Warriors of Kudlak

Posted in Website by - January 28, 2022
Warriors of Kudlak

Aired 15 – 22 October 2007


As Luke struggles to continue to find his place amongst the other children, Clyde takes him to Combat 3000 to learn about the importance of games. But as Sarah Jane and Maria begin to investigate a mysterious wave of disappearing children during freak storms, the laser tag franchise is shown to be much more than just a gaming outlet in ‘Warriors of Kudlak’ by Phil Gladwin.

Sarah Jane, first and foremost, is a journalist trained to deal with the mysteries and conspiracies of otherwise everyday affairs, and so it is refreshing to see that she does not jump to the conclusion that aliens are involved with the missing children from the start. Indeed, she hurriedly brushes off Maria’s suggestion of aliens, and this by itself helps to keep both Sarah Jane and the series as a whole grounded in reality. During her investigations, she talks to the distraught mother of a missing boy named Lance who has had such an intense childhood after losing his father at such a young age, and the genuine emotions on display are some of the most poignant in this series to date while also allowing Sarah Jane to consider just what her feelings would be in similar circumstances now that Luke is in her life.

Of course, it’s through the story of Lance that Luke reveals the difficulties he has had fitting into his school due to unintentional mistakes and misunderstandings. He has been trying to learn about humour to make his integration more seamless, but he has yet to learn to account for the feelings of each individual around him when teasing, a difficult problem that is all too relatable for anyone feeling the pressure of trying to fit in with others. Unfortunately, events have led him to Combat 3000, a centre ostensibly set up for laser tag that in actuality is something of a testing ground for recruits into an alien war. Lured in by Mr Grantham whom Chook Sibtain plays quite well as a conniving but short-sighted manipulator that even his associates cannot endure, the children are monitored and scored from afar in order for the Uvodni Kudlak to provide soldiers for his people’s war against the Malakh. Stories about disappearing children are fairly commonplace for science fiction, and so while it’s unsurprising that Luke and Clyde should be taken aboard the Uvodni ship after their successes, ‘Warriors of Kudlak’ does at least attempt to subvert expectations by making the Mistress giving orders to Kudlak nothing more than a computer with no understanding of peace that has accordingly buried the Emperor’s message that an armistice had been reached some ten years ago. This not only allegorically speaks to the horrors of war and the lengths some will go to in order to remain in control, but it also serves to deeply humanize Kudlak who, upon learning the truth, destroys the Mistress and promises to do everything that he can to reunite the surviving children he has recruited over the years with their families.

The discussions about war may be a bit direct, but there is certainly merit to discussing all aspects of war and just how different video games are from the genuine horrors that actual battle entails. And while Luke is perhaps being used as something of a de facto prototype Doctor given his social awkwardness but incredible knowledge, shown here using Clyde’s phone to get into the ship’s systems, it’s a necessary contrivance that allows different portions of the team to experience different parts of the problem at hand. There is unquestionably a burgeoning chemistry between the pairings of Tommy Knight with Daniel Anthony and Elisabeth Sladen with Yasmin Paige, and the determination, naivete, and intelligence each character shows at different points helps to create a familiar and familial element that anyone can relate to regardless of age. This is a story as a whole that features far more filler than is necessary and that relies on a few key moments to break out of what is otherwise fairly generic material, but the character work for the leads and the harrowing journey of Kudlak are definite strengths here as this series continues to refine its format and tendencies.

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