Space: Above And Beyond
"Pilot" opens with the founding of Vesta Colony - the most distant human colony so far - and although they believe themselves to be alone in the universe, they're about to get a rude awakening. Then we get the pending launch of the Tellus colony mission. Unfortunately, Nathan West and his girlfriend have to make a decision - only one of them can go, as ten colonists are being replaced by ten in-vitros; one has to stay, with the possibility of getting out there by joining the Marine Corps. We've got a runaway in-vitro about to be lynched. And we've got Shane, whose family were killed by A.I.s. West tries to stow away on the launch but gets caught.
So, Marine training, with Nathan West, Shane Vansen, Vanessa Damphousse, Pags (Mike Pagodin), Paul Wang, and Cooper Hawkes (the in-vitro, or tank, from earlier). Shane joined to get into the 127th Angry Angels wing. The Tellus colony ship gets atacked as it comes in to land - did Kylen survive? So they're at war, and they've got a training mission to repair a communications device on Mars. And then there's the crash - and a brief firefight with an alien in which Pags dies, before it surrenders... so they have a prisoner... until it commits suicide by asking for water.
And then 48 hours leave - West goes home to tell his family he joined the Marines (and takes Shane with him). The 127th goes to attack the enemy, but things go badly, and everyone's recalled. A counterstrike is planned based on plans decoded from the captured ship on Mars, but after deployment, they discover they were fake, and the enemy are massing for a strike on Earth. McQueen gets assigned to them as their commanding officer - and they have to stall them until the rest of the fleet gets back.
"The Farthest Man From Home" opens at the Tellus colony as the army go in to scour the crash site. There's a survivor (French Stewart), who appears to have gone crazy in the intervening time (yelling that he's the eponymous character). West crawls through the air ducts to talk to the survivor, and finds out that Kylen is still alive.
So he goes AWOL, finds survivors, some of whom get carted off by the aliens, and everyone else, including McQueen come to their rescue. The ship carrying Kylen gets away during the firefight. And there's a big coverup going on over the survivors of the Tellus mission and everything's been seriously classified.
"The Dark Side Of The Sun" sees them guarding an asteroid mining facility so their supply line isn't cut off, but it's been taken over by A.I.s (or Silicates), and Vansen is having a hard time of command, having had nightmares for years that she'd be killed by Silicates. Apparently they're big on gambling, having gone rogue after a programmer added "Take A Chance" to their programming (leading to the war). When the rest of the squad get taken hostage, West and Vansen have to save them.
"Mutiny" gives us the Hawkes episode, when they take a freighter back to the fleet with a cargo of unborn in-vitros. Running a shortcut between two unstable suns, they suffer engine trouble and bad sensors. When an engine problem means they have to cut power to 120 in-vitros or be unable to get the engines back on line, the engineering team mutiny in an attempt to save them (and Hawkes gets caught in the middle, when he finds a sister in the section they want to shut down).
"Ray Butts" sees a crazy guy arrive on board in a seriously damaged hammerhead. He's got classfied orders to take the team in to a mission, and he's not telling McQueen what that is... but he's got some really strange training methods. And then, once they HALO drop behind enemy lines, he changes the mission on them. And then there's the suicide mission past the black hole to get out!
"Eyes" sees the head of the United Nations assassinated by an in vitro, and the election of a new President is to take place on the Saratoga. McQueen and Hawkes are detained for loyalty questioning. The Wildcards get some new recruits, and get sent on a pickup mission for the US ambassador who seems to be a crazy peace activist - wants peace with the silicates, wants to negotiate with the aliens. The deputy president is a crazy French isolationist.
And then there's the politics - West getting talked in to helping the French guy as the US Ambassador was on the board of the company that sent the settler missions and knew about the aliens in advance. Hawkes gets brainwashed during the loyalty test. One of the new guys tries to assassinate the Frenchman, but his failure and death cause the American woman to activate their backup - Hawkes. And still the American woman gets elected!
"The Enemy" sees the Wildcards stuck on a hellhole of a planet (conveniently named Tarterus) where they're supposed to be resupplying the local army. But the moment they arrive they come under friendly fire. Then they start to go crazy - some new Chig weapon brings out their worst fears - Damphousse's fear of blood, Hawkes' claustrophobia, Wang's fear of insects, Vansen's fear of Silicates, and West's fear of never saving his girlfriend. These fears cause the radio to get damaged and force them to traverse a minefield, constantly at each others throats, and facing a disciplinary hearing when they get back.
"Hostile Visit" sees the Saratoga under attack, but when it's over, they have a disabled enemy craft hanging off their bow, and McQueen wants the Wildcards to board it for information. However, rather than handing it over to Aerotech to dissect, McQueen wants to use it as a trojan horse to attack the enemy... even though it'll be a suicide mission for anyone who volunteers. So we have the Wildcards going through their last hours, deciding whether to go and how to spend their last day. And then the mission, which doesn't go exactly smoothly...
"Choice Or Chance" sees the crashed escape pod recovered by Silicates, and all but McQueen and Hawkes captured. In the prison they're taken to, they discover Kylen is also a hostage... and she has an escape plan. Wang is tortured until he breaks and confesses to killing civilians. Damphousse and Vansen are forced to choose which of them will be executed and which will work the mines for life. Meanwhile, the Aerotech guy comes back and suggests the Saratoga go and look for them - and gets a mysterious box with red glowing contents for his troubles. Is this a Repo Man box, or a Pulp Fiction box? Oh, and the Chigs (or maybe a Silicate, they're not too clear on this) can shapechange to impersonate the alleged Kylen Celina.
"Stay With The Dead" opens with West arriving back on the Saratoga amongst a bunch of wounded Marines. He's not too badly hurt compared to some of the others (just a shrapnel wound to the head and a couple of broken ribs), but one of the nurses states that there are no more of the 58th coming in as the rest are dead (and none of the other regulars were in the transport, that we could see).
Unfortunately, Nathan keeps reliving the events, forcing the doctors to plan a treatment of electroshock therapy, which might lead to a loss of long-term memory. Which could be a problem - as only Nathan's memories can tell them where the rest of the 58th really are, and why the recovered bodies make it appear that they're all dead.
"The River Of Stars" sees the Wildcards adrift in a transport ship after a firefight with the enemy. Unfortunately, the radio cannot transmit and the engine was hit, so they could be wildly off course. McQueen is determined to search for them, even though they don't know where they are - but it's nearly Christmas, so he's going to get them them home...
A mysterious transmission tells the 58th that there's a nearby comet, and instruction on how to go into orbit around it so that it can carry them back to friendly territory - but who sent the signal, and can they just take the instructions on faith? Wang, whose having something of a crisis of faith at the moment, has to go EVA to realign the engine.
"Who Monitors The Birds?" is an extremely dull episode with a few tiny moments of interesting back story. Hawkes is selected for a special mission - something to do with him being a really good shot - that'll give him an honorable discharge. However, it's pretty much just him running around a planet shooting aliens and getting shot at for 40 minutes. There's a few minutes of flashbacks to his time in the in-vitro training facility interspersed - where we find out that he was considered defective for asking too many questions (like the titular question, and the followup "who monitors the monitors?") - and was going to be put down (or "Erased") but he was tipped off and escaped.
"Level Of Necessity" sees Damphousse warn the 58th of an upcoming trap - put down to anomalous intuition, but triggering an investigation by a guy who believes she may have psychic abilities and determined that he can help her bring it out and help her squad. So they get sent back in to the tunnels to find a weapons dump... or maybe just to prove that Damphousse is psychic.
Unfortunately, PsyOps have a checquered past, and managed to wipe out a whole division in a prior war. However, they may be on to something, as crawling around the tunnels for a second time, Damphousse starts seeing glowing outlines around people again, and becomes convinced someone is going to die on the mission.
"Never No More" gives the titles a dumb new voiceover by McQueen, just after a squadron gets wiped out by a cloaked alien ship in the teaser. Then there's Vansen's love interest, John Oakes, who asked her to marry him many years ago, and she turned him down.
Of course, when Vansen volunteers to join Oakes squadron, she's the only one who spots the cloaked ship (although the freaky distortion of their LIDAR screen does sort of give it away). And then there's the plan to find the ship again - send all the ships out, and wait for something to start killing them!
"The Angriest Angel" sees a new plan to take out the cloaked ship - Aerotech have developed a missile based on the stuff in the glowing box recovered in Choice Or Chance, that should be able to penetrate the armour of the cloaked ship. But there needs to be a mission to deliver the missile, and clearly McQueen wants to take the mission. Unfortunately, there's a device in his head due to nerve damage sustained that would explode under the G-forces of flight. So he's got to have it removed... which might lead to constant nausea.
The construction of the missile appears to be sabotaged when a fire breaks out in the construction lab - someone sprayed oil on the housing which was sparked by the low intensity laser in the device, and the oxygen rich atmosphere lit up, killing all the technicians. Lt. Winslow shows an interest in McQueen, but he's her superior officer - but we do get an opening up about his former wife, and the abuse she took for being with an in-vitro, and the fact McQueen can't have children naturally.
Someone tries to sabotage the missile a second time and then tries to escape the Saratoga - they track it to a transport craft, and the 58th find a Silicate hiding on board - the same one that tortured Wang in Choice Or Chance (or at least the same model). McQueen has the surgery to have the implant removed, but he's still unfit to fly and the mission gets assigned to someone else. But the alien gets the other combat pilot, and then takes out Lt. Winslow (after she's ejected). So, skipping the funeral, McQueen goes after the alien.
"Toy Soldiers" sees West fly off the handle at a new recruit on the Saratoga - his brother's enlisted and is going to be in the line of fire. And then they're put under the command of Herrick, a rather intense and hardheaded Lieutenant who graduated with top honours but has had no real combat experience. And now he's volunteering his recon unit to join a reconnaisance mission behind enemy lines. Meanwhile, Nathan's brother looks like he's got something to prove...
Unfortunately, the recon mission leaves the near a satellite communication tower, and Herrick wants to be a hero and destroy it, against orders not to engage. When his squad go out there though, it turns out to be a decoy, and Herrick's team get trapped behind a wall taking heavy enemy fire. When Herrick is hit, Nathan wants to take the 58th out to rescue them ahead of the airstrike.
"Dear Earth" sees a mailcall on the Saratoga, and the 58th has to go and drill some holes on a planet to plant explosives. Where's Harry Stamper when you need him? Damphousse gets blinded by enemy fire while on the mission, and Wang has to read her boyfriend's letter to her - including the fact that he's met someone else and is breaking up with Vanessa. Wang receives turf from Wrigley Field. Vansen receives a video from her sister who's having a baby (and then manages to get use of the phone while her sister's in labour). West is worried that his parents haven't been notified of Neil's death. McQueen and Hawkes are asked to take part in a television show about in-vitros to try and show their good side to the people back home. Shane gets promoted to Captain.
"Pearly" sees the Wildcards pinned down a long way from their rendezvous point and with an apparently abandoned tank their own way out. It's not quite so abandoned though - Adam Goldberg is still around to keep it running, and he's named it Pearly. There's also a slightly crazy British commander who's been alone on the planet for 10 months. Pressing on, Goldberg gets killed in a Chig attack, and Wang gets captured by a couple of silicates (including an Elroy-El model like the one who tortured him in Choice Or Chance).
The silicate wants a new power cell, so Wang steals the last one from the tank, but when they need it, the rest of the squad blames the Englishman. Of course, West discovers the truth, and Pearly manages to get them to the rendezvous, but a fight with a Chig tank gives Wang a chance to get his confidence back. They evac, but the crazy Englishman stays planetside with Pearly.
"R & R" sees exhaustion in the unit leading to mistakes - Hawkes gets injured, and addicted to pills during his recovery - and the Wildcards get sent to Bacchus, the Pleasure Station for 48 hours R&R. Hawkes is struggling with girls, Vansen wants to play some billiards (and ends up playing against guest star David Duchovny), and Wang and Damphousse seem to be showing an interest in each other. McQueen has called ahead and arranged something. Vansen's game goes pear shaped when David reveals he's an AI.
West arranges a hooker for Hawkes, whose more interested in his pills than him. Then West stumbles on McQueen, watching old comedies in a mini movie theatre. Hawkes manages to stumble into the hooker's nursery. And then they're all recalled for some emergency. But it takes them a little while to get their heads back in to the game.
"Stardust" opens with a guy being executed by lethal injection. Then a transport boards the Saratoga after placing the entire crew in security lockdown, with the dead guy cryogenically frozen. The Wildcards get called to a mission briefing, but when they get to their hanger, the doors are locked and they can't get in - then the mission is scrubbed.
And then they're sent out to escort an APC through friendly territory, and they've found some unusual chip planted in their cockpits that they've removed. The APC doesn't respond to communications, and it takes out some target drones before targeting the Wildcards themselves. When they get back to the Saratoga, they get sent on a mission in which they're expected to fail - escort another APC through two lines of Chig defences, and then let it get shot down when they get to the target... to plant false information on Operation Roundhammer.
"Suger Dirt" sees the Marines need to seize an airstrip on a mission expected to suffer 80% casualties - it was their airstrip, they just lost it earlier in the war, and now it's going to be a messy job to take it back. Except, there's no-one there... so where did they go? The Chigs are hiding behind an adjacent moon and set about cutting off the supply lines (starting with destroying the Eisenhower). And then they take out the ground forces while they've got no air cover.
However, the fleet attacking them is from the planet Ixion, which Earth had given up on taking as it was too heavily defended. So the space fleet (including the Saratoga) gets redirected to Ixion to take it, basically giving up the forces on Demios. And the 58th are abandoned on planet for two months... with no resupply.
"And If They Lay Us Down To Rest..." sees the Wildcards sent down to planet Anvil, to set up equipment ahead of Roundhammer's invasion force. But there's an alien creature on the planet, that may be caught in the crossfire. Hawkes manages to catch it, but they're unable to communicate what's going to happen so they can warn it, until Hawkes pulls out his comic book and shows it... and in return it gives Hawkes a handful of dirt. And then there's the lone Chig spacecraft that turns up at the end, asking for peace - and when it takes its helmet off, it's the same as the creature on the planet...
"...Tell Our Moms We Done Our Best" sees peace negotiations ongoing, and the Chig ambassador agrees to the release of the remaining colonists who were held prisoner, including Kylen Celina. But the Ambassador has demanded that the head of Aerotech be there - as he apparently knew about the Chigs before the colony expeditions, and they'd transmitted a signal to Earth to stay away (apparently Anvil is sacred to them and Aerotech tried to land a probe on it). Then the Chig claims that they originated from Earth. The Aerotech guy goes crazy, ranting at the Ambassador, and the Chig retaliates, bursting through the glass and killing the head of Aerotech, before a bomb goes off.
The Chigs retaliate by attacking the APC with the colonists on board, disabling it. Commander Ross assigns the Wildcards to go out and rescue them... but there are a lot of enemy ships in the way. They dock with the disabled APC and proceed to transfer the hostages, while their fighter escort goes out to engage the enemy. Nathan reunites with Kylen, but the fighter escort has been taken out. Wang manages to jumpstart the other APC so he and West stay onboard to fly it.
One last bandit gets through and blows the cockpit (containing Vansen and Damphousse) off, leaving them falling towards a nearby planet. West has to pickup the colonists and get them back, while Vansen hopes she can make landing survivable. Paul gets trapped in his cargo bay when he disengages it. West picks up the cargo pod with Hawkes and the colonists in it. We presume Wang doesn't make it when a Chig fighter collides with his cargo pod. West and Hawkes make it back to the Saratoga. McQueen's going home seriously injured after the bomb blast... and Kylen's going back to Earth with him, but West is sticking around... and so, apparently is Hawkes.