Friday, January 22, 2016

Timeless doesn't mean without time

Now that I've spun a message of hope and joy... let's talk about "Timeless".

It was advertised as Voyager's hundreth episode. You can see that advertising here:
There is nothing ambiguous about this. It's the hundredth episode.

Arithmetic time.

Season One had 16 episodes. Seasons Two through Four, 26. Timeless is the sixth episode of Season Five. 16+(3*26)+6 is 100, yes, you're right. The problem is twofold. First, that 16 counts Caretaker parts I and II, which have two separate production numbers but were aired and filmed together. Second, the production number is 201. "Timeless" was the 99th episode aired, but the 101st produced. The episode numbered 200 would be the hundredth produced, but it didn't air for another two weeks.

So... what happened? You could debate the Caretaker thing, but not the production order. Keep in mind that at the time, the production numbers were available on the website before the episode was broadcast. I mean, seriously.

"Timeless" isn't a great episode. Neither is the other, "Nothing Human", but it's okay. They're both okay. Timeless, though, was made to look good on screen. Voyager crashes in to a freaking planet, and it looks visually pretty good. You get to see Captain LaForge (even though that conflicts with "All Good Things", which was cowritten by the same person who thought up this episode).

It sucks.

For a hundredth episode, it sucks.

Voyager was the last Star Trek to reach 100, and it might continue to be - we just don't know enough about Prime to make a judgement yet. We deserved better. The fans deserved better. We still do - but we have to be better than we have been. On Sunday, millions of X-Files fans will get their second chance because they proved they could handle it. It's time for us to earn ours.


In the Sci-Fi/Fantasy world, power is a bad thing. Voldemort, the First Evil, even Dark Helmet - everyone wants power. And there are a lot of different ways we can define power, but I want to talk about one in particular.

I tend to think of power as a bad thing - people in power often abuse it, or fail to use it. People do horrific things when seeking power in its various forms - money, votes, influence, time on television. Think of all the stuipd shit Lucy Ricardo does - she's seeking power in the form of fame and recognition, and while her adventures are amusing, from a moral standpoint she's often in the wrong. She gets herself in trouble by lying and sneaking around behind the backs of the people who love her and while maybe that means she could stand to make some new friends, the point is that in her current circumstances she feels the need to lie and cheat  with the objective of gaining stardom - power.

Kirk is an idiot. Spock doesn't seek command. Riker doesn't let himself get promoted for 15 years. Sisko resists transfer to DS9 as well as transfer away from Bajor. Janeway seems pretty happy to be Captain but she's a terrible one and occasionally morally bankrupt. The Syndicate conspires with the aliens and uses secrecy to keep themselves in power. Jesus refused to have control of the Earth when it was offered to Him. Actually... at the end, he kind of actually gets it, but... SPOILERS.

So anyway, Power... bad. "There is only power, and those too weak to seek it." Thus quoth Voldemort.

Sometimes fans have power.

Without even knowing it, we made this happen. Every time we wished, and dreamed, we brought this closer to fruition. The reviews are in. It's been done, and so far the consensus seems to be that it was done well. A third movie's been written... just in case. We made this moment possible. If World War Three starts on Monday, what happens on Sunday will always have happened. For a moment, we won.

Generally, I'm not super thrilled with the plethora of 90s shows coming back these days. Does anyone really believe that Fuller House needs to be a thing? No, no we don't. And you know why? BECAUSE IT DOESN'T. Full House was, objectively, a terrible show. But it is back because its fans have power too. Girl Meets World. New Star Trek.Even the sportsketballs. These things exist because we made them exist, and because we made them, we have power. Like with Enterprise, we have the power to look away as well... just a side note, Girl Meets World haters.

I've spent so much time being happy about what's coming on Sunday that I had to have this pointed out to me. As much as I've felt like it's a gift that's being given to me, it's really a gift for all of the fans - the fans of everything. It's a reminder that we hold the power. And if we don't want it, tough. It's your responsibility to use the power you're given. For one shining moment, the world will be a better place where the unlikely happens and the fans of a show from the 90s that ran longer than its time will win another chance in the spotlight, but when it's over... that's when we decide what happens next.

So I'm going to say this - don't stand for it. Like what you like. Love what you love. Your random voices on the Internet do make a difference. Sure, a TV show is trivial, but we can do this again, with something even bigger. We can change the world, one fandom at a time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ten Minute Trek: It's a Brave New World

Let's just get this out of the way first:

In case you've been living under a rock:

We are getting a little New Years' gifty in 14 months

So, things are suddenly very different than they were last time we did this. All of a sudden, once again, we are looking to a future, not just re-chronicling a past. So I'd like to take a moment here and thank J.J. and his crew and yes, I know we all have issues with them at this point, but for everyone who has dreamed of a chance to see this thing go forward and share it with our children with the same wonder we had... here it is. So thank you, JJ, and Bob, and Alex, and Damon, and everyone who came together and took the risks that won us this chance... and thank you, especially, Leonard, because we never ever would have come to this moment if you hadn't, I promise, we never would have taken the emotional risk necessary to give JJ a chance. We believe because you believed, and I promise you, I will never, ever doubt again.

So, now, let's talk about changes.

The transmission is going to somewhere in the Enterprise. It's going to the brig. And the call is coming from inside the house. So they go search the guy they have locked up and...

Back in surgery, okay, I'm sorry, they're letting Amanda watch? THE HECK? Who decided that was a good idea, exactly? I'm sorry, I have a kid and a husband and... no. Just no.

Anyway, they're doing the surgery and McCoy is making comments that obviously show that he has no clue what he's doing, and he knows perfectly well that Amanda is watching. I mean, you can't see blood, but still.

Spock suddenly tries to sit up. "I must see the Captain." He just realized that something is hinky about the alien ship. But he can't tell anyone what because Nurse Chapel shoots him full of something knockyouty.

McCoy keeps operating.

Security tries to search the Andorian but he attacks the guard and starts running for the door. You would think this would be futile since there's another guard by the door. You also, however, would think prisoners were routinely scanned for transmitters. The guard stuns him and his antenna falls off, revealing a device inside. Well... that was unexpected.

So they call Kirk and tell him all about it. Kirk doesn't even get mad at security for not scanning the guy. I'm kind of mad. What kind of crap security is this?

The alien ship is heading right toward them at Warp 8. Kirk order the prisoner to the bridge and has Chekov take Spock's station. The klaxons are sounding, and Kirk shoots at the alien ship and Uhura reports that the diplomats are freaking out, asking what's going on.

Kirk: Tell them to taaake...a....gooood....gueeess.... but clear that board, Lieutenant!

My husband: That was the most Shatner I've ever heard Shatner Shatner.

For what it's worth.

So the other ship starts shooting.

McCoy makes some mention of how if that happens again, he will lose both Sarek and Spock. Again, I remind you, Amanda is standing right there.

Commercial Break.

Music, zooming, shooting, firing photons, blah, blah, blah.

So, there is another shake like that, and Sarek's heart stops. Amanda is still there. Spock looks over at his father. I guess the knockyouty wore off. The power goes out, and McCoy asks for a portable cardiostimulator.

Oh, and if they get hit at the #4 shield again, they're done for.

That's when the prisoner arrives at the bridge. Kirk starts to interrogate him....

Things shake in Sickbay...

The Andorian threatens everyone. Kirk turns off all the lights and power on the starboard side and has them play dead, then draws the other ship in for the kill. He offers to let them surrender, but they self-destruct.

Meanwhile, Sarek, wakes up.

The Prisoner kills himself as well. Poison.

Kirk has Chekov take over and goes to Sickbay. McCoy tries to lecture him for all the shaking. Amanda invites Kirk into the other room. Clearly, they don't believe in recovery rooms there. Intense teasing resumes. Spock informs them the aliens were Orions, who wanted to raid Coridan. The ship was out of specs - it was made for a suicide misison. The crew couldn't have returned home. More teasing resumes, including Sarek and Amanda this time, and Spock and his father move into a better, more positive relationship - at least until you get to Unification.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ten Minute Trek: I Wonder if They Had Any Clue How Many Novels Would be Written?

So, Spock's dad reeeeeally needs surgery, but Spock won't provide said surgery, because Kirk got stabbed. Bromantic.

Spock, to be fair, is quoting regulation, but I think everyone would understand. A thought occurs - what if Jolene Blalock, who never had a hidden emotion in her life, was cast so that Spock, in these moments, could seem like a reaction against T'Pol? I know, that's extreme, and probably more thought than UPN let anyone put into casting, but I'm just throwing that out there. Spock stomps as only Spock can off to go interrogate the Andorian.

The Ambassador doesn't really know much about the guy who attacked Kirk. Spock suspects brainwashing or mental conditioning type stuff. The ambassador denies any involvement. Andorian ambassador. I should clarify at this point. The Andorian ambassador does suggest to Spock that he should forget about logic as a motive for murder. Wow, we're all over the map on this one.

Amanda comes to Spock and asks him to turn command over to someone else. Spock points out that these are not normal circumstances. They have a debate about the transfusion, Amanda admits she doesn't get his reason for refusing even if Sarek does, and reminds Spock that he is part human. She begs him to let that part of himself come through. The conversation delves into Vulcan philosophy and not sacrificing that for personal gain. I think there could be whole sermons about this scene, I could go on for ages. But until then, just imagine it's an episode of anything on ABC Family and you get the idea. In the end, she threatens to hate him for the rest of her life and slaps him across the face. That went well.

There was a time at a convention where Leonard Nimoy and Zach Quinto were onstage together. Someone asked Zach if there was anything that he did with Spock that was new to the character and he responded "No" without even hearing the entire question. And then Nimoy said, well, actually....

I think he was talking about this moment right here:

But that was always there, in Spock Prime, or Nimoy's Spock, or whatever you want to call him. Sometimes it came out, but he always kept it tightly under wraps. I think that as long as Zach succeeds in doing that - for the most part - that his Spock will be mostly successful.

When Amanda leaves Spock in his quarters, he rests his hand on the door for a moment. The best Spock moments show the depth of his emotion... but not for too long.

Kirk wakes up in Sickbay with a bandage on his chest. McCoy explains the situation. He hauls himself out of bed and to the bridge, relieves Spock, and then calls for Scotty to come cover things.

I'm actually going to leave it here, because it's a good breaking point. There's more than 10 minutes left, but not by much.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Ten Minute Trek: TOS: We Know Drama

When we left off - an ambassador had been murdered, and Sarek was the prime suspect - and when he was confronted, he collapsed.

McCoy diagnoses "something to do with his cardiovascular system."

A heart attack. We call that a heart attack. "Can you help him?" "I don't know." Weeeellll, he couldn't diagnose a heart attack on this guy - who saw that coming?

Kirk tries to talk to Spock about this later, on the bridge, but Spock is busy taking sensor readings. I'm forcibly reminded of Spock in Abrams' Trek in 2009, clinging to work after the destruction of Vulcan and the death of his mother. He denies being worried about his father and continues working.

Spock makes a report on the mystery ship following them, and Kirk continues talking shop with him. Mostly, I find Shatner's acting mockable, but he really does, here, seem to believably empathize with Spock. Of course, Bill Shatner's father died during the filming of Devil in the Dark, and he had to carry on filming and then come right back to work immediately after the funeral, so I imagine maybe it's not so much acting as it is remembering. Still, it's a touching scene, and one that cements the relationship between Kirk and Spock in a lot of fans' minds.

Uhura picks up the last part of a transmission again. She is able to identify it as being transmitted somewhere on the Enterprise.

No problem. That's only, like, 500 suspects (including the diplomats.)

Kirk immediately starts blustering again, by which I mean Shatner starts Shatnering again. The moment is broken. Thanks, Uhura.

McCoy has diagnosed Sarek with... a Vulcan heart attack. Basically. Sarek has had three previous incidents and not told his wife. Are we sensing an issue with communication here?

Holy crap.

I'm sorry, just.... no, dude.

"It's a better way" my hind foot. OMG.

Anyway, he was busy doing that while the ambassador was being murdered, so that's... actually, that's still a crappy alibi. Never mind.

Anyway, surgery is super super dangerous, blah, blah, McCoy doesn't know how to do it and they need a lot of blood which they don't have. Spock could donate. But it's too much blood for a person to give. Spock offers to give odds on finding a way to produce enough blood. Amanda declines to hear them.

Spock, however, does come up with a solution. He finds a drug that can boost the blood output of a Rigelian, which is practically the same species, apparently, and McCoy has never operated on a Vulcan before. This drug would strain other organs, and might kill Sarek. But Spock, apparently, doesn't want to give Sarek the drug. He wants to give it to himself. McCoy and Amanda refuse to agree to the surgery.

Spock hands his data to McCoy and leaves the room with a giant guilt trip.

Kirk is having a fight with an Andorian. Cue the music! Cue the punching! Cue the knife! Cue the... kicking... the wall... NOT Kirk's finest moment. He gets stabbed in the back and manages to call for help before he collapes, with the assailant unconscious.

Kirk almost died, and is now unconscious. Sarek is worse. But Spock is now refusing to help, because he is in command.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ten Minute Trek: Diplomacy Solves Everything

The Tellarites stalk off when an Andorian arrives on scene and interrupts. Apparently, Sarek and Gav the Tellarite debated before, and Gav lost. McCoy decides to use poor Spock's mother to get a dig or two in at Spock, and manages to get a story about Spock's pet sehlat from when he was a kid.

A couple of notes here. First of all, before answering, Amanda looks to Spock and he gives her a little nod. A lot of people who are new to Star Trek don't notice the inherent affection between Spock and McCoy, but it's there. The other thing is that the sehlat comes up again:
TAS: Yesteryear
Amanda describes it as a teddy bear. Not quite accurate, but close enough, I guess. But it's really the look on McCoy's face that's priceless here:

If there's one thing I hope for from Star Trek Beyond, it's that Karl Urban gets a few of these moments, because he is amazing as McCoy.

Back to the story. Sarek comes and collects Amanda and takes her to their quarters. Spock tries to disabuse McCoy of the whole cute teddy bear notion by describing the thing's size and the fangs (as pictured above). Kirk gets a call that there's some other ship pacing them, and calls a yellow alert (that won't bother the diplomats of doom at all). He helpfully orders (over shipwide intercom) his crew not to alarm the passengers. I just... brains.... ow....

On the bridge, they are barely tracking this unrecognizable ship. It isn't answering hails and is obviously following them.

Meanwhile, in their quarters, Sarek is on Amanda's case for embarassing Spock. Which, okay, yeah, probably, but Spock practically handed McCoy that ammo. Anyway, Sarek's saying that Spock needs respect to function in Starfleet, and Amanda's all like, wait a minute, you're proud of him! Big stinky liar. "It does not not require pride to ask that Spock be given the respect which he is due. Not as my son, but as Spock."

"I love you anyway," she tells him, and he literally rolls his eyes. "I know, it isn't logical." They have their cute little Vulcan embrace, and it looks like he smiles.

Of course, we've seen quite a bit of Sarek's emotions in later years:

My logic is... uncertain where my son is concerned.

Picard temporarily bears Sarek's emotions in TNG's "Sarek".
Spock, meanwhile, is continuing to track this ship. It flies past them at warp 10. Starfleet says there is no other Federation ship in their quadrant. They throw around that word, "quadrant", way too easily. Anyway, the ship goes back to paralleling them.

Sarek returns to the diplomat reception thingy. He takes a pill (mysterious!) and he and Gav get in an argument over his vote (Sarek, btw, intends to vote for admitting Coridan to the Federation). Gav demands to know why. They debate Coridan being admitted to the Federation and people stealing its dilithium and so forth. Kirk comes in and breaks it up when it starts to get physical and tells them that they have to keep it orderly. Gav threatens Sarek, Sarek snarks Gav, it's good times.

And then they find Gav dead.


A Lieutenant Joseph finds him in a Jeffries tube. The obligatory shot of Shatner without his shirt is used to cue the dramatic music. Credits.

Shatner stripping, circa 1967.

Someone broke Gav's neck. They used a technique called tal-shaya. It's a Vulcan technique. That Sarek knows. Kirk tells Spock about the argument with Gav and Sarek. Spock says that if Sarek had a reason, he could kill, logically and efficiently.

That had better be some reason.

Kirk comes to Sarek's quarters, but Amanda says he is meditating in private before resting. Uh oh, no alibi. Sarek enters and Kirk tells him about Gav. They ask him for an alibi. Sarek and Spock both agree that Sarek is a logical suspect. Sarek maintains that he has no alibi. And then he collapses in pain.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ten Minute Trek: Journey to Babel

McCoy and Kirk open the episode, with some lovely exposition about the mission they're in the middle of. (I actually really appreciate the lack of a Captain's Log here.)

This is a great episode, BTW.

They're in the middle of transporting a bunch of delegates somewhere (Babel? Perchance?) There's some political to-do about the admission of something called Coridan that is the hot button issue of the moment. They are joined by Spock, who is silent. Normally I'd say that's normal, but I've seen the next five minutes, and he's being stupidly illogical right now.

Anyway, there is a shuttlecraft coming and I suppose you could make the argument that Spock doesn't know until right now what's coming, but he just found out, because Chekov just blared it over the freaking loudspeaker that "Ambassador Sarek's" shuttle is on it's way. And okay, yes, Chekov has a bit of a thick accent, it is true, but this still might be a good idea, even if Spock couldn't quite hear what Chekov just said, to mention that there's a decent chance that... well...

You'll see.

 So Kirk and Company meet a whole crowd of redshirts that will, delightfully, survive the end of the episode, and greet the Vulcan ambassador. Spock tries to teach McCoy to do the Vulcan salute, which McCoy, predictably, complains about. The Vulcan ambassador - who bears a striking resemblance to the Romulan commander in "Balance of Terror" - meets Kirk, who introduces him to Spock, who comes back with some lame formal greeting, and hey, still could have avoided the awkward. Kirk introduces McCoy, Sarek introduces his aides and his wife. Kirk offers to have Spock show them around. Sarek asks for another guide. Slightly awkward.

And then Kirk offers to let Spock visit his parents.

Okay, I'm gonna interject here. How many humans are married to Vulcans? I mean, it must be common enough that Kirk is looking right at Amanda and it's not going *ding ding ding* in his head that hey, maybe that's Spock's mom? Of course, I've always hailed from the side of "Kirk's not that bright" but still...

"Ambassador Sarek.... and his wife.... are my parents."

Oh, there's the awkward. Yep. In fact, AWKward. Capital AWK. Dramatic music.


Journey to Babel
Written by D.C. Fontana
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Now the log. They're going to a neutral planet called Babel so a bunch of politicians can have a huge debate.

Amanda approaches Spock in Engineering as Kirk shows Sarek around and chats with him a bit. Apparently, Spock hasn't seen his parents in 4 years because of some unknown (to those who don't know) debacle between Spock and his father. 

You know, I know they didn't have any clue what they were doing at the time, but DC Fontana's a freaking genius. Do you realize how many people have latched onto this plot point? Clearly the daddy issues speak to the masses.

And then Sarek literally calls "my wife, attend" and holds out his hand. THE HECK? I thought this was supposed to be the future. There's "no right way to hit a woman," Sarek. Remember that. We're watching.

Kirk asks Spock to explain the computers, but Sarek, it turns out, was the one who taught Spock to computer. Sarek further informs Kirk that Spock "chose to devote his knowledge to Starfleet rather than the Vulcan Science Academy." I'm pretty sure I've seen this show. It's called Gilmore Girls. Sarek leaves Amanda to continue the tour with Kirk. Kirk confides in Amanda that he doesn't get it. Amanda assures Kirk that the Vulcan way is weird, but better. I wonder how the Vulcan Kool-Aid tastes.

Anyhoo, Spock and Sarek, she says, have not spoken "as father and son" for 18 years. Which makes me wonder what happened 4 years ago... we never get an answer to that. It's one of those things that never made it into the fan mythos during the era of novelization in the 70s, and I've always been kind of sad about that. I'm sure there's fanfic, somewhere, but somehow if there's a binding on it, it seems more official. Kirk assures Amanda that Spock is his best officer and his friend. She seems to have a pretty good handle on what's going on in Spock's head, and it makes me wonder how much communication there's been between them. The novel Sarek in the 90s implies that there was no contact since Spock was in the Academy, but of course we know that's not true because they said so, like, two minutes ago.

Kirk gets Amanda to spill about the cause of the rift, at least. Sarek disagreed with Starfleet as a career for his son because Starfleet vessels carry weapons. It's an extreme opinion that, quite frankly, didn't mesh at all with the first seasons of Enterprise. Of course, Manny Coto fixed that (too late), but I've already done that rant and will again. Anyway, Kirk tries to defend Starfleet to Amanda, because clearly a woman is only an extension of her husband... or... something.... I don't know. I guess I did just accuse her of drinking the Vulcan Kool Aid, but look at that outfit! Just look: 

Does that look like something that would be worn by someone with a sense of practicality?


It looks like a vampire costume.

So there Kirk is, reinforcing my opinion of his intelligence, trying to convince Amanda (who is neither Spock nor Sarek, in case he didn't notice) that Starfleet is a great career, thank you very much, and that Spock is perfectly happy being socially and culturally isolated on a ship full of beings, who, if we are to believe Enterprise, stink to high heaven.

Yeah. I rest my case.

Anyway, Sarek wanted Spock to do what he said because he did what his father told him to do... and married... a human... I guess career and love aren't the same thing... or something... I give up.

This is insanely illogical.

Kirk calls them both stubborn. Which is, as Amanda points out, a human trait. Uhura summons Kirk about a signal she picked up that was only a few symbols and so short that she couldn't track the source. This is a great thing to talk about in front of delegates. BLIMEY.

The scene changes, and another log begins. This shows the delegates arguing and talking and generally delegating. Basically, some of the races on the ship have claimed Coridan and don't want it to join the Federation. There is concern about the delegates not behaving themselves en route to the confrence.

Meanwhile, McCoy, Kirk, Amanda, and for some reason known only to DC Fontana, Spock, are hovering around some brightly colored (plastic) food, chatting. Apparently, Sarek had retired before the confrence was called, and McCoy is curious about why, since Sarek is only 102. See how they slipped that tidbit about Vulcan lifespans in there? SO CLEVER. Sarek claims to have retired because he had "other concerns". Anyway, Kirk takes Sarek to meet some of what we all know are the Tellarite delegation, who ask how he will vote on the Coridan issue. Sarek declines to answer, and Kirk steps in to smooth things over. He must have gone to diplomat school, in addition to Punching Harder and More Accurately school.

To be continued.