“I know what it’s like to sacrifice for someone you love.”
For standard television shows—those of 15 or more episodes—it’s not uncommon to have one or two weeks in the season be ‘filler’ episodes. More often than not, these fillers do very little in the way of progressing the season’s story arc, giving viewers a reprieve from the journey, an exit ramp of sorts before the next episode returns to the path with the end goal in mind. When one is talking about a standard season, fillers are great if not necessary, but when you’re only working with ten episodes, every hour is vital to the cohesion of the story and taking one episode off can disrupt the strength of what has come before—and possible after—it.
On the surface, “The Sacred Gift” has, while not must-see type, an interesting concept. The Nightflyer stumbles across another ship in the Void, a place where no other ship should be. There are multiple angles they could have taken to tell a story that was strong, coherent, and essential to the overall endgame. Instead, they go the route of a middling X-Files episode that, though it has a couple moments of true psychological horror, fails to deliver and further stunts the moment gained in the first four episodes.
Nearly a decade and a half prior to the Nightflyer’s journey, the Eagle-16 set out for a mission around Jupiter, the first seeds of a colony that deep into the solar system. It was lost and, as it turns out, the Captain and his crew were overthrown by the brilliant but clearly insane Connie Brightside who wanted to create her own Eden, a self-sustaining world to travel through the Void as the seeds of a flower do in the wind. Fueled by her vision, the other women (scientists all) followed her lead and they became the cult Karl and the away team discover in the derelict spacecraft.
Granted, there is an eerie mood throughout “The Sacred Gift”, one strengthened by the knowledge that Connie and her apostles have harvested a handful of “givers of the seed”—men from the Eagle’s crew—in order to grow their food. It turns out that said food is made from clones that, according to Connie, never achieve consciousness. Amongst the givers is Captain Smith, still alive after all these years and still having his seed harvested like one would a cow’s milk. The idea to be enslaved for another’s needs for so many years is a frightening prospect and there’s most likely something to be said for the 180 turn of the men of the Eagle’s crew being conquered by the women, but “The Sacred Gift” is a disappointing affair. So much could have been accomplished here but we’re left with a somewhat generic result of a lost crew surviving against all odds only to become monsters of their own design.
“The Sacred Gift” has a lot of promise but the avenue they took with it, especially considering what this maxi-series is trying to accomplish in ten episodes, detracted from the whole. Had Nightflyers been a normal season, “The Sacred Gift” could have been a welcome break from the intensity of the Nightflyer’s journey, a shore leave of sorts where Karl and his team could have discovered just how maddening being adrift in space can be. Instead, I can only see it for the lost potential and, more importantly, the forty-five minutes that could have been better spent focusing on the Nightflyer and the Volcryn.
Into the Void
- Aside from the less than desirable path the writers took with “The Sacred Gift”, the biggest issue may have been the complete lack of common sense displayed by Eris and the Nightflyer away team. Regardless of whether or not you think the ship you stumbled upon is empty, you don’t take a single weapon aboard? Add to that the lackadaisical way their initial interaction with Connie’s cult was not the reaction someone would have to finding such an unexpected situation.
- According to Thale, “the closer [they] get to the Volcryn, the stranger it’s gonna get.” That one line makes me lament the fact that Nightflyers is only ten episodes. There is so much that could be explored, not just about the Volcryn but everything around and within the Void. Throw in the fact that the aliens seem to be able to harness the powers of space and time (sans Infinity Stones) and there are dozens of stories that could have been told from that concept alone. Even “The Sacred Gift” could have played into the space/time angle, dragging the Nightflyer crew into a paradox of sorts. That may still happen during these last few episodes but, if not, it’s an opportunity missed.
- At least the episode wasn’t without its own little surprise. During an aggressive bout of love-making, Karl discovers Agatha’s secret (or that’s what it seems); she’s a telepath. It will be a treat to see the conversation about this between the two in the next episode.
- Finally, Augustine looks like he’ll be the wildcard–maybe even the catalyst–when it all hits the fan. Now that he knows Cynthia is alive (in a sense), he can’t be trusted to do what’s best for the Nightflyer and her passengers. Lommie holding back the truth of his actions aboard Eagle-16, in part due to her anger at Mel, maybe in part what dooms everyone to death in the blackness of the Void.