Season 1, Episode 16
Date of airing: April 21, 1999 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.2/4 in Households
This episode had the premise of a series finale, especially after Ballard mentioned that the reactor melted after the explosion. According to the show’s notes, time travel would not have been possible without the reactor, so how the team was able to backstep with portable reactors and this much needed energy and power in the middle of the jungle is beyond me, but then again, in “As Time Goes By” the team backstepped without the fuel source, because at the end of the day the writers decide what is going to happen within an episode, and some writers don’t care about established continuity. This episode certainly didn’t. Still, I didn’t know you can build a portable reactor within seven days. I didn’t even know you can backstep with a battery-powered reactor. There were no outlets, no other way of getting power, except magic. Which then happened to come into play right before the backstep. Things are certainly getting a whole lot more convenient for the sake of the story, and I’m kind of getting annoyed by that now. This episode is proof that the writing staff had an idea and wanted to put it to paper, and the executive producers didn’t care at all about how much sense it makes and whether continuity is being upheld. SEVEN DAYS could be a prime example of a show that didn’t care very much about the show.
Well, there was some Project Backstep backstory at least, so that was nice. I never thought there would have been eight chrononauts before Parker (it would have been nice for it to have been part of the back story development in the pilot), and I thought the dead face from the pilot‘s first image would have been shown on the memorial place (maybe I overlooked that slight Asian-looking guy though). Also, why wasn’t it possible to bring the memorial place in an earlier episode, since it seemed to looked like a major part of Project Backstep’s past, which Parker should have been interested in knowing all about? It’s like the writers just created a new set for the show, have the cast and crew use it heavily for the episode and then destroy it at the end, because it isn’t important enough anymore. Kind of like a daily soap, which uses its main settings, but every once in a while creates a few new ones which are then used for a multitude of episodes before becoming the space for a whole new set. Here are some examples in SEVEN DAYS: the bar and Olga’s office in “Parkergeist,” Parker’s bunker and the parking space in the previous episode, Parker’s shower in the “Sleepers” episode.
Other than that, the rest of the episode was okay. Rance was a character I could live with, though I was wondering where and when he became so villainous and whether it really just took eight years of a life in the jungle took it for a once good person to become evil and monstrous and a killer. If he was such a killer when he went back to Nevada to look for Mentnor, was he a killer during the years he was in the jungle and maybe even before? But he probably had his reasons for being such an ass, when he started remembering again, even if it was only to be a plot device. Connecting his act for revenge with Parker’s crisis of faith was intriguing though. Yes, Parker could have had a crisis about his job long ago, but he is a Catholic, so I wondered when the “Are we playing God?” question came up, even when the question wasn’t asked that literally. It’s a topic you simply have to bring in a time-travel-related story, and it would give the viewers (or the reader) a chance to create an individual opinion about the existence fo time travel and how any religion can live with the existence of time travel. And sometimes asked myself what would happen to the future, if I would save the life of a woman today, who was supposed to die — how would my future have been affected by my actions, and anyone else’s who would get in contact with said woman? It’s pretty much the same, when you ask what would happen if Hitler had been killed before World War II by a person from that time period. It’s a think piece. It’s one SEVEN DAYS has not at all asked until Parker decided to take the example of the President and a bike for a kid.
The friendship between Rebecca and Parker could have been played out more. He said she sent him letters and e-mails with hearts and stuff, yet Rebecca didn’t seem to be interested in Parker at all during her birthday party, or for the writers to be interested in playing the crush card a little more. There was just one hug which was reminiscent of the friendship they were supposed to have. Once more SEVEN DAYS wasted its characters who could have been something special on the show. Is it just another example fo the producers not caring enough to hire the best damn talent they could have gotten for more complex characters, just to make a different and better show out of SEVEN DAYS?
Best part of the episode: The comedy factor was dialled up during the jungle scenes, when Ramsey was one of the guys having to carry Ballard. At least Ramsey can be funny every once in a while.
Worst part of the episode: The magic aspect was too weird to be just weird and they turned out to be plot devices and helpers of the hero during a violent kerfuffle with the villain.
Weirdest part of the episode: It’s known by now that the backstep scenes are mostly reused footage the producers scrambled together from the shooting of the pilot, maybe even the following couple of episodes. But this episode took the cake when it reused a scene from the previous episode. During the montage of the team figuring out where Rance came from and where they could probably find the old sphere, there was a scene of Olga and Ballard in front of a computer. This happened to be footage from “There’s Something About Olga,” when Galina and Ballard were looking at the old backstep formula. Galina was literally in this episode, folks!
Main character death count: The toll has to be updated again, since Mentnor blew up with the Sphere. It’s Mentnor’s second death, after he succumbed to “The Gettysburg Virus.” In the lead is still Ramsey with three deaths, followed by Parker, Ballard, Donovan and Olga with two deaths, and Talmadge with only one death.
Player of the episode: Respect for the Natives in the Amazonian jungle to still be there, after this episode pretty much showed the employees of NeverNeverLand that they don’t even need power anymore. None of the Natives in this episode were domesticated for the use of Project Backstep, which says a lot about Project Backstep and the Natives.