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Episode 17: Family Game

 

Review by Dustin Corallo

June 26, 2007

 

Summary

 

Walking through the desert alone with his How to be a Daddy book in hand, James mutters the names of his children, Dolores and Rachel. The book soon falls out of his hands and he collapses out of exhaustion. Back at the Links’ family’s truck, Noel, Leon, Cindy and Nikolai play poker while the radio announces the UNSF’s occupation of Deimos. Noel apologizes to Nikolai for his getting stuck with them, but Nikolai says it can’t be helped since their oxygen ran out, and that he’s glad that he could use his own truck to supply oxygen to them. Leon notes that Dolores is still hibernating in the back of the trailer, claiming that her head is more delicate than others’. Cindy herself is angry at Leon for sending his father out in the sandstorm, but Leon claims he had nothing to do with that. In a flashback, it’s revealed that the Links had run out of spare parts for their truck, so James volunteered to walk to the nearest sphere and buy new ones. This happens after reading an exert from his book, “Take initiative and do what nobody else wants to do. Children will not forget such a sacrificial spirit their whole lives.” In the present, Leon asks Noel to support him, but she talking to Nikolai and doesn’t notice. Nikolai claims that they will be heading through Margaritifer before they arrive at Vascilia, and Noel is excited that they’ll be accompanying him the rest of the way. Cindy snaps them back on the game and asks if anyone will challenge her, but all three players fold. It turns out that Nikolai could have had a royal flush if he had two more cards, a King and an Ace. This makes Nikolai think he’s always two cards short in everything. In the back of the trailer, Dolores continues to dream about James. In the desert, James is about to give up when he hears the voices of young women, immediately forcing himself back on his feet. He runs toward the voices only to run into the dome barrier of a sphere. James soon awakens to find the women looking down at him, greeting him with “Love and Peace.” He wonders if he’s finally made it to heaven, but the women tell him he’s in Eipia, a sphere on the southern tip of Hesperia County. James gets up to see that he’s on a large beach, with people around him greeting him with “Love and Peace.” This makes James feel uncomfortable, so he slowly backs off the beach. He soon finds himself running through the streets with people still greeting him. He wonders what is going on, and looks down the road to see a traffic jam on one side, as three cars have parked themselves in the middle of the intersection, the occupants talking between the vehicles. This angers James, and he runs to one of the cars and yells at the driver to move, then hitting him. The driver is confused by this. Down the line, a driver asks James if he can wait for them, but James yells at him too as traffic moves again. It’s at that point he recognizes the driver as Isaac Barrett, the author of How to be a Daddy. Later on, James has his book autographed by Isaac, much to his great excitement. Isaac notices James is sweating heavily, so he offers James a cold drink in the back of the house, which James gladly accepts. While sitting in Isaac’s living room, Isaac asks James if he’s tired from chasing his car all the way up to his house, but James says he isn’t. Isaac also tells James that the town is the way it is due to a book he published twenty years ago, The Absolute Trust among the People, that the town citizenship are following the philosophy of that book. Isaac walks to a window and thinks that the town is the ideal child mankind has given birth to, and James speaks up at the mention of children. James is troubled because despite having read the book so much that he can recite it from memory, he still doesn’t understand how his kids think, and he asks Isaac what he’s missing. James wants to know how he can make his family like Isaac’s, but when he sees the family picture frames, they’re empty. He asks Isaac what happened to them, but Isaac doesn’t answer. Then Isaac’s doorbell rings, and he picks it up to get away from James. The visitors are policemen; it turns out that Isaac’s son, Sean, has broken out of Hesperia Juvenile Prison. Isaac panics at this, and James tries to leave before the police realize who he is, but Isaac grabs onto him for help. James tries to contact his kids later to explain the situation to them, but the electromagnetic properties of the sandstorm block his signal in the middle of the message, frustrating Leon. With that done, James looks through Isaac’s family pictures and is amazed at how good they are, but Isaac can’t look at them. James wonders if Sean was a good kid, but Isaac says he doesn’t know, since he was arrested when he stabbed someone in another sphere. James is immediately taken back, especially when Isaac doesn’t know why Sean did this. He continues to badger Isaac with questions, becoming more frustrated at Isaac’s cowardice toward his son. When James asks why Isaac would think Sean would break out of prison, Isaac reveals that after the act Sean had contacted him for help, but Isaac simply called the police instead. James can’t believe Isaac had given his son over to the police, and they both realize Sean most likely escaped for revenge. To calm Isaac down, James shows him his How to be a Daddy book and reminds Isaac he wrote it. Isaac mutters that’s the one that didn’t sell very well, but James reads “When a child has done something wrong, at that time the father should first embrace him, listen to his story, and then have him turn himself over to the police.” Isaac claims he confused the order, and James, now furious at this point, hits him over the head with the book. At the Links’ truck, Leon paces, clearly worried about James. Cindy asks him if he’s so worried why doesn’t he just admit it, but Leon denies it. Noel suggests that they go to where James is, but Cindy reminds them Dolores is still asleep. Nikolai then pipes in and says he can do something.

 

The group later ride through the desert in Nikolai’s truck. Cindy complains about having to be in the cargo bin, but Leon says if she doesn’t like it she can go back to their oxygen-less truck. In the cab, Nikolai asks Noel what she would do if something happened to James, like he was suffering from someone else’s hand. Noel replies that she wouldn’t let the people holding him go free, since James is part of her family. Meanwhile, Sean comes across the Links’ abandoned truck with Dolores still in the back. Dolores dreams that she’s running through a field of flowers with multiple James playing with her. She wakes up later and crawls to the truck’s cab to find James, but nobody’s there. She starts to cry when she notices Sean standing there, watching her. Sean turns to leave her, but she follows. When he demands to know why she’s following him, Dolores claims that he’s going in the same direction as Leon’s mobile transmitter. That gives her an idea and she scoops up Sean into her hands and flies off, saying this is much faster for the both of them. This makes Sean think he’ll see his father sooner than expected, and he pulls out a knife in anticipation. Curious, he asks Dolores why she is tracking her family when they clearly abandoned her, but Dolores says she knows they would never do that, which is why she wants to find James as soon as possible. Sean frowns and says no matter what the reason, it doesn’t change the fact she was abandoned. At the Barrett household, Isaac paces furiously as James is talking to his family. James tells them to go back to the truck, but Noel says they came all the way to Eipia to get him. James says the police aren’t looking for him, which angers the siblings for his not mentioning it before. However, Noel is still determined to James out of there, and Isaac, who is listening in, is amazed at her loyalty to James. The message is interrupted as Dolores flies overhead. Dolores enters the sphere from underneath the bay it’s built around, and starts looking for James over the city. Sean orders her to land at Isaac’s house, which she does and he leaps out of her hands. Sean then knocks one of the cops out, grabs his gun and shoots at Isaac. Isaac and James both run out of the house while Sean gives chase, and Dolores smacks away the police that are firing at her. Both men end up at the beach front, and James tackles Isaac to stop him, reminding him that he wanted to talk it out before. Isaac demands to be let go before Sean arrives, but James tells him to get serious. The click of a gun hammer makes Isaac throw James off of him, and he looks up to see Sean pointing the gun. Isaac tries to crawl away, but Sean throws the gun away and draws his knife. James tries to stop Sean by asking him if he’s serious about killing his father, but Sean barely notices. Sean keeps walking down the stares, telling Isaac that he’s always run away and that he’s done nothing else but that. Sean yells at him for abandoning him, and demands to know why he never taught him anything. Isaac doesn’t say anything due to shock, and Sean realizes that he won’t get an answer. He starts to cry as he thinks he’s been a nuisance to Isaac all this time, and so turns the knife on himself. Before he can stab himself, Isaac tackles him just in time and wrestles the knife away. Sean is shocked by this, but Isaac pats him on the head and tells him what’s wrong is wrong, and that he must right them. However, Isaac reminds Sean that he is his son, and that he won’t forgive him for trying to kill himself. Isaac’s tears and blood from the knife cut on his face fall on Sean, who is too shocked for words. The two finally embrace after so long, with James watching, think that’s what family is supposed to be. Interrupting the moment, Dolores peaks over and notices James is crying, but James tries to hide it. As well, Noel, Leon and Cindy run up to meet James, just as Baan appears on a nearby television screen, yelling that he’ll beat John Carter to a pulp obsessively as WIRED personnel hold him back. James turns to escape, but Isaac stops him to tell him thanks before he goes. Smiling, James tosses Isaac his copy of How to be a Daddy and tells Isaac to try and put it to practice this time. The group immediately get on Dolores just as police Phantomas appear, and Dolores dives back into the bay to escape Eipia. From his truck, Nikolai sees additional Phantomas coming toward the sphere. He uses a remote control to summon an orbital frame and destroy them, after which he says all the cards are in place now. Dolores soon returns to the Links’ truck, just as Nikolai drives up.

 

Commentary

 

Well, this was a bizarre episode to say the least. It was so bizarre that I had a hard time watching it all the way through. But I managed to do it, congrats to me. Although this is another filler, this episode stands out from the rest, as James finally meets the man behind How to be a Daddy, Isaac Barrett. However, instead of the great father and family man he expected him to be, Isaac turned out to be a coward who always took the easy way out, even with his own son. And for a further twist, it turns out James knew more about parenting than the man who wrote the guidebook on it; how’s that for irony? But Isaac managed to redeem himself at the end by embracing his son, so I guess it all worked out. As for the setting in all this, I can honestly say Eipia is the Happiest Place on Mars; in fact it’s so upbeat it’s disturbing. People greeting you from all over the place, traffic jams caused by drivers pulling over to have conversations with each other, and enough “Love and Peace” to hold Trigun’s Vash the Stampede over, it’s definitely a far cry from the imminent war that Mars is facing. All in all, I don’t think I could stand it anymore than James could. However, we do get a bit of suspense, as we see more into Nikolai and his motives. Being in possession of an orbital frame, it’s a fair guess that Nikolai is or at least was a BAHRAM operative, and that he’s clearly after James and Dolores. At the same time though, it doesn’t look like he’s working for Napth, so I imagine he has his own motives. We’ll find out what they are soon enough.

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Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

3.5 out of 5 stars
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ZOE Dolores, i Episode 17 ZOE Dolores, i Episode 17

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