Dec 14, 2020
Moon Zero Two (1969): a recap (part 3 of 10)
Previously on Moon Zero Two: When we last left our …heroes? Our protagonists, anyway—Bill and Clementine had gone their separate ways, the former to parts unknown, the latter to satisfy her obvious biological urge to shop.
Bill steps out of an elevator to a rock-lined hallway, strolls over to a door, and rings the bell. He says, “William H. Kemp reporting for duty to Elizabeth Murphy of the Lunar Bureau of Investigation,” all while the door is closed. Man, the walls and doors on these lunar apartments must be paper-thin if she heard all that. Or maybe it was the most ham-fisted piece of exposition I’ve seen since, well, the shower scene in part two. Or… maybe Kemp was breaking the fourth wall like a certain merc with a mouth?
Okay, yeah, not even I can attempt to stretch the comparison that far, no matter how cool having such a topical joke would have been. Dammit.
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So the door opens and what I can only assume is “Elizabeth Murphy of the Lunar Bureau of Investigation” appears. Now, before you get your hopes up and think she’s The Law, this is 1969; for all we know, she’s a secretary…
…for space Romans. Seriously, with that outfit, I’m imagining her boss is named Crassus Craterus or something.
Bill takes her into his arms like the Manly Man he is, and they kiss. Kudos for taking that shower earlier, Bill; it’s the little things that matter. Elizabeth reaches out to a panel and presses a button labeled “close”, but there are also buttons labeled 1 through 4 on it, and I’m dying to know what they do. But like the reason they wear wigs and the badges (which a faithful reader pointed out look a lot like the insignia on Star Wars Imperial officers—darn it, I could have used that as a topical reference this time out. By the way, a close-up of Bill’s chest shows his does have his name on it), we’ll never know. The more I watch, the more I think this movie needed to be a TV series, and this should have been the pilot.
The kiss ends and Murphy points out that Bill’s got his timing wrong: she’s on duty in half an hour, which kind of suggests Bill’s got the same problem as that Pan Am pilot who got in his face back in part one. I’m sure Bill will track that guy down and apologize for being such a tool to him earlier. Really.
Bill suggests that at least the two of them have time to talk. Bill, look at the way your (presumed) girlfriend is dressed for you.
Either you’re an amazingly sensitive guy… or this is what happens to the male libido after years of hard radiation exposure. Elizabeth asks how the trip went, and Bill’s pretty flippant about the whole thing, saying “spend a dollar, make a dollar”. Now that I think about it, what is Bill’s job, anyway? Picking up space junk? That sounds really, really familiar…
Elizabeth asks if he heard about Otto, and Bill’s pretty flippant about that, too. She points out it doesn’t seem to happen to Corporation pilots. So… all those names on the wall in the locker room were independents? Wow. No wonder the Corporation doesn’t care if their names are seen.
An argument starts, and Elizabeth reads off a message from her superiors wanting to know why she hasn’t yet turned in evidence that will ground Moon Zero Two. Bill thinks they’re out to get him, but she says they just want his ship. She says the public can’t tell the difference between a piece of crap like Moon Zero Two and a space liner, so a crash is bad for business.
“The Corporation chases the Bureau, and the Bureau chases me,” Elizabeth says. Damn, it really is a cyberpunk setting, where big business controls the bureaucracy. Bill points out that with Otto dead, there’s nobody to do the emergency flights, but that doesn’t deter Liz; she’ll give Bill another week, and then she’s going to stop covering for him. Either he gets a major overhaul or a new ship, or he’s grounded, and the Corporation won’t touch him due to his being an on-record safety risk.
That emphatic statement would have made a much stronger impact without the purple wig. Still, I can’t help but be impressed. Liz is actually a person of authority; the Moon’s sheriff, if you will. So the lawman is sleeping with the outlaw. I now have a weird urge to write a Burt Lancaster/Kirk Douglas slash-fic involving Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday.
Dejected, Bill leaves. I can’t help but wonder if he was sleeping with Elizabeth because she’s been shielding him, or if Elizabeth was using Bill for sex and now that the Corporation is putting the heat on, he just isn’t worth her career. So far, Bill’s been portrayed as a bit of a dick, so I wouldn’t put it past him, and we don’t know enough about Liz to decide one way or the other. It’s a great scene that ends with Bill leaving as a man with no prospects, no nation, and not even a little nookie from his girl. And what does the director decide to follow this with?
A close-up of someone’s crotch. Stay classy, Roy Ward Baker.
These are the Gojos, ladies and gentlemen…
…and they’re the saloon’s floor show. I’d like to say that this is a Western trope, but I can’t imagine any settlement (well, any settlement started by a Western civilization, anyway) not establishing a bar five minutes after the first shovel hitting dirt. I’m looking at the outfits, and for the life of me, I can’t tell if they’re supposed to represent some culture on planet Earth, or if this is what the producers thought women would find appealing as headwear in the 21st Century. But hey, no one could have predicted hipster knit hats becoming a thing, so I’m not going to hold it against them.
We find Dan getting his drunk on and talking about what a great guy Otto was. Bill shows up and asks for a “moon flower”, which I’m hoping is a sort of drink, and not a sex act. Hey, Bill got turned down by his woman, so he might be really, really desperate. The bartender says it’s “Latin America week”, and instead offers up an “old-fashioned” pampas punch. So yeah, apparently the moon flower is a drink. Thank God.
The pampas punch is adorned with a swizzle stick, all manner of fruit, and what could be the first appearance of kale in a motion picture.
Man, that blue crap in the glass looks like something I’d use to clean the windows. And yeah, the Romulan ale joke seemed just a little too obvious.
Despite the adornments, the “pampas punch” tastes like crap, and I can’t say I’m surprised. So apparently, the dancers are dancing to uninspired “Latin American” music while wearing terrible-looking “Latin American” themed attire, and the drink honoring Latin America week makes a man look like he just sucked on a lemon first rubbed across his armpit. I’d say the powers that be are trying to collectively piss off an entire region of planet Earth, but I get the feeling everybody gets offended equally here, and it’s just Latin America’s turn.
We learn the reason why Dan and Bill are drinking the blue crap is because scotch is $35 a shot, and well out of their price range. Well, damn, they scored, what, ten thousand lunar dollars or something with that satellite, right? Unless lunar dollars are like Monopoly money compared to American currency.
Dan is done lamenting the loss of Otto, and he’s headed off to a hash house to get some food, while Bill notes to the bartender that Dan was Otto’s engineer before signing on with him, which explains the man’s maudlin drunkenness. Bill also says the “pampas punch” tastes more like Tijuana brass polish. Oh, don’t you dare go there, you soon-to-be-grounded sonofabitch: Herb Alpert is a musical demigod! After that inflammatory statement, he takes a seat near the stage to watch the floor show, and he’s noticed by Hubbard’s illiterate minion.
Looking at him, I can’t help but wonder if there was some futuristic war and the mods at last defeated the rockers.
The man tries calling Bill, but Kemp makes good use of his “pampas punch”, and fries his table phone with it. The minion then comes over and says, “That’s no way to treat a phone, friend,” and Bill replies, “I bought it a drink, what more can a man do?” You’ll starve as a standup comic, Bill.
That does make me wonder, though; what happens if he does get grounded and can’t get a job? Is there a homeless population on the Moon? Does he get deported back to Earth? Is there some sort of lunar underground where the disenfranchised live? See what I mean by this needing to be a series? I want these questions answered, dammit!
The Minion tells Bill that Hubbard wants to see him, but Bill’s not biting, which I think is more because he’s the sort of guy who doesn’t like to be pushed around, and so becomes entrenched just on instinct. So yeah, the more people telling him he should fly for the Corporation, the more he doesn’t want to. Liz’s strategy should probably be to tell him that the Corporation doesn’t want Bill at all; that’ll get him to apply for a job right away.
The Minion doesn’t take “no” for an answer, and backs up his words by showing off his gun, which looks like a futuristic six-shooter.
Hmm. Kind of like Mal’s gun from Firefly.
Interesting fact; a search of this gun revealed it might be the most photographed firearm in internet history. You Browncoats are freaks.
Bill is persuaded that maybe seeing Hubbard isn’t such a bad idea after all, and the two leave the saloon to meet Hubbard.
Next time: Will Bill offend Hubbard as much as he has everybody else he’s run into? Why does Hubbard want to see Bill at all? Is a smoldering love triangle forming between the lovely Clementine, Liz, and Bill? Keep tuning in to find out!