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Not What I Expected

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 26 June 2023
Rating:   7

Two years after the final Kaldor City episode, Magic Bullet Productions put together this story as a kind of coda. The death of Russell Hunter, so important to the Kaldor City series, meant that they really could not do a second series. Instead, they offer this story, a kind of tone poem on the themes and images of the previous series. The basic situation is that Blayes wakes from a coma 18 months after the events of "Checkmate." She was apparently discovered in the wreckage of a flyer out in the Blind Heart Desert and carried into a storm miner. The storm miner has been hopelessly circling the desert waiting for the all-clear from Kaldor City, which has been under quarantine for the last 18 months. This storm mine was itself involved in an accident in which some of the robots, apparently activated by the Taren Capel program, went rogue and killed most of the crew. Only three crew members are left, the unnamed commander (the always great Philip Madoc), chief mover (John Leeson, great in a non K-9 role), and the unseen chief fixer, who apparently has the voice of Justina from previous Kaldor City episodes. (On a side note, could it be that this episode is the dream-vision that the Fendahl Core / Justina offers to a dying Blayes, just as it had offered a dream-vision to a dying Iago at the end of "Checkmate"? Sadly, the story does not contain enough clues to determine for certain.) Blayes is haunted by the badgering voice of Iago, who is otherwise not a character in this story. As the story moves along, it gets stranger and stranger, apparently heading toward the emergence of robot V23 as a new generation of self-aware machines and possibly the next phase of evolution. The problem for me here is the same as I had with "Checkmate," only doubly so: too many questions and not enough answers. What was Blayes doing in the desert? How did she get there? Why is everyone on the sand miner so cagey? Why is Blayes having these arguments with a ghostly Iago? Who is the Chief Fixer? Instead of resolution, we are left with poetry and visions.

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