It’s Debate Day here on Trope and Dagger! Today, we’re picking sides on the best benevolent movie alien out there! Next week, we’ll be drawing lines on the best evil movie alien out there, so keep your eyes on the skies for that! Wait, no, actually, keep your eyes on the screen for that. Anyways, best benevolent alien! To read up on Andy’s ridiculous pick, go here: Things that are Incorrect, here you will find. Now, let me enlighten you on the best benevolent alien on film.
What makes a benevolent alien the best? Is it the ability to inspire? Is it the ability to protect, to teach, to learn? How about the ability to sacrifice? There are many things to consider, but I think that the alien that represents all the good qualities that we would hope to find in a visitor from the stars is Mathesar the thermian, from Galaxy Quest.
For those of you who haven’t seen the film, go see this film. It is a hilarious movie that lovingly parodies Star Trek and the real world surrounding that show, and it’s one of my favorites. Also go see it because Spoilers Ahoy!
OK, let’s break down why Mathesar is the greatest movie alien there is. I know that he’s sort of an unorthodox choice, as there are certainly more popular and famous aliens out there. In a popularity contest, he’d probably lose to Yoda or Optimus Prime or ET, but he’s got them beat when it comes to how great he is. He’s got them beat by a mile.
Mathesar, as played by the amazing Enrico Colantoni, is the leader of the Thermian people, a squid-like race from the planet Thermia. There are a highly intelligent and naive species, with extremely advanced technology and a child-like belief that television programs are historical documents that actually happened. They look like this without their appearance generators:
So what makes Mathesar so great? How about that child-like naivety! Some might think that this is a bad thing, but without that mindset, his people would not have been able to unite behind becoming like the Galaxy Quest TV show. They would still be in discord and scattered, unable to come together and build amazing things. Some might see his disposition as a weakness, but I believe that it is an admirable quality that only devious people would see as a negative. We should all strive to see the best in others, and we should be as appalled when people lie and deceive as he is! But don’t you dare be the one who lies and deceives, because that is when Mathesar will whip your ass!
You see, Mathesar may be kind and he may believe the best in people, but he is a leader. He loves his people and not only wants the best for them, he will do anything for them. And while it may not be his first instinct, Mathesar is more than willing to throw down with anyone who is trying to hurt his people. While he isn’t called to do it much in the film, towards the end when Sarris shows up on the bridge, he puts the smack down on him, hard. Even though he is tired and injured, he brings the pain and saves the day. And even more than being a warrior, Mathesar is willing to die for his people. Fighting is easy, suffering torture and not giving the enemy anything is an entirely different matter. But guess what Mathesar does.
He is tortured by Sarris and doesn’t say anything about the Omega-13 device. While the previous Commander of the ship had spilled his guts to the enemy about everything he knew, Mathesar stonewalls them and they learn nothing from him. Mathesar is tough, even telling Sarris that he will face justice when Commander Taggart shows up. Sarris is enraged by Mathesar’s ability to withstand the torture and his continued defiance of Sarris’ oppression. People break, Thermians break, Mathesar holds strong through the worst of it. When he says “Never give up, never surrender,” he fucking means it.
All of these amazing abilities and traits not only stem from, but pale in comparison to Mathesar’s capacity to care. He cares so much about everything and everyone, and the weight of the world is on his shoulders, almost literally. The fate of his entire civilization rests in his hands, and his people are lucky that it does. While his people suffered greatly during the war with Sarris, it is through Mathesar’s actions that they are able to defeat him in the end. Even though Jason Nesmith is just an actor, he made the absolute correct decision in designating Mathesar to be the new Commander of the Protector.
He may not have wise sayings or lessons planned out, but Mathesar teaches us through his actions about compassion, bravery, stalwartness, humility, and trust. He stands for his people, even when the chips are down. He will never abandon them, he will never allow them to be exterminated by evil, he will never give up, never surrender. He is the best that Thermia has to offer, and he stands proud as the best benevolent movie alien there is.