Nathan West is wheeled into an emergency room on the Saratoga, bleeding and clinging to life… and we learn from a nurse that the rest of the 58th Squadron, his friends, are dead.
Episode review by Bishbot:
Stay With The Dead continues Space: Above and Beyond’s excellent record with atmosphere. The hospital transport in the cold open is suitably horrifying and effective. We even get a sense that the medics, who we never really get to know that well are nervous as the wounded arrive. Very understandable, and a nice human touch to characters who later exist mostly to block West’s attempts to get to the truth “for his own good.”
The hospital equipment draws a good line between flashy and all too familiar. West’s first day or so of treatment, lying in bed, unable to talk and filled with tubes is quite harrowing. Morgan Weisser really acts his socks off in this episode and portrays West’s trauma very believably. James Morrison is also on fine form as McQueen, forced to confront his own demons about the loss of the Angry Angels as he sees West in the same state.
The flashback structure is fairly interesting, and shows us some more interesting facts about the Chigs. They booby-trap wounded enemy combatants and they show no compunction about killing red cross crews. Of course our heroes find this unconscienable, and anyone in that situation would, but it does serve to drive home the point that these are aliens we’re fighting, not just humans with different hats.
In a similar vein, Space: Above and Beyond has always been quite good at using genuinely different concepts to portray convincingly alien planets that they don’t have the budget or techniques in place to do with cgi or set dressing. In this case the planet the 58th fight over has a great deal of static electricity and we get told this makes your mouth very dry. It’s a small thing, but it’s clear that someone on the writing team cared enough to try to differentiate the various locations with actual science-fiction concepts, even if they are all just places in California.
I really liked that the reason West kept telling himself to “stay with the dead” was because the trap the 58th set up for the Chigs used some marine corpses as bait and it was a nice bit of symmetry to have him use the same phrase to convince the stranded Wildcards that a rescue was the real deal.