.  Mark goes, "What is it, Chief?"  The Chief replies, "Slow down and I'll tell you."  That line made me laugh.  Anyway, Chief tells Mark that he sent for him because the Chief knew that Mark was an old friend of Dr. Harlan of the Borden Institute.  (Is Elsie the Cow their corporate mascot?)  Dr. Harlan, a famous seismologist, wants to see Mark.  Mark points out that Dr. Harlan was like a father to him.  (Plot point!)  Mark leaves. 

Now we're in a new office and Ruben Kincaid from the Partridge Family walks in.  No, wait, it's Dr. Harlan.  He apologizes to Mark for being late.  They sit down.  Dr. Harlan picks up a cigarette (remember when people could smoke on children's cartoons?) and says to Mark, "I understand you're the leader of G-Force."  Uh, shouldn't the identities of G-Force be a secret?  Mark replies, "Officially yes, but we're a team really.  United, but each with his own special skills."  Uh, Mark, that's not what you tell Jason.  Dr. Harlan lights up his cigarette and says that had a long talk with Chief Anderson about the recent earthquakes.  Dr. Harlan/Ruben Kincaid is convinced that they are related to the recent alien attacks, because these quakes aren't happening on any fault lines.  Dr. Harlan/Kincaid thinks he knows the source.  Mark is all that's good and then an earthquake hits.  The doctor and Mark get out of the building and run outside.  They make it outside just in time before the building collapses.  Mark and the doctor run and then the ground opens up and both of them fall into the hole.  Mark is holding onto the doctors hand as they fall, and then Mark lets go of the doctors hand when he transmutes.  He grabs onto the doctor's hand and then he sees these lights.  They are the eyes of the centipede, excuse me, Space Serpent.  The Serpent gets the doctor.  As the doctor is pulled down, his watch slips off and that's what Mark is left holding.  Mark has no choice but to get out of that hole.  Then the ground closes back up.

Now we see the doctor's wristwatch and Mark is at the cemetery visiting the doctor's grave.  A girl sneaks up behind him and karate chops him.  She says, "How do you have the nerve to visit his grave?"  Mark is hiding behind the headstone, eyes wide.  He goes, "Debbie, believe me.  I had nothing to do with your father's death."  Debbie, still ready for a fight, goes, "You have super powers.  You could have saved him."  And I'm thinking, so everyone knows who G-Force is?  Shouldn't that be top secret information?  I mean, Spectra could find out and get them when they're out doing normal stuff.  And not to mention, wouldn't they get mobbed if they went out in public? 

Anyway, Mark says, "Believe me, Debbie, I tried."  Debbie tells Mark that it's all his fault.  Then she charges after him and karate chops him, while Mark pleads with her to believe him.  Debbie is now overcome and faints in his arms.  Why?  I don't know, but I have this sneaking suspicion that the Standards and Practices Lady Listed in the End Credits know why Debbie suddenly fainted. .  Mark picks her up, looks over his shoulder and apologizes for not saving her father.  Then he carries her off. 

As we see Mark's plane flying, Zark tells us that Mark took Debbie to Princess's and Princess is looking after her.  Mark is going centipede hunting.  I mean Serpent hunting.  Mark uses some scanners and sees a bugaboo crawling under ground.  On said bugaboo, a Green Goon informs the Commander of the Week that they've been spotted.  So they fire some missiles at Mark's plane.  And they fire it out of the back end of the bugaboo/centipede/serpent.  Mark evades the first one, and for all those Eagle fans out there, there is a *ahem* shot some of you might be a little interested in.  When Mark pulls the lever to steer his plane, you get to see the Little Eagle, if you know what I mean.  But I digress.  He also evades the second one.  Third time's a charm, too.  But the fourth time, Mark gets hit.  He pushes a button and nothing happens.  Then the centipede, I mean, Space Serpent comes out of the ground.  Now Mark is in some really deep doo-doo.  But Mark transmutes and that seems to fix his plane problems.  He flies around the centipede/Space Serpent and the thing shoots lasers at him but Mark dodges them.  And they chase each other around a few times until goes back into the ground.  Mark shakes his fist because the thing got away. 

More Zark babbling, flying to his monitors, and him using the word "probe" again.  Then he voices his concern about Mark going after the centipede/serpent alone.  "Sometimes he surprises me," Zark says.  "Jason is usually the headstrong one."  Ms. Ann, the fan girl, is seething at the swipe at Jason.  Mark, in taking Dr. Harlan's death very hard, shows something other than perfection and Zark thinks this is a bad thing?  Mark is showing that he is a human being, with human emotions and human reactions.  And this is bad?  Then Zark uses the word "probe" again.  Zark shouldn't use the word "probe".  Ever.  Anyway, Zark finds the centipede/Serpent and says he has to get G-Force together. 

Mark is flying around again, untransmuted.  He's hearing voices.  First Dr. Harlan's cries for help, then Debbie's blaming him for her father's death.  Mark is tormented.  Princess contacts him, but he doesn't answer at first.  She informs him that the centipede/serpent is about to attack a power complex.  Mark tells her he'll be right there. 

Then the centipede/Serpent attacks the power complex.  The army is there, but is ineffectual.  Probably because the guy in charge this week is wearing green fatigues and a tan scarf.   Some missiles fire at it, but the sections come apart and do some more damage.  The robot fighters are called in, but they can't stop it, either.  The robot fighters are apparently from the United Nations.  Their planes all say UN on them. 

Then Mark flies up.  But then we cut to the inside of the bugaboo and Zoltar is chewing out his commander of the week for attacking in the daytime instead of waiting until nighttime.  Zoltar's gloves are missing in this scene. Zoltar orders the Commander of the Week to first regroup, and then attack G-Force.

Mark gets shot at as he's heading to the Phoenix to dock.  Mark goes to the bridge and not only is G-Force there, but Debbie is, too.  She tells him that Princess asked her to come (so G-Force gives people free rides on the Phoenix?).  She asks if it's all right.  Mark tells her it is and then he turns her around and shows her the centipede/Space Serpent, telling her that thing was responsible for her father's death.  She says it's horrible and starts sobbing.  Mark vows that G-Force will see that it never hurts anyone again. 

The Phoenix flies around the centipede/Serpent some more.  The centipede/Serpent shoots at it.  The Phoenix flies through it, knocking it apart, but it pulls itself together again.  On the Phoenix, Tiny remarks that the centipede/Space Serpent is "like a seven headed dragon."  Mark orders him to fly into it once more.  It does and the same thing happens. 

Tiny remarks, "Chop it up and it's right back together again."  Keyop goes, "Blast it!"  Then Jason goes, "There's only one way to stop it, the TBX Nuclear Missile."  (The Phoenix carries nukes?) Jason goes to the Big Red Button, but Keyop tries to stop him.  Princess points out that they'd risk hitting the city.  Then Mark shoves Jason away (more excessively than necessary) and says that they'll draw it away from the city first.  Then the centipede/serpent/seven headed dragon mech shoots at the Phoenix again, which shakes things up and everyone goes falling down.  Jason gets up again and goes for The Big Red Button, saying "Just one good blast."  Mark is trying to wrestle him away.  Then Mark says, "Debbie, come here."  Debbie looks shocked.  Princess goes, "Mark, you're not going to ask her to fire the rockets, are you?"  Mark grabs Debbie and says, "That button."  And he points to the Big Red Button.  "Press it, and you'll destroy the thing that killed your father."  Then there is a close up of the Big Red Button, which for some reason in this episode, is square instead of round.  Mark starts goading her and Debbie is all nervous and shaking.  Mark goes, "Do it now!"  Debbie's hands are over the button and they are shaking.  She is shaking.  She is shaking so much, it looks like she's having a seizure or something.  The bug thing shoots at the Phoenix some more.  Mark goes to Debbie, "Your last chance for revenge!"  Debbie goes, "I can't do it."  Then Mark says, "Good, revenge never solves anything." 

On the Bugaboo Mech, the Commander of the Week orders the crew to abandon ship.  On the Phoenix, Tiny tells Mark that they've got twenty seconds.  Then he tells Jason he can fire the missiles.  Mark also reassures Debbie.  High tension music plays as Tiny counts down and we see shots of the team's faces and they are tense, too.  Then, as we see the missile from the outside of the ship, Jason fires it, although they don't show him actually pushing the button.  Centipede/Space Serpent/Whatever blows up.  Keyop does a cheer and Debbie is overcome.  Mark consoles her and tells her that her father would be proud of her.  Debbie expresses her gratitude and Mark says it was their duty.  He smiles at her and then looks down. 

Now, we're back at the cemetery and it's sunset.  Mark and Debbie are at her father's grave.  Debbie is placing some flowers there.  Mark turns and walks away, but is interrupted by Chief Anderson and the rest of G-Force, who are in their civilian modes.  Chief Anderson goes, "Mark" and Mark says that he let personal feelings get in his way on the last mission.  He takes off his bracelet and offers to resign.  Debbie is shocked.  Mark starts walking away.  The Chief tells Mark he's punishing himself needlessly and that we all make mistakes.  "So you couldn't save Dr. Harlan?  I know how much it cost you and I know you will bounce back."  Mark is surprised.  He turns around and the Chief is smiling at him (the Chief smiles as if it hurts him to smile.)  Mark goes, "You still want me as commander of G-Force?"  The Chief nods.  Mark has tears in his eyes.  Debbie gives Mark back his bracelet. She says that Mark taught her that to seek revenge was not only wrong, but it also hurts her.  Mark takes it back and the rest of the team welcome him back.  Then they run off into the sunset.

Back to Center Neptune...

OH MY EYES!  MY RETINAS ARE BURNING!  Zark is in the shower!  Why?  Why is this necessary?  And why is 1 Rover 1 being used as a towel rack?  Zark is scrubbing himself with a brush, blabbing about an oil shower and scrubbing his robot armpits.  Then Susan calls.  Then he stops, takes the towel from Rover and wraps it around his waist.  Why?  He's covering up a part we see all the time when he's dressed?  Zark answers Susan's call.  He says, "You caught me in the shower."  Susan goes, in that breathy phone sex operator voice, "It's alright."  Then Zark mentions that she has long range telephoto vision.  Susan points out that it's only good for a million miles, but she was assigned to the Early Warning Station on Pluto so she can give them early warning for any approaching danger, which is over three million miles away.  They talk some more and then wrap up the conversation.  Zark remarks that he was in more danger when Susan was closer to him.  Then he giggles.  Rover yaps, but we don't know what he's saying. 

I feel ill now. 

Thoughts from Ms. Ann:

There are things I do want to say about this episode, but I can't say them until I write the review for the same Gatchaman episode.  Mark and Ken are very, very different and comparing the two shows this. 

If you're a group of people, and elite fighting force highly trained and brought together to stop alien invaders and you dress in costumes, shouldn't your identity be a secret?  This is something that's always bothered me about Battle of the Planets.  Everyone knows who G-Force really is.  And it surprises me that Spectra doesn't know this information.  I would think that with the entire Galaxy knowing who G-Force is, they would seize upon this information and use it to their advantage.  The Science Ninja Team's identities are all a secret, or at least their supposed to be.  They don't go around in their civilian identities and tell the world they belong to the KNT. 

One other thing I have to mention is the G-Force Guardians of Space Version and the final scene.  In Gatchaman, as the team runs off into the sunset, the narrator chimes in with his usual "Gatchaman saved the world and now it's peaceful, but Galactor will be back" speech.  In BotP, we get Zark summing up the episode and assuring us that everything is okay.  But in this one, their Eagle, Ace Goodheart, runs after the rest of the team shouting, "Wait for me!"  I had to bring this up because it's an endless source of mirth for me.  I laugh my butt off at this, and it's just another indication of how bad that version is. 


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