“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” is very much Pandora at its worst, but there’s still a lot more potential in this second season and I’m willing to give it a few more chances to get going.
This recap of Pandora season 2, episode 2, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” was a weird episode of Pandora, since it exists in a much richer (narratively-speaking) second-season but was absolutely rife with all the show’s worst aspects. Every seemingly intriguing idea comes with a head-scratching caveat. Every relationship is blighted by awful dialogue and stilted performance. Nothing makes that much sense if you think about it.
The bulk of the episode is spent on Clayton’s World, a remote planet in uncharted space where Jax, Ralen, Matta, and Xander track Eve and Tierney. The residents are descendants of one of the Arks that left Earth during the Great Migration, and none of this holds up to scrutiny, especially as more details are revealed. The explanation for the Council all being sexy young women is bonkers – I can get behind the idea of excommunicating the old and feeble when resources are scarce, but the cut-off point for usefulness being twenty-five is just bonkers; I don’t even trust any opinion I formed before that age. Somehow, nobody noticed what was going on?
Whatever, I guess. The point of all this, at least in character terms, is to bundle four very different personalities into a predicament and see how they all behave, which is a standard tactic for any show with a large cast of quirky individuals. But nobody, except for perhaps the Zatarians, comes out of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” looking anything but idiotic. Xander seems incapable of objective leadership, especially since every disagreement he has with Jax reads as a lover’s tiff, and Jax herself is a determined maverick totally unconcerned with trivial matters like the chain of command and profoundly interfering with a newly-discovered civilization. When Xander calls her out on this he’s right, but again, it’s difficult to read her behavior outside of the context of their relationship. Would she behave like this regardless of who her commanding officer was? Or is she doing it because she knows she can get away with it?
Clayton’s World isn’t just a sci-fi setting-of-the-week. Eve and the other Pandora are also there, mostly to dispense the twist that Tierney is apparently also Eve’s daughter and thus Jax’s sister and that’s so difficult to buy into that I’m just going to skip right over it. It’s not like it lands with much impact anyway.
The biggest difference between the first season and this one is a pretty direct inversion of how much time is spent on Earth versus out in space. The first season was in many ways a high-school drama with some sci-fi flourishes, but here we have what is primarily a space adventure occasionally checking back in for terrestrial subplots. One of them is the on-going struggle for Most Important Earth-Com Functionary between Lucas and the now-disgraced Osborn, which is tepid and only really works on the level of letting us revel in Osborn’s fall from power. Anyone who has seen any sci-fi ever will know that Osborn is being positioned in a new, more hands-on role with the rest of the crew, but we’ll have to wait for that.
That leaves the most interesting Earth-based goings-on as the weird relationship between Jett and Zazie, both of whom are difficult to parse at the moment. Jett’s reinstatement pretty obviously has something to do with the enigmatic Shral, but how are we supposed to really feel about stuff like him slyly working as a janitor to cover his tuition costs? Is he being redeemed or is he up to something? And how is Zazie’s super-square persona going to fit in with the rest of the core cast when she’s inevitably beamed up on space-adventure duties? At this point, it’s difficult to say.
At least “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” has the decency to shunt the overarching plot along with some key developments. Xander killing the other Pandora in just the second episode? Big move. The fate of Zatar hanging in the balance? Intriguing. Where it’s all going is anyone’s guess, and I’m sure it won’t be able to get there without a decent helping of soap opera silliness, but I’ve always given Pandora a chance to surprise. I hope it takes it.
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