In “Kerium Fever,” a shortage of the valuable mineral Kerium worries prospectors, with some folks fearing that New Texas is played out.
When two Prairie People show up with a rich load of Kerium, however, some trouble-making prospectors reveal their worst instincts, threatening to steal their treasure, and using the racist epithet “critter” to describe them.
BraveStarr steps in to help the Prairie People when Tex Hex resolves to steal their Kerium whle everyone else “goes broke.”
The synopsis above makes it pretty plain, but “Kerium Fever” concerns racism.
In particular, prospectors envious of the Prairie People’s success in mining set out to diminish and marginalize them.
Accordingly, BraveStarr tells the hobbit-like Prairie People that sometimes people “blame problems on people who are different from them,” rather than actively seeking good answers to the dilemma.
What’s intriguing and relevant about “Kerium Fever” is that BraveStarr himself uses the racist term “Critters” and then immediately apologizes for doing so. It was a lapse, and he sets to correct it at once. He quickly demonstrates humility and sincerity in his apology.
I really like that the series writers allow BraveStarr to make an error in judgment like this, and then have him act forthrightly to correct his mistake. His apology is accepted, and the incident ends with friendships intact.
If only our national dialogue were always so cordial, right?
But the discussion of racism and BraveStarr’s apology suggests again, at least to me, that this series seeks to operate, at least at times, on an adult level, and that’s commendable. The show, for all its moralizing, tries to look at the "space frontier" in a way that grown-ups can enjoy, right alongside their children.