Thursday, 18 September 2014

EPis0dIC! - Alien Nation "The Spirit of '95" (Se01E13) 1990

The episode begins with Buck and Susan visiting the campaign headquarters for the "Alien Vote Amendment", which aims to allow newcomers, all of whom have been granted citizenship and indefinite leave to stay in the united States, to have the right to vote.

Both Buck and Susan believe strongly in newcomers right to vote, as does "Wyatt Earp", the newcomer campaign manager and Jesse, the human campaign manager.
Susan and Buck both volunteer to help the cause, and their assistance is welcomed, however both Jesse and Wyatt are more interested in having George, a respected newcomer police officer, speak out on the issue. Although Susan says she cannot promise she can get any assistance form George, Buck is more enthusiastic, however just as Susan begins to feel ill from her ongoing pregnancy, the campaign headquarters has to be evacuated due to a bomb threat, one of several that have happened since the campaign began. Up until now though, all the threats have been hoaxes, but this time round, as everyone waits outside, the building explodes.

Sikes finds he has been voted in to be the chairman of his apartment blocks residents association, much to his displeasure, however he has no time to worry about it as he is called to investigate the bomb. As it turns out, Jesse says that he received a phone call from someone claiming to be a representative of the "United Purist Party", a right wing ultra conservative political movement dedicated to denying newcomers any rights to vote, or indeed, any right to exist as free sentient beings.
George is disgusted that people would go to such lengths to deny people their rights, and reminds Sikes that the countries foundations were based on people standing up for their rights, however Sikes states that matter doesn't interest him, as he generally doesn't vote.
Their investigation is made somewhat easier by the arrival of Max Clay, the head of the UPP, at the station. Max threatens Sikes and George with litigation if they make any statements directly linking the UPP with the terrorist bomb threats, as they have no direct evidence linking the incidents to him or representatives of his party. Max also states that it is the UPPs party line that direct threats and use of violence is neither encouraged or condoned, however as George points out to him, they have, in the past, made carefully veiled threats of violence against newcomers. Max launches into a monologue about how the Bible states that God created man in his image to have dominion over the Earth etc etc, and it is the Purists intention to keep mankind's "destiny" on course by whatever means necessary, even if that includes being violent or inhumane toward newcomers..George swears and leaves in disgust.

Buck is out canvassing with Wyatt while Susan helps Jesse set up the campaign headquarters in the Fransisco house (George isn't terribly pleased by this) however after having a few doors slammed in his face, Buck is shocked when Wyatt is kidnapped off the street, seemingly by some purists, who almost run him over in the process.
George is outraged at this, the second attack on his family that day, and heads over to UPP headquarters to politely "remind" Max Clay that violence can work both ways, and if anyone associated with the UPP attacks or threatens his family ever again, he will personally take care of the matter.
Meanwhile, Sikes is called to the scene of another kidnapping, this time Jesse has been taken off the street by the same vehicle car took Wyatt, however his investigation is cut short when he is called back to the station to receive a reprimand for Georges threatening behaviour towards Max Clay.

Sikes returns home to find he has to sit as chair at a meeting of the residents association, which quickly devolves into an argument between the other residents over whether they should pay $700 for an elderly resident to have a ramp installed on the back door, which apparently Sikes said he would look into at the last meeting, but hasn't because A) he is too busy with his police work and B) he doesn't care. As it turns out though, the weird old lady who has asked for the ramp has lived there since the place was built, brought up 3 children there and her husband died there, so she feels an attachment to the building itself in a way none of the other residents do. As it turns out later, Cathy paid for the ramp to be fitted out of her own pocket.

At the station the next day, Sikes arrives to find George giving an interview to Burns, the stations almost resident hack journalist. Burns is quite happy at George giving some very strong views on the purists, but Sikes steps in and stops him before he says something stupid.
Just then, Wyatt is dumped outside the station, having been badly beaten. Although he says that he does not know where he was taken, he says he knows that Jesse was there with him, and the people who held them, who identified themselves as purists, drew lots over which one of them to release. Unfortunately, Wyatt isn't able to give a description of his captors as he claims he was blindfolded all the time, but then he shocks both Sikes and George by insisting on giving a press conference right there and then to "expose" the treatment the UPP is meting out to newcomers.

With all the clues pointing to UPP involvement in the kidnappings and bombings, Sikes is a little surprised to receive an invitation for him and George to come and see Max Clay at their campaign headquarters. Clay explains that he personally instructed all members of the UPP to not make any violent action against anyone by letter a week before the trouble started, and he also presents Sikes with the proposition that maybe Wyatt and Jesse planned the bombing and kidnapping themselves, as despite the press conference and all the negative press about the UPP, the AVA movements approval ratings have only risen by 14%, as opposed to the expected 25%. George dismisses this notion as laughable, but Sikes sees his point. George asks why Sikes is so cynical about politics, and he explains that several years ago, a lobby group campaigned to outlaw chemical weapons, a motion which was passed through congress and lauded as a step towards the end of the production of weapons of mass destruction, however the money saved on developing, maintaining and building chemical weapons was funnelled straight into the development, maintenance and building of nuclear weapons instead of being used for peaceful means. Sikes says it was this incident which caused him to lose faith in the political system.

A report comes in that the car used in both the kidnappings of Wyatt and Jesse has been spotted, so Sikes and George follow it, only to find Wyatt at the wheel when it pulls up at a cheap motel on the outskirts of town. As it turns out, Wyatt confesses that Jesse planned the bombing and the kidnappings as a way to get free publicity for the AVA and to turn popular opinion against the UPP, however Jesse is ill and called Wyatt to come and take him to the hospital. They enter Jesses room to find that he has been beaten to death.

Now having a murder investigation on their hands, George and Sikes immediately suspect Wyatt, as the tyre iron from his car was used to kill Jesse, but no motive can be found. Sikes calls the phone company and asks for the call records from both Wyatt and Jesses telephones, however he finds that there has already been a wire tap made on both phones, seemingly without any authorisation.
Their investigation leads them to the phone company, where one of the employees there, a staunch purist supporter, had put a tap on the phones at the request of Max Clay, however he denies committing Jesses murder, saying he only told Max Clay where Jesse was when he had called Wyatt to ask him to take him to the hospital.
The vote comes, and the motion to allow newcomers to vote is passed in 32 states, meanwhile, at an investigation committee, the UPPs activities linking them not only to violence towards newcomers, but also to the murder of Jesse are brought to light, and the UPP loses all public credibility as Max Clay repeatedly takes the 5th whenever he is asked about his involvement. The judge ends the proceedings by ordering all the UPPs records to be seized and a full investigation into their activities be carried out.

This is one of the best episodes of the series in my opinion. firstly, it deals in a none too subtle way with the topic of racism in human society, and the efforts of those who use this racist attitude in order to further their own desire for power over others.
Secondly, it also deals with abuses of the political system to allow people to achieve their aims, regardless of the costs.
A very well written episode this be!.

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