One of the key figures, whose acting role is smaller than his importance in the mythic scheme of the series, is Ulysses, the Syndrome-affected child of Devon Adair. Uly, as he is called, is drawn into the earth by the Terrians, and when he is released he has been cured of the Syndrome and can run and breathe normally for the first time. But he has not just been cured, he has been changed. His DNA now resembles that of the Terrians. Over time Uly begins to understand the Terrian trilling language and eventually is taught to summon the power of the earth through a lightning staff. It is clear that Uly, through his transformation, has the potential to save both the planet and the Earthlings that have invaded it. "He's a link [to] humanity's survival. He's the first in a long line of evolutionary changes, and without these changes [humans] will perish."
The Council and Julia Heller, M.D.
Enter the villain. "The Council" is represented by a man called Reilly who
appears only through virtual reality communication with Dr. Julia Heller. It is
clear that the Council rules, but whether that is an official government or
de facto one is not made explicit. Julia is, in a way, a product of the
Council. Her mother was on the board of regents. It was through the auspices of
the council that Julia's genetically engineered "attributes: beauty,
intelligence, strength" and her
enhanced talent and predisposition for medicine were attained. She is
an agent for the Council and has regular clandestine contact through VR with Reilly.
While the motives and goals of the Council are never fully revealed, it is
clear they intend to control the planet. This scene between Julia and Reilly
from the eighth episode "The Church of Morgan" is central:
Julia: [Julia enters VR.] "Heller In."
Reilly: "Citizen Heller!" [Reilly greets her in a mocking tone], "We'll dispense with formalities."
Julia: [Julia, not taking the bait, gets directly to the point] "The boy is exhibiting traits -- attributable to his interactions with the Terrians."
Reilly: "Is he aware of this? "
Reilly: "They know not what they have. Do you know what they have Heller?"
Julia: "I'm not sure."
Reilly: "They have the key to this planet!"
Julia: "What do you mean?"
Reilly: "We've known for years we can't take this place, we cannot sublimate the Terrian population. They have a symbiosis with the land -- an interdependency -- the very planet would die without them. Which is counter to a healthy expansionist movement isn't it?"
Julia: "And you think the boy provides the ability to take the planet?"
Reilly: " The boy is touched. Suppose we could take the essence of how he has changed, duplicate it, control it. -- and then give a home to all those desolate people floating in space."
Julia: "How do you propose to acquire the essence of how the boy has changed?"
Reilly: "There is a place at the base of all of our brains which for hundreds of years science has speculated is the location of the human soul."
Julia: "That's never been fully proven that the pineal gland is that."
Reilly: "This is where the change begins."
Julia: "How do you know?"
Reilly: "Twelve years ago I found that to be the case on ... a convict child ... I tried to remove it myself."
Julia: "Are you out of your mind?"
Reilly: "Oh no, no, most certainly not. However I have but a fraction of the medical expertise of someone like yourself. And that is why you will harvest it from the boy. And do not plead medical ethics with me Doctor. You are a prodigy of the system. The system owns your ethical choices."
Julia will become more and more conflicted over her loyalties to the Council and her growing respect for the planet and the members of the Eden Project. It is through Julia and her struggles with the Council that one of the primary tensions of the series -- exploitative technocrats versus nature-loving integrationists -- is played out. Julia is a highly competent doctor, but it is clear she is not at home in her human nature. She has difficulties opening up emotionally and although she is not a cyborg, her intellectual and emotional life has been programmed until now and has not had a chance to develop. Earth2 will become a healing place for Julia and will provide her with the opportunity to finally become fully human.
While the Council is the evil embodiment of post-colonial guilt, other characters represent a less malignant form of the rapacious side of human nature. Many of the colonists will, from time to time, assert their unquestioned right to the resources of the planet. Others are quick to shoot at the indigenes first and ask questions later, but are usually held in check by other colonists. The opposing traits of peaceful settler and aggressive invader are only one of the differences between two central characters.
Devon and Yale
Devon's closest bond, next to the one with her child, is with her old tutor,
Yale, who is now Ulysses' tutor and Devon's confidant. Politically, the
relationship between Devon and Yale most closely resembles one between a Roman
aristocrat and a loyal, educated Greek slave tutor, a strange role to have
chosen for a black man. Yale is an old man now, but in his 20s he committed a
crime for which he was submitted to a radical form of rehabilitation. The "Yale
Program" turned former criminals into a "Teacher Class" by "blanking" their
memories and implanting encyclopedic memory chips into their brains. As an
indicator of his status, Yale is "branded" with a metal I.D. tag embossed with
the word "YALE" and a number implanted in his left temple.
Yale has several cybernetic replacements for various failing human parts -- he
has a robotic arm and his eyes can function as lenses for an implanted
recorder, so that he can search and replay events he has witnessed. Physically
and intellectually a cyborg, Yale has a rich emotional dimension that not only
enhances his nurturing qualities but leads to a period of anguished self-doubt.
The Yale program was known to have had many failures in which the reprogramming
broke down and the former criminals went berserk. When Yale begins to act
irritably, the group grows suspicious of him, and make plans to kill him if he
goes over the edge. This suspicion and fear of inherent violence is another
chilling reflection of black and white reality. It is especially dispiriting
when Yale suspects himself. He discovers that he did not have a criminal past,
but was punished for a political crime in which he prevented the slaughter of
innocent people. That knowledge sets Yale free. It is possible for him to now
take his place as an elder of the group.
Another old man, who is "a hundred and ten or a hundred and nine" but looks
twenty-something, has spent much of the past seventy or eighty years in cold
sleep as a pilot of several interstellar missions. Alonzo Solace, who in all
those years of cold sleep has not dreamed, is the one the Terrians choose to
bring into their dream plane. Alonzo is a pure-hearted figure, a sort of
Galahad or a messenger angel come to earth who can see what others cannot. He
becomes the psychic bridge between the two species, the conduit for a
telepathic kind of communication from the Terrians. At first Alonzo is
tormented by the appearance of the Terrians in his dreams, and by his
confinement to an earthly existence, but in a dream he works through his crisis
and with the help of the Terrians is "healed" and accepts both his role as
messenger and his new life on the ground.
Martin and Bess Morgan
There is only one married couple, Martin and Bess Morgan, who each represent
different but complementary aspects of the old Earth. Martin, or Morgan as he
is more often called, is a mid-level bureaucrat who has been assigned to the
Eden Advance Project by the space station government. Morgan is, in his vile
pettiness, one of the most interesting characters -- someone we relish our
contempt for. He is whiny, craven, and avaricious and thoroughly dependent on
Bess. Morgan is the quintessential exploiter who would strip the planet of
anything of value and destroy anything that inconvenienced him. Fortunately, he
is too powerless to indulge in this tendency most of the time. The one time he
gets loose he triggers a crisis that threatens the entire planet.
The archetypal earth mother, Bess, is the only member of the Eden Advance party
who actually comes from Earth. She's the daughter of a miner who feels most at
home on Earth2. Her most dramatic moment comes when she functions as a sort
of pollen carrier that makes the onset of spring possible. While smelling a
flower that has broken through the winter snow, she is invaded by a yellow
vapor that triggers pregnancy hormones. She becomes obsessed with traveling
north, not knowing where or why, but tells Morgan that she feels like she is
carrying life inside her. Driven with the tenacity and single-mindedness of a
spawning salmon, she hurries toward a goal she cannot describe, but recognizes
when she arrives. She literally gives a rebirth to Earth2 by depositing the
organism that invaded her into a volcano-like hole. The volcano erupts, not
with fire, but a live explosion of colors and warmth. Julia tells her she has
made spring and they all witness the rapid onset of a season that needed the
pollen Bess was carrying to occur.
Finally, there is True Danziger, John's pre-teen daughter. She is featured in
episodes two, three and four in which Gaal, an exiled prisoner, seduces her
with fatherly attention at a time when True feels neglected by Danziger, and
she is especially jealous of Uly. Eventually she recognizes his evil intent and
takes an active role in his destruction. Her role doesn't advance the series
narrative much, but she does hold a place as one of several unusually strong
female leads. She has an active curiosity and penchant for getting into trouble
that is usually only afforded to boys on television. She is very bright,
comfortable around tools and used to spending most of her time at her father's
side as he works. Many fans found her irritating, but I suspect they would have
had more tolerance for her willfulness had the character been written as a boy.
Of course it doesn't help that the script calls for her issue several piercing
screams in some of the early episodes.