"How can you value life if you do not fear death?"
The Alphans unleash a terrifying power when they free a killer who can't be killed. How can you deal with a psychopath who is immortal?
The Alphans' sensors detect a chamber with what appears to be an atmosphere buried within a passing asteroid. They go out to investigate, and have to blast through the outer surface to reach it. When they enter the cave, they find a door with alien markings in the rock.
With no visible means of entry, Koenig fires a Stun gun at the door with no effect. As he steps away to gather explosives, the door explodes, throwing astronaut Mike Baxter. He does not appear to be seriously injured, so they continue on into the chamber. Looking around, they find the body of a man mutilated by the explosion. They bandage his wounds the best they can, and take him back to Alpha, although they think little of his chances for survival.
When they arrive at the base, he is rushed to Medical Centre, where he dies, and Mike Baxter is examined for any injuries. When Helena begins her autopsy of the alien man, she is shocked to discover that he is alive, with no visible wounds or scars! Tests reveal that his cells are replenishing themselves at an incredible rate. John posts guards outside Medical Centre as a precaution though the alien is still unconscious. He wakes to find himself alone in a strange place. He tries to get out and forces open the doors to Medical Centre to find himself confronted by two guards. When he tries to leave they grab him and a fight ensues. He quickly overcomes them, due to his superior strength and large stature.
He wanders around the base and is attacked by several more Security personnel, which he dispatches prior to Koenig and Alan arriving. Alan attempts to stun, then kill him to no avail. The alien asks them to stop, and talk, to end the violence. He tells them that his name is Balor, and that his people had achieved immortality by artificial means, and over time their society became corrupt and started to decay. He had tried to reverse the process and help them to find the meaning of life, but how could they respect life without the fear of death? His people turned on him and condemned him to an eternity of solitude within an asteroid of living rock. Koenig has to tell Mike Baxter that he can't fly because his optic nerve was damaged in the explosion. Baxter is very upset by this and asks Koenig to leave him alone.
He is soon visited by Balor who claims that he can help him. When Koenig finds out that Balor was there, he visits Baxter to find out what they talked about. Baxter attacks Koenig with a model plane, and nearly kills him, before he collapses and dies with a horrified look on his face. Balor returns to heal Koenig's wounds and then disappears. When Koenig awakes, he recognizes the look on Baxter's face as similar to paintings he found in Balor's cell on the asteroid. He asks Balor to meet him in his office to confront him. Balor tells him that torture was his solution to his people's problems, and that now he is going to continue his work on Alpha. Koenig tells him that they will resist, and Balor says that he will rip Alpha apart until they acquiesce.
Koenig must find a way to stop him, but how do you kill someone who is immortal? Koenig decides to blow him out an airlock. First he removes the airlock warning label and then, using himself as bait, guides Balor there by closing off sections of Alpha as he passes through. But getting out of the airlock, with Balor still inside, is not an easy feat. Koenig finally attacks Balor, who picks him up and throws him into the hall outside the airlock. Paul who is monitoring the situation form Main Mission shuts the door and depressurizes it.
Helena thinks that they paid the price for meddling in another culture's justice, and that they should learn to leave some things alone. Alan destroys the asteroid with his Eagle's laser, Only for it to reintegrate and continue along its way.
Shooting script: 2nd October 1974. Amendments on 4th, 7th and 8th October. Filmed 9th October - 23 October 1974
- Int. Main Mission
- Int. Command Office
- Int. Medical
- Int. Intensive Care Unit
- Int. Baxter's Quarters
- Int. Alpha Corridor
- Int. Airlock
- Int. Eagle Pilot Section
- Int. Eagle Passenger Section
- Ext. Asteroid Surface
- Int. Asteroid Tunnel
- Int. Asteroid Chamber
- Ext. Space
Uniquely, Main Mission is illuminated with yellow panels. The Command Office also changes from white panels (as it had been for all previous episodes) to yellow. It will remain this way until the end of the series.
Library tracks: "Experiments In Space- Malus" composed by Robert Farnon (Chappell Recorded Music Library), "Experiments In Space- Dorado" composed by Robert Farnon (Chappell Recorded Music Library), "Stratosphere" composed by Davis Snell (Chappell Recorded Music Library), "Videotronics No. 3" composed by Cecil Leuter (Chappell Recorded Music Library), "Cosmic Sounds No. 1" composed by Georges Teperino (Chappell Recorded Music Library)
Balor's immortality is due to accelerated cell regeneration with no time to decay (in the script it is undetectably slow except in his wounds, i.e. the speed of cell regeneration varies according to need). Many cells have a timer that limits the numbers of divisions; also each regeneration may accumulate errors in DNA replication. Some animals can regenerate limbs or tails, by growing a blastema, an amorphous mass of undifferentiated cells that migrate to the wound and specialise into functional tissues. Evidently Balor's genetic code has been reprogrammed to do the same. Electrical stimulation can aid the process of cell regeneration; note Balor also has an electric touch that he uses for torture.
Why is there an antimatter bombarder in Koenig's office?
After Balor is ejected from the airlock, he appears to be floating in space. Even vertically, standard atmosphere pressure would not propel a human body beyond the escape velocity of the Moon (2.4 km/second) and into space. The airlock is horizontal, level with the lunar surface. Balor might be projected for some distance over the surface (charitably we could say the episode is showing this), but he would soon crash into the lunar soil. Would the vacuum kill him, or merely incapacitate him like the door explosion (if returned to an atmosphere would he recover)?
"We're three light years away from the nearest star system. If the asteroid's come from there, to get this far at its present velocity, it's been travelling in space for at least a thousand years." Balor's asteroid and the Moon must share a common motion through space (the asteroid appears motionless in the Alphan sky and its position changes little during the course of the episode). Paul's comment also suggests this trajectory traces back to the vicinity of the nearest star system, three light years away. Three light years in over 1000 years translates to a velocity of ~900km/s, i.e. ~0.5 lunar radii per second. Obviously, the Moon must have encountered a "space warp" or black hole to get there before the episode begins, and another before the next episode. Thanks to Marcus Lindroos.
If the Moon and asteroid are in deep interstellar space "three light years away from the nearest star system", they should be in total darkness! A supernova or bright star cluster 5-10 light years away might perhaps do the trick, though. Thanks to Marcus Lindroos.
Alpha Personnel: 2 fatalities, Mike Baxter, Orderly.
The nurse attacked by Balor (actress Judith Hepburn) reappears in later episodes. Helena's dialogue suggests she is killed ("One of our orderlies... Balor a cold blooded killer!") but perhaps she is not.
Alpha Technology: Anti-matter bombarder. The multi-function hatch is shown; here it opens the airlock.
Eagles: Unnumbered initial Eagle and laser Eagle
Aliens: Balor from Progron. Humanoid.
Props: Apollo 9 mission posters in Baxter's room
As the smoke clears from the explosion, a wire can be seen blowing about.
As they enter the outer door (during Ray Austin's credit), the wrist mounting of Koenig's glove is loose.
The first shot of the interior cave door is upside down. The next shot, when the actors enter, is obviously correct!
In the caves, Koenig says to Mike Baxter (actor Jim Smilie) "Excuse me, Jim"
Balor is named after Balor of the Evil Eye, a vengeful Celtic king with one eye. Byrne also attributes the name's origin to Baal, an ancient near Eastern fertility deity and king of the gods. Baal was god of life and fertility, locked in mortal combat with Mot, god of death and sterility, over 7 year cycles. From Canaan (Palestine) his worship spread to Carthage and Egypt, being popular from the 14th century BC on. The Greeks in the 6th century BC called him Belos, identifying him with Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. The Jews were strongly hostile to his worship (see Kings 18) especially from the 9th century BC when Jezebel, wife of Ahab, king of Israel, attempted to introduce worship of Baal, prompting Elijah to violent opposition. Hence the modern association of Baal with the devil.
Note the camera focuses on faces. The action is stylised; no punching, instead Balor lifts and tosses his opponents away, or uses his electric touch. Many elements from gothic horror: Balor's black robes; the image of his glove dashed with blood stirring in the cave rubble, approaching the woman and touching her neck, like a vampire.
Victor says "He could have given us immortality". But he wants them mortal so they will fear death (he failed on Progron because they were immortal). In the ITC synopses and EC Tubb's novelisation, he will give them immortality, which does not make as much sense. People who cannot die have no release from torture.
How far can Balor bring back people from the dead? Perhaps they still have to be alive in order to be revived. Koenig says he "thrashed me within an inch of my life", and Balor says he "has to be careful with mortals", implying that if they die, they cannot be revived. But perhaps he brings the nurse he kills back to life (as she is alive and well in later episodes). Resurrection by William Latham has Balor bringing Baxter back to life. Thanks to Richard Bendell.
A number of unused scenes appear in the This Episode sequence.
Peter Bowles: "It ended up with a lady from America getting into my house, because she wanted to be my sex slave. She sold everything and had come over because she wanted to be dominated by the most evil man in the universe." (radio interview with BBC Hereford and Worcester's Tony Fisher, 2nd April 2007). The full story is recounted in his autobiography, Ask Me If I'm Happy (2010), pages 420-422.
|Breakaway I Earthbound I Black Sun I Missing Link I Voyager's Return I Matter of Life and Death I Ring Around the Moon I The Last Sunset I Alpha Child I Death's Other Dominion I Force of Life I Guardian of Piri I The Troubled Spirit I The Last Enemy I Collision Course I Dragon's Domain I The Full Circle I Mission of the Darians I End of Eternity I War Games I The Infernal Machine I Another Time, Another Place I Space Brain I The Testament of Arkadia|
|Episodes are listed in the order suggested by Andrew Kearley.|