Alien Nation (TV series)/Headscratchers

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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  • The Five Year Gap between the end of the TV series and the movies. The only possible explanation for the completely inconsistent off-screen aging of George and Susan Francisco's three children is barely reconciled by the Literary Agent Hypothesis: Emily goes from 8 or 9 in the TV series (which lasted one season before being canceled before its time) to 13 in the first movie (her age was explicitly stated in Dark Horizon, and we know that, at least until the end of adolescence and the onset of early adulthood in their mid-twenties (when their aging process apparently slows down), Tenctonese development fits the human pattern (with the exception that Tenctonese toddlers enter some sort of coccoon in which they develop additionally, as Vesna was shown to do before she became Richie Cunningham in the later TV movies, and was supposedly off at Daycare the whole time). Meanwhile, Buck is still in high school in Dark Frontier (he was at least sixteen in the series). And Vesna? Barely seen after Dark Frontier, the first TV movie, but she seems to have been in suspended animation or something for five years because she's still an infant (this was necessary, as with some otherwise minor retconning Dark Frontier is a direct sequel to the canceled series' unresolved cliffhanger.
    • It's simple really, Emily's actress had obviously aged. There was no choice but to SORAS the character. Sean Six could still pass as a teen and babies can easily be swapped out without the audience noticing
  • I have mixed feelings about Dark Horizons. I'm glad they followed the series' premise through to its logical conclusion, but I can't believe human civilization didn't see it coming. Why was the Newcomers' arrival greeted more like a 3rd-world boatlift arriving in Florida than like Perry sailing into Tokyo Bay? No-one considered that being on the doorstep of a colossal, hyperadvanced, heartless, expansionist interstellar slave empire might prove slightly hazardous for planet-bound and technologically backward mankind? Even worse, Dark Frontier implies that even a brush with total destruction wasn't enough to spur the humans to try to close the technology gap with the Tenktonese. Yes, the soldier played along with George's scam, but noone on Earth knows that he did and they had no reasonable expectation that he would. And even if they had reason to be confident that they had tricked the Tenktonese rulers into staying clear of Earth forever, who's to say some other bunch of galactic thugs won't come calling in a century or two?
    • Easily explained by politics and human nature. No one knows how to defend against an invasion by such a formidable force, it'd be unimaginably expensive if they COULD do it, and it might not happen anyway. On top of that, 99 percent of the world has no contact with Newcomers and so hardly ever thinks about them. World leaders and commonfolk alike ignore the issue and focus on the here-and-now business of life, gambling that it'll be somebody else's problem.

I'm imagining the "Office of Alien Contingency Planning" is a nerdy lieutenant in the Pentagon basement who spends half his time trying to justify his job existing at all so he won't be deployed to Afghanistan.

  • Asymmetry. Admittedly in a complex body where organs have to be packed in tight the arrangement will be somewhat asymmetric, e.g. the human liver is in the right side of the body and the stomach in the left, but why would a race develop so asymmetrically that the crippling nerve point was in only one armpit?
    • There's a lot more asymmetry among some species right here on this planet. Ever see a fiddler crab?
    • Also do you have any idea how insanely improbable your own anatomy is? Your tongue is one of the strongest muscles in your body (if it were the size of an elephant's trunk you could uproot large trees), there's a small organ behind your nose that isn't connected by nerves to anything (it's thought that it used to help us sense pheromones better) and men have a vestigial remnant of the vagina called the prostatic utricle that exists as a useless little pouch that hangs off your prostate, not to mention your liver, which can completely regenerate from only 25% of its mass.
  • How is it that they can eat raw, bloody meat, which contains both salt and water, they can beat a person bloody, without the salt water inthe blood burning their fists, and they can even have sex with humans, which also entails very, very close exposure to salty waterbased fluid? Is there another chemical, common in Earth biochemistry, that neutralizes salt water? If so, why on Earth don't they all carry little spraybottles of it?
    • I assume that salinity levels are what matters, just like humans can be exposed to heavily diluted acids without problems but are severely injured by highly concentrated acids. Sea water has much a higher salinity than human body fluids do, a much higher than the human body can stand, in fact, which is why drinking it can be fatal to humans.
      • wow... I hate to break it to you, but You Fail Biology Forever. Human (and close to all other land creatures) have bodily fluids of THE SAME salinity as sea water (the technical term is isotonic). this is, in fact, one of the most often cited pieces of evidence that all life came from the sea. the reason you "can't" drink it is that because it's isotonic it doesn't lighten the body's salt-balance (the body typically losses more water then salt, so you need to drink things that are hybertonic) so drinking sea water doesn't hydrate you anymore then drinking nothing at all, so if you drink ONLY sea water you'll eventually dehydrate.
        • You are completely, totally wrong. Seawater is at least 3% salt. Human blood is about 0.9% salt, isotonic to normal saline solution. Our internals are much closer to fresh water than salt water.
          • The confusion likely comes from how body fluids may be about as salty as the seas were, when complex animal life first emerged in them. A heck of a lot of minerals have been eroded into the oceans since then, forcing even native marine fish to expel the salt through various glands and excretory organs, these days.
      • Even so, kissing a human being should be at least as bad as slurping concentrated vinegar, which is 25% percent pure as opposed to regular 6% pure vinegar. Considering that salt water eats Newcomer skin like it was high-grade hydrochloric acid, even one third of that should be bad enough to cause extreme discomfort, especially in private places. Nevermind that most acids are actually pretty poisonous to humans even in low concentrations.
        • Human fluids such as saliva might be rendered non-toxic by their mucus content.
      • Or maybe it's not just sodium chloride, but the combination of several dissolved mineral salts in sea water that's harmful to Newcomers. Natural seawater's a pretty complex mixture, containing everything from fish pee to living microplankton to miniscule amounts of dissolved gold.
    • Newcomers are very adaptable. In the comic book, a human doctor developed a technique for using Newcomer body parts for organ transplants in humans. One patient, soon after the transplant, mentioned that the implants hurt. The doctor told him that it was the Newcomer flesh responding to the saline in the patient's blood, and that the pain would go away soon, as the implant adapted to its new environment.
  • As far as the sex goes, two words: latex condoms.

"Human DNA is like a blueprint. Newcomer DNA is like a rough sketch."

  • Why would so many aliens that are affected by salt water move to a metropolitan area ON THE OCEAN?
    • That's where they crashed; they didn't have a choice.
  • Also, Most of the plot of the TV series and the original movie take place in L.A. (and in the U.S.) We don't see any of the Newcomers to travel outside the U.S. (or even outside California) Any explanation for this?
    • LA seems to meet their physical needs perfectly, they require a warm environment so a lot of other place in the country are either too cold, too humid, or too dry (often all at the same time) for them. The other places that would suit them are simply too far and too expensive for the average Newcomer to relocate to permanently. You have to remember that they're refugees, it's the same reason why you see a lot of Cubans in Florida but not nessecarily in, say, Pennsylvania.
    • Because the series is taking place in LA. They don't randomly hie off to Alaska to show you some Newcomer that decided to move there and chop wood for a living because it's not relevant to the plot.
  • Whatever happened to the Tenktonese ship? Wouldn't it be thouroughly studied and reverse-engineered? Even if their FTL drive is damaged beyond repair, there are plenty of other devices that would revolutionize human science. The ship was obviously hovering for some time, implying some sort of anti-gravity and/or repulsor technology. There are life support, medical, security and plenty of other systems that could be studied. Hell, the alloys that make up the hull would probably help us figure out how to make better spaceships.
    • It was. Or at least attempts were constantly being made. The problem is that the people on the ship only knew how to work it, not how it worked, which isn't the same thing. It was also severely damaged in the crash. Plenty of new technology springs up throughout, obviously because of the influx of the craft, it just didn't turn us into the Star Trek future overnight. Reverse-engineering strange alien technology isn't as easy as it sounds... it shouldn't even sound easy at all.
  • What would the evolutionary advantage of having in essence a third gender needed for reproduction, and have this gender only occur in 1% of males? It seems incredibly dangerous
    • I'm going to run with all the supposition about Newcomer DNA above and suggest that it's a method of population control for slave-caste Tenctonese. Like you said, it would be dangerous to have such a low number of actual breeding pairs (or sets, since there are three) so why not throw the Overseers a bone and say that the slaves have been modified this way as a means of population control?
      • This actually makes perfect sense for a genetically engineered slave race, this way they can have sex all they want, which helps keep them happy, but can't build up a large enough population to mount an effective rebellion because their masters could simply destroy the breeding stock, killing the species.