The Catacombs Catacombs Credits Guide
Johnny Byrne

The Metamorph

In anticipation of a start [to the second series], I was commissioned to do three scripts, two to begin with and then another one later on. The very first one I did that would express this new way of thinking was meant to be "The Biological Soul." Here was classic Space: 1999: you have a guy who's a lonely, rather peculiar scientist who has created this wonderful computer which is biological. This was pure Space: 1999 and essentially the question here was, what is the nature of the soul? In essence it would transpire that it constituted those most elevated parts of the human consciousness: the reasoning, humane elements that aspire to constructive and not destructive activities and speculations. This deepest and fundamental part of the human psyche was the soul, and that was represented in this biological computer which Mentor, this lonely, brilliant man, had created for his own reasons. He was in love, partly in a narcissistic way with himself because the computer was a reflection of himself, and partly as it had a personality of its own which was feminine, and therefore it was called Psyche. I think in all its aspects, that story reflected the ideas that we'd established in the first series: it was speculative, it was action adventure, it had a mystery, and it had elements of suspense. These were the dramatic characteristics of the stories in the first season.

In the early script Mentor was alone with his biological computer which he calls Psyche. They would have conversations; it was a love affair between the two of them. It had a very different feel about it, but many of the same elements were there: the attempt to lure Koenig down and so on. Then when Freddie came it was imperative that an alien be introduced. Again, the panic was that they wanted their equivalent of Mr. Spock and we tried to resist turning it into another Star Trek...they were two completely different things. But the requirements were such that it had to go into the first episode so my first episode from being "The Biological Soul" became "The Biological Computer" and then it became "The Metamorph" which is when Maya first appeared

Mentor was in love with his marvellous biological computer, a living, thinking entity into which he had distilled the essence of enlightened universal wisdom - a cosmic interpretation of the human soul. However in creating this wonderful entity, with which he was narcissistically in love, he had resorted to methods which were in dire conflict with the morals, ethics and spirituality of the enlightened end result - Psyche. In the original story it was Psyche's discovery of the horrendous means her creator had employed to create her which caused her to intervene and destroy them both. You can see immediately that for Psyche here, read Maya, and why, in structural terms, Maya could be accommodated into the story.

Where Maya was concerned, her alien nature is what could have made her less predictable as a character. Spock, for instance, had to present his alien front at all times. Having settled into Alpha, Maya could have been portrayed as ostensibly human, but capable of completely, even dangerously alien responses in given situations. As I say, it would have made her less predictable and, as such, more interesting. The result might have been more engagement with the character. While looking like the rest of us, we would always be aware of how profoundly different she was. Waiting for that difference to show up in episodes is the right kind of waiting, I'd say.

You could say that Maya lived in a state of grace before joining Alpha. Brilliant and, let's say, noble in spirit, she had overcompensated intellectually, and under compensated emotionally. Her father's personality and intellect was the balancing factor. Disillusionment, insecurity and exposure to Alpha would have made her vulnerable - certainly in emotional terms. I'm not sure the process that linked the before and after of Maya's development was adequately featured. Often in series drama, a big deal is made of character change in one episode, and completely ignored in the next. The interior serial development of character is often neglected. In Maya's case, although crying out for development, especially when played by such a wonderful actress, it seems to have gone by default.

Comments by Johnny Byrne, abridged from an interview with Tim Mallett and Glenn Pearce and a 1982 interview with Carsten Andresen.