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Saturday, February 13, 2016

His Divine Shadow- Prelude to a Kiss


Before I actually get to Mantrid, we need to do a quick review of who exactly is/was/will have been in charge here. In cosmic terms, power changes hands/jointed appendages/drone arms in the blink of an eye, but in our POV, thousands of years drag by with all this horrible stuff happening in between.

I've sort of intro'd His Shadow in I Worship His Shadow- part 4- His Divine Shadow, but we find out in season 2's "Mantrid" how His Shadow came to be a big deal. It's important to know this info so we can piece together what is happening several thousand years later when we meet Mantrid.

Quick note- I have new tech, so my screen caps will be bigger (mobile probably won't see a difference), so looking at costuming, sets, and CGI might be a smidge more detailed. I'll repeat here before we go on that this fan blog is a film study for a sometimes difficult to obtain and rarely streamed 20 year old sci-fi genre TV series, and that being as such, screen caps fall under this disclaimer- "Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use." Pictures will click over to nearly full capture size on a non profit personally paid for host service at Lexx Pix for film study appreciation and fan sharing (hotlinking, downloading, copy/paste all welcome, please use wisely). Other wonderful fans have provided excellent screen captures in the past, but perhaps newer tech will allow us an even closer look at the craftsmanship that went into this show from everyone involved with it. All my captures are from the original Salter Street print. Thanks to Echo Bridge Entertainment (also on twitter and facebook), you can still purchase Lexx.


The film narration (by Walter Borden, who also shows up in s2 Woz and throughout s4) relates the backstory perfectly, so I'm going to use that. We hear the story being told in the voice of His Shadow-

"Many thousands of years ago, we were defeated by humans in the great Insect Wars. Our human enemies thought they destroyed all Insects, but I escaped to live on. I hid myself by burrowing deep into a small planetoid, and there I wait."

You can see running along the underside are rows of brood pouches. This Insect looks a bit like a roly poly, so I'm going to refer to this particular race of Insects as roly polies, even though roly polies on earth are not true insects. Please don't conclude that this is a copy of a roly poly- remember that this Insect developed in a different universe and we barely get a glimpse at its entomology. There might be similarities, and there might be differences. The most important imagery we get from this picture is the segmented circle, which later becomes symbolic of the Divine Order.


Since we know very little about the Insect races excepting through various exoskeleton designs and bioengineered space worthy vehicles, I'm going to assume that the Insect Wars didn't necessarily mean the Insects themselves were united as one against humans, although presumably humans and Insects (of this size, imagine that!) were definitely pitted against each other, regardless. We have no further backstory regarding racial developments and how they first came to bump into each other, although obviously, at least some of the Insects could drift through space and spread from one planetary system to another over a long period of time. But staying on subject, we get a very nice view of this monstrous roly poly that is big enough to sustain active life in outer space in between planet environments, and then strong enough to burrow down into any rocky object moving along in orbit in a planetary system.

After an unknown amount of time, a small mining exploration team of humans makes a stop on this particular planetoid for samples. This is Rockhound. He's complaining of boredom and wishing something interesting would happen for once. Rockhound is played by John Davie, and the other crew are played by Chris Duffy (Captain), and Burgandy Code (navigator).



"I think I might've found myself something interesting here, not typically geological. Could be a sign of life. I'm curious to find out more."



Actually, we may have seen something like that before. Remember the very first movie when His Shadow picked up a shattered piece of Kai's biomechanoid attack bug and thought it interesting that it was Insect tech? This pic clicks back to that first post.



Rockhound had run into something from an Insect, perhaps a sloughed piece of shed exoskeleton, perhaps a bit of draining goo that had hardened into an amberlike piece of stone. The crew encouraged Rockhound to return to the ship so they could use a piece of equipment instead that they had nicknamed the 'finger probe' (lol, so typical in Lexx), reminding him that, "We sometimes follow the rules, remember?" Rockhound replied, "Sorry, it's been too long since my brain was put to use."

Let us stop here for a sec and let that line sink in. Let me know when you get it. You know, because brain put to use. Ok, I'll assume you're all over appreciating that one and now let's get back to the story.

"I'm getting a very weird feeling..." Let's play by play this bit, it goes a little fast. First we get a shot of what he's been standing in. We see glowy blue stuff like this in our own oceans, an indicator of life, caused by "a special channel in the dinoflagellate cell membrane that responds to electrical signals".



As Rockhound does sensory sweeps with what little equipment he's brought with him, he starts feeling electrical shocks, and quickly decides "There's too much electrical action, I'm outa here!"



But poor Rockhound can't move fast enough, becoming terrified as electrical currents engulf him, rendering him unconscious.







And then we see that familiar wispy smoky essence search for a way into his suit and right up his nostrils, just as we saw in the first movie when His Shadow performed the Kiss moving to a new host body.



His Shadow- "I passed my essence, my soul, my intelligence, my everything into a human host."



And there we go, His Shadow's first host. Lucky Rockhound! Just think, his bored brain will become the oldest Divine Predecessor, so it will be put to use for a very, very, very long time.



A few seconds later, Rockhound gets right back up saying he fell asleep, and he's coming back now.



After this part of the story we don't get any more backstory filling in the gap up to the time we meet His Shadow in the first movie. We know this planetoid houses the Insect, and we know the other Insects are wiped out, so presumably this is the very beginning of the Cluster, the judicial seat for Order. Imagine the patience and single minded focus it would take to not only survive as the last of your kind for thousands of years, but to build up enough force and resources to subjugate the human race across a League of 20,000 Planets.



"As the last surviving Insect, I knew I would never be able to defeat the humans, but if I possessed a human body, I thought perhaps I could use humans to defeat themselves. I became His Divine Shadow, the most powerful ruler in the Two Universes." His Shadow in robes was played by Lex Gigeroff.



"My power over humanity grew as I passed my essence down through generation after generation of human hosts." The senior cleric in this scene is played by David Renton, Walter Borden played the dying Shadow, and Lex Gigeroff also played the bound man here.







"My Insect body also grew in strength, fed by human flesh gathered from 20,000 unsuspecting planets, all unknowingly enslaved to their enemy." 




"But my Order was destroyed by Kai, the last of the Brunnen-G." 




"My prematurely born body was killed by the Lexx, the most powerful weapon of destruction ever built." Imagine the irony- it took a biomechanically engineered and organically grown space bug fed for years on human flesh to defeat the last of the Insects. Chew on that ironic backfire for awhile. All those people slaughtered and fed to the Lexx wound up getting their revenge after all.

First let's look at that Insect again now that it's been forced out of the planetoid while the Lexx blew the Cluster up. (I love the word Cluster, it's so Insecty, like a place full of egg clusters.)





And now let's watch the Lexx slide by in zoom. Niiiiice. It's like the Lamborgini of the space bug world. It's really modeled after a dragonfly. Imagine a dragonfly the size of Manhattan. Yeah, that. Tom Gallant did the Lexx's voice through this series, at least in English. I tried the French version for kicks and about died laughing. Americans tend to think of French as a sexy language, and the Lexx is supposed to sound simple, so that seemed pretty incongruent to me.







And here is the Lexx blowing it all up. You can see that massive roly poly clearing out before the blast gets there. If you haven't seen Lexx's energy ribbon blast in action, there's a great paragraph about the ocular parabolae amplifying black pack tech and the Giga Shadow (that gigantic roly poly) being impervious to the initial blast.



I've not yet worked on how this energy organizes and collects into a ribbon and rips through space slicing through everything in its path, whether it eventually dissipates, and other basics that Star Trek fans would have torn into like rabid slavering cosmology wolves. (I used to haunt the old ST forums years ago, if you've seen YabloVH fussing with anyone over physics, that was me.) Anyway, in this next shot, the energy is collecting around the front of the Lexx's face, temporarily out of sight before that final push off, giving the Giga Shadow a few extra seconds to wriggle out a little more before the blast shreds the Cluster.



Awww, those poor brood pouches, looks a bit hot there. Wonder how many there really are. By the way, I'm not racist against the Insect races, and I don't believe in genocide of a species. I know of a couple fans on two different continents who've privately worked out some cool backstories for the Insect Wars, would love to see those come out for the Lexxversary. If you've already done it, tag me somewhere so I can run over and read what you've got so far. Some of us are interested in #alltheLexx, not just the bits and pieces.



Let's all cheer with Captain Stan, yay! This is the guy who told the Lexx to blow up the Cluster. He used to work on the Cluster as a prisoner. Gotta love irony. Stanley Tweedle is played by Brian Downey.



"Kai crushed the brain of my last human host, but he did not kill me, as I still live on. But he does not know that I live- through him.Again, imagine the irony of your survival depending on the dead guy who you killed and then killed you back. It's complicated.



His Shadow didn't mention Kai getting all those memories during that crushing thing, but I'm sure he knows that. You might not if you're new to Lexx. It's sorta like gaming up, although Kai is the only one I've seen crush a brain and get added memories. Might have to look into that sometime, because Zev and Stan have smashed a couple of brains, and Giggerota ate part of one, and we didn't see that happen with them. By the way, Kai was played by Michael McManus. But back to His Shadow's story!



Wait, gratuitous closeup of Zev. Zev was played by Eva Habermann.



Ok, what was that living on through Kai stuff??? O_O Wo. Let's think about this. Between Kai being dead, gutted out and rebuilt (which we find out in season three) and animated with protoblood, he's an ideal storage unit for His Shadow's essence. I will go into a lot more depth about essence and protoblood in the next section about Mantrid and the portent of His Shadow being the originator of all Insect essence left in the Two Universes. In the meantime, he just reminded us that we got a hint at Dark Kai at the tail end of the fourth movie Giga Shadow in season one. Key words here are Kai doesn't know. And it's not like he's unconscious of it, he has no unconsciousness. For all intents and purposes, Kai is His Shadow in hiding. We're not supposed to know that yet, but I'm really not going to call spoiler alert on a show that's two decades old. Anyway, here is the hint we're seeing again. Watch his eyes.







But that Shadow is a sly old fox, he backs off again so no one will notice.



Quick thought before I break this part off here. When we talk about passing essence along, and His Shadow is here and there, we kind of have to look at it like copies of himself. The Giga Shadow is his original body, right? He spoke of it as if it were flourishing. He also has previous copies of himself stored in the Divine Predecessors. I make a joke in Part 5 of the I Worship His Shadow breakdown about all the copies of his one essence arguing amongst themselves. It would be like copies of your own self perpetuated to infinity until someone or something stops it, so what really is inside of Kai is a copy of the actual mind of the Giga Shadow, plus all the memories of all the hosts that have housed that essence before Kai absorbed the latest copy. I'm not sure a living human could have survived that (Yottskry was able to fight against the Giga Shadow essence consuming his mind), but Kai, being that dead, gutted out, reanimated storage unit can apparently handle the overload just fine. He was rebuilt for programming as a Divine Assassin, and he's already stocked up on protoblood, which would seem a much better host than a regular human, actually.

Remember this when we get to Mantrid.



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