Thursday, December 3, 2009

When Jenna Did... Something Else...

The Trial

"You planned this?!"
"No, I'm a complete amateur. SHUT UP!"

Our adventure picks up where the previous one ended, with Maxxy returning from the dead. I dunno if it was reedited or not, but it begins with Jenna finally admitting that, if you were going to be completely and utterly accurate in any possible way, shape and form then you COULD just about make the case that, in a sense, she was ALMOST nearly possibly in some way partially responsible for Maxxy's plight.

Wow, only four years, six beatings and interrogation and Jenna admits that she wasn't completely and utterly blameless! But she was just being "wary". Of course. That justifies everything doesn't it. Jenna, you are a worthless tart who deserves to die.

Anyway, Maxxy leads her to a slightly-less stained cell to discuss her defense, revealing he got promoted to being a lawyer because they were needed more during the election crisis than pilots. I would have thought riot squads shooting to kill were more necessary myself, but what can you do? It turns out his mum was vaguely in on this development, enough for her to know her son was alive and rightly slag off Jenna when she came round demanded to be violated by her firstborn.

(Oh, and Minka's died horribly at some point and niether Maxxy nor Jenna give a shit. She was the most likeable person in this CD, even though she had no scenes or dialogue. Says a lot, doesn't it?)

It turns out that the Federation interrogates only wanted to know about Jenna's relationship with Maxxy for a laugh - the equivalent of baby photos, I guess - and were actually a bit disappointed to discover he WASN'T some kind of secret criminal mastermind, just a horny teenager with, it seems, a very poor taste in girls. Well, that sure justifies the whole of the previous episode being pointless bollocks, doesn't it?! It had ABSOLUTELY NO RELEVENCE TO ANYTHING AT ALL!

I salute you, Mr. Guerrier. Even Aaronovitch on his worst days fell into the trap of trying to have a point to his work...

In the four years since they last met, Jenna has become a full-time smuggler and terrorist but was busted recently. It all started a few weeks ago on a moon of Mars when she was approached at a rave disco by some idiot calling himself Nick. Maxxy suggests Jenna improve her case by doing what she's best at: insisting the guys she sexually torments are all to blame and she is completely innocent. Since Nick died under interrogation, he won't be able to argue with her cowardly lies. Jenna is reluctant... not out of morals or anything, she's just convinced there's some kind of catch. I might be able to comment if I knew WHAT THE HELL SHE WAS CHARGED WITH but it's gone all cryptic. To be honest, based on The Dust Run, I'd assumed she'd be charged as a sex offender - it'd certainly be easier to pin that wrap on her than it was on Blake, after all.

Whatever the hell the crime is, Jenna is facing a trip to Cygnus Alpha if she loses the trial (well, now, I wonder if she'll lose or not?), and Maxxy notes that being exiled to a planet of incredibly stupid and ugly hippies being chased by hairy Aggador monsters will be hell for a spacer like Jenna. Because, you know, she'll go stir crazy being stuck on one planet. Apparently everything else will be a freaking doddle. Ergo, shouldn't her current incarceration drive her nuts? Mind you, how can we tell?

Maxxy wants all the details of Nick's associates in return for sparing Jenna from being in the main B7 series. Mmmm. Sounds like a good deal.

Into the flashback and... just colour me confused. Apparently it's time for the elections again. Well, four years after the ones in The Dust Run, I guess that's about right but now I'm confused - which was the one that lead to utter chaos and Blake being brainwashed when he won them? He was mentioned in the running four years ago, so did he fail and try again or... I'm confused. I really get the impression the author's mixed up his time scale and they're both supposed to be the same elections or something. Dear god this is pissing me off.

In the disco, Nick rants that the Federation news network is a propaganda machine and, ergo, Earth could be in the middle of a world war and the rest of the galaxy would be none the wiser. Jenna seems to think this staggeringly obvious point could be turned into a massive moneyspinner. Somehow.

Over a cup of exclusive Triton Columbian Blue Ridge coffee, Jenna explains she was to be paid for smuggling raw, unedited news material to the outer planets rather than the stuff the Federation peddles. Understandably, the courts might see some kind of political aspect to Jenna's activities, and if not, the shitload of narcotics they found in her ship isn't going to be a help either. Oh, she can CLAIM it's urgently-needed medical supplies for suffering colonial outposts, but it doesn't change the fact she's SMUGGLING them for a HUGE PROFIT. Jenna awkwardly suggests her defense is the satellite was just a random object that NICK stuffed full of drugs and without Jenna's knowledge and she's completely innocent.

What a lovely person Jenna is.

In the past, Jenna and Nick travel into the touristy regions of Earth orbit and try to pinch the satellite despite being in range of over 72 missile platforms that will blow them all to porridge if they deviate from the beaten track and try to steal the satellite. And Jenna, brainbox she is, decides to do just that while shouting "Oops! Sorry! Blue screen of death! That was a total accident! Sorry!" and putting it down to computer error. And, bugger me sideways, it works!

Well, until they find the satellite full of armed bastards, anyway. Maxxy points out she'll have to adjust her story so no one puts two and two together and realizes the troopers were on the satellite to rig the elections - after all, she wants to stay on the good side of the Federation, surely, doesn't she?

Jenna "adjusts" her story again (methinks Guerrier's enjoyed Trial of a Time Lord a bit too much) so Nick stupidly set off an alarm that summoned the troopers from a passing pursuit ship. With this brilliant retcon achieved, she goes apeshit and starts yelling at Maxxy for DARING to get her out of a torture chamber and offer her nice coffee! Maxxy sighs and offers her a shower and a change of clothes with no sexual favors at all - which pisses Jenna off almost as much as finding her new clothes were made in Croydon. What IS it that makes these B7 audios think the name "Croydon" is the funniest joke ever? Is it some race memory of The Hand of Fear or something?

Anyway, Jenna strips naked in front of Maxxy (presumably as another prank to destroy his self-esteem) and mocks him mercilessly: "Bruises do it for ya, huh?" She then continues to adapt her story so instead of her and Nick heroically shooting down troopers, Nick went batshit insane and slaughtered innocents in cold blood, sucking his trousers and laughing like a madman. Maxxy notes that her story of her being forced to watch her pal shoot unarmed hostages through the head might be slightly more convincing if, you know, Nick actually had some kind of motive for going postal worker all of a sudden. So Jenna reveals that Nick snorted some of the vital medical supplies and has been high as a kite, albeit a kite with a machine gun.

Maxxy still thinks that Jenna's "it was the others not me it really wasn't me" defense is as convincing as... well, it just ISN'T convincing. He suggests that Jenna claim to have accidentally inhaled some rainbow dust like Nick as well, and she accidentally killed the troopers while trying to wing them. Then, overcome with melancholic pathos, she turned on Nick to save more lives. Jenna is so delighted at this brilliant cover story she comes onto Maxxy with indecent haste, but - go on, even TRY to be surprised - she backs off at the last second. Just to tease.

Back in the past, Jenna and Nick flee the satellite with their stolen memory sticks and via a Blues-Brothers-style spaceship chase manage to escape at the last second. Turns out Jenna was telling Maxxy this so he would know she is the best pilot in the damned cosmos and put in a good word for her to get a job as a Federation pilot (and, I presume, immunity from execution). Except, to quote The Wayne Manifesto, that bit's a lie. Their escape was far from entertainingly ridiculous, with Jenna once again completely freaking out and deciding to run the gauntlet and face instant burning death rather than life on a planet.

Oh, Jenna, my heart bleeds for you.

At the trial of Jenna Stannis, Maxxy is sounding distinctly like the voice of the prosecution as he puts Jenna's "revised" tale in the worst possible light, having her and Nick as backstabbing junkie drunks who slaughtered innocents while stealing medical supplies to back up their own addiction. Though, to be fair, he is as promised ensuring Jenna isn't being accused of any political terrorism and all the evidence otherwise are put down to intense drug-induced paranoia on behalf of Nick, who is actually still alive. Maxxy was lying about that.

Indeed, just as Maxxy was convincing Jenna to betray the "late" Nick as the evil villain, they did the same thing with Nick. And when they recorded Jenna's betrayal, Nick was so pissed off he went one further! Turns out Nick was one of Jenna's underage shags on Vega, and he hands over a recording of their meeting at the disco - it was all her idea, specifically to aid the rebellion. What's more Nick and Jenna were screwing continuously on the trip to Earth, and Maxxy isn't pleased that not only is Jenna a dirty slut, she's been trying to manipulate him YET AGAIN! Worse, indeed, she was using the same unsubtle strategy on Nick, except HE was actually getting some sex out of the arrangement!

And since Jenna was quite happy to let Nick die if she got off free, Maxxy cheerfully reveals that Nick has killed himself in despair. Jenna isn't remotely sad about this, as he apparently was something of a git to her when they were small children. He has also ensured, as promised, she won't be executed - instead, he has gone out of his way to guarantee her passage aboard the London for Cygnus Alpha.

"That's the worst part of this," Maxxy sighs. "You're not the girl I used to know. I liked the spirited Jenna, who resisted. It would have meant something to win her. You've lost something. You don't care. That's why you'll say or do anything you think I want."

Jenna is dragged off, foaming at the mouth and completely psycho... exactly like we saw in Rebel. So that's surprisingly good continuity and, indeed, the first time ANY of these "Early Years" stories actually counted as an origin tale. Her schizophrenic paranoia and hatred of space travel is harder to reconcile, but you can't exactly expect miracles in this range, can you?

Well that was... confusing, predictable, boring, irritating and a foregone conclusion. The only real twist is that Jenna loses any shred of noble criminality she might have possessed and is left a rabid animal with no morals of any kind, willing to do anything to stay free. I was hoping for a take on Shadow and Lurgen, but this glorified sex fued with Maxxy Townsend seemed the better option.

"It would be laughable if it wasn't so true," Maxxy concludes, summing up this entire CD release.

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