Strangers in the Night:
Written by: Brad Markowitz
Directed by: Michael Levine
Original airdate: March 24, 1997
Majestic receives a call from Juliet’s Russian contacts in Aura-Z informing them that they are under attack, but before they can say who is attacking them, the line goes dead. Bach authorizes a team to go in and contain the problem, consisting of the people that he feels he can afford to lose: Loengard, Juliet, Halligan, one of Albano’s flunkies and an army major, Major Powell. Juliet mentions she’s worried about a former commanding officer, Dimitri Mironov, who is stationed at the Aura-Z base and means a lot to her.
As the team explores the base, they find a Russian woman named Ludmilla and capture her. She subsequently leads them to one of the Russian scientists, Pavel, who tells them that they were conducting experiments on prisoners, and how the prisoners somehow escaped and attacked them all.
As John and Juliet search the base’s files, he comes across pictures of Kim and their son. One of the prisoners shows up and tells them that he and the other prisoners will hand over Dimitri, arranging to meet in an hour at the access door to let them all go.
Powell is adamant that he is only to secure the facility, whereas Juliet informs him that Dimitri is the only official at the base that has access to The Red Box, a doomsday device containing nuclear codes and information about Aura-Z. With the two at odds, John comes up with a way to do both, using a tripwire to literally trip up the head prisoner and getting Dimitri away from them. A shootout ensues with both sides claiming lives.
Dimitri explains that they were implanting prisoners with the ganglions for possible military use but there were no effects or changes detected, something that surprises Halligan. As Juliet begins to read out the notes on the experiment, Pavel attacks her before being subdued. As the group questions him, he begins talking as a Hive agent, before Ludmila shows up with a gun and shoots him dead. Powell, fed up with everything, demands the red box so they can leave. Dimitri explains it’s in his office, blocked by the inmates, but that they can access it via the air ducts. The only problem is that it is protected by a voice activated security trigger that only he can authorize, and he isn’t able to get through the vents, leaving John to volunteer.
He gets to the safe, finds the box, and activates the self destruct mechanism when he removes it. He is suddenly jumped by Ludmila, but manages to shoot her. Juliet finishes reading the notes and realizes that both Pavel and Ludmila were prisoners at the facility. They soon find Dimitri on the floor, after having been attacked, and Halligan shot nearby, telling them they can’t be trusted, before dying.
Powell starts panicking and accusing everyone of being Hive, but Juliet faces him down and together John, Juliet, Powell, and Dimitri head out in formation, escaping just in the nick of time.
Bach puts everyone into quarantine, fearing that they may be compromised, and soon enough, Dimitri begins experiencing chest pains. Carl Sagan, who was abducted earlier by Bach, explains that the Hive agents are sensitive to PH, so they pumped pure oxygen into the room which exposed Dimitri as having been implanted. Juliet is angered and storms off with John going after her. Juliet then realizes that John gave Majestic the idea that Dimitri was compromised.
Suddenly, an alarm goes off and they find out Dimitri has taken a nurse hostage, leading to a standoff between him and Juliet. Dimitri asks her to put the gun down and he will let the nurse go. Juliet does, but Dimitri then pushes the woman into her and tries to escape. Juliet grabs her gun back and holds Dimitri at bay. The ganglion inside him tries to appeal to Juliet’s feelings for Dimitri, but she ignores it and shoots him point blank.
Powell requests to be let go from Majestic so that he may return to his unit in Vietnam, stating that his experience with the aliens left him feeling out of control and helpless. Bach comments to Albano that he himself is as scared as Powell.
History As We Know It:Michael Levine is a pretty standard working TV director. I have to call out a show he directed a few episodes of, called Forever Knight. It follows Nick Knight, an 800 year old vampire turned police officer in Toronto Canada, who quests for redemption trying to hide his vampiric nature from the rest of the world. Imma track this sucker down for sure!
John Saint Ryan played Dimitri. We’ve seen him before in the Seaquest episode “Knight of Shadows” (the haunted ship story).
Pavel was played by Kirk B.R. Woller. We’ve seen him in the Sliders episode “Strangers and Comrades” (a military garrison protects a mysterious bounty on an asteroid that may be able to liberate Rembrandt’s world).
Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, planetary scientist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, and science communicator. His best known scientific contribution is research on extraterrestrial life. Sagan assembled the first physical messages sent into space, the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, universal messages that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find them. Sagan argued the hypothesis, accepted since, that the high surface temperatures of Venus can be attributed to, and calculated using, the greenhouse effect. Hosted the show Cosmos. Wrote a book called Eden of Dragons about human intelligence and its evolution. Won a Pulitzer for it. Known for the phrase “billions upon billions.”
The episode refers to Carl Sagan's doctoral dissertation at Cornell University, but Dr. Sagan actually got his doctorate at the University of Chicago.
The episode is set in the 1960s, but includes a reference to the Planetary Society, which was not formed until 1981.
Colin Luther Powell April 5, 1937 – October 18, 2021) was an American politician, statesman, diplomat, and United States Army officer who served as the 65th United States Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African-American Secretary of State. He served as the 15th United States National Security Advisor from 1987 to 1989 and as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993. He oversaw 28 crises, including the invasion of Panama in 1989 and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1990–1991. He formulated the Powell Doctrine, which limits American military action unless it satisfies criteria regarding American national security interests, overwhelming force, and widespread public support. He served as Secretary of State under Republican president George W. Bush. As Secretary of State, Powell gave a speech before the United Nations regarding the rationale for the Iraq War, but he later admitted that the speech contained substantial inaccuracies. He was forced to resign after Bush was reelected in 2004.
As discussed in the episode, this is what came through the door at Aura-Z that terrified the soldier so much-
Written by: Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel
Directed by: Perry Lang
Original airdate: March 31, 1997
Sagan, now working for Majestic, shows Bach a short video they intercepted from an alien ship that seems to be on a trajectory for Earth. When stating he will prepare a report for the board, Bach reprimands Sagan and tells him they don’t need to know, and to only report to him.
Meanwhile, Albano is called upon to talk with the Gray but upon seeing his gun, the Gray freaks out.
John and Juliet, undercover as hippies, meet with Timothy Leary, trying to find out if he knows anything about a new acid drug; brown cubes that are seemingly more dangerous than anything else out there. He leads them to the dealers, who happen to be Steele and Kim. A fight ensues and John gets dosed in the face with the hallucinogenic drug by Kim. John then experiences a brief connection to the Hive mind and sees his son on board a Hive ship, vowing to find him.
Meanwhile at Majestic, someone sprinkles influenza virus into the air tank of the Gray’s cell, causing it to become very sick. Despite the sudden illness, the Gray asks to speak to John and explains that the Grays and Humans have worked together in the past, and warns him to make war on the Hive when they arrive, and that John’s bloodline will be the one that defines the outcome of the war. The Gray succumbs to the illness and dies.
Hubert Humphrey, Vice President of the US, shows up demanding answers and threatening to inspect everything. As a distraction, Bach explains that Loengard is going to go on board the Hive mothership.
Sagan explains that the Hive have been grave robbing to trace 3 bloodlines back to their prehistoric ancestors. Armed with this information, Majestic can now predict where abductions will be, developing a plan to have John sit in for the next abductee.
As John and Juliet take the place of the Governor and his wife that night, they reminisce about how they met and all but say they love each other. Later in the night, electricity sparks throughout the room as the abduction begins, and John and Juliet are both taken.
Back at Majestic, Bach talks to the board. He explains the status of the operation and shows them the camera feed from Loengard. They see John awaken on the ship and begin exploring, but a series of lights fly by him and knock out the transmission.
Humphrey calls out Bach for not telling them about the alien transmission and the death of the Gray, promoting a call to fire Bach from Majestic. The vote comes down to a tie, with Robert Kennedy casting the deciding vote to expel Bach, putting Albano in charge of Majestic.
Bach awaits his judgment, when Albano comes to see him. Bach reveals that he knows Albano has been taken over by the Hive and is responsible for killing the Gray. Albano reveals that he went to the Hive willingly, and that the cellular implantation was just phase one. The new method involves computer chips and the intention to infect our technology too. Albano then shoots Bach several times.
In the Hive ship, John makes his way to a nursery, where he finally finds his son. Ray has seemingly grown much faster, now appearing many years older. John vows to get him out of there but the boy says they won’t let him leave. John asks him to make a choice, and the boy chooses to leave with John. Together they walk out of the nursery, and the voiceover reveals that the two survived, and they are now awaiting the new millennium, 30 years in the future.
History As We Know It:Timothy Leary was played by Don Most of Happy Days fame. We’ve seen him before in Sliders as a game show host (Quinn gets put on trial for his double’s crimes). Timothy Francis Leary (October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996) was an American psychologist and author known for his strong advocacy of psychedelic drugs for use in therapeutic purposes in psychiatry, and expansion of the mind and personal truth through LSD. Other Harvard faculty questioned his research's scientific legitimacy and ethics because he took psychedelics along with his subjects. Harvard fired Leary and his colleague Richard Alpert in May 1963. Two of his big catchphrases were "turn on, tune in, drop out" and “question authority.” Nixon called him the most dangerous man in America at one point.
Ernie Wiley played Dr. Cliff Rassmusen. We’ve seen him in the Quantum Leap episode “The Leap Home Part 2” as Col. Deke Grimwald.
For more information on Dark Skies, please check out these great resources of information.
Dark Skies IMDb
Dark Skies Wiki
There is a full playlist of Dark Skies episodes. Account is active as of Jan 2023.