In the sixth episode of Crusade, the crew heads to Mars for an important conference, and shenanigans ensue. (And by “shenanigans,” I’m referring to a terrible apocalyptic cult.) Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Crusade.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of terrorism, ableism with regards to mental illness.
This was… okay? It’s strange, but not in the way the past three episodes told strange stories. The pacing felt off the whole time, as if I should have been more tense about the impending explosion. A literal countdown to violence is often an easy way to build suspense, but I found that I just couldn’t invest myself in this conflict.
Why is that? There are some interesting things here, and this is the first episode since the pilot where we get to see all six of the main cast members in a single script. But they’re separated by circumstances and duties, and because we’re spread out, there’s only so much time we can spend on each subplot, which thins out the narrative. So, let me start with the smaller one of them: Trace, Max, and Dureena hanging out on Mars. I was thankful that we at least got to see a version of Mars that was not wrought with so much conflict. This show exists in the shadow of Babylon 5, and I don’t mean that to suggest it can’t be its own thing. But the history that unfolded on that show affects Crusade to the point that I do wonder if anyone who watched Crusade without starting with Babylon 5 was a bit confused by some of the context that might have seemed to be missing. We know that Mars has gone through hell because of their fight for independence, and that texture exists within the other plot in the show.
So: all of this is to say that I can enjoy the fact that we just get to see the streets of one of the settlements on Mars, and that a significant time is just spent in a bar while three characters just get shitfaced. You can often tell a lot about a character’s nature from the most mundane shit, and you get a sense for the three personalities on display here. Trace is reckless and well-meaning, if a little too persistent in Dureena. Dureena isn’t as new to me, but she mostly exists here as the tough and dependable character, and it’s a nice subversion of who you’d expect to be that person. Max is irritating and won’t ever stop talking, but I’m getting a sense of the intent behind that. He’s supposed to be annoying, and here, when he’s around Trace and Dureena, that ego peels back. It starts to disappear. Is there a reason he’s like this? Or is he just generally an asshole? Why does he seems so weirdly insecure while being so certain of himself?
Anyway, this was the only real subplot in “Ruling From the Tomb,” which mostly concerns itself with a convention on the Drakh plague and the Sacred Omega cult. Of these two things, only one of them makes any real sense. I love that Dr. Franklin set up this conference. (Though I was unclear by one of the lines Lochley spoke about whether he was on Earth or outside of it at the time of the attack.) It makes perfect sense that multiple nations would meet to discuss this threat, since it would inevitably affect more than just Earth. And while I guess it’s a subplot—it’s so woven into the main conflict that it’s hard to tell—it also makes sense that Lochley and Gideon would both despise one another and be drawn together at the same time. They’re both leaders who crave being in control, and this nightmare at the convention has put them at odds with one another. On some level, I found their interplay entertaining, though I’m not sure how sold I am on them as a pairing. I mean, they’re not gonna find the cure in these thirteen episodes; I’m sure of that. So, Gideon won’t be stopping by for that promised week-long visit.
I think I was biased against this mostly because the Sacred Omega cult makes no damn sense at all. The more I think about it, the more it falls apart. As I understood it, they believed the Drakh plague was a final response from God, a denouncement of humanity’s evil nature. So, humanity was doomed and would be judged when everyone died. So the cult… murders other humans? Because the plague isn’t murdering them fast enough? Or are they supposed to be taking out the humans who aren’t afflicted with the plague? I don’t know! I couldn’t tell! The main motivation provided for this cult seemed nonsensical or ill-defined.
And then we’ve got Dr. Alain Lebecque, who makes even less sense. On top of it all, it appears the ultimate explanation for his bizarre murderous impulses was mental illness, so thatis great. (It’s not.) I truly don’t understand this character, y’all, and I really tried to. He’s a man who is tortured by faith and duty, except that’s not really what’s happening here, is it? The show is frustratingly vague about what Dr. Lebecque was actually going through, and it seems deeply fucked up to tack on Joan of Arc’s story to his characterization. It’s just… what??? What was the point of this all? An examination of faith? Because if it had been, why try to make it about mental illness in the end? And what was the thing that both Trace and Dr. Lebecque experienced? Why remain so ambiguous about it?
This wasn’t that great, and I’m hoping it’s one of the only duds in the bunch.
The video for “Ruling From the Tomb” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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