One fat geek's SUCCESSFUL attempt to regenerate into a not-so-fat geek by watching the entirety of Doctor Who while walking on a treadmill

Wait, Who Are the Heroes Again?

Sep 20 2019
Wait, Who Are the Heroes Again?

I missed posting yesterday, but I did not miss working out. I just had a jam-packed day between work and then a birthday party in the evening that led to staying out much later than usual. As for my workouts the past two days, I am still seeing incremental improvements in my running. I have a loooong way to go, but I continue to fit in more steps and farther distance each day, if only by a little bit. I am also very pleased with my weight trend. I can actually see the downward trend on the chart. I just need to keep that trend going, which is always the battle at this point. In any case, I am in great shape going into the weekend. I am right on target with what seems like sustainable momentum, and I feel mighty good about that. As for my viewing, between yesterday and today I watched the second half of the longest (and apparently darkest) Sapphire & Steel story. How dark?, Well, the ending kind of reminds me of how I felt at the end of Children of Earth....

Sapphire & Steel: The Railway Station, Episodes 5, 6, 7, and 8

This whole story is built around a sentient energy, only referred to as the Darkness, that is feeding off of the resentment of people who died unfairly. A soldier from the Great War who died eleven minutes after the Armistice was declared; A Second World War pilot who died when his faulty plane crashed, after being denied multiple times to join other more well-maintained units; Three civilian men killed during sea trials on a submarine. The list goes on, and the line of apparent ghosts gathering at the railway station just keeps getting longer and longer.

The pacing of the entire thing is all about creating an atmosphere of doom, counterpointed by Tully, the armature spiritualist who was already researching the station when Sapphire & Steel arrived. Early on I assumed that Tully would turn out to be the cause of the goings-on, and I also figured he would be directly and closely related to the Great War soldier who seemed to be the ghostly ringleader. I was very, very wrong on that point.

The sixth episode ends on an incredible cliffhanger in which Sapphire has been trapped in astral form with the other ghosts, and then Steel gets pulled into the past as well and ensnared in barbed wire whilst being taunted by the soldier and then left for dead, while Tully walks away from the station having made some kind of bargain with the Darkness for his own freedom. I mean, I know the entire point of a cliffhanger is to create a sense of "how will they ever escape this", but this one truly does deliver.

Which makes the seventh episode spectacularly weird and unsettling, as both Sapphire and Steel wake up in the now-deserted railway station and slowly realize that twelve full days have passed. The Darkness has literally pushed them through time to get them out of its path. When Tully appears as well, Steel finally figures out how to resolve the situation, and it isn't very nice. He bargains with the Darkness to bring all three of them back in time, and then ultimately serves up Tully as a living resentment engine for the Darkness to devour in exchange for releasing the soldier and all of the other victims. Tully's scream when it happens will haunt my dreams, and that's no joke. It is a bleak ending that reinforces the fact that the title characters of this series are not human, and will ultimately do whatever needs to be done to heal whatever is wounding the fabric of time and space. 

Holy cow, this is a great story. Just dark and moody and creepy, loaded with haunting imagery achieved through sparse sets and a tiny cast. Forty years old, and it absolutely holds up today. Arguably far better than Doctor Who from the same era. You would think that an eight episode story would feel padded and dragged out, but that was never the case with this one. Every single moment of creeping dread builds on itself with a slow but methodical momentum that drives right up to the climax. Honestly, I don't know how the next three seasons are going to live up to the bar set here.

But I am really interested to find out.


Episode(s): Sapphire & Steel: The Railway Station, Episodes 5 & 6
Steps Walked: 7,257 today, 5,074,120 total
Distance Walked: 3.39 miles today, 2,614.88 miles total
Push-ups Completed: 0 today, 12,458 total
Sit-ups Completed: 0 today, 7,865 total
Weight: 274.92 lbs (five day moving average), net change -32.38 lbs

Episode(s): Sapphire & Steel: The Railway Station, Episodes 7 & 8
Steps Walked: 7,349 today, 5,081,469 total
Distance Walked: 3.49 miles today, 2,618.37 miles total
Push-ups Completed: 0 today, 12,458 total
Sit-ups Completed: 0 today, 7,865 total
Weight: 274.68 lbs (five day moving average), net change -32.62 lbs

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