Outer Limits – Re-Generation (01/24/97)

Four year old Justin is being rushed through the hospital with a contusion on the posterior skull from falling down the stairs.  His mother Rebecca (Kim Cattrall) rushes to the hospital to join her husband Graham (Daniel Benghazi) who is showing all the emotion of a man of a man sitting for a passport photo.  Sadly, Justin did not survive.

Rebecca is distraught because it had been  so difficult for her to get pregnant the first time.  Graham suggests that this day of their son’s death, they head down to the lab. They meet Dr. Cole (genresnaps-fave Teryl Rothery) who show how they can inject a glob of snot with some DNA from their dead son and grow a new Justin.

olgeneration06This is the act break for the credits.  After only four minutes, it is already obvious what the problem is with this episode.  Daniel Benzali is unbelievably emotionless and dull.  As a coma patient, he would be too subdued; as the father of a dead son who is playing God, he is virtually inhuman.  This is dullness on a Gabriel Byrne level.  Like Byrne, he has a unique talent for sucking the life out of every scene, every line-reading and every word; also like Byrne, he has an inexplicable talent for getting cast. [1]

Always a master of timing, Graham chooses the day of the funeral to talk Rebecca into having this science project injected into her.  Although, with Graham’s meat-syringe as the alternative, her acceptance is understandable.  He shows her a simulation of new Justin at 20 years old “already an inch taller than his dad.”  WTF?  Is he suggesting that he won’t be fully grown by age 20?

Six months after Rebecca’s insemination, Graham gets a call from the governor possibly to endorse Graham’s run for congress.  After building a hugely successful medical company on the cutting edge of innovation, anonymously funding a hospital wing and raking in big coin, he is finally ready to make the tens of millions of dollars, stocks and real estate mysteriously earned by $174,000 per year civil servants.

olgeneration18While he is out, Rebecca has a vision, but is is seen through ex-Justin’s eyes; memories from his POV.  Justin II is a sentient infant like the one in The Small Assassin, or Donald Trump.  She goes to Dr. Cole for an ultrasound.  She amazes Cole by being able to wake the baby in her  stomach and also have him wave at the doctor on the ultra-sound.  Cole decides the reason she can communicate with Justin II is the special umbilical cord.  In addition to the standard two arteries and a vein, there is an HTML cable going into her brain.

That night, Justin II is thrashing around, waking Rebecca up to more visions from Justin I’s perspective.  Although, just be clear, Justin II IS Justin I.  To comfort the baby, she brings out some of his toys and plays with them.  Sadly it was not Mr. Bubble and a little tugboat, but being six months pregnant I can overlook this lost opportunity.  When Graham begins speaking to the baby, he throws a fit and Rebecca has a seizure.

When she leaves the hospital, she gives Justin a tour of the house.  When she approaches the fireplace, he begins thrashing about.  She again experiences from Justin’s POV.  This time she sees her husband get frustrated at the kid’s noise making.  He accidentally knocks Justin back and he conks his skull on the hearth.  Just to make sure we get it, the memories suddenly become omniscient POV, including both Graham and Justin in the shot.  They still retain the same memory-indicating masking around the frame, though.

Rebecca promises Justin that Graham will never go near him again.  She senses that Graham is going to push her down the stairs, so flees toward the attic.  I’m not one to criticize the staging of a scene mostly because I’m usually too dense to notice.  It really is egregious here, though.  Rebecca pushes past Graham and goes down the hall.  Despite him being only 10 feet behind her, the pregnant woman has time to 1) grab a stick with a hook on it, 2) use said hook to lower the folding stairs to the attic, 3) climb the stairs to the attic, 4) find the light, and 5) work the mechanism which will pull the stairs back up.

Graham resourcefully grabs a fireplace poker to attempt to lower the stairs.  His dullness in this scene would be comical if it evoked any response at all.  Here is a man who killed his son (accidentally, to be fair), discovered a miraculous baby is gestating in his wife, has had his dark secret revealed to his wife, has just been accused of trying to kill her (or maybe actually planning to do so [2]), and has chased her into the attic.  He is more laid back than Michael Myers smoking a bone.  His delivery of his wife’s name, “Rebecca” as he stares at the closed attic door could not have had less dramatic impact if it were crocheted onto a satin pillow.

Baby Justin has apparently added psychic abilities to his repertoire as he shows Rebecca where a rifle is hidden in the attic.  Then shows her where the bullets are. Then shows her where the key is.  Is this really information they allowed Justin to have?  And don’t forget we keep the trigger lock in the sock drawer, sweetie.

olgeneration24Graham is finally able to lower the stairs, climbs into the attic, and approaches Rebecca.  He calmly (how else?) tells her she has nothing to be afraid of.  Is his stoicism because he is psychotic or because he is sincerely worried about her?  Since it is exactly the same monotone as every word he has spoken in the episode, it is impossible to say.  However, since his demeanor has not changed one iota in 41 minutes, it does seems premature when she shotguns him.

The jury must disagree because in the next shot she is taking Justin to the doctor for a cold — a baby, not a fetus.  Unseen by Rebecca, Dr. Cole is around the corner patting her stomach and assuring her in utero baby Graham that everything will be alright.  We get the same internal shot of her baby that we were repeatedly treated to of Justin.  What the hell?

I suppose the answer is that she got her hands on some of Graham’s DNA and injected another one of those snot-balls [3] to make herself a new Graham.  But why?

Is this new super-baby also destined to avenge a wrongful death?  But, unlike Justin I, there was no mystery to Graham’s death.  The facts would have been pretty clear and either Rebecca was not charged or she was found not-guilty.

Evil babies are always fun, and it’s always nice to see Teryl Rothery.  Sadly, Daniel Benzali sinks the episode.

.Post-Post:

  • [1] Dan, baby, what’s with the colored lenses on your IMDb page?  You’ve gone Hollywood, man!
  • [2] Such a void is his performance that it is impossible to tell whether he planned to kill her or not.  It would have been out of character to, you know, actually do something; but super-baby seemed to sense it.
  • [3] Technically, a blastocyst.

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