"Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Court"


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Plot SummaryEdit

The story begins with the Christa caught in an ionic storm. Harlan and Catalina are at the helm, fighting each other for control. Catalina was stationed at helm, but Harlan claims to see a way out of the storm, and shoves Catalina aside. Commander Goddard arrives, and expresses his disapproval at Harlan's actions of seizing control of the helm. Harlan is able to, however, fly the Christa out of the storm. Catalina and Harlan begin to argue over who could have done a better job at flying the ship to safety. T.H.E.L.M.A. reports that while inside the storm, the ship intercepted a message. However the sudden change in course and the application of the thrusters implemented when Harlan took control caused them to lose part of the message. Harlan shrugs off his responsibility, claiming that the message could be thousands of years old. When the message is played on the view screen, everyone is surprised to see an image of the current crew of the Christa, only older, giving them a warning. The video is fuzzy and the sound is cut off repeatedly by static, so its true warning isn't easily understood. The older version of Catalina is the one speaking, with the other members of the crew (Radu, Bova, and Rosie) making strange gestures behind her. Harlan's older self is absent.

Later in the Team Room, the students talk about the message. Catalina says that she and Suzee think that sending a message backwards through time could be possible under the right conditions, but she was worried about the fact that the message mentions the Spung. This startles Radu. Catalina chides Rosie for not telling him. Radu expresses his concern about being in danger, but Catalina interjects that Harlan is more of an immediate danger. She says that he quotes S.T.A.R.D.O.G. regulations, but ignores them as well. Rosie tries to stand up for Harlan, much to the annoyance of Catalina. Radu agrees that he isn't so sure that it was completely Harlan's fault, but is "willing to be convinced." Catalina asks Bova his opinion, and he replies with "Who am I to judge?" This gives Catalina an idea to put Harlan in his place using S.T.A.R.D.O.G. regulations.

Harlan is later led, blindfolded, to the Team Room by Bova and Radu. They have taken him there for a "surprise." When the blindfold is removed, Harlan finds himself as the defendant in his own court marshal; his peers taking on roles in the court. He tries to leave, but Catalina quotes S.T.A.R.D.O.G. regulation 25, section 1; calling for "A Board of Inquiry whenever a crewperson's behavior is questioned." This forces Harlan to stay. Bova is judge, Catalina is prosecution, Rosie is part of the jury, and Radu is the first witness. Catalina questions Radu about past exploits of Harlan, and how they had negatively affected the crew. Harlan calls Radu's credibility as a witness into question. Radu leaves the stand, and sits next to Rosie as part of the jury. Harlan expresses outrage at this, but is met by Bova's reply "We believe in recycling." Catalina takes the witness stand next, claiming that she will be questioned by Suzee.

At the Command Post, Ms. Davenport approaches Commander Goddard, who expresses that he hasn't had any luck piecing together the entirety of the message. However Ms. Davenport is more concerned with the fact that she is itching heavily. She thinks that the students are to blame, but Goddard doesn't take her seriously and tells her that she is being paranoid. Davenport leaves the Command Post in a huff, and suddenly Goddard starts to itch as well.

In the makeshift courtroom, Catalina goes over her version of what happened during the ionic storm. She portrays Harlan as jealous and terrified, while portraying herself as calm and confident. She claims to have led the ship out of the storm with the cheers of the other crew in the background. Radu says that he didn't remember himself or Bova and Rosie being present at the time. Caught embellishing, she quickly states that they should have been. Harlan demands to be a witness, to which Bova agrees. Harlan says that since they clearly survive to send the message in the future, it isn't such a bad thing that they lost part of it. He then goes on to describe the events during the storm in which Catalina was the fearful and panicking one, and Harlan himself comes in like a hero and saves them all; with Radu, Rosie, and Bova cheering him on as well. Bova proclaims "Frankly, I'm exhausted."

In the Galley, Davenport scratches the back of her hand so hard that the skin peels off, revealing slimy green skin underneath. T.H.E.L.M.A. runs a diagnostic, and concludes that Davenport's DNA is restructuring and she is transforming into a Spung. Davenport exclaims that the Commander must be warned, but he enters into the Galley already half transformed into a Spung. His personality has become more feral and dark, and he marvels at the power he feels. He then expresses hunger, and asks Davenport if she is hungry as well. He spins the food wheel and is pleased when he receives a tube of worms. He asks Davenport to join him, and she suddenly experiences a boost in her transformation, her personality changing to match Goddard's. Goddard feeds Davenport some of the worms, and then demands to know where the children are from T.H.E.L.M.A.

While Harlan and Catalina argue about the purpose of the mock trial, Goddard and Davenport have completed their transformations and have located the students. Just as Radu is about to report his and Rosie's verdict, Goddard and Davenport burst in. Bova shorts out the door, causing it to close on Goddard and Davenport, while the rest of the students escape down the jump tubes into the Command Post. Goddard and Davenport try to persue, but Radu rips the control panel out of the wall so that they cannot be followed. This leaves Goddard and Davenport trapped in the jump tubes.

The students and T.H.E.L.M.A. discuss the possibility that they have slipped into a parallel universe where only Spung exist. They realize that they are subject to "The Lister Effect," meaning that once they entered that universe, they are now subject to all of its natural laws. This means that each one of them will eventually transform into Spung themselves, just as their teachers had. Catalina suggests that they figure out the contents of the message, but relieve Harlan of duty. Harlan exclaims that he is needed, and is innocent until proven guilty. Bova asks Rosie and Radu for their verdict, and they side with Catalina. By now, Catalina and Radu are starting to itch. They discuss possibilities with T.H.E.L.M.A., trying to figure out if they can retrace their steps and get back to their own universe. T.H.E.L.M.A. agrees with all possibilities presented to her, including Bova's possibility of suddenly turning into tapioca pudding. Harlan is frustrated that his opinion isn't wanted, as his hand also starts to itch. Then suddenly Radu's hands transform into those of a Spung and the crew realizes that their time is running out. The crew replay the message, trying to figure out the unclear parts. They come back to the ionic storm, only to realize that there are in fact two ionic storms side by side. Catalina and Harlan continue to argue about which storm to enter. Catalina wants to go to the storm on the right, but the message disappears when they point towards it. Harlan wants to enter the storm to the left, and the message returns when he points the ship that way. They recognize that they do in fact need to enter the storm to the left to get to their home universe. Harlan's arms transform, and he sprouts a tail. Catalina takes the helm and guides the ship through the correct ionic storm just as the ships shields reach 2%. All of the Spung transformations are reverted, and Commander Goddard and Ms. Davenport finally enter the Command Post via the jump tubes. The students tell them a very brief version of what just happened, and how they were successful. Ms. Davenport pulls a worm out of her mouth, and faints into Goddard's arms.


The title of this episode is taken from the Rolf Harris song "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport", a popular novelty hit in the 1960's. It is also a direct reference to the mock-trial that takes place in the episode, a type of bastardized legal proceeding known as a kangaroo court or kangaroo trial. (A drumhead court-martial is also an example of an impromptu military trial.)

Thelma's description of "The Lister Effect" is a reference to Dave Lister, the main character of the BBC sci-fi program Red Dwarf, and most likely the event of the episode "Parallel Universe".


Notable Guest StarsEdit

Links Edit

Episode transcript at The Space Cases Picture Gallery