Generally, put a few peeps in a spacecraft and I’m immediately entertained. Not so much here, though. First we start off with the hackneyed idea of a craft becoming stuck in a region of space with no stars. Just off the top of my head, in the Star Trek universe this trope has been used in Night, The Void, Where Silence Has Lease, and The Immunity Syndrome. But as I always say, originality is over-rated — I’m still on board.
John Heard is at the helm — or at least beside it — of the the Nestor as it is sucked into an area devoid of stars. Annette O’Toole, sporting an ill-advised short hair-do, chews him out for letting his co-pilot take the helm. OK, the co-pilot showed up 10 minutes early for his shift. Clearly he was qualified and would have been sitting there alone shortly anyway, so what is the beef? Heard was two feet away.
In the void, they detect the USS Slayton, lost 10 years ago. As luck would have it, in the entire universe, they have stumbled across a ship that Heard’s brother was serving on when it disappeared. They send in a probe that records all of the dead bodies, still perfectly preserved in the vacuum of space; including Heard’s brother.
They also spot an alien ship trapped in the void. The Nestor sends over a probe to investigate, but the alien ship destroys it. In reviewing the Slayton’s data logs, they discover that the alien ship had sent a message. I appreciated the fact that the transmission was so “well, alien” that it “couldn’t be assembled into data, much less decrypted” — unlike some movies I could name.
They find a huge chunk of matter that is “so massive it could theoretically warp time and space.” O’Toole asks if it is so massive why aren’t they being crushed by the gravity — which sounds stupid even to me. Drawn in and caused to crash, yes — but crushed? Is it increasing the atmospheric pressure in space? The crew also gets on my bad side by slaughtering the name of Yuri Gagarin — twice. I’m no comrade, but the actors and producers grew up during the space race – how could no one catch that mistake?
As the aliens begin appearing on the Nestor, Heard’s dead brother briefly appears. The Slayton’s dead captain also appears on the bridge. He explains that even though they are dead, their souls can’t “pass on” due to the void they are trapped in. Thus we have another foray into religion which typically is not a good mix for sci-fi.
Turns out that Heard’s brother has a secret in his past that has tormented Heard. The brother has an idea that might save the Nestor, but Heard argues with him. For the 2nd time in the episode, he proclaims, “I’m 37 years old!” Not to nitpick, but the actor is 50 — not even close.
The Nestor teams up with the aliens and is able to escape the void. Heard’s brother makes amends for their secret. Everyone is happy. Except the people who sat through this episode. OK, it’s not bad, just a little mawkish.
- Obviously, the Slayton is named for Deke Slayton. Having made that effort, you would expect the name Nestor had some significance. But not that I can see.
- Slayton’s sad fate in the Mercury program was not covered in the film of The Right Stuff. Maybe in the book — time for a reread on that one. Both book and film are excellent.
- How to pronounce Gagarin.
- Paul Lynch also directed Prom Night.
- Not a bad projection of a future notebook, except for the 144 pt font: