Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 3 Episode 12 (There Is a Tide…)

I’m still not sure what to make of Star Trek: Discovery.  I miss the good old days when most episodes had a distinct storyline.  Some contributed more to the overall story, but most could stand on their own.  Then, came CBS All Access.  Discovery and Picard seemed to go the route of a serialized narrative.  We progressed a little more each week, but there was usually little new stuff.

I think this episode typifies that.  The Emerald Chain has taken over Discovery and infiltrated Starfleet/Federation headquarters.  The assumption would be that they’re attacking, but Osyraa wants to negotiate.  She has an idea to fold The Emerald Chain back into The Federation.

They left Captain Saru, Doctor Culber and Adira back in the radiation-laden nebula to take care of Su’Kal.  We’ll have to wait to see what becomes of them.  The point is that she honestly wants peace.  She knows the game is up.  The Emerald Chain has scientific prowess and The Federation has the spore drive.  Put those together and they could go places.  The only real holdup is that Osyraa would have to answer for her crimes.  She’s not really keen on this, so it’s unclear of any such merger will actually happen.

Part of me feels like this was an unnecessary episode.  You could have cut it out and it would have had little effect on the overall storyline.  It occurs to me that it’s really the opposite problem.  Discovery has a 13-episode arc this season.  That’s half of what I was used to with The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.

There were so many wasted opportunities.  We never really got a good look at what had become of Earth, Vulcan or Trill.  We know so little about The Emerald Chain.  In fact, I know that it’s made up of Andoria and Orion.  I think there are other planets, but I’m not sure.  I think Osyraa is the leader, but I’m not clear on that.  I think she mentioned something about others in positions of authority.  A little background information could have gone a long way.

For that matter, we know so little of what happened to The Federation at large.  At least three  founding members are no longer members.  How many more fragments are there?  How vast is the known galaxy?  There are so many questions.  It would have been nice for the series to take a break and explore the 32nd Century a little more.

Maybe we’ll get that chance next season.  We’ll have to see what happens tomorrow.  We could see the Federation return to normal.  Maybe not.  I’ll grant you that nine centuries is a lot of ground to cover.  What we’re given is a feeble attempt, though.  I really think Discovery can do so much better.

That’s part of the problem with doing a serialize season like this.  It’s too long of an episode and too short of a season.  It reminds me of a joke, wherein a guy goes to a restaurant.  After eating the meal, the waiter asks how the food was.  The man says, “I have two complaints:  First, the food was horrible.  Second, there wasn’t enough of it.”  I want more and I want better.  Is that too much to ask?

 

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Sunday, January 03, 2021

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 3 Episode 11 (Su'Kal)

It occurred to me that Starfleet and The Federation had something like 125 years to figure out what caused The Burn.  For those that are just joining us, The Burn basically ended the use of warp drive as a major mode of transportation.  And yet, no one made any real headway on what caused it for over a century.

Then, along comes the U.S.S. Discovery.  Within a matter of months, they pinpoint where The Burn originated.  I’ll grant you that this location was remote, but you’d think someone would have thought to look at the black boxes on starships.  I’m just saying.

Anyway, Discovery goes off to the Verubin Nebula, where the find exactly one life sign, and tat one life sign happens to be a member of the same race as Captain Saru.  Sure, Saru is eager to get there and meet his Kelpian.  He even beams over to a radioactive ship to meet the guy.  To coin a phrase, you won’t believe what happens next.

We come to find out that the Kelpian, Su’Kal, has been alone for something like 125 years.  He’s had the ship’s computers and holodeck to basically raise him and keep him company for all that time.  Saru beams over with Michael Burnham and Dr. Culber.  They find that the Kelpian hasn’t developed much beyond the mentality of a child.  Getting him off the ship proves difficult.

Meanwhile, Ensign Tilly, as first officer, is left in command of Discovery.  This wouldn’t be a problem except that Dioscovery pissed off Osyraa and she promised revenge.  Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue.  It’s a big universe.  What are the odds that Osyraa would pick that moment to exact her revenge?

Well, Osyraa shows up and manages to capture the ship and jump to Federation/Starfleet headquarters.  Fortunately, Discovery has Booker to send over to pick up Burnham.  Unfortunately, Adira the human Trill stays behind in the nebula.

There are a few interesting things to consider here.  The first thing I noticed is that Saru is made to look human.  Su’Kal’s ship would seem to be one big holodeck, which allows the computer to change the appearance of the landing party.  It changes the one person who looks like Su’Kal to look human and the two humans to look slightly non-human.  Granted, the ship has suffered massive damage from radiation.  Still, it seems odd.

Grudge the Cat also pays a visit to sickbay.  It would appear that Grudge may actually be a cat.  No mention is made of her being anything else.  It’s not unheard of, even within the Star Trek universe, for a cat to be something more than a cat.  This cigar may be just a cigar, after all.

It seems that the writers for Star Trek like to take their time.  As mentioned, it took a long time for anyone to even realize that the ship existed.  (You’d think whoever sent the ship would have said something.)  Once on the ship, the landing party takes its sweet time trying to get Su’Kal off the ship.  Given that there’s dangerous radiation, you’d think someone would slap a homing beacon on him and be done with it.  They’re very aware that there’s a time limit, so why waste any?

This episode would seem to set up the last two episodes.  I’m a little late in reviewing this episode, so I’ve already seen one of those two episodes.  But I am left wondering how this season will end.  There is talk of a fourth season.  What will that look like?  I’m not sure.  It’s still not clear if The Burn can be fixed.  We now know the cause of it and there is a large stash of dilithium would could mitigate the problem, but it’s not clear to what extent.

A fourth season could see the Federation and Starfleet rebuilding with Discovery’s help.  It could also see Discovery jumping back in time or further ahead, although I doubt it.  I’m thinking that the narrative will jump ahead to a point where progress has been made, but there’s still work to do.  I guess we don’t have long to wait to see how this season ends.

 

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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 3 Episode 10 (Terra Firma, Part 2)

WARNING:  Spoilers ahead.  

 

There are so many Star Trek series in production right now, it’s hard to keep track.  Add to that several more series floating around in the ether.  One of those new ideas was a show about the mysterious Section 31, which was supposed to be headlined by Michelle Yeoh.  But the character in question is stuck in the 32nd century.  Does that mean that Section 31 has lasted that long?  Or would Georgiou somehow be sent back in time?

Well, it looks like we get part of an answer, sort of.

In Part 1 of Terra Firma, we meet Carl.  Carl is an enigmatic type.  He offers Georgiou help.  Well, he offers her a door, which could help with her condition.  Upon walking through the detached doorway, she finds herself in what appears to be The Mirror Universe.  You see, Carl is weighing her, seeing what she’s made of.  Based on her decisions, Carl will either offer or deny her that help.

When she finally passes, we find out who Carl really is and what he’s up to.   You see, Carl is the personification of The Guardian of Forever.  Georgiou’s problem is that she’s both out of time and away from her home universe.  Like the saying goes, she doesn’t have to go home, but she can’t stay here.  Carl doesn’t send her back to The Mirror Universe, but can send her back to a time when her absence won’t be an issue.

It’s not clear what this means, exactly.  Section 31 existed from the dawn of The Federation.  She could end up meeting Jonathan Archer or Kathryn Janeway.  (Or, she could end up back in her own time, which is most probable.)

There also appears to be a bit of retcon with The Guardian.  When we first saw The Guardian, it was stated that the history of a planet could only be displayed in the fashion shown.  Someone couldn’t pick an exact time or place.

Granted, neither of Georgiou’s journeys necessarily violates that edict.  It’s not clear if what we saw her go through really happened.  It could have been a pocket universe or alternate timeline.   At the end of the episode, Carl is able to send Georgiou to a specific time place of his own choosing.  It could be The Guardian can do whatever it wants, but has no way to take a specific request.  Given the vastness of all of time and space, it might be some limitation on taking requests.

There’s also the issue of the Temporal Cold War.  Carl says that he had to go into hiding after what the various factions put him through.  Something  might have happened to The Guardian that altered its nature.  (That could be an interesting little miniseries right there.)  I guess we’ll just have to wait to see exactly what Carl did.

There’s a part of this episode (and the previous one) that feels like a detour.  Without Georgiou’s problem, the side trip would have been totally unnecessary.  We never would have met Carl/The Guardian.  I suppose it’s necessary to set up the Section 31 show and all.  I mean, I’m not complaining.  City on the Edge of Forever was a great episode and all.  I’m just wondering how else this will fit into the big picture.

The last stretch of the episode sees the crew getting back on track.  There’s this mysterious distress call.  The crew knows where it’s coming from, but decides to decode it before actually going there.  I suppose that’s a sensible precaution.  Had it not been for The Burn, it would have been fairly easy to send a bunch of ships there.

As it is, Discovery is the only ship that could make the journey in a reasonable amount of time.  If Starfleet is going to send a bunch of ships there, one would want to know what’s necessary.  (Do they need science vessels or warships, for instance?)

There are three more episodes left this season.  It looks like the next one will have Discovery going to the source of The Burn.  I’m hoping for a happy resolution, but nothing ever seems to be easy on this show.  At least it’s interesting.

 

IMDb page

 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)

I was excited to hear about one more Bill & Ted movie.  In both cases, it’s said that the title duo save the world by releasing a song.  Exactly what that meant and how that played out were left to the viewers’ imaginations.  It was a lot of pressure, to say the least.  Someone  comes from the future and says that the fate of the known universe  rests on your musical skills.

As the title of this movie implies, it’s time to see what it is that actually brings the planets into alignment.  With the death of George Carlin during the intervening years, Rufus only makes a cameo.  It’s up to his daughter, Kelly, to move things along, historically speaking.  You see, it’s only a few days until William and Theodore have to actually perform.  They have no song.  The band has fallen apart.  Their respective marriages aren’t far behind.  At least their daughters  have some talent.

To their advantage, they have access to a time machine.  They realize that they can go ahead and get the song from their future selves.  Working against them is a killer robot sent by the very future that they’re supposed to save.  Oh, and they only have a few hours to write the song, get the band back together and actually perform this unwritten melody, all while the cosmos, in its entirety, is falling apart.

It’s a bold premise, to say the least.  I guess after the first two movies, you need something a little different.  If you haven’t seen the first two movies, it’s possible to watch this one as a stand-alone movie.  There are a few callbacks to the first two movies that you’ll miss, like Ted’s father denying that the events of the second movie could have happened.  If you have seen the first two movies and are on the fence about this one, there are worse ways to spend a few hours.

I have to admit that there was a different feeling to this movie.  Many of the major characters were back, although it seems that the franchise doesn’t have a problem with recasting.  (Outside of Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, I think only one actor has been in all three movies.)  It seems like the movie was made to maybe recapture some of the nostalgia from the late 198s and early 1990s.

True to form, though, there’s a lot of fun to the movie, especially if you don’t think too hard about it.  (I mean, how do you make a franchise out of a time-traveling phone booth?  Who does that?)  The thing that caught my attention was that none of the future versions of Bill or Ted had the song, even though they should have.  It wasn’t until the distant future that they got anything.

True, this may be because the universe is falling apart.  There is that.  I think it’s meant more to be a fun movie with characters that we’re familiar with.  I could see this being something to finally tie up the franchise.  There is a certain finality to it, especially considering the post-credits scene.  There’s also a possibility of some sort of spinoff with the daughters, although I don’t really see that happening.  (I will say one thing:  I find it odd that Bill, Ted and Rufus all had daughters.)

I’m not sure where I stand now that I’ve watched the movie.  It’s not entirely excellent, but it’s not entirely bogus, either.  It’s difficult to come up with three movies that work together, so I will cut the writers a little slack.  Also, the juvenile aspect isn’t that juvenile.  I do get the sense that the music is being faced, at least on some level.  Bill and Ted are adults, but not quite grown up.  As they say, growing older is mandatory.  Growing up isn’t.

 

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 3 Episode 9 (Terra Firma, Part 1)

Georgiou is in a bad spot.  Her molecules are disintegrating and she has issues trusting people.   Not that it matters, though.  No one knows what’s happening to her, so there would be no way to help her.  Discovery gets a visit from Kovich, who basically states as much.  He didn’t cause the problem, as some might have suspected, but he does have some idea what’s going on.  It’s the one-two punch of crossing universes and jumping ahead in time.

That’s when Discovery’s computer chimes in.  You see, it was given vast quantities of information from a giant sphere and is now maybe sort of semisentient or something.  Anyway, it offers up a suggestion.  Go to a particular planet where Georgiou has a 5% chance of being cured.  It’s not clear what that means and Kovich isn’t quite enamored with that level of AI, but there Georgiou beams down with Commander Burnham.

They walk to a spot offered up by the ship’s computer.  It’s not clear why they couldn’t just beam down to that spot.  (Yes, it gives Burnham and Georgiou time to talk, but still…)  Anyway, they meet Carl.  Carl has a door.  When I say door, I mean just a door.  It sort of brings back memories of The Lost Room.

Carl has a proposition.  Georgiou can go through the doorway.  She’ll be free of the affliction that ails her at the moment, but that doesn’t mean she can’t die.  Carl is a little vague and enigmatic about it, but she takes him up on his unusual offer.

This is where it gets weird.  If you’ve read other reviews of this episode, you may have seen comparisons to City on the Edge of Forever and The Q.  These are not unwarranted comparisons, as Georgiou finds herself in what is ostensibly The Mirror Universe.  It reminds me of The Next Generation episode Tapestry in that Georgiou is likely being given a chance to resolve some issue from her past.  We’ve seen fragments of this in flashbacks.

Carl is also holding a newspaper.  It’s tomorrow’s paper, a la Early Edition.  In tomorrow’s paper, Georgiou is dead.  That can be changed, although Carl won’t give out any specifics.  Georgiou has to figure that out on her own.  (Being that this is a two-part episode, we’re going to have to wait.)

Much of the episode takes place in The Mirror Universe, but there are a lot of things going on.  Admiral Vance offers Captain Saru some advice.  We also find out that the ship emitting the distress call is Kelpian.  It was lost about 100 years ago, so there’s no expectation of finding anyone alive, but there is an incomplete message from a member of the crew.  I get a sense of a twist coming up.  Again, we’re going to have to wait to find out more.

Oh, and the Kelvin timeline is now cannon in the Prime timeline, so there’s that.

I’m hoping we’ll get to see Carl again.  It’s not clear who or what he is.  There’s no shortage of omnipotent beings in the Star Trek universe.  He might be Q.  He might be associated with The Guardian of Forever.  Most likely, he’s something new.  I’m curious about how Discovery knew to go there in the first place.  (It’s entirely plausible that it was Carl speaking through Discovery.)

I’m mostly curious what Carl, the door and The Mirror Universe have to do with Georgiou’s problem.  This is why I’m inclined to believe that she’s not actually in The Mirror Universe.  I’m thinking this is an exercise in enlightenment.  I half expect Burnham to say that Georgiou walked right through the door.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

 

IMDb page

 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

La tortue rouge/The Red Turtle (2016)

There is a certain efficiency in simplicity.  With no dialogue, you focus on the visuals.  Of course, you have to have a movie worthy or such visuals.  They have to carry the story without the aid of explanation.  When a man washes up on the shore of an island, we may very well be resigned to never finding out who he is.  This doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a past, or a future for that matter.

His future is determined to be on that island.  He has plenty of bamboo to build rafts, but a giant red turtle has other plans for him.  Every time he builds a bigger raft, she destroys it.  He eventually flips over the turtle in frustration, ostensibly killing the creature.  He falls asleep only to awaken to a beautiful woman in the now-broken red shell, who he grows to love.  They spend a life together on the island, eventually having a son who leaves to make his own life.

On the one hand, the movie is relatable.  We can all imagine the frustration of being denied the ability to leave the island.  On the other hand, there is a bit of mystery which some might find odd.  I have to admit that I had to look up an explanation after watching the movie.  While the only fantastical act is the turtle turning into a woman, there is a lot of metaphor in the movie.

For starters, the man tries to use nature to escape the island, but is constantly rebuked by the turtle.  He’s turned back to the island, where he has to live.  This, of course, denies him any connection to his own kind, which the turtle eventually provides.

There is that otherworldly feel to the movie, which those familiar with Ghibli movies will recognize.  It’s not going to be for everyone, though.  It’s safe enough to play for children of any age, but I could see a lot of school-aged children just enjoying it for the visuals.  Any sort of context is going to be completely lost on them.

Even as an adult, I get the impression that the movie is saying that there’s something inescapable about our relationship with nature.  I can’t really say more than that.  Maybe that man and nature might not be one, but our fates are intertwined, much as a married couple’s might be.  One takes care of the other.  It’s not until we accept that that we can move on and be productive.

 

IMDb page

 

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 3 Episode 8 (The Sanctuary)

Things aren’t good in the 32nd Century.  The Federation is a shell of its former self.  The bad guy is The Emerald Chain, who seems to be made up of former Federation members.  Dilithium is scares and everyone is hurting, causing everyone to hurt others.  In The Sanctuary, that hurt comes to Booker’s home world, Kwejian.

Ryn, an Andorian who has gone against The Emerald Chain, is onboard The Discovery, as is Booker.  Osyraa wants Ryn back.  She correctly assumes that if she puts pressure on Kwejian, Booker will be the first person they call for help and that he (and, by extension, Discovery and Ryn) will eventually show up.

Saru is given explicit orders not to engage in battle.  Starfleet is stretched pretty thin as it is.  Another engagement wouldn’t make anything better.  Instead, offer up some diplomatic solution to the problem at hand.  If you know anything about the season so far, you know that’s not going to happen.

Osyraa really wants Ryn and she has Kwejian under her boot.  (They have a locust problem and she has a repellant.)  Saru is new as a captain.  In fact, he’s looking for some sort of catchphrase.  It comes across as goofy and unnecessary, but is probably more of a metaphor for the fact that he’s still finding himself.  Either way, he comes to realize that battle may be the best option.  It’s simply a question of how to go about it.

Everyone in this future is caught between two bad options.  Kwejian can’t tolerate insects that eat their food, but the solution is to put themselves at the mercy of a sort of protection racket.  Starfleet doesn’t want a battle, but that means implicitly allowing all manner of bad situations to continue.  Granted, Kwejian isn’t really their problem, but Starfleet used to mean something.  Starfleet used to do the right thing.

The Burn has really set thing back a long way.  Warp drive isn’t really a thing anymore and no one knows what caused it.  Fortunately, we now at least know where it may have begun.  In the previous episode, a location was pinpointed and a distress call was found coming from there.  No additional progress is made in this episode, which is frustrating.

However, we do know that there is something seriously wrong with Georgiou.  We even get one scene where her face acts like programmable matter.  It’s still not clear exactly what happened.  Georgiou doesn’t offer up any clues and the doctors are at a total loss, as well.

I’m curious to see how all of this comes together.  If someone did that to Georgiou, there would presumably be a reason.  I’m also curious to see what this distress call is.  Also, we find out a little bit about where a Booker got a human name.  Why is his cat called Grudge, though?  And is Grudge even really a cat?  Anyone that’s seen Captain Marvel knows that cat-shaped creatures aren’t always what they seem to be.


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