One of the more significant aspects of this episode is the fact that we finally have our first returning individual Kromagg character in this story. Of course, since they have all pretty much looked and acted the same anyway, it's nice that Maggie points out that this is Kolitar, and that his previous appearance was in the "Slidecage". Reiner Schone has both a nice commanding villainous presence and the sense of fun that seems to permeate the entire story. Kromaggs probably haven't been this charismatic since they were surrounded in high mystery in their first appearance in "Invasion" (story no. 22). And I have to say that, as an individual recurring villain, I think Kolitar generally works better than Rickman from season three. Too bad he couldn't have appeared in as many episodes.
Maggie is also served with sufficient things to do for the episode, becoming the financial powerhouse of the quartet during this slide, although many of the show-girl bits are too cheesy to be in my taste. At least her relationship with Jay Acovone's character gives her many worthwhile scenes. Quinn and Rembrandt look as though they may get more good stuff to do at first, but it doesn't pan out, and they end up spending most of their time as a pair of McGuffins that need to be rescued instead.
The multi-talented Sheriff of the town turns out to be the embodiment of the episode's sense of fun and self-deprecation, a character that I thoroughly enjoyed. Marshall Teague's performance is definitely one of the highlights of the show.
I also really like Jay Acovone in this one, playing a very likeable character with a few surprises up his sleeve. He seemed to be a bit of an underappreciated actor at this time, playing a vast array of one-off roles excellently, and just begging to be cast as a regular somewhere.
The conclusion seems to lack punch though, particularly in its lack of clarity over any philosophical point. The obvious comparison is with the season two episode "The Good, the Bad, and the Wealthy" which successfully borrowed from the classic western "Shane" while pulling off an outstanding ending aligned with non-violence. Here, the story wants to preach non-violence at many points, while still resolving its conflicts with violence, and in the end feels a bit like the mess it is.
Now divorced from the rest of his race, Kolitar is motivated by more local and immediate needs. I think it works, perhaps in fact better so than most of the other Kromagg stories this season in their one-dimensional emulation of race-hatred issues. However, the memory of where he came from still begs the question of whether his presence is too threatening to allow him to scuttle off at the end. How permanent and/or violent a solution do we really want considering this guy could still conceivably one day call an alien armada in to enslave this entire world, which would be easy pickings in its current state of technology? Some kind of defeat other than a high-noon shootout impaired with anti-violent sentiment is called for. Perhaps a high-tech prison on the next world, or banishment to a deserted island on this one.
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