Aboard the Andromeda spaceship Will Ziffel (Bill Hedges) is mapping an area of space he’s never traveled before. His friend and cat co-pilot Penny (Penny Hedges/Judy Hedges) wants to play. Will tells Penny that right now he needs to get some work done. Later they’ll have all the time in the world to play. The area they are currently in is a long ways away from any star system and the only things floating around are the occasional space junk. Little do they know they are being scanned by a sentient life form.
Will notices what appears to be a derelict spaceship. He scans it but finds no signs of life aboard. He picks up what could be a SOS coming from the ship. Will feels he needs to investigate the ship and verify if there is anyone aboard that is in need of help. Penny, who had been looking forward to playing her favorite board game “Where’s Kitty?”, perks up at the idea of exploring the abandoned ship. Not knowing what he’ll find, Will wants her to stay aboard the Andromeda and monitor things from there. Penny gives Will kitty eyes and he relents. Since there is no visible docking port Will and Penny will have to spacewalk to the other ship. The game is forgotten as Penny delightedly waits to be fitted in her spacepod.
The spacewalk is short and finished all too soon. Once Will and Penny board the derelict it seems to come alive. The airlock door closes, lights come on and air can be heard rushing into the room. After checking to make sure the air is breathable Will takes off his helmet and takes Penny out of her spacepod. Will hears a voice. He follows it. Will and Penny enter a computer room.
The voice is coming from the computer. He says his name is REM (Jesse Millspaugh) and that he is the spaceship. His programming was advanced so he could relate better to the crew. He was abandoned centuries ago when they built a more advanced ship. In the centuries since then he has reprogrammed himself to the point where he became sentient. He is now alone and running out of power. He needs someone to help fix his systems and keep him company. He wants Will and Penny to stay with him and service him. Will says that they have other plans for their lives. REM’s voice hardens. He accuses Will of wanting to abandon him like the others did. Now a little nervous, Will motions for Penny to follow him and heads for the exit. Suddenly the door slams down. Will and Penny are now trapped aboard the alien craft.
“Catwalk” is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2021. It was produced, written and directed by Bill Hedges. It is the fourth episode of the science fiction “Cosmic Cat” series. The film is about 28 minutes long. As far as the episode is concerned I will have to admit that I was fortunate enough to have a preview of it, and like the other episodes, I thought it was awesome.
This episode is more somber than the other ones I’ve seen. There actually are some sad parts to it. It’s also thought provoking and even a little scary. As Bill explained to me "I tried to make the themes of facing death, obsolescence, and regret the main drivers of the action." I'd say all of those objectives were met nicely. Once again Penny is played by Penny and Judy. Bill did have a stunt double in some of his scenes, as did Penny and Judy. The concept for Penny's spacepod comes from the EVA pod in "2001: A Space Odyssey" 1968.
I have to give Bill props for his props. And his special effects. I’ve seen movies made by well known film companies whose spacewalks didn’t look half as good as what Bill pulled off. There are actually a lot of props and special effects that are much better than some of what Hollywood churned out. As with his other episodes there are some hints here and there of upcoming episodes and an homage or two to classic science fiction films. As always Bill’s films are charming and a joy to watch.
What makes someone or something sentient? The dictionary says that someone sentient is able to feel things or sense them. It is a Latin word meaning “feeling”. It describes something that is alive, has awareness and can respond. Something that is able to smell, touch, see or hear. It can communicate. In Buddhism sentient beings are composed of five aggregates or skandhas, matter, sensation, perception, mental formations and consciousness. In some forms of Buddhism plants, stones and some inanimate objects are considered sentient. In Jainism water is considered sentient. Most animals and plants are considered sentient to one degree or another depending on who you ask. There are some animals that are not considered sentient, sponges and corals for example. Again depending on whom you ask. Is REM sentient. In some Eastern religions the answer would be a definite yes.