It has certainly been tough to watch our heroes struggle with the emotions of betrayal and hurt in the last couple of episodes, emotions that carry over to episode 107 of Vagrant Queen, “Sunshine Express Yourself.” The recent hurts are still there are as we begin the episode, but you just know that the mutual loathing of Lazaro will have a crystallizing effect on the troops. They’ll rally, that much we feel in our bones. But when? Wait for it…
It is the getting there that takes up most of this episode as Elida continues down that lone wolf path, saying goodbye to Amae and Isaac aboard a train that’s as creepy-ish as it is yellow. Yes sir, there’s some interesting happenings aboard the Sunshine Express, all of it leading to a realization that trust maybe isn’t such a bad thing.
But before we get into the episode proper, this is where I must warn you that there are SPOILERS ahead. So, if you haven’t seen episode 107 of Vagrant Queen, just know there will be SPOILERS coming. And if you haven’t seen it, go to your device of choice immediately and watch it. And with that, we board the Carillo’s yellow nightmare transportation system, the Sunshine Express.
Before we move forward, let me say this – I think Vagrant Queen has hit a really good stride at this point. I go by the rule of 3 – I give a show 3 episodes to hook me on the story/characters. Vagrant Queen did that, but I’ve noticed that episodes 5-7 have taken things up a notch in terms of the characters and story building of the show. Yes, there’s still the snark and semi-silliness at points, but that has been folded comfortably into an interesting story and an antagonist that is something joyfully evil to behold. The show feels really comfortable right now and I’m enjoying it.
As you recall, the Winnipeg has been towed and the gang, raw nerves still exposed over previous events, have to take the train to the impound yard to try and get the ship back. Man, talk about a happy collection of semi-creepy folks, the overt happiness and forced smiles of the Sunshine Express workers, not to mention the expense of taking the train, makes you wonder about this place.
Elida still wants to break up the band, Amae is trying to be the voice of reason and calm, and Isaac hits the transportation nail on the head when he says, “I’m guessing a large part of the economy on this planet is scamming people to getting on this train. Have to admire that.” It does, indeed, seem that behind the friendly smiles and high-pitched lilt of the employee voices, there’s a little avarice mixed into the cake.
It’s on the train that we see the physical split begin, as Elida bids her companions goodbye and heads to the “bar car.” Amae and Isaac find separate seating within the train and we’re left to wonder what’s going on. Amae, as usual, falls into a lovely conversation with another female and the sexual tension begins to tighten. For all her enthusiastic free-spirit positivity, I’m beginning to ponder whether Amae is the Vagrant Queen equivalent of Captain Kirk. Her brother teased her about having a booty call in every port, and it seems that her wholesome appearance belies a sexual vibe that’s fairly impressive.
However, it’s also here that Amae makes the decision that booty calls aren’t something she’s interested in right now. No, she’s got feelings for someone special and spurns the date offer and runs off to find …. Elida. Calling Elida.
Elida, drink in hand (That’s how I order a drink. “ALCOHOL”) and flashbacks to her time in the emergency pod after the overthrow of the monarchy, is definitely not a happy camper. I digress here to note that while the rest of the Sunshine Express is a worn out shade of bright yellow, the bar has a darker, brown feel to it. There’s a grittiness to the bar that the rest of the train doesn’t have, lending it an air of shadiness. It’s a place the rough and tumble gather to talk deals and other activities. I liked the change of color palette from the rest of the train.
For Elida, it has to be a real struggle to find the correct footing in terms of trust. Her mother told her to trust no one and in her escape from Lazaro as a girl, that mantra proved insightful as she avoided a Republic trap, even though she was alone, desperate and drifting in the stars. But is it the right track now, you can see her wondering. She has a definite affection for Isaac, despite his many stumbles, as well as Amae, with whom she shares a deeper connectivity than perhaps she’s used to. But trust…that elusive and confusing holy grail, is something she’s struggling with.
So while Amae comes flying through the train to find Elida, our vagrant queen has met an old acquaintance and taken a well-paying gig that will send her to Arriopa. Time to settle up with Lazaro, who continues to grow in power, but wants more. The Sterzaad has so much more power to give, but he doesn’t possess the science to get there. Hence, he’s having his men round up key scientists in the galaxy to help him achieve his goal of full use of the Sterzaad.
And that brings us to Isaac, who still has the overall appearance of a worn-out hound dog. Note the body language – slumped shoulders, pad posture, hang-dog look. Poor guy. His traveling companion is a strange looking being who, it turns out, is packing. Turns out, she’s a no-nonsense female who happens to be a scientist that is being sough by Lazaro. She’s on the run and a tad edgy. Add in a couple of bounty hunters looking for her and the fun really gets rolling as a hostage situation that isn’t a hostage situation turns into an actual hostage situation.
Blasters are drawn, Amae wanders into the scene oblivious to what’s going on and become entangled in the mess, then the Sunshine Express folks walk in with their tasers and it all goes kind of sideways. Fortunately, Isaac reacts first and the bounty hunters are tased, while our three good guys get away and make a jump from the train.
Elida is walking in fields (Love the yellow flower field. Kind of a juxtaposition to Elida’s mental state. BTW, where was this filmed?) to get to the ship that will take her to Arriopa; Amae, Isaac and the scientist are on foot trying to get away from the bounty hunters, who obviously escape, and the Republic patrols. It looks like Elida is really going out on her own, but Amae and Isaac have decided that in addition to protecting the scientist, they’ll head to Arriopa, too.
You can tell there’s a real sense of family between Elida, Isaac and Amae, something that the events of recent episodes have brought into sharp relief – and given them pause to reflect on those emotions for, perhaps, the first time since the adventure began. Isaac and Amae realize they need to be with Elida. Elida? Well, she’s a little later coming to that realization.
I thought the flashbacks of Elida in the escape pod was a very nice touch to the episode. It gives us a real look into the issue of trust with her and how that helped her survive after the monarchy was overthrown. But I also think it’s a nice mirror for her to look into and realize she’s not that young girl anymore. There are people she can trust and hang her emotional hat on and, despite the missteps, Isaac and Amae are two of those people. I do enjoy backstory and I thought this was an insightful one.
So, Elida is headed to Arriopa, Amae and Isaac end up losing the scientist to Republic guards, but get away when one of the bounty hunters, highly agitated at the guards for killing her partner, lends a hand in their escape. They make it to the impound lot on foot only to find out that the Winnipeg has gone missing. Turns out, Elida had turned her ship around, stolen back the Winnie and meets then in the desert. It’s here Elida tells Isaac and Amae that being alone doesn’t feel as safe and normal as it used to. And with that, the band is back together and focused on Arriopa and a showdown with Lazaro.
Lazaro hasn’t been idle. No, he’s taken this “new guy in charge” thing to delightfully delusional heights. Even as he uses the Sterzaad to get people to do his bidding, he preaches freedom and an end to tyranny throughout the galaxy during a televised event. There’s freedom out there and the old monarchy and recently-destroyed Republic leadership were basically different sides of the same coin. Well, I tend to agree with Lazaro on this one, so full marks for hitting that little nail on the head, but let’s face it, Lazaro is a ruthless dictator-in-training – though he seems to have a natural gift for it already. And when he invites leaders from other worlds to come to Arriopa, you know it will be more than a social call.
Yes, I can sense the mayhem and murder warming up in the bullpen for the visit from foreign dignitaries. And why not, in Lazaro’s mind, who else to make sure his dreams are fulfilled throughout the galaxy but himself. Other’s would have alternate ideas on doing things. Can’t have that when your a budding despot with delusions of grandeur. But, he’s so damn good at it that on some level it’s kind of charming. #TeamLazaro.
But now he’s got the scientist from the train and it would be my guess, from the information she gave Amae and Isaac, that she’s going to be the key to creating whatever type of conduit Lazaro has in mind. He’s put the “green eye” on her, so she’s now his thrall. So, that’s not really a good thing, right?
Honestly, what a fun and despicable bad guy Lazaro has turned out to be. We’re pretty lucky to have him.
So now there would appear to be a race underway. Can Elida, Isaac and Amae get to Arriopa in time to foil Lazaro’s plans for getting the full power out of the Sterzaad? Can they foil whatever plans Lazaro has for the visiting leaders that will no doubt come to Arriopa for his conference of leaders. No good can come of that, so that’s a thing, too. It’s perhaps appropriate that it looks like this first season of Vagrant Queen is going to see things come to a head on the planet where it all started.
As noted above, I’ve found these recent episodes to be incredibly enjoyable and wonderfully insightful as the story pushes forward to what looks like a climax on Arriopa. I’m also enjoying the sense of family that is growing with our three heroes. And I do like that it hasn’t been an easy road for this “family” to travel together. The sense of togetherness has been nurtured in turbulent and disappointing moments, but that sense of family has taken root.
And in this episode we see the culmination of all the struggles Amae, Elida and Isaac have endured – individually and collectively. For me, this sense of family seems very hard (and well) earned and something that will stick. The journey was hard, but the payoff was well worth it. Elida knows that, despite the earlier stumbles, that these other two are family and have her back. I smell some Isaac redemption coming down the block. Can’t wait.
But what of the Galactic Parking Authority and its agents Mull and Eileen? They see like an intense and committed pair. I don’t think that the Winnipeg got off the planet fully clean. I suspect that our pair of parking officers will have something to say about this whole thing very, very soon. Uggh, parking issues. Don’t you just hate them?
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