by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Outlaw Star ?
How would you rate episode 14 of
Outlaw Star ?
With the principal cast all aboard the ship together, Outlaw Star has wrapped up all its immediate storylines, meaning it's time for some good old fashioned episodic shenanigans. The term “filler” gets thrown around a lot to describe these kinds of episodes, but personally I think they can serve an important purpose. With fairly static, straightforward casts it's paramount that when they're not doing something important they can at least be entertaining. So throwing the OS crew into some space sitcom plots can be a good way of building a rapport to carry the cast whenever there's not an immediate threat.
Sitcom is definitely the word episode 13, which once again finds our heroes scrounging for pocket change to keep the lights on, eventually taking on a hunt for a pair of invasive alien lifeforms smuggled into Heifong. What follows is your typical confluence of coincidences, but in that classic TV comedy way where it's charming to see how seemingly disconnected events all coalesce at once. I'm also just tickled by the absurdity of a talking cactus calling itself a higher being and spending a week selling sub-par ice cream to prove it. The subplot with Aisha chasing a giant but through the sewers is less memorable, but I guess we gotta give the cat something to keep her busy so she doesn't tear up anyone's shoes or knock things off the coffee table for no reason. My favorite gag was probably Melfina stomping the cactus alien to death for juuuuuust a little too long, to where everyone just starts feeling awkward about it. All-in-all it's nothing amazing, but it's a charming enough distraction and a far sight better than earlier non-sequiturs.
Episode 14 is equally episodic, but rather than comedy it goes for full-on, high tension thriller. Gene, Jim, and Melfina take a job as a guide ship for a giant space billboard, only to get roped into a hostage crisis by a terrorist cell out for blood, though it's shortly revealed it's all really a ploy to cover up a massive jewel heist. Like the prior episode it's ultimately light on development, but it's an effective and enjoyable sideroad nonetheless. Getting to see Gene, Jim, and Melfina work together on a delicate operation of disarming a bomb allows for some sweet bonding moments, especially Jim's nervous laughter to cover up his fear giving way to tears. It's one of precious few moments where the cast gets genuine vulnerability, and I'm going to treasure it while we have it. On the action side, Suzuka and Aisha teaming up is a solid move, considering the two have never been onboard together until now. Plus the get a pretty rad fight scene after hunting down the would-be bombers, complete with Aisha roaring like a tiger for an inexplicable second. That it all caps off with Gene crashing the Outlaw Star into the station just so he can punch the lead thief faster is just gravy. I suspect the show knew it too, since the episode cuts to credits immediately. No denouement necessary when you go that hard.
Put together these episodes aren't really amazing, but they're solid fun that help sell the band of misfits. It may have happened earlier without me noticing, but they even changed this shot in the OP, which is just adorable. While perhaps not the most memorable of one-off stories, they make for solid television, so if Outlaw Star can maintain this level of quality for its adventures I'll be happy.
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