In this episode’s pivotal moment, Martin Mertens ostensibly sacrifices an accomplice he thinks of as his child–enough to call him Martin 2–for the sake of ill-conceived getaway.
Martin Mertens is bad news. He’s given us nothing but trouble every second we’ve been with him since his debut in “Escape from the Citadel.”
We’ve seen his narcissism in assuming leadership in three out of three appearances now: first he led other Cosmic Criminals to escape the Crystal Citadel, then he pretended to be a god so some helpful critters would slave away fixing him a ship, and now he’s gone and assumed leadership of a rebel faction on this warring planet.
Martin also apparently has a talent for becoming surrounded by little critters, as he did in “The Visitor.”
We’ve never gotten a real window into Martin’s life in space, and now we’ve seen that it’s only made up of what we’ve seen before. His life is an endless cycle of committing crimes, getting thrown in jail, and breaking out of jail.
After some rebels help him break out of prison, he decides that his rebel companion, of the koala people, reminds him of his son, Finn. He then names him, of course, Martin 2 (I’m assuming Martin didn’t name Finn, because otherwise Finn would likely be named this). He then proceeds to fly away on the koala people’s only food source and sell it while Martin 2 cries.
But the key moment of this episode isn’t when he sacrifices Martin 2 in the ensuing chase, but when he realizes that the police don’t care about him. There’s a much more interesting story going on here than Martin Mertens, and it’s a Yoda-esque rebel leader who’s old as hell and can fight.
Martin is still a scumbag who leaves his companion to possibly die while Martin 2 cries out and calls him “papa,” but the rebel leader escapes in the end. Martin then escapes the planet with all the riches.
This was an essential story to tell; Martin’s dickishness is much less impacting when we have no idea what he’s up to. Until now, he might have been able to claim he’s been off doing something important.
That said, any story of Martin Mertens isn’t a particularly interesting one, and this episode is determined to show us that. In fact, you could likely follow someone he just happens to bump into, and that’d be a much better story.
Like Finn, Martin 2 matters. Martin doesn’t.