And here's one I prepared earlier.
As H.G. Wells would have it, the Martians/Morthren died out because they picked up Earth diseases carried in human blood. But what if they picked up the antibodies as well...?
Yes, this is the one that first-season fans remember: a flashback to the aftermath of the 1953 movie, mentions of Norton and Ironhorse, an alien ship and first-season creatures, Sylvia Van Buren, even an old-school Biblical title and a little nod to H.G. Wells in the blood element.
In general, this is episode is a definite step in the direction of SF/adventure plotting, as opposed to earlire episodes which were often quite light on SF storytelling in favor of more mood pieces or near-future pseudo-realism. It's tempting to put this down to new story editor Jim Trombetta, steering the show on more of a big-concept science-fiction course than a ground-level social-commentary one, and introducing more of a sense of hope in the process.
But not yet. The early stages of this episode are ominously apocalyptic, as the Eternal itself gets involved to open a time portal for Malzor to go back and change history. "Thunder, lightning... but never any rain." Remembering the freak weather conditions in the season premiere, Harrison and Suzanne come to the conclusion that this is something really big... quite possibly another wave of invasion. And if so, they are so screwed. There's a wonderfully desperate scene in the van as they're heading to the site of the disruption; Kincaid doesn't even see a reason to try, they're completely unprepared to deal with something this big. Harrison's response is that someone has to be there to document what happens... which is a sharp little sign of how far his horizons have been beaten down. He's not expecting to win today, all he can hope for is to bear witness, much like the narrator of the original novel. As a bleak capper, the electrical disturbances knock their van out of action in the middle of the road, and Harrison just has them abandon it: "Leave it. It won't start again."
Anyway, after a fight scene in an abandoned amusement park (just because it looks cool), Suzanne gets left behind so the boys can go play in 1953. And the well-populated, orderly street scenes drive home the contrast in an instant. The use of black-and-white for the Fifties flashback sequences is a nice touch... but I can't help but wonder how good this would look if they'd gone for full glorious technicolor. Showing us the stable, sane society of the past in all its glory, and making the ragged, monochrome-looking Blackwood and Kincaid stand out all the more.
Again Denis Forest gets into the action, taking the antidote to a surviving squad of aliens right after the invasion. (I'm deeply amused by the way they disguised him as the FBI agent he's supposed to be replacing in the past, which consists of sticking Forest into an alien Hair-O-Matic.) The action here is fairly conventional, with a plucky girl reporter and a general who really should be chomping a cigar. It does win some extra cleverness points for connecting the underbelly of the '50s to the underbelly of Harrison's future, with McCarthyist paranoia about Soviet agents.
But the plot action is actually disappointingly linear; it really needed one more surprise somewhere in the middle, and a cleverer resolution than "Harrison machineguns the aliens" (that sentence still makes me do a double-take even twenty years on).
Still, that shouldn't overshadow the significance of that ending. For the first time in five episodes, Malzor has seen that the remains of the Blackwood Project are not just still active but still effective. He's got his first clear look at Kincaid, and he's seen Blackwood unambiguously win one. After so many downbeat or mixed endings, this is a real change in tone.
And the real high point of the story has to be the sequence where Harrison goes to Dr. Forrester's house and steps into his own childhood... getting a lump in his throat at seeing Sylvia again, and going to comfort his younger self in the days just after his parents died. The moment where he tells little Harry that "my parents died too" brings out all the the impossible awkwardness of such a moment; how do you bridge that gap to someone who's just too young to understand, even if you do know exactly what he's going through? But he tells the little boy that he knows how much his parents loved him. And he gives him a marble, and tells him it's a magic glass, in which he can see and remember his parents and know for himself. And wonderfully, at the end of the story, we see in the final scene back in the shelter that he still has it. He hasn't given it away, he's just gotten it. It looks like a predestination paradox, but it's not a there-because-it-was-always-there closed loop, it's a genuine change to history. Harrison has given himself hope.
This really feels like a turning point in the season -- within one episode, from the team's darkest hour to their most substantial victory. And ironically, around the time when this episode aired is when Paramount announced they were cutting their season order to 20 episodes -- effectively early warning that they were axed. So it's tempting to see this, the halfway mark in the season, as marking the whole show's change-over from bleak downward spiral to upward climb. It's certainly a full-on upbeat ending, for the first time since No Direction Home. Malzor was sent on a Mission From God, and got his ass kicked; when facing the Eternal, he looks positively chastised. And Harrison Blackwood, who's spent so long as that scared, lonely little boy who had the aliens take his life away... gets to end the story by teaching Debi how they danced, back in the old days.