and analysis by Dallascaper
seems like a levelheaded guy most of the time. However, his desire
to return to Earth is so strong, it clouds his judgment sometimes.
Such is the case when the naive human is suckered into meeting a
mysterious wizard named Haloth. To John's disappointment, Haloth's
isn't able to send John back to Earth, but the old wizard promises
to arrange a meeting between John and Crais. John feels an honest
explanation of what happened on the day he arrived would give Crais
a reason to cease his pursuit of the human. That may be a good idea,
but kiss and make up is not what Haloth has in mind.
from an old wizard to a powerful, malevolent being named Maldis,
Haloth reveals his true intentions. Maldis is a vampire, a creature
that feeds on the life essence of his victims. John and Crais don't
know it, but their real bodies are still on Moya and the command
carrier, respectively. Their spirits are locked in Maldis' chamber
where they will be consumed for lunch. The anger John and Crais
show for each other only makes their essence more palatable for
Maldis, which is why he lets them fight it out. For much of the
time, it's a game of cat and mouse, with Crais the cat. John, the
scientist-pacifist, attempts to convince Crais that fighting each
other only strengthens Maldis. Crais, blinded by revenge, sees John
as prey that must pay for the death of his brother.
back against the wall, John finally decides to defend himself and
it's all out war between the two combatants. Unfortunately, this
plays perfectly into Maldis' hands. Only when it is too late does
John realize the scope of Maldis' true plans and how his actions
inadvertently may cost the lives of untold millions.
Maldis doesn't take into consideration is Zhaan. She has spent many
cycles developing a state of peace and stability. She has the ability
to enter Maldis' realm and defeat him, but to do so would mean unleashing
her dark and violent side. This could unravel many cycles of training
and leave Zhaan vulnerable to her own dark impulses. With the help
of a former high priest, Liko, Zhaan taps her dark side and prepares
for battle with Maldis. It's a battle to save John and the rest
of Moya's crew, but it must take place in Maldis' realm, his world,
and on his terms.
of the things that separates a good episodes from one that isn't
so great is character development. Establishing who an important
character is and why they behave the way they do is critical. It
is particularly important this occurs early in the series and That
Old Black Magic scores direct hits with both Crais and Zhaan.
now, we have seen Crais only in The Premiere.
In that episode he was a standard, two-dimensional bad guy written
to add drama to the show. Crais may be a more complex character
than I originally thought. By Maldis bringing Crais to his lair
and allowing him to interact with Crichton, we learn more about
the Peacekeeper captain. Of course, he spends much of this episode
hunting Crichton, just as expected. I find what Maldis said about
Crais very interesting, though. Maldis indicated that Crais had
nearly accepted John's explanation for what happened to Tauvo. According
to Maldis, Crais was ready to cease the pursuit of John and return
to Peacekeeper space. Maldis made sure this didn't happen, but it
shows Crais is not a mindless bad guy - the man is open to reason.
It didn't help John in this episode, but Crais' willingness to listen
to the human could play a roll in future episodes. Of course, the
fact that Crais committed murder and is now a renegade captain only
adds to his complex character.
comes as no surprise that, by the end of the episode, Maldis is
defeated and John is safe. Zhaan, with help from Liko, manages to
save John. But it is clear that victory comes at a price for Zhaan.
She must resurrect her dark nature, suppressed for many cycles,
to battle Maldis. Once the deed is done, she can't simply put it
back, as John painfully discovers as the episode ends. This is not
a Star Trek, everyone is happy ending. There is a sense that Zhaan's
stability will be tested in future episodes with no guarantee that
her good side will prevail.
add that Maldis is a little over-the-top as a bad guy. But his is
fun to watch most of the time and deserved everything Zhaan gave
him in the end.
is not a perfect episode, but it is entertaining and the character
development is interesting. It's an important story for the groundwork
it lays for future episodes.