In terms of normal release this week, we had a mini episode. I will be covering this as part of the next episode in favour of something far more exciting that Kinda Evil Genius Productions put out this week. We finally have a release of the live show!
Set towards the end of episode 26 – Do No Harm – this hour long special was recorded during December and the whole fandom has been hoping for this very video!
The first thing to mention is that Zach Valenti as both Doug Eiffel and Alexander Hilbert is one of the best things I’ve seen recently. Particularly when the two characters are talking to each other as they moves from side to side of the stage, usually around Emma Sherr-Ziarko (who plays Commander Minkowski) to create the physical as well as audio separation between the two characters. To the point that when Eiffel shrieks a protest about leaving things in the microwave at Hilbert, she jumps backwards out of the way.
When left alone once again, Eiffel uses a slightly broken recorder to have an in depth conversation and argument with several versions of himself – another sign of his absolute inability to be alone for any length of time? – totally unaware of the rest of the crew returning to the comms room and witnessing this.
Predictably, the problem that Lovelace has been having with her shuttle is pretty much entirely Doug’s fault. He hasn’t updated the navigational charts for over a year despite it being a pretty major part of his job as communications officer.
Okay, I’ll say this now, Cecilia Lynn-Jacobs is fantastic. She does an amazing job of bringing Captain Isabel Lovelace to life. But the character herself really jars with me. I can’t put my finger on why but as a character she makes me feel very uncomfortable and this made watching this show difficult for me at times.
Eiffel and Minkowski take part in some role play in order to try to get Eiffel to understand how important his job as second in command is. Inevitably this descends into madness. Eiffel is pretending to Minkowski, Minkowski is pretending to be Eiffel, Lovelace is incredibly confused and everyone wants the recording of Eiffel to shut up. Once again Hera has to take control and make everyone calm down and be quiet. Despite Eiffel being convinced that the beeping in the comms room that has been plaguing him since he got in there isn’t coming from the pulse beacon relay (the device that allows communication with Earth), it turns out that Mr Cutter was on the phone the entire time, just waiting for them. At least Doug was right about it not being the microwave causing the noise.
Cutter is so overly happy all the time. And is more than a little bit terrifying. He reminds me of Kevin from Welcome to Night Vale. Therefore, I am a bit in love with him. The crew of the Hephaestus are panicking. They haven’t spoken to Mr Cutter since The Kumbaya Approach at Christmas after Hilbert’s attempted coup. So they have to pretend that everything is exactly as it was when they last spoke. At least that’s the plan.
And here we get into a long list of the crew screwing up. First, Minkowski accidentally reveals to Cutter that they’ve managed to get Hera back online. Cutter insists on talking to Hera herself next.
He talks to Hera like she’s not a real person. To everyone else, she might be an AI but that doesn’t make her any less real but he talks down to her and that really hurts her. In fact his words and implications that she isn’t good enough hurt to the point she gets angry at him and accidentally lets slip that Minkowski didn’t put a bullet in Hilbert’s head like she was ordered to.
Doug. Oh Doug. A sweet bumbling pile of adorable nervousness. He is terrified of Cutter and of messing things up, to the point he tries to not breathe long enough so that he can pass out and not have to talk to him at all. Like most people, he doesn’t know all 1001 tips in the Price and Carter Deep Space Survival Manual, even though it is mandatory. Though I think anyone would struggle, despite both Minkowski and Cutter being able to recall any tip without much effort. However, Cutter seems to be very impressed by how Doug is able to solve problems aboard the station, even if he doesn’t do it in the most conventional manner. But Doug is nervous. And when put under pressure he cracks, telling Cutter that the transmissions are totally normal and definitely not coming from a star system 50 light years away. Oops.
And they do made a joke about how Zach Valenti plays both Doug and Hilbert. How could they not! Doug takes a moment to hide in a corner and bang his head against a wall before gathering the rest of the crew.
Cutter again tells the crew that he wants to help them. Minkowski tries to tell him that all they want is to be allowed to get back to work. Which Cutter finds hilarious considering they’ve been lying to him for months.
Doug stands up and tells Cutter that no, they shouldn’t go back to work. The mission should be terminated and they’ve been lying to him for so long and aren’t exactly great at their jobs. Minkowski is horrified by this. She and Hera seem to think this is a suicide mission. Doug’s speech continues however by saying that everyone else is amazing and the only thing wrong is himself. That everything is his fault. “I should be terminated. And these guys should get a communications officer that is at their level.” (I may have had to pause the video at this point to squee violently at my computer). Doug seems so convinced by this, that they’re all just stuck with him and he isn’t good enough that he even promises to read and memorise the manual. Even though it pains him to say it.
Cutter is gone. They survived. He doesn’t know Lovelace exists. Apparently. Hilbert tries to make a point about how he overestimated Cutter’s response. And Minkowski tells him to shut up. Yet again.
Lovelace struggles to tell Eiffel that he’s done a good job. And even the recording of him doesn’t seem to know what that is.
Left alone again, Eiffel opens the Survival Manual and starts to read from it. Minkowski interrupts him to tell him that he was stupid, reckless but that it saved them and no one else would have been able to do it. He has his moments of not being absolutely useless. And we all love him for it.