Oct 9, 2020
Moon Zero Two (1969): a recap (part 6 of 10)
When we last left our heroes (and at this point, I’m really stretching the definition of that word; seriously, Bill is a bit of a dick and Kaminski is little more than drunken comic relief, albeit his legal acumen and/or ability to baffle with bullshit has come in handy twice), Bill Kemp was about to stay behind to kick off rocket #3 to make sure phase one of Operation: Sapphire Smash ‘n’ Grab went off without a hitch. Whitsun expresses some concern for Kemp’s safety, and suddenly I wonder about the man’s nature.
Could Whitsun be more than a living calculator? Could he have more depth than that of a simple henchman? Could his concern for Bill Kemp’s well-being be genuine, and within that frosty exterior beats the heart of a complicated, sensitive human being?
If you caught that reference, congratulations: Chances are you graduated from high school before 1986.
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In any case, Bill shows a shred of character and thanks Whitsun for his concern. It occurs to me that if Whitsun were being played by an attractive woman, this would be the beginning of a burgeoning romance. Danko looks on, and I wonder if that might be a trace of jealousy I see on his face as he sees a potential budding bromance, or if he’s wondering if he’s going to have to look for another new pilot. If it’s the latter, life’s hard on the Moon and jobs are scarce; I can see why he might be a little concerned. If it’s the former, I wouldn’t be surprised. Danko’s getting shitfaced when he discovered Otto’s demise suddenly takes on a whole new complexion.
Harry and Whitsun abandon the asteroid, and the effects here are about as bad as you can expect. It’s not so much funny as kind of sad, like you wish they could have hired a crew from Hong Kong to do their wire work. Danko helps the pair onto the ship and we get a good close-up of the jet packs they use to get around.
Kinda looks like those hand dryers in public restrooms. The gang stands there in the doorway, rubbernecking, and I’m wondering if maybe Danko should plant his ass in the pilot’s seat and get ready to get his friend in case this operation goes tits-up and his pal goes drifting.
Wow, I guess Kaminski really is sore over Bill making moon eyes at Whitsun earlier.
Bill eyeballs rocket #3’s controls, and he looks at…
Now, I’m pretty sure the meter says “peak level”, but it also looks like “fear level”, like the sort of gauge the Horror Guru, Fear Fan, or Count Jackula might have implanted on their forearms. Of course, knowing those guys, the meter would always read “zero”. Is there such a thing as negative fear? They may know.
Bill touches off the troublesome rocket #3 and the three fire at the same time, launching the big blue bauble through space. Bill tries to get clear, but he can’t undo the safety line. OMG, will Bill manage to get loose in time? I dunno, maybe the scene would have more weight if it had been Danko stuck on the asteroid; as the sidekick, his fate would have been more in question. Bill manages to get a pair of bolt cutters out of his hip pocket and cut himself loose. He floats in space as he and Danko trade jokes like the Manly Men they are.
I imagine Bill’s glad he properly seated his catheter that morning.
Back on the moon, Bill and Danko head to the “Lazy ‘B’ Saloon”, and thinking about it, I can’t imagine that the whole exterior was set up just for “Western Week”, at least in the context of the story. I’m more inclined to think that some meddling suit said, “Hey, I thought you blokes said it was a space western. Where are all the space westernly things?” I’m willing to bet they compromised and talked the guy down from space cows grazing on moon dust.
The pair poke their heads into the bar…
Well, at least the owners of the establishment believe in offending peoples of all races. Why, it would have been positively racist not to have included Native Americans in the floor show!
Bill asks if Danko wants a drink, and he says he’d rather get something to eat first. Good call, Mister Kaminski. This act would spoil anybody’s appetite. Bill heads on in, probably because he’s got a stronger stomach, and he heads for the bar to get a “double moon flower”. Only now the bartender says it’s a “buffalo stampede”. Bill gives a doesn’t-give-a-shit expression, because he knows no matter what’s it’s called, it’s going to be like someone taking a length of barbed wire to his taste buds. The bartender serves up the stuff and tells him a woman’s been asking for him. Bill turns and see’s it’s Clementine, and he asks what she’s drinking. Turns out it’s a “Green Mary”, and the bartender explains it’s “rocket fuel and cabbage juice”. Bill now has an expression on his face that suggests he questions the existence of a higher power, but he buys Clementine her “drink” and heads on over to see her.
I like how he studiously avoided looking at the floor show on the way over to see her, like the sight of it would forever scar his psyche. He has a seat and asks about her brother, and she gives him the sitrep. Bill tries to do what everybody else does and assure her everything is just fine, but he sees by the look on her face she’s not stupid and so he gives up. Clementine asks if Bill knows about moon mining laws, and he admits he does know a little about them. Turns out a person’s got two years to strike it rich or else they get kicked off their claim. It’s a rough law, but I can see the sense of it; if you don’t find anything after two years, either there’s nothing to find, or you’re not any good at mining.
Bill says there’s a big waiting list, and he asks how long Clementine’s brother had been at it. It turns out it’ll be two years in three days. She says Wally contacted her and told her he struck it rich, which is why she came to the Moon in the first place. While they’re talking, Harry slips up and sits nearby without Bill noticing. But honestly, if Catherine Schell was sitting opposite me, a bomb could be going off on the table next to us and I doubt I’d notice.
Bill starts pondering the different ways they could get in touch with Wally; the satellite is still down (and the more I watch this, the more I’m starting to wonder if that satellite getting broke was really an accident, or if there’s something more nefarious going on), and the convoy is too slow. Clementine asks Bill if she can hire him to fly her to Wally’s claim, and Harry suddenly gets this “uh-oh” look on his face.
Either that, or the “buffalo stampede” he drank is now stampeding towards his colon. Actually, he seems to be here to keep tabs on Bill or Clementine and not for the floor show. Harry might be dumb, but he’s got taste. Bill says he can’t land on the claim, but he could take her to “Farside Five” and ride out in a moon buggy. He says it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t have the money, and she can owe him, since he’s about to be rich anyway. Okay, two things: first, I don’t mind Bill not doing it for free; the guy’s living a hand-to-mouth existence and he’s gotta get paid. And two, you don’t say out loud you’re about to become rich. That’s just jinxing yourself. Bill heads to the bar for a pair of refills, and I gotta ask why anybody wants to do that to themselves and your new boss. Harry sidles up to Bill and suggests he not fly the lady to Farside.
Harry’s not being too subtle about him not wanting Bill to take Clementine on this trip. When Bill says he’s a pilot for hire, Harry entirely misses the man-code undercurrent here, that doing the job might let Bill score with Clementine. Not cool, Harry. Instead, Hubbard’s gun-toting minion counters he’s already got an employer, but Bill counter-counters that he’ll be back in three days. Harry counter-counter-counters with the Mister Hubbard argument again, but I’m sure he’s going to add that something might go wrong in the next three days and Bill should be on call just in case. It’s a well-reasoned point, so I’m sure Harry has the brains to… Oh. Right. It is Harry we’re talking about, isn’t it?
Seriously, when in the history of, well, history has any verbal argument been won with one guy putting his hands on the other? Bill says Harry seems to have his hand on him, and the big guy replies, “Mister Hubbard’s hand.” And Bill replies, “Tell him to keep it on things he really owns!” And, wow, that inspires all sorts of unpleasant visuals. It’s been ten minutes or so since we got our last western trope, so the saloon fight is almost obligatory at this point. Jack pulls some sort of fast move on Harry that involves him deliberately turning his back on him.
The move makes about as much sense as a double fist punch. Jim Kirk would be so proud. Harry runs into another saloon patron and apologizes by helping the man to his feet… and then launching him at another pair of bystanders.
Oh man, this place is about to explode when the entire bar erupts in a senseless… Wait. Let me do a quick count of the number of other patrons. One… two… three…
You know, when I talked about the whole budget being spent on wigs, I was joking. It was said in jest. It was merely a humorous observation. At the time, I seriously did not think it might be true.
Bill decides that he’s had enough of this crap, even though the fight just started, and he’s decided to change things. Hey, remember way back in the first entry scene? Remember that massive switch that I have to assume everybody who sees it would be tempted to throw?
Yeah, guess which switch Bill decides to throw.
Gravity goes from 1G to a sixth of that, and the camera switches to slo-mo mode to illustrate, and now the Gojos have an excuse for dancing out of step. We get a collection of wacky scenes to show just how craaaaaaazy things can get in Moon-level gravity, with Clementine’s empty glass beginning to float.
Although, why it’s floating I have no idea, seeing as it still has mass. I guess they wanted to give Schell something to do in this scene other than just sit there and look either pensive or constipated. Bill tosses a guy over the bar, and no lie, it’s a pretty impressive stunt.
Although odds are 50/50 the poor stuntman landed on his head. How do they follow that up? With the lamest piece of wire work, since… well… five minutes ago, as Harry tosses a guy across the Gojos’ stage to go bursting through the backdrop.
I realize all of this is supposed to be funny, but maybe I’m not wired for slapstick. And then this happens.
Okay, that was god-damned funny. Or maybe it’s just that Bill has needed punching for a while now. Kemp gets his ass blasted into the middle of the stage, where he accidentally knocks out Harry with a head shot to the man’s chin. (Ha. Ha.) Our “hero” decides that maybe he’s done enough stupid things for one day and it’s time to get the hell out of Moon City. He takes Clementine’s hand and the pair light out just before his girlfriend arrives with two deputies in tow.
In the next scene, we have Moon Zero Two blasting off the launch pad, and I can’t help but wonder how the hell they got clearance. They know Bill started that fight, and that he shut off the artificial gravity. I guess being the sheriff’s kept man has its perks, and she’s being realllllly slow in processing that paperwork. Kaminski reports they should reach Farside Five in seventy minutes as Clementine shows up on the flight deck, decked out in a blue space suit.
Only Catherine Schell could make this outfit look sexy. Or maybe it’s because it looks like she’s holding onto a stripper pole. Kaminski tells her she has a nice, long night’s drive in a moon buggy built for two. Kaminski says he’ll stay behind with the ship, which suggests he thinks this whole trip might be a way for Bill to score, and being a good wingman, he’s doing everything he can to help. You owe Kaminski a dozen dinners, Bill.
What will Bill and Clementine find at Farside Five and Wally’s base? Could Wally still be alive? Why is Harry so eager to keep Bill grounded and Clementine away from Wally’s pad? The two storylines couldn’t possibly be connected, could they? Tune in next time and maybe we’ll see!