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Space: Above and Beyond, episode 5 (1.5)
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2006 13:30:03
The 58th is selected to accompany a mysterious Special Forces Commando on a classified sabotage mission to a planet held by alien forces.
A mysterious Hammerhead appears from nowhere off the Saratoga's bow. Attempts to communicate with it go unanswered. Ross and McQueen ponder the possibilities: Chigs flying a captured Hammerhead? A Silicate suicide bomber? Ross decides to deny it access to the ship. He orders a warning shot fired near the craft. No response. The ship overrides the Hanger Bay door, begins to dock! Ross dispatches a security team to the flight deck. The canopy detaches from the plane and rises up to the flight deck. McQueen and the security force pop the canopy to find a dead marine: Lt. Colonel Raymond T. Butts. McQueen unsnaps the Colonel's straps... and is punched in the jaw by Butts! Twice! Wired on adrenaline, the Colonel LEAPS from the cockpit and battles the security force! He's tackled into an empty cockpit bay! McQueen can only rub his jaw and watch. "Kind of a bummer," he says, "getting your butt kicked by a dead guy."
McQueen and Butts sit across a table from one another. McQueen asks Butts questions which Butts tactically avoids. Butts flares on McQueen; harshly calls him a "tank." McQueen barely maintains his cool... "Where're your men?" "My men are my business," answers Butts. "It's the Corps' business," maintains McQueen. The interrogation ends in a stalemate with Butts refusing to tell McQueen how he got to the Saratoga and why... On the Saratoga's flight deck, Nathan, Shane and Cooper admire the Chig missile burns on the side of Butts' cockpit. Shane looks at the flight instruments and reports the plane was on the border of the Cerberus black hole. Shane removes an optical playback disc, planning to trace the flight path. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Butts appears! He yanks Shane away from his cockpit! "Touch that ODP and you'll be wearin' your bra backwards after I twist you in half." Butts proceeds to antagonize the lieutenants, taunting them incessantly. They stand and take it only because he outranks them. When Butts finally dismisses them, Cooper gives Butts back the Johnny Cash CD he found in the cockpit. Butts wraps his fingers around the disc; it evokes a painful, sad memory for him. Later that night, in their beds, Nathan and Cooper complain about Butts. Wang and Damphousse can't believe he could be such a hardcase. Shane takes a different view; she believes it was all a "put on." She can't believe that anyone could be born that mean... something had to have happened to Butts to make him that way. While Shane talks, we see Butts hiding in one of the bunks, listening. He squeezes his eyes shut; he knows she's right... The next day, while taking a break in the Rec. Room, Cooper and Wang watch a hard to come by copy of "Macbeth." To their chagrin, a swordfight between Young Siward and Macbeth is "MONITORED", causing the screen to go black. Cooper uses his butterfly knife to remove the "V-chip" on the television's control panel. The fight's back on! Suddenly, Col. Butts enters from the corridor and he snaps off the monitor! "I saw what you maggots did," he says. "Brass says you're not supposed to see this crap." Wang accuses Butts of hiding behind his rank... "...If you weren't wearing those oak Leaves, sir, I'd be kickin' your ass up between your shoulder blades." A fight breaks out! Butts easily handles the 58th but Wang remarks to Nathan that Butts is worse than what he said. Later that day, McQueen finds Butts on the Saratoga's flight deck. McQueen is livid at Butts for abusing subordinates and disrupting unity among the crew. He tells Butts that he will pull every string he can to remove Butts from the Saratoga, away from his beloved 58th. Butts isn't afraid of McQueen. In fact, he hands McQueen some paperwork... "I got a mission, classified 'compartmentalized,'" Butts says. "And I'm takin' them with me." McQueen is shocked, but there's nothing he can do...
On the Saratoga, the 58th stalk Butts in a training game of PAINTBALL. Butts manages to outsmart and "kill" each of the 58th. "It's a easy as eatin' a pancake," Butts says. Later in the Rec. Room, the 58th complain about Butts' apparent motivations: "He should be trainin' us to use the skills he knows," says West. "Not showin' 'em off." Shane defends Butts. She suggests that maybe he's trying to lead by example. The rest of the 58th look to McQueen for help. He tells them that although they don't like Butts, he's still an officer in the Corps and that they must follow him. He adds, however, that they should watch their backs around Butts. Shane comments that perhaps Butts won't want to use them after the poor way they performed in the paintball game. Shane leaves the Rec. Room, heading for her bunk. She opens the door to the Sleeping Quarters to discover Ray Butts drinking bourbon and smoking. In the dark. In a strained, dark exchange, Vansen asks Butts if he'd die for the 58th. "I'm already dead, Vansen." He tells her, "Tell 'em to hit the rack. We ship out at 01:30." Early next morning, the 58th prepare for the mission they know nothing about. Shane confides in Nathan that she thinks Butts isn't planning on coming back. When the 58th finish up loading the gear, Butts calls for them to get into the ISSCV. McQueen calls to Butts. Just outside of the 58th's earshot, McQueen warns Butts to be careful with his unit. "If I learn that any of my people died... because of you, all your recon skills and special training won't be worth a damn. I'll find you." Butts finishes the conversation by closing the ISSCV's door on McQueen! SLAM! The ship lifts off from the deck and ROARS into space... As the ISSCV streaks toward the mysterious planet 2063F, Butts announces the name and nature of the mission: "You are participating in 'Operation - Get Rhythm,'" he says. "The objective is to retrieve six SA-43 attack jets currently camo'd deep in enemy territory and return them to friendly territory." The 58th are relieved to find out that at least there is a plan for their return. Butts informs them that to execute this mission they are to perform a High Altitude/ Low Opening jump. Uh-oh... the 58th haven't been trained for a H.A.L.O. jump... "It's easy as eatin' a pancake," says Butts. They JUMP from the ISSCV! When they meet at the assigned meeting spot, Butts tells them that he's changed the mission objective. The 58th protest! They demand to know under what authority he has to change the objective! Butts seems to succumb to their requests; he tells them to stash their gear then meet him back here. They do as told and when they return, he's gone!
The 58th uses their Marine training to fan out and search for the missing Lieutenant Colonel Butts... They find Chig tracks along the way... a dangerous sign. Damphousse uses an amplified hearing unit and detects Butts up on a crest. They can hear him digging. "He's planting explosives," says Wang. "Maybe he cached the equipment," speculates Damphousse. Cooper looks over the ridge to check it out and he finds... a dead body! He calls to the rest of the 58th! Butts reacts! He runs towards Cooper then puts a gun to his head! After a charged exchange, the 58th demand that Butts explain the dead Marines. "Explain this, Colonel," demands Nathan. "Was the mission a friendly assassination?" Butts is horrified at the accusation. He lowers his weapon. He explains how his unit, these men, froze up on him during a ground mission. So he left them behind and finished the mission himself. His unit was killed in action, Butts made it out and found the Saratoga. This dark confession tears him up inside. He says he knew of the 58th and knew that he could use them to return to this place and properly bury his unit. The 58th help Butts bury the bodies and in an emotional speech, Butts says his final good-byes to his men. And after the funeral... "Let's get those planes," Butts says.
Butts and the 58th prepare to take the Hammerheads back to the Saratoga. Butts warns the unit of a new red Alien fighter, capable of "skipping" across a black hole's wash to set up ambush. Before they leave, Butts tells them that he never had a chance to tell his friends "good-bye." "Odds are," he says "some of you aren't gonna make it back. Don't spend a whole life regretting..." The 58th say farewell to one another then take off into space! Once clear of the planet, they pick up a pair of "red bandits" on their LIDAR, making their way across the black hole wash. Setting up an ambush. Butts decides that the only way for the 58th to make it home safely is if he takes on the red alien fighters himself. He heads into the black hole's wash! After defeating the bandits, Butts tries to pull out of the giant black hole's massive pull! He struggles with his Hammerhead, pumping the thrusters... "C'MON!" yells Cooper. "BURN 'EM! BURN 'EM." Butts gives it all he's got! But the Hammerhead goes silent. "I'm outta fuel," Butts says. The 58th can only watch as his Hammerhead gets sucked closer and closer into the black hole. Nathan tells Butts it was an honor serving with him. Butts is sucked into the black hole, gone forever. On board the Saratoga, McQueen has prepared a meal for them in honor of Ray Butts: pancakes. Knowing they cannot eat the pancakes, the 58th respectfully dumps them into the mess hall's disposal unit. The pancakes float away from the Saratoga, a tribute to Ray Butts.
By Sarah Stegall on 08 Jul 2003 08:02:06
"Space: Above and Beyond" has clearly gotten its feet under it at last. Sunday's episode, "Ray Butts
", was some fine television: intense, dramatic, and soulful. Morgan and Wong got a good cure on this batch, with the right blend of character development, action, and visuals. Charles Martin Smith shows a fine hand at directing, too, getting top notch performances out of all the major players on this episode.
A lone and crippled ship is picked up by the Saratoga, the 58th Squadron's home ship....
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