Nightfall runs a very questionable project on board the Crimson Dawn that knocks out all of the power and leaves the crew stuck with an army of murderous, evil KVNs.
Again, we have an episode here with an A and B plot which really hasn’t been Final Space‘s biggest strength this season, but fortunately, much like last week’s episode, this A-Plot and B-Plot compliment each other quite nicely. While one is never really overly dependent on the other to progress, the contrast between the drama-heavy A-plot and the horror/comedy-heavy B-plot is enough to keep the episode from sinking into the heavy melodrama it was in danger of sinking into and offer a diverting and entertaining escape. They orbit, but rarely intersect and, even though it sounds like that shouldn’t work… it does and does so rather nicely.
If anything, the disconnect between the A and B plots could signify the disconnect between Nightfall and her quest to bring back her Gary — She is desperate and lonely and, much like Gary did last week when he was willing to recklessly sacrifice the safety of the universe to ensure that Mooncake was returned to him, she is either ignorant of the consequences of her actions or she doesn’t care. Both options are equally disturbing.
That statement is not a condemnation of Nightfall’s character or the writing in general, if anything, it’s a compliment… it really sheds some light on last season when Nightfall tried to bed down Gary and/or kill Mooncake and didn’t care how it hurt him or her past self where, before, it just seemed like she was the shallow animal using sex as a weapon. Retroactive character therapy… you know I love it!
I found this episode an interesting character study of Nightfall because, apart from Fox, she has been the least developed character on the show despite being on the show for a good long while. Mostly, she was just treated as the other Quinn when, at her core, she is a completely different character with completely different experiences and, as illustrated here, completely different damage. Nightfall has normally been portrayed, as Quinn was, as the only real adult on the show when “The First Times They Met” shows her to be just as messed up as everyone else, but just better at hiding it. In short, Nightfall needed this episode as much as Ash needed hers, perhaps even moreso. Nightfall shows strength and intelligence so much, that you don’t think of her as a person who is hurting on the inside and hiding her pain and I can honestly say, I’ve felt more for Nightfall and her plight from this episode than I have during all of her appearances on Final Space. It was really the first time we’ve seen her loss in an episode and didn’t just hear about it second hand.
I’ve been noticing the connective material between all of these characters is survivors’ guilt and the fear of being left alone. I know I said this last week, but I really enjoy how this crew is basically being assembled into a family via their own collective trauma, forming a family by shared pain and choice.
“The First Times They Met” was a very successful character study and horror comedy containing atmospheric animation that set a very appropriate tone during the horror segments and all of the character moments when it needed it. The army of KVNs were unexpectedly sinister. Even the little things like the gut-punch of the ring disappearing from Quinn’s finger, the light of the flame throwers illuminating Little Cato and Fox, and Gary not letting go of Quinn’s hand at the end of the episode as they watched the planetary sunrise were all such nice touches.
Speaking of little touches, can I also say that having Steven Yuen of all people say the words “Stuff and thangs” more than once is a great Walking Dead reference? Gargoyles had Star Trek alumn do voice work all the time… let’s start bringing in The Walking Dead alumn to voice some Final Space characters. I’d kill to hear Norman Reedus voice Clarence’s less sexy brother.
Finally, when are we going to get a little backstory between the animosity between Little Cato and Fox? I know there was a war or a conflict or something, but I’m really enjoying the frenemy relationship between these two and I just want to see Fox and this history developed so I can appreciate it more.
“The First Times They Met” is a strong episode, probably not as strong as last week but definitely close. It’s a superb example of how an episode doesn’t necessarily have to advance the overarching story of a series to serve the mythology and its characters well. It definitely also highlights one of the reasons why I deeply love this series: Despite the fact that we have a crew of deeply hurt, deeply flawed characters living in the aftermath of a planetary destruction and in the shadow of the universe being overrun by powerful Titans, it remains ever optimistic with its heart and its mind always on the human condition and the connections we make with each other. Final Space forsakes the easy nihilism of current adult animated fare and embraces the light… even when that light shines through some very dark and ominous clouds… that makes it the most beautiful and brightest light of all.