Thunderbirds Are Go – Season 1 Episode 18
Thunderbirds Are Go lets Scott and Virgil team up on a mission to stop a power station from exploding after being kept busy with back to back rescues.
The reality of being part of an independent, international rescue operation that only has a handful of people working on it is that they will be kept very busy a lot of the time since disasters happen very frequently when looked at on a global scale. I wonder if there’s some sort of rule that tells them what they can and cannot interfere with or if there are decisions made on missions that are easily handled by traditional rescue services. The show still has to cover that as it is something that should be defined.
In this particular scenario there is a problem with a power station that is designed to take in charged particles from the aurora borealis. The station is sure to explode if they don’t get in there and stop it so Scott and Virgil mobilise and head there to solve the problem.
Thunderbirds 1 and 2 prove to be pretty useless as there is some techno-babble that prevents them from getting close so they need to land a fair distance away and use pods to make the journey. Unfortunately putting the Thunderbirds out of commission for the bulk of the episode makes a lot of it visually uninteresting. I think that the visual effects team working on this show can do amazing things and not all of those have to involve the Thunderbirds but this episode isn’t a good example of their best work. Everything moved a little too slowly as there was an emphasis on safety which is fine but it robbed the situation of tension. Even the perilous moments fell a little flat.
Most of the actual rescuing is done by Max who is being controlled by Brains which makes things feel like they are somewhat lacking in danger. This is especially true when the episode emphasises the fact that Max is only a machine and urges the viewer not to be emotionally attached to the equipment. It’s probably the weakest example of a rescue in this whole season.
From a character point of view this episode did particularly well. It is established early on that Scott is “the reckless one” as he wants to land closer than the safety guidelines dictate and wants to risk a more dangerous route in the pod. Both instances show that being reckless is a bad idea especially when his pod is wrecked. Of course this is a transparent attempt to convince younger viewers that keeping safety in mind is important. I have no problem with that as it managed to inform the story without feeling like a tedious lesson.
The best scene in the episode is when Virgil and Scott sit down to discuss Scott’s reckless attitude. Scott is reckless because he is so determined to save everyone he can after failing to save their father. The details around what happened to Jeff Tracy are still unrevealed so I’m unsure if Scott literally had the opportunity and failed or if he means in a far broader sense. Either way he blames himself for what happened and puts his life on the line to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else. Guilt is his most powerful motivation to help others and he clearly has some unresolved issues that affect his judgement in some way.
It’s great to get some character development for Scott in this way as it clearly distinguishes him with Virgil who has a solid ethic but shows it in different ways. He is less about taking risks as he knows that he can’t help people if he is incapacitated so Scott’s attitude is something that he finds difficult to work with when on missions together.
Since it’s a kids show there is a revelation for Scott as he tells the woman in the power station that sometimes things have to be walked away from when they are too dangerous but I doubt that Scott being reckless is something that is resolved as it’s about the only thing to differentiate him from his brothers at this point.
A relatively weak episode that is otherwise elevated by the use of some actual character development for Scott to help distinguish him from his brothers.
The rescue itself was visually uninteresting and lacked in any real excitement due to the fact that Thunderbirds 1 and 2 were rendered useless fairly quickly and replaced by a slow traversal of a snowy landscape in pods. The lack of a decent pace robbed these scenes of any real tension.
Using Max to perform the bulk of the rescues meant that there was no real feeling of being in any danger. The episode even emphasises that Max is only a machine and shouldn’t earn any emotional attachment.
The episode does do a good job of developing Scott. It is established that he is reckless and being that way doesn’t really pay off for him as evidenced by the problems he runs into so that sends a clear message to kids that safety is important.
Scott’s reasoning for being reckless is that he was unable to save his father so risks his life to make sure that he doesn’t fail to save anyone else. It’s unclear if he directly had the chance to save Jeff Tracy or if his guilt is in a much broader sense. Either way it’s his primary motivation and is unresolved.
There is a revelation moment for Scott in the power station as he realises that it’s fine to walk away sometimes but I don’t think that’s the end for his reckless attitude as it’s pretty much all that defines him.