Thunderbirds Are Go – Season 1 Episode 14
Thunderbirds Are Go returns to screens after a long hiatus with an action packed episode that has International Rescue work tirelessly to save a space hotel plummeting to Earth.
Actually, Thunderbirds Are Go returned weeks ago but for whatever reason I missed that. I managed to find out when the third episode after the hiatus had just aired so I only have to catch up with two episodes before the most current one.
“Falling Skies” is the perfect episode to return to the series with as it offers a solid reinforcing of the core elements. We see multiple Thunderbirds utilised in a rescue with the majority of the Tracy brothers contributing something to the overall narrative so if new viewers are just tuning in then this is a good jumping on point.
Not that it’s a difficult show to follow by any means. Each episode is structured by some disaster happening be it natural or man made causing the Tracy family to get in their super advanced, multi purpose machines to find a way to save the day. It’s a simple premise that the show has fully committed to while gearing it for a young audience more so than an older one.
The particular problem here involves a space hotel invented by Brains that has malfunctioned and is hurtling towards Earth. Brains has designed this structure so that it builds itself which saves on labour costs and is generally a lot safer since nobody has to undertake dangerous work to get it done. Arguably it makes an entire industry redundant but I’ll get to that later.
Brains is very much the focus of this episode as he is filled with self doubt for what seems to be the first time around one of his inventions not working. He makes it his goal to science a solution to the problem so that his potential mistake doesn’t cost lives.
One thing that is attempted to develop his character is giving him ability to go with his gut and operate based on hunches rather than scientific fact. At first he is resistant to the idea but is forced to change the way he thinks due to the urgency of the situation. It’s fine in theory as it allows Brains to move outside his comfort zone but in the context of this episode he doesn’t go by his gut at all. He reaches the conclusion that his invention is sound and the only way it could fail is sabotage. I would say that it’s more of a scientific conclusion rather than a gut reaction. It might be a little arrogant but it’s far from following your instincts.
As always the rescue sequences are very well staged. The primary vehicles in use are Thunderbirds 2 and 3. Thunderbird 3 does most of the heavy lifting as it is the space ship where Thunderbird 2 is on hand to pick up the people on the space hotel. It works well as it has the vehicles as well as the brothers playing to their strengths and working as a team to accomplish the rescue.
Kayo is also along for the ride and finds out that her uncle -the Hood- is responsible for the sabotage. I would say that this is obvious but this show has actually been remarkably restrained when it comes to using this villains. As a result his appearances are more effective since they aren’t regular.
The Hood sabotages the space hotel because he has significant interest in the construction industry that helps fund his criminal activities. He wants to prove that this technology isn’t sound so that the entire industry isn’t put out of business. As plans go it makes a lot of sense and would have worked equally well if it had been the CEO of a construction firm responsible for the sabotage.
Using the Hood adds weight to the sabotage as it shows that he sees this as such a significant threat that he would personally turn up to do the job. There’s also a sense of familial loyalty as he keeps the fact that he and Kayo are related a secret for now. To what end I’m not sure but he is an effective villain as he has layers to him. Not many but enough for a Saturday morning cartoon for kids.
Other than the attempt to deepen Brains’ character falling flat the Tracy brothers are still largely lacking in depth. Their function within this particular story is simply to pilot the ships and quip at each other. The layers of arrogance attached to each of the brothers is still really grating and I’m still struggling to tell them apart beyond which Thunderbird they pilot.
A solid return for the series after a long hiatus that reaffirms the core elements in a succinct way while establishing a good jumping on point for new audiences.
Brains is very much the focus of the episode as he is faced with the possibility that one of his inventions has failed because of something he did. As such he has a deeper motivation to save the people on board as he doesn’t want to be responsible.
Grandma Tracy encourages Brains to go with his gut rather than science to get quicker results which is fine as an attempt at character development but he uses science to puzzle out the problem rather than following any hunches. It was a nice idea but the execution didn’t work.
As always the rescue sequences looked great with a good use of multiple Thunderbirds to get the job done. The bulk of the rescuing is done by Thunderbird 3 as it is the space ship but Thunderbird 2 is on hand to take on the survivors once they have been rescued.
Kayo is also along for the ride and finds out that her uncle -the Hood- is responsible for the sabotage as he has a lot of interest in the construction industry to help fund his criminal activities. The idea of an invention that could make that industry redundant terrifies him enough to show up to personally sabotage it. His plan makes a lot of sense and I like that the show doesn’t use the Hood all the time which makes his appearances feel more significant.
The Hood shows himself to be a layered villain as there is a hint at familial loyalty when he reminds Kayo that he is keeping the fact that they are related a secret for now. His reasons and his endgame remain a mystery for now but he is an interesting enough villain for a Saturday morning cartoon for kids.
I still find the Tracy brothers to be largely without depth. Their only function in this story was to pilot the Thunderbirds and quip at each other. The arrogance of all of them is still very grating and it is difficult to tell them apart beyond which Thunderbird they are attached to.