By Elaine B
Pottsie and Giles, having been “liberated” from the Japanese whaling vessel and reunited with their mates on the Sea Shepherd are basking in their 15 minutes of media fame — including Greenpeace condemning their actions and the Australian government beginning a criminal investigation into their actions — when a new problem arises. Out in the cold Antarctic waters, the crew spies an unknown Japanese vessel. It’s the Oriental Bluebird, a ship the Sea Shepherds rammed a couple of years ago. Now it’s back but its intentions are not clear.
It’s not a whaler, and too much of the Dec. 26 episode is spent with the Sea Shepherd trying to figure out exactly what the ship is up to. After much work, which might have been saved had someone used a bit of logic, they figure out that the radar on the ship is relaying their coordinates to the whaling fleet. It is a very bad situation because as long as the ship is trailing them, the whalers will be able to avoid them. After much debate in which saner heads seemed for a time like they would prevail, the Sea Shepherd crew decides to board the Bluebird with the intention of cutting its communication lines. If the ship can’t relay the Sea Shepherd’s location, it will have to head for port.
Ah, but it is a cold and bitter ocean and the only time to do the boarding is in the dead of night when a man overboard would likely die. So it is almost a blessing when, as the volunteers suit up for the mission, they discover that the hydraulic line for the Steve Irwin’s crane is broken. Since the broken line means they cannot put the one of their small boats in the water, the attack is called off.
But, who or what is responsible for the broken line? Did nature have a hand in it, or did one of the volunteers decided that what might be a suicide mission was not a good idea? That will have to wait for another episode.
Last week felt a bit padded with suspense where there was none. This week seemed even worse. There seemed to be a lot of missed moments for character development as if the producers believed that every day would bring an action-charged Shepherd vs. Whalers confrontation. Since each day doesn’t, the series’ producers seem to be trying to manufacture them. It’s time they — and I shudder to suggest it — take a page out of the Survivor handbook and start concentrating on the personalities of the crew. Where did these people come from? Why are they taking time from their lives to sail the frigid seas? Why did everyone miss Giles and nobody seemed to care all that much about Pottsie when the two were prisoners on the whaler? There is so much to know, and not all of it deals with the Sea Shepherd mission. And if we knew more about the crew, we might become more obsessed with their mission. Yes, whales are nice and worthy of saving, but this show needs to aim higher than just the mission if it wants to sail into a season 2.
Likely not coincidently, another cable network will be airing a series early in 2009 dealing with Inuit whaling traditions and, I would presume, how the climate change is impacting their hunts. More on that later.