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Sunday, April 29, 2007

3.21 --- The Wall

Directed by : Atom Egoyan
Written by : J. Michael Straczynski
Starring : John Beck, Eugene Clark
First aired : 18th of February, 1989.

After a military scientific experiment goes horribly wrong, the Army calls in major Alexander McAndrews (John Beck, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Dallas) to investigate. The scientists were doing research in field of particle physics and wormholes, and after an accident, all that is left is a wall which hides a portal of blinding light. McAndrews is offered to go in and explore it, a mission which he accepts even after hearing that several men went in before him and never returned.

McAndrews enters the "gate", and after losing radio network within 10 seconds, stumbles and faints. He wakes up in an earth-like environment, as is amazed to meet captain Henry Kincaid (Eugene Clark, Land of the Dead), one of the soldiers who preceded him. Kincaid is accompanied by a plain-clothed woman, who informs the major that this is a relatively tech-free society, but that there is no hate, wars and such. After surveying the area and discovering that there is no way back, McAndrews realizes he'll be here for a while.

Three days after, just as he begins to relax and get accustomed to the new surroundings, McAndrews accidentaly uncovers Kincaid's radio. By listening to the taped recordings, he discovers that there is a gate back, but is only visible at night. Kincaid explains him that they were all aware of that, but they passed a vote and decided not to go back, fearing that the military would exploit this area and its people for their own benefit. McAndrews, a soldier all his life, does not abide with this, so he storms past Kincaid and enters the gate, despite the pleas from the village leader not to do so.

On the other side, McAndrews files his report to the brass, informing them that the civilization past the gate poses no threat whatsoever. After overhearing them talk about turning that place into a nuclear arms stockyard and whatnot, his conscience gets the better of him and he decides, for the first time, to defy his orders. Dropping his major star, McAndrews rushes to the gate, destroys the mechanisms which control it and flees through the portal, his life ready for a new begin.

***

An interesting piece scripted by J. Michael Straczynski (who else) and directed by the accomplished Canadian director Atom Egoyan, The Wall is an OK episode, returning the Zone to the realm of left leanings. The military is, typically for this era, portrayed as the power-hungry, arms-mad institution, more bent on possession than peacekeeping. Beck does okay as the major who's tired of army life, though there isn't much for him to do to excel here.

In a way, The Wall majorly resembles season 1's Quarantine - the hook is a bit different, but the sets of "another world" are eerily alike, and the solution (the outsider preventing the intrusion of "his kind") almost carbon copied, although this time the outsider acts of his own volition and guilt. As far as second half of season 3 goes, this one is definitely better than average.

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