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.


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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.


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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.


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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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Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 3 Episode 7 (Unification III)

It occurred to me that a 930-year jump is not insignificant.  The crew of the Discovery is so far in the future, it would be like someone from the Norman invasion of England coming to our time.  I bring this up because Spock gets a cameo in this episode, which is called Unification III.  This would be like one of us talking about William the Conqueror.  I want you to consider that for a moment.

You see, the central aspect of this episode is that Michael Burnham has to go to Vulcan.  Except they call it Ni’Var now, because Romulans are living there.  It looks like Spock’s efforts in The Next Generation paid off, even if he never lived to see it.  But that’s not why she’s going to Vulcan.  She needs information on The Burn.

Burnham has three points of reference as to The Burn’s cause.  She determines that the Burn happened at one location and spread out rather than happening all at once.  However, three points of reference only narrows down where that point of origin is.  Like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit, Burnham needs more input.

The Vulcans had this experiment called SB-19.  In an effort to find alternatives to warp drive the Federation pushed Vulcan to conduct an experiment that may have caused The Burn.  The Vulcans blamed themselves, withdrew from The Federation and didn’t share the information.  It’s up to Burnham to play on the fact that she’s Spock’s sister.

The whole thing seems a little odd to me.  It’s like someone showed up today and claimed to be William the Conqueror’s sister.  Any sense of who William the Conqueror is reduced to legend and fable.  Anyway, Burnham goes through a bit of an inquisition, learns a valuable lesson and gets the information in spite of it all.

On top of this, we finally find out what happened to Burnham’s mother.  She ended up on Ni’Var and joined that Romulan candor sect from Star Trek: Picard.  She basically throws her daughter under a bus during the hearing to get the SB-19 information, citing honesty and everything.  Michael is forced to face some hard truths.  It’s little wonder that she resists and feels betrayed.

It’s also notable that the Vulcans aren’t relieved that The Burn isn’t their fault.  I know.  Vulcans don’t show emotion.  And there are other considerations, like The Federation was pushing them to do something that they knew wasn’t a good idea.  A hundred years later and the Vulcans are still saying we told you so.

Meanwhile, Tilly is made first officer.  Sure, she’s an ensign.  She was on the command track and all, but she seems a little inexperienced to be the executive officer, even if temporarily.  This could be an attempt to develop the character.  Even if she doesn’t permanently become executive officer, it will give her a chance to grow.  I would think she’d at least get a promotion.  Maybe later on, she will.  It would make more sense to hold off on that.

One thing stuck out while looking at information about the episode.  Vulcan’s new name is Ni’Var.  What’s this thing with apostrophes in names?  In text, it usually denotes a contraction.  Cannot becomes can’t.  Is Ni’Var a contraction for something?  Phonetically, I wouldn’t think it makes any difference.  I don’t know if it’s to show that it’s different than something else.  How do we get these random apostrophes?

It’s also still not mentioned what happened to Remans when Romulus exploded.  I think I may have caught a glimpse of one, but I can’t be certain.  It’s just as well.  The whole Reman thing seemed like a contrivance to begin with.  It’s something else that Star Trek brought into the fold only to abandon after one use.

I can’t wait to see how this season ends.


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