“I Shall Be Released” was divided into two story strands, one acceptable, the other abominable, neither worthwhile.
This recap of Pandora Season 1, Episode 4, “I Shall Be Released”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
“I Shall Be Released” was an episode of two halves. One of those halves was… just fine, I suppose. It leaned into the incredibly tired tropes of secret research bases and zombies, but it was functional, inoffensive. The other half was awful, boasting some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever had the misfortune of hearing. That’s Pandora in a nutshell, really — some reasonably okay bits sandwiched between moldy layers of insufferable tripe.
We’ll start with the tripe, just to get it out of the way. Throughout Pandora Episode 4 is a mesmerizingly bad romantic subplot involving Thomas and Atria Nine — they’re both happily having sex, but the former wants an exclusive relationship, and the latter has no real understanding of what that is. This whole thing is terrible. It includes a virtual date on 90s Earth and is packed full of both horrendously corny meditations on the nature of love and relationships and that ridiculous habit the show has of ridiculing current technology as though it’s comically primitive. There are, and I’ve never used a term more loosely, funny bits to distract from the relatively heavy drama in the episode’s A-plot, and if I never have to endure anything so awful ever again I’ll be a happy man.
Anyway, moving on. The meat of “I Shall Be Released” concerns Xander taking Jax and company on a leadership training exercise, during which they receive a distress signal from a mysterious off-the-grid research base that has, altogether now, been conducting controversial experiments at the behest of an enigmatic private company who’ll be arriving promptly to eliminate all trace of what happened. In the meantime, the scientists are all infected by a deadly airborne Zatarian-killing disease which both Ralen and Jax are conveniently immune to.
The most interesting part of all this is that the scientists were attempting to concoct a virus that would entirely eradicate the Zatarians while leaving other races untouched, but they require Ralen’s blood to create an antidote — irony! But this is all overshadowed by the fact that these scientists were so breathtakingly incompetent that they managed to create a toxin that affected everyone except their intended targets. This is a clear example of the show’s writers coming up with an idea — that of Ralen being in the position of choosing whether or not to save those who tried to wipe out his people — and then working backward from there. It was silly.
Of course, Pandora is silly, and “I Shall Be Released” had no real hope of changing that. It was a standalone episode that did very little to develop any of the characters, instead leaning into played-out tropes, though I much prefer it doing that than whatever it was trying to do with Thomas and Atria Nine. In case my recap of last week’s episode didn’t clue you in, I’m getting pretty sick of this show.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.