Episode 017 – Survivors


Garibaldi receives a visitor from his past and is falsely accused of a crime. We are joined again by Jan as we discuss episode 1×11 – “Survivors”.

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One Response to “Episode 017 – Survivors”

  1. Voord 99 Says:

    I’d have given this episode closer to the 8/10 that one of your correspondents did, although maybe 7.75/10 rather than a full 8.

    It suffers from being ham-handed in the way that it throws out all of the backstory and resolves it in the same episode. I suspect that nowadays this information would have been seeded in an earlier episode for use in this one, and there would be a better developed B-plot in this one to fill the space. (Does this episode *have* a B-plot? Wow, it’s not ’90s storytelling, but ’70s.) Plus, there’s “Alcoholic has a relapse that is neatly boxed into a single episode and is dealt with by having him overcome the obstacle of the episode’s plot” – I don’t think that this is quite the most effective dramatic treatment of addiction.

    But there are things that I like about Survivors, too, and not just that it’s not Believers.

    For one thing, I actually like the casting and performance of the actor who plays Major Kemmer. She looks young for the rank, but that to me communicates that she’s had a meteoric career that has given her this plum assignment at an early age. The actor plays the part as both bottled-up emotionally and utterly confident in her own judgment, which suggests to me that this is someone who dealt with her childhood loss and Garibaldi’s abandonment of her in its aftermath by disciplining herself to pour all of her energies into achievement at at school and then into her career.

    I read Kemmer’s actions in this episode as partly a personal vendetta against Garibaldi, but partly a deeper unwillingness to admit to her own fallibility. It can’t be an accident that she ended up in exactly Garibaldi’s specialism, but at an officer rank and at a more important level – her entire life has been devoted to proving that she would not have failed where he did, and that therefore what happened didn’t have to happen. Therefore it’s not just that if she’s wrong about Garibaldi now, maybe’s she’s wrong about Garibaldi then. It’s also that if she can be wrong about security full stop, then she might have been Garibaldi back then.

    This seems to me to hit on important territory about the way in which security as an area is about our urge to eliminate risk and failure from our lives, and falls in the category of takes on this that would see this as being in some sense about a loss of the sense of security that (in hindsight) we had in childhood. Granted, this is well-trodden territory. But it’s well-trodden because it genuinely is important.

    Which raises another thing: this episode is clearly a product of a time when the Kennedy assassination was the most totemic failure of security in the American imagination. It’s interesting to revisit such stories post-9/11. I suspect that nowadays it would be a mass loss of civilian life that had been narrowly averted, and that endangering the life of a head of state doesn’t have the same emotional power any more.

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