Episode 2.5 REALITY CHECK
Original Airdate: 11/6/2000
(approx. 30 minutes)
Filmed in Auckland, New Zealand
by Renaissance Pictures
in association with Studios USA
Written by Carl Ellsworth
Directed by John Laing
Created by Rob Tapert & R.J. Stewart
Gina Torres (Hel),
Victoria Pratt (Sarge),
Jennifer Sky (Cleopatra),
Patrick Kake (Mauser)
Kieren Hutchison (Johnny)
John Smith (Scientist/Old Johnny)
Ross Brannigan (Male Cop)
Jennifer Rucker (Female Cop)
Andrew Kovagevich (Archie)
Cleopatra 2525 is an action series from the creators of such hit shows such as Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. The show has been filmed in the Waitakere region of New Zealand on the old sets of Hercules.
In the year 2525, monstrous heavily-armed airborne creatures known as Baileys rule the surface of the world and humanity has been driven underground to survive. Over the centuries of Bailey domination a subterranean universe developed on countless levels - from beautifully simulated surface environments to toxic waste dumps. The humans living there have become as diverse as their surroundings. Life is difficult - not only due to mutants who have proliferated through uncontrolled genetic experimentation and roaming mercenaries but most of all because of the Betrayers-robots that were made by the Baileys and are outwardly indistinguishable from humans.
The exotic dancer, Cleopatra - cryogenically frozen in the year 2001 - awakens five centuries later in this world. The warriors Hel and Sarge rescue her from an organ-harvesting lab and take her under their wing. Armed with hi-tech weapons, and with help from the mysterious Voice that Hel hears through a receptor planted in her jaw, the three join together to try and reclaim the surface of the earth for mankind.
In Reality Check Kieren Hutchison guest stars as Johnny, Cleo's boyfriend from the past.
Review by Tom Spilsbury
Rating: 5 stars
First Transmission: 6 November 2000
Written by Carl Ellsworth, Directed by John Laing
And now for the highlight of Cleopatra 2525 thus far. Proving that you can take an old idea but always do something a bit different with it, Cleopatra finds herself walking up in her old bed in the year 2001. Beside her is her old boyfriend, Johnny, who tries to convince her that her adventures underground in the 26th Century were nothing more than a bad dream. Although sceptical, Cleo prepares to resume her old life as an exotic dancer (read 'stripper' for that). Oh, and while we're on the subject of this, the strip joint where Cleo works is rubbish! She only gets down to her underwear - even though this show is watched by kids, a little realism would have been appreciated!
Despite this rather unimportant gripe, Reality Check is a very successful attempt to take the series into unfamiliar surroundings and the scenes where Hel and Sarge attempt to drive a car on 21st Century Earth are very amusing indeed. The story is not dissimilar to Voyager's Non Sequitur, but it's far better than that. Most satisfying of all is the unexpected sting that the episode has waiting in its tail. It's sad, it's moving, it's exceptionally well acted by all involved, and yes, I daresay it might even make you cry. More of this please!
XPOSÉ Issue 53, February 2001; page 58
FULL EPISODE SYNOPSIS (spoiler!)
The female warriors Hel and Sarge are standing on a clearing with their friend Cleopatra, watching the approach of three Baileys - flying machine beings. While Hel and Sarge are amused and impressed by the details Cleo is rather sceptical. The Baileys fire at them but even though the women are hit they remain unharmed - for they are within a simulation.
When they leave their virtual reality tubes Cleo is clearly shaken but recovers quickly. They negotiate with an old scientist about acquiring the simulation programme when suddenly the door of the lab is forced open. Hel and Sarge spin around, their gauntlets ready to fire. Two Betrayers - robots that look exactly like humans - attack. One after the other in the lab is killed. The last one standing is Cleopatra. She screws her eyes shut, expecting the fatal shot.
Cleopatra awakes with a start in her bed. She calls for light but nothing happens. A hand is groping for her shoulder. Frightened she bolts out of the bed. She points her right arm at the bed in reflex and calls for Hel and Sarge. A male voice asks her what she is doing. Cleo is confused. The young man claps his hands and a light goes on. Cleopatra stares at him in disbelief. "Johnny?!" she asks incredulously. He looks at her uncomprehending and sleepy. Cleopatra looks around and sees an apartment from the 21st Century. But that does not convince her that she is truly back in her past or that the young man is really her old boyfriend Johnny - because he has been dead for 500 years! Nervously Cleo runs around, looking for some sort of clue. She notices a calendar on the wall showing the date as October 2001. That still does not convince her. Johnny watches her patiently, albeit a little bewildered, and tells her again and again that she has been dreaming. But Cleopatra cannot believe that her mind made up all her adventures in the 26th Century, even though she must admit that her current surroundings do seem very realistic. Eventually however Johnny manages to convince her and Cleo happily kisses him.
Back at the VR lab Hel and Sarge leave their tubes, laughing and commenting how impressed they are with the simulation. Sarge tries to open Cleopatra's tube, in which the girl is still standing with a big smile on her face. But the door to the tube is protected by an electrical force field. As is a fourth tube in the lab, which has tainted glass, making impossible to make out who is inside it. Hel and Sarge fire their gauntlets at the fourth tube, but with no effect.
Meanwhile Mauser, who is also in the lab, has managed to establish a remote link to the huge simulation in which Cleo is trapped. He can bring the two warriors inside, however, the effect of their weapons within it will be limited. Hel and Sarge return into their tubes and find themselves on a street with a truck coming up at them from behind moments later. The two women turn around to face the noise and fire their gauntlets at the approaching vehicle. When this shows no effect they jump out of its way. The truck swerves to the side and comes to a stop and a police car arrives. While Hel and Sarge attempt to get a bearing of their surroundings the police officers approach and arrest them. But the two warriors have no patience for this and before long free themselves and overpower the officers. They question them about Cleo. They don't know her, but Hel realises that they are in Cleo's world - pre-Bailey - and regrets that the don't have time to explore it. Knowing of Cleopatra's past they ask the cops for directions to the nearest strip joint. Then the two women strip the officers of their uniforms and put the clothes on themselves. Their first action is to stop a car, forcing the driver out at gun point. Even though they have some trouble figuring out how to drive the car, they also have a lot of fun with it and eventually manage it.
In the meantime is Cleopatra waiting to go on stage for a performance in front of some agents Johnny has invited. She is excited and grateful to Johnny. While Cleo is doing her futuristic dance Hel and Sarge arrive at the club. Johnny notices their confrontation with the bouncer. He comes to the door ordering the computer to initiate its security lockout programme. Hel counters that by telling Mauser to boost their signal. She wants to know who Johnny is. He simply replies that Cleo is with him now and warns them not to interfere again. Then he gives another order to the computer that effectively locks out Hel and Sarge this time. Johnny returns to watch the end of Cleo's performance. He is enthralled by her, as are the agents.
Back at the lab Hel and Sarge confer with Mauser. He can bring them back into the simulation but the method of doing it will prevent him from being able to extract them again. The simulation must be shut down by their adversary in order to enable them all to get out. Mauser also informs them that time within the simulation passes quicker and that for Cleo already 14 days have gone by. This also makes it hard for Mauser to locate her. Therefore he returns Hel and Sarge to their previous location at the club. The club is closed now but the bouncer is there. He recognises the two women, who now appear in their usual outfit again. He says he might help them find their friend if Sarge is willing to put on a private show for him. Sweetly Sarge replies that she has a better idea. Like an old western hero she then fires her gauntlet down at the floor before his feet, making him dance. Hel watches amused. He now is more than willing to tell them, that Johnny has taken Cleopatra to the park.
Walking in the park Johnny and Cleo talk about the agents' offer to fly her to Las Vegas to perform there. Cleopatra explains, she is no longer sure if that is the life she wants anymore. She feels she has been part of something bigger and now doubts that life as a dancer will make her happy. Johnny suggests that she shall pick another life. Then he points behind them and Cleo is astonished to see the place where they kissed for the first time. Tenderly Johnny kisses her, before smiling mischievously at her, going down on one knee before her and holding up a ring, asking her to marry him. Cleo is totally taken by surprise. Before she can answer him, however, Hel and Sarge arrive and crash the car they acquired into a parked vehicle, causing a disturbance.
Hel spots Cleopatra and Johnny on the path not far away. She and Sarge leave the car and head over to them. Johnny tries to pull Cleo away, but she has already seen her friends and insists on talking to them. Johnny orders the computer to activate defences. Confused Cleo turns around to him, asking for an explanation. Suddenly all passers-by within the park are heavily armed and start shooting at Hel and Sarge. They shoot back and disable their attackers one by one. Even though Hel and Sarge are hit several times they remain unhurt. Cleo realises that Johnny has been lying to her the whole time and the killing of her friends that she witnessed before has only been a simulation. Johnny holds her in his grip to prevent her from leaving him as well as protecting himself from Hel and Sarge. Johnny desperately explains to Cleo that he is indeed who he claims to be. He had been frozen the same way she had been and after he had been thawed he had started looking for her. Johnny had learned how to build virtual worlds and had created this world for himself and Cleopatra to live in as it should have been. Cleo believes him but wants to be with him for real in the present time. Johnny eventually relents and ends the simulation.
Hel and Sarge help Cleo out of her tube. Together they open the fourth tube. Out comes the old scientist. "Johnny?" asks Cleo. Weakened he sinks to the ground. He explains that he had been thawed 50 years too soon and he wouldn't ask Cleo to be with him as an old man. He gives her the engagement ring to remember them by. Then he dies. Sarge and Hel comfort Cleo, assuring her, that they are there for her, for as long as it takes.
Cleopatra 2525 © Studios USA