Season 2, Episode 3
Date of airing: October 13, 1999 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.6/4 in Households
This episode was curiously weird. To steal the words of Frank B. Parker at the end, it had ideals, but no compassion. The writers brought some social commentary into the story, decided to bring a message about a nuclear war (or simply just a cold war), how the power structure continues to cause problems for the world, and even promoted renewable energy over nuclear power, and mixed it all into an episode of a television show that was no ratings hit on UPN, which can be a pretty good thing fora writer, as you could go nuts with the story, since executives would be looking past some of the weird choices within the show, if it’s a show not being eyed by an audience or the world of television critics. All those ideals have been mixed together in something of a weird episode though, in which the writers just decided to create a super program, which just decided to personify itself into the form of a very attractive young actress, who decided to have a crush on a perfect male specimen in the form of Frank B. Parker, who both decided to try out this online dating thing and what it really means when you discover porn on the internet. Yes, the creation of a super computer that could run the world and completely misunderstands humanity’s severest problems, is a good idea. It made for a good movie franchise created by James Cameron after all. But the writers really tried to sex out the story at the end, because Claire was only about appeal, and Parker was all about having sex with a computer program. It’s almost like the writers were saying that having sex with a woman gives you power over your own decisions as a man, while women don’t have anything to say and shouldn’t be saying anything at all. Shut them up by having sex with them. Yeah, this show was definitely written by men, for men. The male wish-fulfillment fantasy is back in full force.
Okay, maybe that topic is a little too complicated to put into a TV review, even though it’s an interesting aspect (both the premise of the episode and what it turned into as written by a man). But I can’t blame the writers for not realizing what they did wrong with this episode, because who really cares about the deeper meaning of a television show when previous episode never had the opportunity to be thought of on a deeper level by the writers? Claire might have been an interesting character during the first few minutes after her personification, because her question about the evil of the world was an intriguing question which should be asked by anyone and answered by very much all the politicians and military leaders of the world, but when she turned into a person defined by her sex appeal, the initial premise of the episode got lost and all of a sudden Parker was James T. Kirking it up once more, having sex with his co-star of the episode, since it’s part of the show’s nature now. But hey, that Claire would continue to misunderstand humanity as a whole, as well as not getting a grip on what political power structure really means, was a good choice made within the narrative, as Claire continued to be just a young girl without a lot of knowledge about the world, even though she had the entire internet in front of her eyes. Everything bad that happened didn’t happen because Claire wanted to take over the world. It happened, because she simply didn’t understand humanity, because her program can’t call for empathy, sympathy, emotions, or whatever you might call a soul. If a computer program ever destroys this planet in real-life, it will probably act like Claire: not knowing anything despite knowing everything. A computer cannot regenerate compassion, to again use Parker’s words.
I found it a little ridiculous though that Claire would have the hots for Parker from the first time they met. By the way: How can it be that a computer program is straight? How hilarious (and better) would the story have been, if Claire would have had the hots for Olga instead? How intriguing would it have been for Claire to be in love with another computer program, even if it means we wouldn’t have had this episode? Fan-fiction writers, you’re up: Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is recreate the episode’s premise by replacing Parker with Olga. Anyway, her fascination for Parker was odd, and pretty much sexist, too. For me, as an average-looking guy with a bit of a belly (I was in fact eating, when I watched this episode for review), this episode was proof that all the attractive guys, who are the perfect male specimen (or at least 99 percent of one), get all the attractive girls, and that the guys can do with them whatever they want. Claire’s crush on Parker was also very convenient for the story, while the writers couldn’t make anything of it as well. There we have Parker in a virtual world, de facto being the first human being in a virtual world (that should be a scientific breakthrough by itself, but Ballard and Dr. Erickson didn’t seem to be bothered by that development ), and yet it was all about the sex.