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Minding Gate 511 is a *boring* job. About the only thing ever going on is prisoner transports docking and unloading, and the only duty is pressing a single button to disable the 'lectro-lock after receiving a docking code.
Stanley H. Tweedle, Security Guard class 4, is spending another boring day on the job, but what else is there? This planetoid is in the very heart of the League of 20,000 Planets, His Shadow's home base which he never ever leaves nowadays. Incoming traffic is more prisoner transports than anything, and Stanley is sure glad he isn't on one of those!
You'd think with all that unencumbered free time Stanley would be a better shot by now.
I know! Awesome weird robot thing, and what's he doing, bouncing ball bearings off its butt? Too funny.
Suddenly a screen pops up in front of him. "I worship His Shadow." Stanley responds "I worship His Shadow" and salutes. A bored looking officer says "Prisoner transport fifty-eight-kay-six-zero-three requesting docking beam." Honestly, I think she finds her job nearly as boring as Stanley finds his, but that is all about to change and leave everyone with something to talk about for a long time. Stanley replies, "Security code" and prepares to press the 'lectro-lock release button.
She looks incredulous. "Code? No one asks for code anymore." Stan sets a look of grim adherence to the one duty he is supposed to perform, then gives her a look while he waits for the code. She looks back like she can't believe it, then goes through the motions of typing in a code.
Then the way she looks up is priceless, you know she typed in a bogus code and is waiting to see what he'll do.
Stan elaborates a pained grimace and goes through the motion of shutting the button box while he looks down and says "Wrong code", and she indignantly replies "I can't remember the code." Stan tells her "I suggest you try another gate then."
This is where we see the extent Stanley is willing to go to stubbornly defy authority when he can get away with it, because the transport flight path into the Cluster was guided remotely to his gate by a flight path director inside the Cluster. Stanley must know this, this is what he does all day long every day for we don't know how long. (We later find out he's been a prisoner on the Cluster years longer than many prisoners are allowed to live.) The Cluster is a finely tuned well oiled mechanistic society of pure form and function, you don't just shop around for a docking gate that will take you if you don't know the code. The whole interaction could have had this officer as terrified as anyone that she could wind up in deep trouble, given the harshness of the government that we are about to see unfold, and the code is probably in place to prevent saboteurs getting in. (This is very important when you ask later why the Ostral B heretics didn't just don Cluster garb and fly a transport in themselves.)
So she gets all up in Stanley's face asap to establish that if anyone here is going to get in trouble, it's going to be him. "What rank are you?" "Security Guard, Class 4." "Security Guard, Class 4 SIR. I'm a line major, and I'm ordering you to turn on your docking beam."
Stan clinched me as a Lexx fan with this scene. I saw Lexx air originally on Showtime, they had me at the big bug spaceship, but Stanley sealed my fate with Lexx. Who hasn't been stuck in a ludicrous job wrangling with any kind of management over breaking policy? And Stan is in the heart of darkness, stubbornly sticking up for the only thing he has left to stick up for in his awful life, and that's the one duty he has to perform on his job given to him by the Cluster, who is holding him prisoner. He could have caved and just pushed the button. Who knows whether he'd have gotten in trouble or not. We have no idea whether this kind of thing happened a lot or was something new. We do know that this particular prisoner transport had been diverted from its original destination gate while the officers on board were being awakened out of stasis just prior to entering the Cluster, and that it's very possible this line major was simply caught flat footed and responded inappropriately. At any rate, Stan isn't about to even pretend he cares whether she has any authority, and he certainly doesn't seem like he cares whether there will be consequences. I think it is more he has become so numb with just simply surviving that none of it matters any more to him.
So Stan closes his eyes, shakes his head, still doggedly determined to do his job. "I can't do that." "Why not?" "You've got the wrong code," he says simply while he reaches over for a ball bearing. "I am giving you a direct order, 4th class Security Guard!" She is livid. "I can't help you" Stan almost singsongs while he throws a ball bearing and actually banks this one off the robot's butt and into the restricted vent in the floor, setting off what sounds and looks like machinery damage that starts a fire.
Stan has time for a quick grin at the successful shot before his monitoring officer walks in. Stan quickly scrambles to hide his ball bearings just in the nick of time.
First off, just to get this out of the way, this kid takes his self importance so seriously that I can't help laughing when I see him. You know an evil despot has truly conquered when the younger ones will strut like a big boss in a ridiculous outfit, and, sadly, this young man has grown up so brainwashed in the League of 20,000 Planets that he believes he really does have a position of importance. It throws such a perfect shadow on the Orwellian darkness of this society.
Since I brought up the word shadow, and the show is all about the phrase "I Worship His Shadow", you can get so many metaphors going about it. Any kind of light to any kind of truth is completely blocked for this society by His Shadow, so you can imagine how difficult it would be to stand up for even the simplest truths we ourselves take for granted, like basic human rights and autonomy. As you watch this movie, be keenly aware that there is no choice in these people's lives. Or, there is only the choice to follow and obey, or not. Not always ends badly.
Stanley has a choice. He could do his job, and he does perform it, but with attitude, like Sisyphus, the absurd hero. Stanley is a survivor, he cows down when he has to, but he never loses that sense of injustice that goads his every step, never justifies it away and accepts it. Incidentally, we find out later that Stanley comes from outside the League.
Wow. Ok, sorry about that. So Stanley's young superior struts in and takes the situation in hand. He is obviously aware of everything going on between Stanley and the line major, so you get the impression that his job is to monitor Stanley. I have more to say on that in a minute.
This overseeing officer simply steps up and pushes the button to release the 'lectro-lock without any further questioning, as if Stanley doesn't even matter. "Docking beam is engaged, Sir, and Security Guard Class 4 Stanley Tweedle is presently being entered for correction and punishment himself." The line major seems relieved that it's all over.
The line major is most pleased and says, "I request that he be demoted." "Class 4 is already the lowest." It's hitting poor Stan this is about to get way more serious than getting caught throwing ball bearings. The line major is gloating now- "Then I trust his punishment will be severe." Poor Stan... "That will happen, Sir."
"You must enter yourself into Correction Center number 40 before watch change today, Stan," the young officer says while patting Stan's head, "Stanley Tweedle. And may His merciful Shadow fall upon you."
Stan is miserable, this is much worse than getting caught throwing the ball bearings. He responds, barely able to speak, "May His merciful Shadow fall upon... ME, preferably." But the young officer is gone.
Then the lock disengages and the prisoner transport moves forward. Stanley throws a ball bearing out of angry disgust.
The scene changes there, so here's my thoughts on that kid. Since I know stuff about Stanley in later movies and shows, I can say that kid probably did have a fairly important job, compared to his fellow officers of similar rank and job. Stanley Tweedle was a special prisoner, and this young man probably felt like his personal babysitter and had grown very tired of him. He seemed like he was glad to have a solid reason to send Stanley off to the Correction Center, which probably meant he'd never have to put up with him again.
Ultimately, after you've seen the rest of the movie, you realize that this young officer is to blame for Stanley Tweedle winding up being the ironic twist of fate that ripples the Cycles of Time for all ages. For, if it were not for Stanley, none of the rest would have worked... (think it through, if you're ready to argue with me about that).
The real "Stanley Tweedle" on facebook- Brian Downey
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