"And the Ground... Sown With Salt" Review

by Mike Helba

"And the Ground... Sown With Salt" is a generally brilliant episode with a few minor technical flaws.

The brilliance is mostly due to Jason Priestley and the character he plays. Joe Straczynski created one of the scariest characters I've seen on television in a long time. I'm talking old school here, where scary doesn't mean a hockey mask and a chain saw. Michael is powerful, charismatic, and ruthless.

Jason Priestley dives head first into the character of Michael. This is the sort of role that most actors would give their right arm to play. I don't know what sort of actor Jason Priestley is, but if he's the sort that stays in character all the time, I wouldn't want to sit next to him in the lunch tent.

One of Michael's defining moments is the prayer scene, when he asks several victims to pray for their life. The correct answer to his puzzle is to pray to him, because he believes that he is some sort of messiah. This chilling scene is a perfect example of "adult content" that isn't just nudity or foul language.

Unfortunately, this episode was also host to three small technical flaws that distracted me from the performances. First, when the Thunder Mountain contact is shot at the beginning, the squibs and safety vest are clearly visible bulging beneath his shirt. Next, when Jeremiah begins shooting the prison guards, a poor edit shows two other guards giving Jeremiah more than enough time to finish his shooting, turn around, and shoot them also.

The final flaw comes from the script itself. When Michael's girlfriend picks up the remote detonator for the daisy cutter bombs, I said, "Please don't let the bombs be armed in the storage bunker." Well, at least it looked good.

Fortunately, these flaws are overshadowed by Priestley's and Straczynski's creation of the scariest psychopath on television today.

The story arc is advanced a bit when Michael reveals that Valhalla Sector is an organization that could be a threat to both his group and Jeremiah's friends at The End of the World.