305 – Space: 1999 – The Infernal Machine

Meet Gwint, a really awesome computer – with a personality!  What could possibly go wrong?

Ben and Eugene discuss The Infernal Machine.

One thought on “305 – Space: 1999 – The Infernal Machine”

  1. Ah! One of the great shouty performances from Koenig. You think he’d have some powers of persuasion and negotiation by now.

    Some stuff I really enjoy in this episode. The scale of the set! Those three storey airlock doors set the tone as impossibly grandiose. Then there’s the novelty of the Gwent model. It has charm and wonder. Finally there’s an excellent turn by Leo McKern, outacting the rest of the cast. I wonder … when Companion dies, and his head drops a foot – “THUNK!” – onto the table, was that a silly instruction from the director or was it McKern just having outrageous fun with his part?

    Leo McKern’s wig and face fungus is fooling no one. Not even on grainy ’74 TVs.

    I’m royally confused over whether Companion is the first of his kind, or merely the latest of many. The script seems to offer lines in support of both. I would lean towards Gwent having been sailing the cosmos for millennia, with a string of Companions, but the waters are muddy…

    Say you’re Delmer Powys Plebus Gwent, of the planet Zemo. You build a colossal AI/Starship and house your consciousness within. You set off to rove the galaxy. Why is your AI blind (or, at least, has extreme tunnel vision)? Is this a design defect, or an injury which has arisen during the cruise? I kept waiting for a clever Odysseus and the Cyclops metaphor, but it never comes. In fact, the blindness winds up having no role in the plot.

    The big question from this episode is how does Koenig remain in charge following it? There’s an initial skirmish between two Eagles and Gwent, which ends in stalemate when it becomes clear that Alpha cannot harm Gwent, but Gwent can cause great damage to Alpha. The second major battle, following Koenig’s discovery that Gwent is “blind” (he seems able to aim lasers pretty well), is an inexcusable catastrophe for Alpha. Three Eagles and two laser tanks (with crews) are destroyed, for no discernible impact on Gwent. This outcome should have been obvious from the first skirmish. We don’t discover Gwent’s energy limitations till later, so this is not an excuse. It’s atrocious leadership on Koenig’s part, and will just look as though he was trying to save his own skin to those left to mourn the fallen back on Alpha.

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