Sunday, October 4, 2015

"Survivors" 40th Anniversary: Episode 23 ("Parasites")

This is the twenty-third in a series of blog posts dedicated to the 40th anniversary of BBC's "Survivors" television series. "Survivors" followed a core group of characters who managed to survived a devastating viral outbreak -- one which managed to kill off somewhere between 95-99% of humanity. Society has crumbled and now those who remain must relearn the old way if they have any hope of surviving much longer.

Today's episode was a fairly simple single-issue story, titled "Parasites." Mina was out collecting plants and herbs for food when she came across a man named John Millen (played by Patrick Troughton) and his water bus. He agreed to come to Whitecross tomorrow to trade supplied for a dozen rubber-boots, but he was really coming to spend some time with Mina. They didn't spend much time together, but there were definite sparks.

John, Mina, and the Water Bus
Here is the curious thing. The water bus arrived the next day, but John wasn't there. Instead, there was a pair named Jeff Kane and Les Grice. They were a rough-looking pair, but weren't overtly threatening -- even if they lacked the social graces!

They hung out at Whitecross for a while, agreeing to trade the rubber boots for our survivors' supply of homemade beer, plus other unspecified supplies. Did I mention that Whitecross' beer is literally explosive? Does that just seem weird that they keep explosive beer around the settlement, much less drink it?

Mina meets the men and is understandably confused. Here is how she put it to Ruth and Greg. There was one man when she first found the water bus. Now there are two. They told her that John went to see his wife unexpectedly, when John had told her that he was unmarried. Plus, Kane was wearing John's hat.

Of course, nobody trusts Mina to get anything right, so they ignore her warnings and their own gut impressions of these two travelers and allow them to spend the night.

Frustrated, Mina goes out and finds John's body floating in the river. There's a knife in his back. She goes back that night and confronts Jeff Kane, pointing out that she found a murder knife and Kane has a knife holster that would fit that knife. Though she used more colorful communication techniques than I did!

Right about this time, Pet remembered that Jeff Kane had been in the news a few years back. He'd been sentenced to life in prison after killing a security guard. Here is one thing you can count on about the people of Whitecross. They might not trust Mina with anything -- even though she's never lied to them -- but they always listen to Pet! They decide to chase off the murderous pair in the morning.

Whitecross' resident priest, Lewis, asks to speak to the men first. He asks them to leave in peace and gets shot in the chest for his troubles -- but not before being told that they have ten minutes to bring some horses for a timely response. At the end of those ten minutes, John and Lizzie will be killed. Sure enough, they'd kidnapped the children sometime during the night!

R.I.P. Lewis
The two men escape on the water bus, but not before falling ill. It turns out that they were drinking a bottle of wood alcohol. That stuff makes you go blind and is highly explosive. Before you know it, the water bus (and the murderous men on it) explode in a fiery ball. Fortunately, the kids escaped before things went terminal.

As noted above, this episode was fairly simple. A pair of parasitic travelers -- men who spent their last years shifting around stealing and murdering -- caused trouble for our survivors. The one notable moment (besides Lewis' death), was the inclusion of actor Patrick Troughton. He was best known for his portrayal as the second Doctor in the BBC's "Doctor Who" series.

It's too bad that his appearance in "Survivors" was so brief. As far as I can remember, Patrick Troughton was the only significant "Doctor Who" actor to appear on "Survivors."

Next week's episode is titled "New Arrivals." We will say goodbye to some familiar faces -- and hello to some new blood!

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