There can be little doubt that the SYFY gem that is “The Ark,” has once again turned a fun and unique corner with episode 10, “Hoping for Forever.” We get confirmation that things went awry fairly quickly on Earth after Ark 1 left the station, and are introduced to the greater and more opulent world that is Ark 15 and yet another antagonist, Evelyn Maddox, and her narcissistic nastiness.
I noted on Twitter that The Ark has given us a trio of really interesting and effective female antagonists in Helena Trust, Kelly (Maddox) and now her mom, Evelyn. I’d also posit that you could have tossed Garnet into that niche early on as she proved to be an antagonist to both Brice and Lane. Fortunately, Brice realized that wasn’t the case and got on board with the new commanding officer, while Lane did not, embarking on a lengthy walk down “poor decision avenue.”
Sci-fi has always been a place where women were able to take and excel in roles that were often deemed male-oriented. Sci-fi broke hard ground after hard ground in that realm for women and watching The Ark reminded me of just how far things have come and how wonderful these women are as smart, sophisticated, ruthless, manipulative, dangerous characters. Dean Devlin tipped his hat on this element of The Ark to colleague Jon Glassner and so shall I. Jon (quality first name, BTW), fantastic characters on The Ark and we’re fortunate to have them be uniquely them. Thanks, bud.
SPOILERS ahead. This is your official SPOILER WARNING.
The arrival on the scene of the mysterious Evelyn Maddox is certainly a twist that has a ton of potential. Clearly, as the title of this piece indicates, she’s likely a level or two above scheming Helena Trust, who was shot by Kelly in the opening minutes of the show. I shall not miss Helena’s manipulative ways, but her character was fantastic and really delivered a chilling element to the proceedings. Maddox, on the other hand, while cut from the same materials, seems to have a healthy dose of “bedazzled” flair added. She’s going to be formidable and she’s got the ego to back up just about any heinous act she deems necessary.
Long story short, Ark 15 and Maddox have been looking for the DNA vault Trust secreted onto Ark 1. So, it appears they’ve been marauding through space taking out other arks in search of William Trust and a specific DNA strand. Why? Because that DNA has the potential to form the foundation for a cure of the disease that’s afflicting Brice and, as Garnet deduces, someone very important aboard Ark 15. Ahh, the game’s afoot now.
As an aside, it was somewhat gratifying to see that a very early theory I’d posited about Earth descending into chaos shortly after Ark 1 left proved out. They launched arks 1-5 before armed marauders started taking over the remaining arks and getting into space. Maddox and her personal security force liberated Ark 15 and began the arduous task of forcibly searching other Arks for Trust and the DNA. The DNA is needed as part of the cure, William Trust is needed so he can help get Proxima B to start rotating again. See, it’s stationary, so much of the planet isn’t habitable from a temperature standpoint. Trust developed a method, Maddox stole it and now wants Trust to finish his work and get that planet spinning.
Why? So she can rule it, of course. In a bushel-ful of poor moments from Lane over the course of the season, he perhaps summed things up best while aboard Ark 15. When Trust and Maddox were letting their oversized egos out of the cage, he wondered aloud about their respective “God complexes.” It was a good moment that really hit that particular nail on the head. Now Lane, be quiet, go back to your corner and ponder the decisions you’ve made that led to this hostage moment.
And what point is that? Well, Kelly kidnaps Angus, Trust and Lane and, in a bit of quick thinking, realizes that while their shuttle is guarded, Ark 1’s is not. So, she stole that one and made it back to the ship. Kelly is clearly dealing with issues and as we discover, they are mommy issues. She’s Evelyn’s daughter and mommy isn’t a warm and fuzzy type. More like the overbearing, demanding, ice queen type of mom who is sparse with praise, but rains criticism down upon her child. It’s clear now that Kelly is damaged goods and her delusional hope that she and Angus can co-habitat in conjugal bliss is almost sad, really. I had to laugh when she repositioned Lane’s nose after she broke it. Her attempt at empathy was cringe-worthy, but the moment was fun.
Still, Kelly has skills and she manages to secret the trio of captives to Ark 15, but not until after what I’d consider a magical moment. As Ark 1 is about to be boarded, we see some quick thinking by Garnet to space the intruders out an air lock, then Felix gets to unsheath the Katana and get after it with the remaining baddie. The moment Felix got that sword, I’ve been yearning for a chance to see him channel his Toshiro Mifune on someone.
Well, in this episode he gets that chance and I was down for it. Sadly, he kills the baddie not with the blade, but a gun. Not nearly as satisfying as Kelly giving him the Klingon pain stick treatment a few moments later (I think she really enjoyed that), but for a few moments, the blade was flashing. Thanks, Dean Devlin. It was a tingle moment for me.
Isn’t it wonderful how Garnet has grown into the role of commander of Ark 1. Her leadership was questioned and doubted early on and, even in her mind, she needed to prove that the position she’d taken up was one she could handle. Christie Burke has really done a great job of guiding this character through some real development thus far. She’s given us a character that has morphed from unsure and hopeful to one who is commanding and capable of making decisions. She’s tough, she’s wily, she’s instinctive and has a clear vision of where this whole things needs to go. That wasn’t part of her emotional toolbox in the first half of the season. Burke has delivered a really nice character arc.
And her instincts not to trust Maddox was spot on. She doesn’t know her adversary, but clearly DOES know what kind of person Maddox is and what she’ll try to do. So, using the same feint and sneak tactic the boarding party of Ark 15 used is a brilliant tactic and now that she’s on Ark 15, let the sneaking around begin. The showdown between Maddox and Garnet, Ark 1 and Ark 15, should really be something to behold. Can’t wait.
Here’s a few quick thoughts on some other arcs:
Angus Medford: The boy genius is really quite a … boy. During his arc with Kelly, I sometimes found his naivete to be irritating. But, when you’ve lived in the nerdy intellectual realm for a long time, I suppose the attention of a female, even a maniacal, lying, scheming female like Kelly, makes the youthful hormones hippity-hop around. I could make a joke here about Angus thinking with the wrong head, but that seems crass. What I will say is that it’s clear he and Alicia have a date with destiny. She clearly has drawn a bead on Angus and I think now that he realizes he was played for a fool, and is expected to be Kelly’s concubine, the rose-colored glasses are coming off. A more mature and aware Angus would be catnip to Alicia. Just saying.
Cat Brandice: Wow, she really did love William Trust. That’s about as much emotion as I think Cat can scrounge up, but to hear a death-bed confession from Helena Trust about dying with her “best friend” by her side, which included her knowing that Cat loved William but that that love was unrequited (oops, awkward moment, that), was probably a little too much. We see Cat kind of lose it emotionally and you get the feeling that she’s been used to rolling her way when she wanted and now it all seems to be be exposed as crap. Who is Cat really? I ask that question and wonder if Cat is not asking herself the same thing.
Former Lt. Spencer Lane: I can’t stop talking and wondering about this character. First, because I’m a huge fan of Reece Ritchie, but also because at this point of the show, he seems to be the most conflicted. Early on I kind of made fun of his poor decision-making, but as this current arc has gone on, I find myself feeling a bit sorry for him because he’s got to be looking back on the decision-making path he’s taken and just see the missteps along the way. It feels as though there’s a healthy amount of emotional conflict welling up within Lane at the moment and the very distinct possibility that all that self-confidence and undermining of Garnet was more a symptom of insecurity and lack of confidence in himself. Again, he needs to go to the corner and have a nice chat with himself about who he’s been and who he wants to be.
The introduction of Evelyn Maddox and her ruthless, ego-driven goals is a very interesting development. As much as I detested Helena Trust, I feel a real surge of revulsion for our newest antagonist, although on some level I think she and Trust deserve each other, though the sheer mass of their collective egos would stop an elephant in its tracks. But she’s going to be a problem because aside from the ego and decorating acumen, she’s smart, inventive, driven to rule the new world, and trusts her instincts. That type of character is a hard one to get over on. But she’s a new and potentially devastating opponent for Garnet and company to deal with. I can’t wait.
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