Prologue: "They have come to Earth with the promise of peace. An alien race called the Taelons. But there are those who resist these alien Companions. For the Taelons true mission, the secrets they hide, will forever alter our world. The fate of humanity now lies on those who dare challenge the future of Earth."
The show first aired in 1997. It was the brainchild of the late, great Gene Roddenberry, and was produced by his widow, Marjel Barret (who also made appearances in the first two seasons). The series looked at Earth in the near future. A group of aliens, known as Taelons, from deep space have established diplomatic relations with the planet and begun advancing our technology in an effort to benefit both races. They are few in number and evasive in what their motives are. They allow humans to act as their "protectors" after they implant a microchip inside their brains and provide a biological weapon on their arm. The chip forces the humans to always consider the welfare of their "Companion" before all else, even their own safety. As the show began, there were a small group of humans that resisted the influence of these aliens, wanting answers to such basic questions as "What's in this for you?, "Why are you helping us?", and "Why should we trust you?".
The aliens have all but eliminated famine, war, and many of the social ills plaguing mankind for centuries but this group, called The Resistance, essentially wants to know the price tag for all these benefits. By the beginning of Earth: Final Conflict: Season Three, it is learned that the Taelons are ruthless and cunning; willing to manipulate anything and anyone to benefit their agenda. Their agenda is primarily fueled by their inter-galactic war with a race of aliens that share a common ancestor with them, the Jaridians. While the Taelons are long-lived and based on an energy physiology, the Jaridians are flesh & bone, with very short life expectancies. The Taelons main advantage has been their lifespan and technological edge, as well as their ability to travel faster than light. The Jaridians, on the other hand, have the advantage of sheer numbers with a scorch & burn policy towards their enemy and any who assist them.
Liam Kincaid (Robert Leeshock) starred as the main character. He was assigned as a protector to one of the lead Taelons and acted, in a sense, as a double agent. He was more than that though, he had the mixed genetic background of an ancient race, the Kimera, human, and others (this point was sort of unclear when brought up in season two). Season three introduced Renee Palmer (Jayne Heitmeyer) as the main female lead, to assist Liam in his fight against the Taelon agenda but it also showed her as having her own agenda, based on acquiring wealth. It also phased Lili out as a regular and solidified the relationship between Liam and Auger, a computer genius with a leaning towards capitalism (much like Renee). The show evolved with each season and the plot threads of these 22 episodes focused more on unveiling the secrets (and weaknesses) of the aliens than any other season. While season four all but wrapped up the storyline, it seemed much more forced than this one. The show was very much a social commentary and on its good days, showed the mindset of the radical Roddenberry whose idealism was obvious in all of his television shows (Star Trek being the most popular).
Be forewarned, the show was very much a soap opera in that each episode built on what took place before. The producers were smart enough to incorporate bits of related past shows at the beginning of each episode, thereby allowing a history of the threads leading to the events that episode built upon. I really liked that idea since far too often a show will limit itself in terms of an audience because what went on before is a mystery, or it takes the other route and makes all the episodes generic (limiting any growth of characters and plot). Here's a basic rundown of the entire season (22 episodes) with information provided by the paper insert and approximate airing dates of the shows (it was syndicated meaning the dates changed according to the market).
Episode Guide To Season 3:
3.01: Crackdown: 10/4/99: President Thompson (Barry Flatman) declares a national emergency and imposes martial law until the Resistance is crushed. Liam and Auger are caught and luck out when they meet Renee, apparently a Volunteer, who lets them go. Lili was branded a traitor and set to be executed but fate intervened. A surprise alliance is formed.
3.02: The Vanished: 10/11/99: Lili's (Lisa Howard) fate lies in Sandoval's (Von Flores) hands as political allegiances continue to shift. Sandoval hatches a scheme that uses Lili to further his own agenda, whatever that might lead to. The central theme centers on citizens who have vanished while in Companion custody, which is part of a larger conspiracy.
3.03: Emancipation: 10/18/99: Liam (Robert Leeshock) and Renee (Jayne Heitmeyer) team up to rescue the Skrill Queen, who has been kidnapped by a group of renegade Volunteers. Skrill's are the energy weapon mounted on the forearm of Volunteers, which are a bio-engineered by the Taelons. Unfortunately, the queen is currently the only source of these weapons since the home world where they were taken from is now under Jaridian control.
3.04: Déjà Vu: 10/25/99: Liam (Robert Leeshock) discovers Taelon technology being sold on the black market is the cause of inexplicable deaths. The device is a memory transplant device where memories can be recorded, and sold, for big bucks. It has negative side effects and Liam's mission is to find the source of the leak as well as stop the deaths.
3.05: The Once And Future World: 11/1/99: Ancient Taelon artifacts smuggled into the United States lead to an amazing discovery. This is a turning point in the series as it focused the plot towards the long term Taelon presence on Earth as well as why they're so infatuated with our race's history.
3.06: Thicker Than Blood: 11/8/99: In a shocking turn of events, Liam (Robert Leeshock) is betrayed by Augur (Richard Chevolleau) while Sandoval (Von Flores) fights for his life against a deadly blood disorder. Sandoval's only hope lies in getting a blood transfusion from a close match, and Liam isn't keen on revealing his heritage the man most likely to use it for his own advantage.
3.07: A Little Bit Of Heaven: 11/15/99: Liam (Robert Leeshock) is framed for murder when he investigates the activities of a set of Taelon/human hybrid twins created years ago by Da'an (Leni Parker).
3.08: Pad'Ar: 11/27/99: Liam (Robert Leeshock) and Renee (Jayne Heitmeyer) discover Zo'or (Anita La Selva) and Sandoval's (Von Flores) plan to create perfect soldiers out of bio-surrogates to fight the Jaridians.
3.09: In Memory: 11/29/99: Lili Marquette (Lisa Howard) falls victim to an elaborate Jaridian scheme that will forever alter the fate of the Earth. This return of a main character was interesting on several levels as it showed the enemy of the Taelons in more depth than had previously been the case.
3.10: The Cloister: 12/11/99: Liam (Robert Leeschock) and Renee (Jayne Heitmeyer) investigate a series of mysterious deaths involving a group of women, led by Sister Margaret (special guest star Marina Sirtis), that has the ability to spiritually bond with the Taelons.
3.11: Interview: 1/22/00: A live television interview with Zo'or (Anita La Selva) goes awry when a news reporter airs secret Taelon tapes and embarks on a deadly mission that Liam (Robert Leeshock) must thwart.
3.12: Keep Your Enemies Closer: 1/24/00: Liam (Robert Leeshock) must decide whether to save the life of his enemy Zo'or (Anita La Selva), who suffers serious injuries after their shuttle crashes in a remote part of the United States.
3.13: Subterfuge: 1/31/00: Zo'or (Anita La Selva) and Sandoval (Von Flores) implement an elaborate plan to assassinate T'than (Michelle Nolden), the Taelon War Minister. T'than supports Da'an as the new ruler of the Taelons and Zo'or will not stand for any competition.
3.14: Scorched Earth: 2/7/00: Liam (Robert Leeshock) and Renee (Jayne Heitmeyer) learn that the Taelons secretly inhabited the Earth during the SI War and used a weapon of mass destruction to further their cause. This weapon is not only powerful against humans but Taelons as well and any threat to their survival is dealt with at any cost.
3.15: Sanctuary: 2/14/00: Liam Kincaid (Robert Leeshock) races against the clock to find Zo'or (Anita La Selva), who disappears after contracting an ancient Taelon virus that has the potential to cause a devastating plague.
3.16: Through Your Eyes: 2/21/00: Zo'or (Anita La Selva) transfers into a human body to manipulate humans into banning energy weapons that pose a threat to Taelons.
3.17: Time Bomb: 2/28/00: Liam (Robert Leeshock) and Renee (Jayne Heitmeyer) become trapped aboard Ma'el's ship when it comes alive and heads on a collision course for the mothership.
3.18: The Fields: 4/17/00: Liam (Robert Leeshock) and Renee (Jayne Heitmeyer) go undercover in the Church of the Companions and learn that humanity is being used to produce sustenance for the Taelons. The Taelons are running low on energy and that proves a bigger threat, at the moment at least, than the Jaridians.
3.19: Apparition: 4/24/00: When the deceased Taelon Ku'don (Michele Duquet) returns to haunt Zo'or (Anita La Selva), it is revealed that Zo'or is stealing profits from the Taelon co-ventures.
3.20: One Taelon Avenue: 5/1/00: Jonathan Doors' (David Hemblen) fate hangs in the balance when his son Joshua (William de Vry) succumbs to a mind-controlling device. The device is a computer that was a joint venture between the Taelons and humans and it appeared to develop a mind of it's own. Sandoval, seeing an opportunity to get some insurance against Zo'or, makes a play for the control crystal that powers the computer.
3.21: Abduction: 5/8/00: Liam (Robert Leeshock) retrieves an ancient Taelon relic and discovers that humanity is the genetic link between the Taelons and Jaridians. Ma'el's device may prove to be the answer to the problems the Taelons are having or a means for the Resistance to protect Earth from the coming war. Time becomes an issue when it's discovered that the relic is deteriorating and needs a combination of a human and a Taelon to access it's memory.
3.22: Arrival: 5/15/00: Commander Yuri Kosygin (Roman Podhora) starts a worldwide bidding war for some mysterious weapons while the Resistance races to find where the weapons are coming from before the Taelons do. The season ends with Da'an having to decide between his ideals and the fate of his race.
I would have preferred the series be released in order with season one first but apparently, it was thought that season three would be a better start since it was filmed in anamorphic widescreen, moved quicker than the admittedly slower season one, and had more episodes that stood on their own, but advanced the overall story. I liked how Renee's character was never easy to pin down as being pure (which sometimes made Liam seem snow white by comparison) and how the three leads, including Auger, interacted with one another. The relationships changed as events took place and I think the season was the stronger of the series overall. As such, I think it merited a rating of Highly Recommended based as much on the technical aspects as the content.
Picture: The picture was presented in 1.85:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color. It looked exceptionally sharp compared to my local station (which is the home of the US distributor, ADV Films). Aside from some minor grain and moiré, it was a very solid picture. With the colors accurate, the effects well done, and the aspect ratio an improvement over the original release. I was told that it was shot in widescreen but aired in full frame since audiences weren't ready for the "movie look" when this first came out.
Sound: The sound was presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English with no subtitles. It sounded clear and crisp with some noticeable separation between the channels, particularly during the action sequences.
Extras: The extras included some interviews with Robert Leeshock (Liam), Lisa Howard (Lili), David Hemblen (Jonathan), Richard Chevolleau (Auger), and Stephen Roloff (Producer). Each of the interviews provided some insight to the show and the characters making them worth watching. There was also a Behind the Scenes feature, an image gallery, some trailers, and a paper insert that provided some of the above episode information. The box itself was a "Nextpak" which held all 6 discs securely, in a compact space. Each disc held four episodes except for the 6th one, which also had the extras.
Final Thoughts: My biggest complaint about the series was that it seemed to rely too much, in later seasons in particular, on the shoot 'em up gun fights used to appeal to the younger crowd. This was one area where season one seemed to excel in how it used the cerebral approach more often. The combination of technical matters, story, and other elements of science fiction did lend this one a lot of appeal though so check it out.