The Black Hole (1979), a recap (part 6)

NOTE: This article is a work in progress.
Please check back soon for more installments!

A note from the author: Hi! I’m acclaimed author and wanted felon, Jordon Davis. You may know me from the fact that I wrote part five of this recap in January. It is now June. What was I doing during my absence? Well, I watched every episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I Am Not Okay With This, The End of the F***ing World, Sex Education, The Expanse, all nine seasons of The Office, 456 episodes of Law & Order, Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Short Treks, all 37 webisodes of The OfficeTiger KingThree Identical StrangersThe Good Doctor, the YouTube episodes where Dr. Mike watches The Good Doctor, and a BBC documentary where Mel Brooks watches The Good Doctor. Also, the apocalypse happened, so that was its whole own thing. In any case, here’s part six.

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Previously: There’s a black hole that leads absolutely nowhere. Despite this, Dr. Heinz Reinhardt is intent on flying into it. The entire crew of the Palomino agrees during dinner that he’s crazy. Despite this, they’re sticking around for dessert. Also, Disney+ claimed to be the best streaming service ever. Despite this, all they’ve done so far is post a picture of Baby Yoda and call it a day.

“Forty-five minutes of original content we have, mmm, yes.”

Vincent, who just accidentally shot an android guy, meets Old Bob down in parts storage for a not-unrelated reason. Bob tells Vincent that the crew of the Palomino is in grave danger from Dr. Reinhardt. Bob fixes Vincent’s lasers, which had been destroyed earlier in the movie. You can go back and look for it; it’s not important. Bob intones, as seriously as a former rodeo clown turned accidental actor can, “This is a death ship.”

In both The Black Hole and Dr. Strangelove, Slim Pickens is riding bombs.

Back at dinner, Reinhardt has left for a moment. Dr. McCrae thinks that Reinhardt is teetering between genius and insanity. Well, she’s half-right. Pizer agrees with me. Harry Booth calls Reinhardt a liar because he saw the hydroponics bay and it was too large to feed just one person. And this revelation, let’s remember, only comes because Reinhardt let the crew wander around the ship unescorted.

Anthony Perkins remains unconvinced. They tell him about the damned funeral (which Captain Holland saw, because he was allowed to wander around the ship unescorted). Booth swears the android in hydroponics was almost human, emphasizing that it even walked with a limp. Perkins waves all of this away. The hydroponics bay cleans the air, and some robots have bum knees. Besides, Perkins reasons, it’s impossible that Reinhardt could program robots to feel emotion. It’s this last bit I have a problem with, because Perkins knows Vincent and so far every decision Vincent has made has been based on nothing but emotion.

Holland just wants to leave. But now it’s Harry Booth who has an objection. He thinks that they should take over the Cygnus. He wants to subdue Reinhardt, neutralize Maximilian and all those robot guards, figure out how to work the ship, learn the basics of whatever that new engine is, teach themselves anti-gravity technology, reprogram all the worker robots, and fly the whole damn thing back to Earth. “We could be heroes!” he exclaims, like Ewan McGregor shouting dementedly at Nicole Kidman. Holland counters, “We could also be dead,” which [spoiler alert] is exactly what happened to Nicole Kidman.

“Man, I sure do love apples!” Pizer exclaimed shortly before choking to death on an apple.

Bob takes Vincent to a very, very scary looking room where some of the android guys are sitting around programming or fixing other android guys on little, scary carousels. Bob says that these “androids” are what’s left of the crew. Reinhardt lobotomized them and cyborged them up, and none of this is a surprise because everybody in every theater in America guessed it the first time the android guys showed up on screen. I was nine when this movie came out and I guessed it from the damn poster.

“Soylent Green is people!”

Suddenly, the door opens. Two security “droids” are standing there with lasers drawn. Vincent shoots them both dead. And let’s take a moment to remember that he just found out they were human beings. Earlier, Vincent killed S.T.A.R. sort of by accident. This time, he knowingly shoots and kills two actual humans. Oh my God, Vincent is the worst robot ever. Isaac Asimov would have been spinning in his grave if he had been, you know, dead at the time. It’s a surprise this movie didn’t kill him.

None of this shooting bothers the other guys in the room. They don’t seem to notice. Vincent and Bob decide to get rid of the evidence. And the “evidence”, let’s remember, are the corpses of two actual people. They signed up for a trip to space, got brain-surgeried by their own captain, turned into robot security guards, flew around with him like that for twenty years, finally had some security guarding to do, and were murdered at the first opportunity by this effing R2-D2 wannabe jerk.

Hey, you know what I just remembered? Vincent has ESP. He could have ESPed Dr. McCrae as soon as Bob told him everything. “This is a death ship… Androids are former crew… Just shot two of them… Soylent Green is people… How was dinner?”

You know what else I just remembered? This movie, in 1979, was Disney’s first PG rated film ever. They debated it endlessly and made a corporate decision that a G rated film wouldn’t bring in the teens and adults who had given George Lucas all their money. So all this killing is intentional. Disney put in the violence for no storytelling reason whatsoever. It was all just plain greed.

And Disney never released pure garbage ever again.

One of Reinhardt’s probes has returned from its latest mission, which means, yes, he was probing a black hole. Make up your own joke. For some reason, Reinhardt has brought Maximilian with him to debrief his robot/lobotomized crewmember/guy who probably had a wife and family. This leaves the crew of the Palomino once again completely unguarded.

Everyone is still trying to talk Anthony Perkins into believing Reinhardt is nanners. He’s not having any of it. The closest he comes is admitting that Reinhardt’s style is “somewhat unconventional.” That’s kind of like saying Disney+ “somewhat sucks.”

Vincent finally—finally—calls in to Dr. McCrae. All he says, though, is that he wants Captain Holland aboard the Palomino right away. Pizer and Harry Booth tag along. I guess we’re supposed to presume that Vincent’s information is so sensitive that he has to tell Holland in as secure a location as possible. But, um, it’s ESP. I’m starting to remember why I needed a five-month break from this recap.

Five months, fifty years—same difference.

McCrae and Anthony Perkins are alone. He’s going on and on about Reinhardt solving the one final puzzle that has eluded mankind, and how being spaghettified by a black hole is “a glorious pilgrimage” into the mind of a god. McCrae comments that she’s beginning to feel like Perkins wants to go into the black hole. She’s beginning to feel that? He literally just said those words. If you ever get Dr. McCrae in the Black Hole RPG, remember that you have a -4 to perception.

Hey, have I mentioned this about Yvette Mimieux? Disney originally cast actress Jennifer O’Neill, but in screen tests for the zero gravity shots, her long hair gave away the fact that they were on wires. Disney fired her and hired Mimieux. Why? Because she had short hair. The entire creative might of the House of Mouse and not one single person thought, “Hey, maybe we could just cut her hair. Or give her a wig. Or cheat the zero-G shots. Or not commit what may well be a violation of the Equal Employment Act of 1972. It’s kind of like we’re the bad guys here. If evil is a movie studio, we may well be it. Let’s steal some more intellectual property and discuss it after lunch.”

Reinhardt suddenly interrupts the conversation to go on one of his usual schizophrenic rants. And this is a movie trope I hate: the completely conspicuous character/monster/helicopter/entire army that’s able to noiselessly sneak up and then pop into the shot.

“Is it weird we didn’t notice this enormous friggin’ dinosaur before the camera panned right?”

Reinhardt finishes up his crazy talk, which includes the first two verses of Genesis, when he notices that three of his five dinner guests are missing. When told they were recalled to their ship, Reinhardt asks, “Didn’t I say no more unescorted excursions?” Yeah, dude, you did. And then you left them completely alone. Why do you even have a security force if you’re not going to use them? Is it the same reason I have the entire six seasons of 2 Broke Girls on DVD? Because that is a pretty weird story.

Putting aside my LSD trip through the Amazon DVD catalog with my ex-girlfriend’s credit card, Reinhardt gets down to business. He wants Anthony Perkins to monitor his flight into the black hole from the Palomino. He gives Perkins all his journals to take back to Earth “in case something might happen to me.” Like, I don’t know… death? In case of his mathematically certain death? In case he’s confronted by his ex-girlfriend, who takes back her credit card and throws his PlayStation at him but then a couple days later he gets every episode of 2 Broke Girls in the mail?

Whatever Captain Nemo Reinhardt is thinking, it’s possibly explained in his second bout of free association. He muses that inside black holes, “long-cherished laws of nature simply do not apply. They vanish.” Um, no. They continue being the laws of nature. And nine ten out of ten physicists agree that those laws will straight up murder you. You can’t survive in 40 degree water for longer than 15 minutes, but you think you can build a house in a black goddamned hole?

Pictured: Nowhere you would want to vacation.

Next time: Back at the Palomino, Old Bob reveals some very important details. What are they? Stay tuned for my next installment to find out. It should be posted sometime around February 2026.

Jordon Davis

B.A. Political Science, SUNY Albany - 1991
Master of Public Administration, University of Georgia - 1993
Juris Doctorate, Emory University - 1996

Admitted:
State of Georgia - 1996
State of New York - 1997

Winner:
Fields Medal (with Laurent Lafforgue and Vladimir Voevodsky) - 1998

Follow Jordon at @LossLeader on Twitter.

Multi-Part Article: The Black Hole (1979), a recap

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