"Is there no vile thing you won't say against my father?"
Terror from a doomed planet - a planet of death, despite advanced scientific knowledge, but a new life for a beautiful girl who has learned the secrets of molecular transformation.
A survey Eagle is dispatched to a seemingly lifeless planet to search for the rare mineral Titanium, needed to repair Alpha's damaged life support systems. When they locate a deposit they are called back to Alpha. As they leave orbit a ball of light forms on the planet and follows the Eagle into space.
As the Alphans try to determine just what happened, they receive a transmission from Mentor of the Planet Psychon. He tells them that it was a defensive measure against the armed ship of an unknown intruder, but the pilots are safe, and they can send another Eagle to pick them up. Koenig suggests a rendezvous in space to avoid further "misunderstandings", and has an Eagle equipped with extra boosters, just in case.
When they reach the designated meeting place, Koenig tries to contact Mentor's ship so that they can dock. There is no answer because the ship is empty. It begins to pull the Eagle down to the planet, but with the additional thrust of the boosters they are able to break free. A short lived victory, as the ship turns into a ball of light and drags the Eagle down to the planet. They land in what looks like a graveyard of spaceships.
Mentor contacts them and asks that they wait in the ship until he is ready for them, but they decide to search on their own for their missing people. They enter a nearby cave and see the mindless husks of the beings that belonged to the ships outside. They also find one of the pilots from the first Eagle, his mind completely drained.
Mentor appears in holographic form to tell them to give themselves up. When Lou Picard tries to overload the circuit with a laser, it backfires and kills him. Mentor captures the Alphans with a green ball of light, and deposits them into holding cells. When Koenig wakes, he sees a lioness outside of his cell. The animal changes into Mentor's daughter who introduces herself as Maya.
She cannot understand why Koenig is so unfriendly. She believes her father has been nothing but kind to them, as he has hidden all his darker doings from her. She brings Koenig to her father so that he can see his the rest of his party. When they arrive, Mentor dismisses her, so he can reveal his true intentions to Koenig.
He wants to feed the minds of the Alphans to Psyche, his biological computer, with which he dreams of restoring his planet, from the volcanic wasteland it has become, to the beautiful planet it once was. To coerce Koenig, Mentor shows him that with Psyche's power of molecular transformation, he can destroy the Moon. Koenig tells him to go ahead, that would be better than the living death of the aliens in the pits.
Mentor shows him the rest of his party hooked up to Psyche. He starts to drain their minds while Koenig watches. Unable to endure their suffering, he tells Mentor to stop, that he will arrange for his people to come down to Psychon, in exchange for their freedom. He contacts Alpha, and tells Tony to start a phased evacuation.
Tony questions the unorthodox nature of his decision, and Koenig quotes "Directive 4" as giving him the right. Tony orders a robot Eagle to be loaded with explosives to destroy the planet. He explains to Sandra that "Directive 4" is a coded signal to destroy the source of its origin.
Mentor has Maya scan the Eagle, and discovers the plot. She decides to confront Koenig in his cell. He explains that Mentor has fed the minds of aliens into Psyche and that she'll find proof in the caves.
She looks and finds that what he said was true. Shocked, she returns to the cell only to find that Mentor is now retaliating by blowing up sections of Alpha! Now aware, and unable to support her father's actions, she releases the Alphans on Koenig's word that Mentor would not be harmed. Koenig sends the others to the Eagle, while Maya takes him to help her stop her father. Koenig begins smashing Psyche. Mentor begs him to stop, as Psyche's energy, if released, could destroy the planet. But his warning comes too late.
Psychon is already starting to break up. Mentor is trapped in the fire and wreckage of the destruction. He tells Koenig to take Maya away. Koenig struggles to get her out as she changes from animal to animal, until Mentor is killed in a cave in. Koenig takes her to the Eagle which is barely able to lift off as Psychon violently breaks apart. They manage to get to a safe distance as the planet explodes in a blinding flash of light.
Koenig consoles Helena who is distraught at the loss of Lou Picard and Ray Torens. They thank Maya for saving their lives, as she sobs uncontrollably. She is devastated by the loss of her father and her world, and worries that anywhere but Psychon she will be an "alien". Koenig says "We're all aliens until we get to know one another."
Original Titles: The Biological Soul, The Biological Computer
|Belgium (Flemish)||De Metamorfose (In Metamorphosis)|
|France/Canada||La métamorphose (The Metamorphosis)|
|Germany||Die Metamorphose (The Metamorph)|
|Japan||Escape! PSYCHON, the Planet of Metamorphosing|
|Portugal||A Metamorfose (The Metamorphosis)|
First draft script titled The Biological Soul, featured Year One cast
Second draft script titled The Biological Computer, 22 December 1975 (introduced Maya)
Revised draft script titled The Biological Computer, 5th January 1976
Shooting script titled The Metamorph, 19 January 1976
Filming began on Monday 26th January 1976, and was scheduled for 13 days, but overran to 16 days, finishing on Monday 16th February 1976.
The first lion employed was uncontrollable. The second was also uncooperative- it had toothache. The third was tame, but too friendly: it put its paws on the still photographers' shoulders. (see also story in The Making Of Space:1999 by Tim Heald p29)
- Int. Command Centre
- Int. Medical Centre
- Int. Weapons Section
- Int. Alpha Corridor
- Int. Travel Tube
- Int. Eagle Pilot Section
- Int. Eagle Passenger Section
- Int. Grove Of Psyche
- Int. Corridor outside Grove
- Int. Brain Transfer Unit
- Int. Cave
- Int. Cell Area
- Int. Psychon corridor
The Psychon ship was built in two scales, 122cm and 66cm. The larger model is built around the tank of a Hoovermatic vacuum cleaner and was built as an ad hoc model after Year 1 by Martin Bower.
The graveyard reused a number of ships from other episodes. Note only two are bigger than the 44" Eagles, and some are tiny (for instance, the Altares probe in the foreground). However, the graveyard is only seen in three brief scenes and is shrouded in mist, so the scale problems are not too obvious. The ship models are:
- Shuttle from Collision Course (upside down)
- Sidon ship from Voyager's Return (upside down)
- Front end of the bomber from Alpha Child and War Games
- Front end of Deltan ship from The Last Enemy
- The dragon ship from Dragon's Domain.
- One other graveyard ship from Dragon's Domain
- Two Alphan mines from Collision Course (two different scales!)
- Two Ariel capsules from The Last Sunset
- Altares probe from Into Infinity
- Another small spaceship.
In addition, a larger scale Eagle leg (69cm x 63cm) was built by Martin Bower for one shot of the graveyard.
The rear motors of the first Eagle model have been altered to fire freon gas. Both the first and second 44" Eagles serve as the booster Eagle for different shots.
Shots of an evading Eagle were reused from The Last Sunset (also seen in War Games and The Infernal Machine).
The new Moonbase Alpha laser battery appears. Also note the outbuildings nearby: one is the Breakaway roundhouse, another is the Altares probe (also seen in the planet graveyard, from Into Infinity). The laser batteries also appear in The Exiles, Seed of Destruction, The Beta Cloud, The Bringers of Wonder, and The Dorcons.
A revolving radar dish is used for one scene (it is actually a Year 1 gravity tower, modified originally as an antenna for the Altares from Into Infinity).
The volcanoes were 1.5m high, made from a hollow frame of chicken wire covered in burlap and splashed with quick setting polyurethane foam, with peat moss as boulders. The lava was red paint with polystyrene chips, with much dry ice and titanium tetrachlorine providing the smoke.
Original score by Derek Wadsworth, recorded Wednesday 17th March 1976 at Olympic Sound Studios, Barnes.
The geology readout comprises: Manganese trisilicate (MnSiO8, a valid mineral), Magnesium Phosphate (a rare chemical), Lithium (an element that doesn't occur on its own, but can occur for instance in clays), titanium (another element that doesn't occur by itself, but in minerals such as rutile and illmenite, found in magmatic intrusions that have undergone segregation, such as gabbros and diorites).
Titanium is not rare, it comprises 0.6% of the Earth's crust and is more common on the Moon. Refining it is difficult- the dioxide is reduced in an electric furnace. Due to its high strength, low density and corrosion resistance, it is a common structural material in ships, aircraft and spacecraft (and is named as a constituent of the Eagles in Space Brain). As titanium dioxide it is used as a white pigment in paint. The highly toxic titanium tetrachloride (TiCl4) was used to make the wispy smoke in this episode's SFX scenes. The only use that might be referred to as "life support systems" is as prosthetic devices. Perhaps the space warp severely depleted Alpha's stock of artificial limbs.
Psychon's atmosphere is said to be "Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen; breathable." This combination isn't- there is no oxygen. Carbon is a solid (graphite, diamond); in the atmosphere it would be present as carbon dioxide, CO2. Hydrogen is a gas but very rare in the atmosphere; it does occur in the form of water, H2O, however.
Planets tend to cool down, not heat up (entropy). Localised areas may experience increased volcanic activity as, for instance, plate tectonics forces continents to collide. It is possible the configuration of continents on Psychon includes relatively little inhabitable land mass, which has diminished over time due to continental drift.
Metamorphosis is found in many invertebrates (insects) and amphibians (such as frogs) when the infant larval stage changes to the adult form. However, molecular transformation evidently involves a fundamental reorganisation of molecules, which would be very difficult to control in a living organism and is impossible in energetics terms (in particular, as the transformation would involve energy, each transformation would have to be into a smaller animal, so Maya would shrink rapidly).
The energy of a brain is about 5 watts of electricity, so Mentor has chosen a very inefficient way of feeding power to Psyche.
The mining methods (to extract the metal for Psyche's physical being) are very primitive, using picks and shovels in small, cramped caves. Mentor needs to invest in modern mining tools and techniques.
The robot Eagle's flight to the planet takes ten minutes. Psychon must be very close to the moon, or the robot Eagle is exceptionally fast.
Chronology: 342 days after leaving Earth orbit (Sun 20 Aug 2000)
Alpha Personnel: population 297. 3 fatalities, Ray Torens, Lou Picard, Eagle pilot. One addition, Maya.
There is no explanation of any of the changes since Year One: Command Centre, new uniforms, the appearance of Tony and the disappearance of Bergman, Morrow and Kano.
Alpha Technology: The fixed laser cannons are seen. They are also in Seed Of Destruction, The Beta Cloud, Bringers Of Wonder part 1 and The Dorcons.
The laser rifle is seen. It is also used in War Games, The Infernal Machine, Dragon's Domain and is often seen in other episodes.
Helena uses the Alpha Log Recorder (a bulky computer on its own trolley, which seems to function purely as a dictating machine).
Eagles: Eagle 1 (Fraser, destroyed with planet); 4 (rescue); 5 and 6 (combat). Three Eagles are destroyed- Eagle 1, the remote bomb Eagle, and an Eagle over a launch pad.
The booster pod is seen prominently. A different sort of strap on booster is seen in New Adam, New Eve.
Maya transformations: Lion, Koenig (not a complete transformation in the final cut), alsatian dog, turtle dove, kestrel, "gorilla". In the original cut, an orange tree (seen in her eye, a silver tree). Note that Maya transforms directly from the dog into the gorilla.
Planets: Psychon. According to The Bringers of Wonder, it has a moon; although there is no air, a bipedal animal called the larren lives there.
Aliens: Mentor and Maya, Psychons. In Dorzak we meet another Psychon. There are "diverse species" in the caves.
Props: The orange jacket worn by Picard was first used by Koenig in Dragon's Domain, by a guard in Testament Of Arkadia and Maya in One Moment Of Humanity
Psychon consoles are reused from Satazius consoles in The Last Enemy. They are seen again in The Dorcons
The base of Psyche is revamped into the meson convertor in The Dorcons
Psychon corridors will be revamped for One Moment Of Humanity, Devil's Planet and The Dorcons
Footage: Shot of boosters being added to an Eagle in a hangar are reused in The Exiles
Shot of two Alphans in jumpsuits running down a corridor are reused in The Mark Of Archanon.
Wires are seen as Koenig's Eagle launches.
Eagle 4 has a booster pod which is not (and cannot be) docked to the boarding tube. Yet in studio shots the crew enter an apparently standard pod
On the Command Centre Big Screen there is a view of the Psychon ship rising out of the clouds. How could the Alphans view this camera angle?
The gas pipes used to create the fire effects can be seen on the floor in several shots. Thanks to Patrick Hill.
An earlier cut of this episode was shown in US previews in August 1976.
The original scripted date for the episode was 108 days (on screen it is 342 days).
Freiberger probably picked the name Maya from the Central American Indian civilisation. By coincidence (definitely not known to him) the name is also a Sanskrit word meaning wizardry or illusion, and a concept in Hindu philosophy and religion of divine powers used to make humans believe in illusions, and by extension, the illusory world of the senses.
There is also a Maia in Greek mythology, a mountain-nymph in Arkadia who was the mother of Hermes.
Mentor in Homer's Odyssey was a friend of Odysseus and guardian of his household; hence the modern form of a wise adviser.
Psyche in Greek mythology was the mortal wife of Eros; in Roman mythology the lover of Cupid. She is regarded as a personification of the human soul.
Maya's role is a more direct replay of Pocahontas (real name Matoaka, later Rebecca Rolfe, c.1595-1617). She was the daughter of Powhatan, king of the Algonquian Indian tribes in Virginia, North America. As a twelve year old girl, she stopped her father from killing the British settlers, in particular their leader, Captain John Smith. She married John Rolfe, another of the settlers, in 1612, and returned with him to England in 1616, where she died.
Changing into animals is scientifically dubious, but has a long history in myth and fiction, including Greek gods, werewolves, vampires and characters in Kafka, T.H. White's The Sword in the Stone, Terminator 2, Star Trek Deep Space Nine and the Harry Potter books (the Animagi). Koenig holding the rapidly changing Maya during the Psychon fire echoes a tale in Homer's Odyssey: Menelaus tells how he captured and held the god Proteus, despite the god transforming into various forms including a lion, a serpent and a tree.
The script has echoes of the first series (Mentor's "I only wanted to do good" recalls the hubris of Queller and other episodes) but has a strong humanist theme of the second series ("We'll determine our own destinies!")
Who issued the scream that leads the Alphans to find Torens?
Lou Picard was Louis Picard in the French version of this episode.
A deleted scene references Victor Bergman's fate, suggesting he died due to a spacesuit malfunction; since the scene was never broadcast, spin-off media have suggested other fates for Victor.
|The Metamorph I The Exiles I One Moment of Humanity I All That Glisters I The Mark of Archanon I Journey to Where I The Taybor I The Rules of Luton I New Adam New Eve I Brian the Brain I Catacombs of the Moon I The AB Chrysalis I The Beta Cloud I Seed of Destruction I A Matter of Balance I Space Warp I The Bringers of Wonder - Part 1 I The Bringers of Wonder - Part 2 I Dorzak I The Seance Spectre I Devil's Planet I The Lambda Factor I The Immunity Syndrome I The Dorcons|
|Episodes are listed in the order suggested by Andrew Kearley.|