Trek Series Updates, and Readers Vote

Star Trek CaptainsStar Trek is facing something of a renaissance at present, with a new caretaker team in place dreaming up more exciting and thought-provoking adventures in the universe created by Gene Roddenberry.  Despite that, and despite a push by CBS for more Trek on their streaming platform CBS All Access, there hasn’t been a lot of news about their new shows in recent weeks, and what we have heard hasn’t been particularly illuminating.

Last month, Deadline, TrekMovie and other notable Trek and entertainment websites, reported that Michelle Yeoh was in talks with CBS to lead a new Star Trek series, most likely centred around the Mirror Universe’s Emperor Georgiou and her mischief-making in the normal Trek time line.

CBS have not made any official announcement yet, though they have acknowledged they’ve considered the possibility of a Georgiou Section 31 series.

For those of you who may have forgotten, a Season One deleted scene was released earlier this year showing Georgiou being recruited by a mysterious Section 31 operative (possibly their leader) called Leland, played by Alan van Sprang.  Months later, Georgiou showed up in trailers for Season Two and the subtext was that she’s now working for that particular organisation.

Alan van Sprang as Leland

Why a Section 31 series and not a series that goes back in time to focus on Captain Georgiou?

Firstly, you’d be paying out a lot of money for a cast that would almost never get a break.  Georgiou’s Shenzhou also had Saru and Burnham on it, as well as Detmer, and those characters would feature prominently.  Between shooting Discovery and a Shenzhou series, Doug Jones, Sonequa Martin-Green and Emily Coutts would barely get any free time to focus on other projects, which is important to an artist if they want to have longevity in the entertainment industry.

Secondly, the sets for the Shenzhou no longer exist.  They were struck and used for other sets, which is standard practice in most television shows.  Rebuilding that beautiful ship’s interiors would prove prohibitively expensive.

USS Shenzhou Bridge

Finally, Michelle has just come off of the success of Crazy Rich Asians, which she starred in alongside Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Nico Santos, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, and Ken Jeong.  She’s always been in demand, but she’s going to be in even greater demand now.  Will she have the time?  Would the beautiful and ethereal Michelle Yeoh even want to commit to a standard 12-13 episode run of a series?

Then again, many of us said the same thing about Patrick Stewart.  We thought the new Jean-Luc Picard show would be a special or a limited series, and it was recently announced it would be longer.

Speaking of that series, we still know next to nothing about it.

Ambassador Jean-Luc Picard

Alex Kurtzman recently stated that writing on the series had begun, and that actual production was scheduled to commence sometime in April next year (2019) with an air date in late 2019.

That’s something.

We still don’t know the title, if there is one yet, nor the basic premise.  Whatever they’re developing in the writers room is not leaking out, which is good, but it would be really nice if they’d share a few plot points now and then.

Our last news item from around the Trekverse comes courtesy of the wonderful Anson Mount.  Or, if you prefer, Captain Christopher Pike.

Next Chapter - Star Trek Discovery Season 2According to Anson, the thirteen-episode order for Season Two has been extended by one episode.

You can read a tiny bit more about that extension, including where the confirmation came from, at TrekMovie here.

This isn’t all that exceptional.  It happened in Season One, where Star Trek: Discovery‘s order went from 14 episodes to 15 episodes.  Extra episodes can happen for a number of reasons.  It could be the studio saying “we are super impressed… give us one more,” or it could be “this is super expensive, let’s get more bang for our buck, do another episode.”  They could also be doing an extra episode to create a back-door pilot for a new series.

Disco Christopher PikeEither way, I don’t care.   More Trek is more Trek and that makes me a very happy fan!  Particularly if this new episode gives us some additional time with the crew of Discovery and the crew of Pike’s Enterprise.

I know I’ve said this half a dozen times already, but if one of the new shows coming out is not a Pike’s Enterprise show, I will be SO disappointed.

That’s it for the news update! See what I mean? Not much news out there.

For those of you who don’t know, Star Trek: Discovery Season Two will air in the United States and Canada on January the 17th, 2019.  In Australia and elsewhere in the world, Episode One will air January 18th.

Now, to wrap up this post, here are some reader lists from our What if Then was Now? Part 1 article.

Pardon, you say?

Approximately a week ago Star Trek: Sentinel posed the question: what if Star Trek: The Next Generation was released now, in today’s ‘streaming’ world of 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 or 15 episodes a season?  Which of the 26 first season episodes would you use if you were told to cut their run down?

I received some interesting responses, and of those two people totally okay with me posting their suggestions.  As you can imagine, there were a few e-mails saying we should forget Season One altogether, while a lot of other people were happy to think about the idea and give me their take.

Below, are the two I’ve been given the okay to reproduce.

First, a reminder of the rules:

  • You have a 12 episode order.
  • The pilot (season 1) and finale (season 7) episodes cannot change, so those seasons receive a 13 episode order.
  • You can change the order of any episode, except for the pilot and finale.

Let’s take a look!

Star Trek The Next Generation Encounter at Farpoint

Treklad_uk_1701 selected:

Encounter at Farpoint Part 1
Encounter at Farpoint Part 2
The Battle
Where No One Has Gone Before
Hide and Q

Hide and Q

The Big Goodbye
Haven
11001001
Datalore
Home Soil
Heart of Glory
Skin of Evil
The Arsenal of Freedom

Treklad thought that The Arsenal of Freedom episode was a pretty good one, and could work as a season ender.  It would by-pass episodes that seem to hint at something bigger coming in the second season, ideas that were never followed up on (Romulans and parasites).  He also wanted to show the crew actually exploring and engaging with strange new life forms.  As a fan of Crusher and Picard, he also felt it was important to show the beginnings of their on again off again romance.

TroisWigisSentient selected:

Encounter at Farpoint, Part 1
Encounter at Farpoint, Part 2
The Naked Now
Where No One Has Gone Before
Home Soil
Haven
The Battle

The Battle.jpg

The Big Goodbye
Datalore
Heart of Glory
The Arsenal of Freedom
Symbiosis
The Skin of Evil

Skin of Evil

TroisWigisSentient (which is a fantastic handle) preferred a season full of character development, choosing her episodes because she felt they either gave every character a chance to shine, or gave the ensemble an opportunity to work together.

A great selection of episodes from both of our contributors!

At the end of the week we’ll be applying the ‘What if Then Was Now’ process to Season One of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Check back then, and keep the discussion going via e-mail or in the comments.

LCARS Interface

Episode 10 Recap and Review

Despite Yourself

Well.  Holy crap.  That was one intense episode.

It should be obvious by now that these recaps are full of spoilers, but just to be on the safe side… be warned, there are some major spoilers ahead!

If you haven’t seen Star Trek: Discovery Episode 10 “Despite Yourself” and want to remain unspoiled, do not read on.  You’ll regret it.  Really big stuff happens in this episode.

First things first:

The Facts
Episode Number: 110
Episode Title: “Despite Yourself”
Written By: Sean Cochran
Directed By: Jonathan Frakes

Quotable
Michael to Tilly, Lorca, Saru and Ash: The Terrans appear to be the antithesis of us in every way.  They’re an oppressive, racist, xenophobic culture that dominates all known space.  And they’re ruled by a faceless Emperor.”

Lorca to Michael, Tilly, Saru and Ash:No way we’re asking these neighbours for a cup of sugar.

Tilly to everyone, at one major reveal in the episode:Tha… ah… that’s me.  That’s me!
Lorca in response:That’s absurd.

Lorca to Tilly:You just get rid of them as fast as possible, and you talk as little as possible.
Tilly to Lorca:That’s ah… that might be a little hard.  Have you noticed that I talk a lot?
Lorca in response:Defy your every instinct.

Tilly to the USS Cooper:Hello, this is Captain Tilly.  What the heck?  Heck?  Hell… what the Hell?  Hold your horses!

Michael to Tilly and Saru as she reads off Captain Tilly’s nicknames:And finally…
Saru, reading over Michael’s shoulder:Captain ‘Killy’?  Well that’s not very clever.

Burnham to Lorca:Destiny didn’t get me out of prison, captain.  You did that.

Burnham to Tilly: “…You have the strength of an entire crew that believes in you.  Fortify yourself with our faith in you.  That’s what a real captain does.

Tilly as Captain Tilly, to Captain Danby Connor: “The only pleasure I take is from the blood of my enemies staining my uniform.

Tilly as Captain Tilly, to Captain Danby Connor:If you greeted me that way, Connor, I’d cut your out tongue and use it to lick my boots!

If you hadn’t noticed, Tilly gets all of the best lines this episode.

And now… RED ALERT!

Spoiler Alert

Interesting Bits and Pieces
– For the first time, Saru’s threat ganglia respond to Ash Tyler.
– The Agony Booths we see on the Shenzhou look like a natural evolution of the ones we saw on Star Trek: Enterprise.
– It looks like the starbase they were meant to be jumping to is in orbit of a famous Star Trek planet, Organia!

The Recap and Review
After a quick look back at the season so far, we pick up right where Episode 9 concluded with an intense, emotional, sometimes funny and at times tongue-in-cheek episode.

In case the events of last episode are a little fuzzy in your head after the two-month hiatus, at the end of Episode 9 Lorca meddled with the spore jump coordinates, things went bad for Paul in the reaction chamber, and the USS Discovery found itself lost after an “incomplete” jump.

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

As the crew try to figure out why they’re where they wanted to be after the jump from Pahvo, but nothing else is, Vulcan rebels appear and attack the ship!  Taken by surprise, they’re rescued by the starship Cooper.  We quickly learn something is up thanks to a testosterone laden message from the captain of that vessel.  We also learn that Stamets is stable but unresponsive and the spore-drive is down, stranding the Discovery.

It’s then that Saru discovers that the quantum signatures of that ship and the Vulcan vessel are off.

That’s not possible,” Burnham says.  “All matter native to our universe resonates with the same quantum signature.  Nothing can change it.

Saru agrees with her as Lorca quickly states the (to us) obvious: “Unless… this is not our universe.”  And we jump to the opening credits.

We rejoin Lorca, Burnham and Saru in Lorca’s Ready Room where Lorca shows them the same map he revealed to Stamets last episode to convince him to make the 133 jumps.

The Mycelial Network

Meanwhile, in Sickbay, Paul has regained consciousness.  He still has his Gary Mitchellesque eyes, and is talking to himself about a ‘palace’ as Tilly tries to “annoy” him into being a little more coherent.

Culber gently tells her that Paul is in a state of neurological-dysregulation, the like of which he’s never seen.

Paul gets up and as Hugh tries to get him back into bed, he mumbles about the palace again and throws Doctor Culber across the room.

Lorca comes in soon after and Tilly takes that as her cue to leave, and Hugh very calmly and very directly tells Lorca off, asking him if he’d planned all of this?

Is Hugh the smartest and most perceptive person on the ship?

Lorca takes Hugh off Paul’s case, much to Hugh’s annoyance, and leaves.

Culber and Lorca

We cut to Ash in a cool little pod thing with arms and he’s trying to extract a data core from one of the wrecked ships.

Now is probably a good time for a little diversion.

Some die-hard Star Trek fans have taken exception to the modernising of vessels and equipment in Star Trek: Discovery.  Some of it I agree with, like the rampant use of holograms and, though I love the new uniforms, I am still a little bewildered by just how different they are.  But, some I don’t agree with.

The creatives behind this series had to update everything otherwise Star Trek would lose all relevance and be nothing more than a homage to a very old television show that was great for its time, but not so much so now.  In 1966 Star Trek was cutting edge. In 2017/2018 it isn’t. That doesn’t mean we dismiss it, but as reasonable human beings it does mean we make some understandable allowances.

To make Star Trek: Discovery more than just a quaint homage, the team had to push everything up a notch.  On The Expanse we have people using their mobile/cell like communications devices for everything – they’re projecting 3-D images from the devices that they can manipulate with their fingers, and they have worker pods that are a step or two up from what we see in the first few Star Trek movies.  We have similar technological advances in Killjoys, Supergirl, the sadly now cancelled Dark Matter and more.

Star Trek: Discovery had to push further, because as much as Star Trek is known for it’s philosophy, excellent characters, ethical approach to everything, inclusion, positive future, and challenging story lines, it’s also known for its future-forward technology.  It set the bar and inspired generations.

This pod that Tyler is flying, is, like many other ‘leaps’ on Star Trek: Discovery, a necessity, and is in keeping with the original series’ ability to imagine the future by extrapolating on the present.  We’re so far beyond what Gene Roddenberry and most everyone else involved with that first Star Trek could have dreamed of in their present, that it is so very right the new people shepherding this series forward, be equally as future focused.

We’ll always have the original series, and many of us will continue to love it, but Star Trek won’t exist for our children and their children, if we don’t adapt it for today.  I, personally, would not want to take that away from future generations.  Star Trek is more important than that.  Very few, if any, millennials, are going to be interested in checking out the original series.  That’s sad, but most likely true. For a generation or two more, the first few films might still hold their attention, but that too will eventually fade because we’re living in the future now and we’re already using devices that appear far more powerful than the communicators and PADDs of Trek’s yesterday.

Enough of my sermon.  I feel passionate about this, because Star Trek has shaped my life.  I want it to help shape the lives of the children of today and tomorrow, because it’s one of the few things we have left that teaches compassion, inclusion and hope.  We need Star Trek more than we ever have.

Back to Tyler and his cool little worker pod.

As he glides between the debris toward his destination he starts to hallucinate, and we see a little more of his torture (?) at the hands of L’Rell.

As the bridge crew watch his pod wobble around, confused by his sudden inability to fly stuff, he snaps out of it and successfully retrieves the data core.

As with everything Star Trek: Discovery does, the entire sequence is slick and looks beautiful.  It’s also carefully and thoughtfully directed by Jonathan Frakes, who uses a series of angles and cuts to show us the intensity of Ash’s experience.

Back on Discovery, Ash confronts L’Rell and this is where things get very interesting.

L'Rell Triggers Ash

As Ash asks L’Rell to tell him what she did to him, she suggests he opens the cell… and he does!  WTF Chief Security Officer?!

Mary Chieffo, throughout her time on the show, has shown she is an incredible actor, but in this simple scene she blows all of her other performances out of the water. It’s subtle and pitch perfect.

How any actor, under that much makeup and that many prosthetics, can convey the seductiveness and complicated emotions of the character in that moment is beyond me.  Why haven’t we heard of this incredible young woman before now?  She may be one of the most under rated actors around.

As she seduces Tyler, he grabs her by the throat.  Her response?  She utters the first few words of T’Kuvma’s prayer: “Who do we seek?

Suddenly Ash is not Ash anymore.  In a perfect copy of Voq’s voice, Ash recites the prayer with her.

Then he snaps out of it.  Much to L’Rell’s shock.  It’s clear she didn’t expect that.

You have another name.  Say it.”  She encourages him.

I know what my name is!” he screams back as he brings his phaser to bear on her.  Looking a little unhinged, he continues with: “If you don’t tell me what you did to my mind, to my soul, I’m going to make you scream it as you die.

The prayer should make you remember, something is wrong!” L’Rell says, sounding surprised, confused and perhaps even a little frightened.

You’re damn right something’s wrong,” he yells.  “Now tell me!

He shakes himself out of it and runs from the Brig as L’Rell affirms to herself that he will return to her.

So, Tyler is Voq.  Now we just need to know one of two things: has he been surgically altered with Ash’s memory engrams layered over the top of his original personality?  Or, has Ash had Voq’s memory engrams layered over his personality and all the torture flashbacks are just that.  Flashbacks?

Starcrossed Lovers

We visit with Ash and Michael for a brief, intimate moment, as Ash tells her that his flashbacks are worse and asks for her help to get through it all.

She suggests he come clean about his PTSD but he begs her to let him handle things his own way.  For now.

She tells him she’ll trust him, and is called away to engineering.  We linger on Ash for a few seconds as he shatters a glass in his hand.  That boy ain’t controlling shit!

In engineering, Tilly shows Michael the now open data core.  They work out they can read it and Michael gets to work.

Next scene, Michael informs Saru, Tilly, Ash and Lorca that they are indeed in a new universe, one where a Terran Empire, not a United Federation, is the greatest power and one where a bunch of non-human species have entered into a rebellion against the Terrans.

They’re all called to the bridge because the Cooper has come back.

As they prepare to respond to the Cooper (because if they don’t, it’s threatening to blow the crap out of them), they learn that the Terran Universe Discovery is most likely now in their universe.

And here, we finally have a Star Trek character refer to the Mirror Universe as the Mirror Universe, as Burnham tells Lorca he can’t respond to the Cooper because he’s not the captain of the “Mirror Discovery.”

Tilly is.

Captain Killy

This is where the fun begins!

Up to this point the episode has been deadly serious.  It maintains its air of intrigue and tension, but from here on in merges it with a taste of the camp and wild abandon we’re all familiar with from the Mirror Universe.

Lorca guides Tilly into the Captains chair and gives her a few handy tips.  She is obviously terrified.

Then, in a scene that shows the brilliant comedy timing of both Mary Wiseman and Jason Isaacs, we’re treated to one of the most unique greetings between starships ever, and what may have been an homage to James Doohan and Scotty with Lorca assuming a Scottish bur.

I laughed out loud at Tilly’s greeting, and I admit my hands went to my face in both shock and amusement because I both felt terrible for her and was just plain delighted by every word she said and every facial expression she conveyed.

Kudos to the casting directors of Star Trek: Discovery.  Did they know how amazing these guys would be in EVERY single episode?  I swear this is the best ensemble cast on television anywhere – and I just came off holidays where I binge watched more television series than is probably healthy.

After they deal with the Cooper, Lorca instructs Saru to get everyone ready – especially Tilly.

We’re treated to a fun montage as they prep Tilly and the Discovery and her crew to pass unnoticed in this strange universe.

Star Trek: Discovery looks cinematic every episode.  It’s production values are outstanding, and everything about the show is beautiful.  This episode it took another step up because it was being directed by someone very familiar with directing major motion pictures.  If “Despite Yourself” has a fault, it’s that too much was packed into its run time, but despite that, Jonathan makes it flow and everything he does is just right.  His direction is dramatic when it needs to be, increasing tension and making the stakes feel high, and he flawlessly meshes in the camp and corn when needed using wonderful devices to transition certain scenes.

Commander Riker Gives the New Guys Some Tips

So how does this version of the Mirror Universe hold up to those seen on Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Original Series?

Really, really well.

In fact, it looks how it should.  Rather than just a belt and a cut off uniform to show more mid-rift, they give the uniforms a wonderful makeover with leather and gold plating, and update the Terran Empire logo just enough to make it look gaudily magnificent but still like the symbol we’re used to.

There’s a whole slew of badges and medals and the agony booths look perfect and, I was pleasantly surprised to see, very much like the prototype we saw in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “In a Mirror, Darkly.”

Back in Lorca’s Ready Room, we learn that Michael was the Captain of the Shenzhou and is presumed dead, and that Lorca is a fugitive wanted for her murder.  Lorca was the Captain of the Buran in this reality also, but lost his crew in an attempted coup against the Emperor.

Lorca asks about the Emperor, but Michael tells him the Emperor is shadowed in mystery.

For those of you who have seen Star Trek: Enterprise, you may remember that Hoshi Sato took over the USS Defiant at the end of “In a Mirror, Darkly,” and laid waste to her enemies using it’s advanced technology and became Empress.  Interestingly, in one of the teaser images from episode 11, it looks like the ‘Emperor’ arrives, and is most definitely an Empress – though we don’t see her face.

The Empress of the Terran Empire

You have no idea how happy I will be if it was Hoshi!  She’d be pretty old, close to 130, but humans in Star Trek are long lived. I’d love to see Linda Park back on Trek, but I admit it is unlikely.  I would, however, settle for Hoshi being mentioned.

We cut to a scene where Lorca talks about the USS Destiny.  Data from the rebels lets the Discovery team know that the Destiny arrived in the Mirror Universe sans spore-drive, but it doesn’t give any specifics.  That data is only available to command level officers.  Lorca and Burnham have hatched a plan, however.  They will lure the Shenzhou to their location, and Lorca, Burnham and Ash will beam over with Ash serving as Michael’s personal guard.  Lorca will be her prisoner.  Michael will try and obtain the information they’re after because that will be their ticket to getting home.

Saru is not happy, but Lorca is insistent.

During this scene we get a look at a wireframe graphic of the USS Defiant.  In shape, she is very similar to the Constitution Class vessels we’ve come to know and love over the years.

USS Defiant Wireframe Image

There have been changes – the saucer has some alterations to it and the warp nacelles have been “enhanced.”  It’s hard to tell if the unusual blocky bulge on the main drive is an addition, or part of the other nacelle.  It will be interesting to see if we actually get to experience the ship on screen as something other than a graphic.

Next we visit with Culber and Ash in Sickbay.  Ash is concerned.  His flashbacks are getting worse and he’s worried.  He wants Culber to do a more detailed examination of him.

Ash is a little volatile but seemingly rational.  Culber starts the deeper scans as Paul shouts out from a nearby bed “Stay out of the palace!

As Culber goes over to soothe his beloved, Paul’s eyes revert to normal and he seems coherant for a moment.  He looks at Hugh and says: “Be careful.  The enemy is here.

This spooks the good doctor.

We jump to Tilly and Michael getting ready for their new roles as Mirror versions of themselves.

Tilly, as per usual, is adorable.

Lorca walks in on both women and seems strangely comfortable and even slightly too knowledgeable about how people act in the Mirror Universe.

I’m still a little on the side of “this is Mirror Universe Lorca,” but admit to not being entirely convinced.  It feels like the Mirror Universe is a huge part of this new Star Trek, but I know we’ll have to wait and see.

Tilly

Lorca, Tilly and Michael go the bridge where Tilly starts snapping out orders, getting herself into character so she can successfully play this harsher, crueller version of herself.  She orders her crew to hail the ISS Shenzhou and we get to see Ensign Danby Connor again – only he’s not an Ensign anymore.  He’s now Captain of the Shenzhou.

Secluded in Lorca’s Ready Room, Burnham is shocked to see Connor.

As Tilly sets up Burnham’s return, Lorca smashes his face into the door to bloody himself up and they enter the bridge.

Connor doesn’t seem too happy to see ‘Captain’ Burnham back.

She pushes Lorca ahead of her and makes him kneel as they further elaborate on their story, telling Connor she faked her death so she could hunt Lorca down.

Despite Yourself

After some snappy reparte between Captain “Killy,” Connor and Burnham, the Shenzhou heads their way.

After the above unfolds, Ash returns to Sickbay for an update from Doctor Culber.  As some of you may remember, I mentioned how he was becoming a favourite character of mine a few reviews ago.  In this episode, he gets a lot of screen time.  Which was wonderful, until this now infamous scene.

Hugh questions Ash about some skeletal and neurological issues he’s found, and Ash can’t recollect anything along those lines having happened to him in the past.  Hugh pushes a little more, talking about the massive scarring to his organs and suggesting there has been a personality “overlay”, and before we know it our beloved Doctor is dead.

With L’Rell’s voice echoing in his head, Ash has snapped Doctor Culber’s neck.

It’s one of the more shocking scenes to ever appear in a Star Trek episode, because it’s entirely unexpected.  You start to sense that Hugh is in danger, but your head doesn’t go straight to the “he’d dead, Jim” thought.  Then… he’s dead, Jim, and you’re left stunned.

Culber’s death created something of a furour.  One of the first openly gay characters in Star Trek, in a meaningful relationship with another crew member, and a gay man of colour as well… lots of accidentally wrong messages being sent there.

It became such a thing – and the writers knew it would be a ‘thing’, so much so they talked to GLAAD about it – then on After Trek they pretty much told us that Culber wasn’t quite dead.  We were told to look into the real Paul Stamets’ work on the mycelial network for some clues about what is to come.

From this shocking moment, we start the wrap up of the episode – and it happens fast.

Captain Burnham and her Bodyguard, Ash

Michael, Lorca and Ash beam to the Shenzhou.

It doesn’t go according to plan.  Lorca gets thrown into an Agony Booth, Connor shows Michael how unhappy he is about her being alive and tries to rectify that by attacking her in the turbo life.

In one of the best staged Star Trek fights ever, Michael is forced to kill Connor, and we’re left wondering if any Danby Connor in any universe anywhere is allowed to live past his early to mid-twenties?

Burnham Faces Off Against Connor

It was great to see Sam Vartholomeos again, and just as sad to see his character wiped off the face of existence.  Again.

“Despite Yourself” ends with Michael sitting in the Captain’s chair of the ISS Shenzhou. It’s quite forbidding and begs the question, just how long will they be there?

This episode is wonderful.  As I said earlier, it’s only real fault is in how much it tries to pack in to less than an hour of viewing.  Somehow, with all of these plot points, and the differing yet complementary tonal shifts, Jonathan Frakes weaves it all together beautifully.

Every performance is excellent, every effect spot on, every music cue perfect, every camera angle carefully thought out and evocative.

It’s the best episode to date (despite Hugh’s death).

Predictions
This is a terrible prediction, because the producers have all but told us Culber isn’t dead.  So, I predict Paul has some special spore-driven power that brings his beloved back.

Ash, if the above prediction is correct, is found out and we start to finally deal with the complexities of this character, and the actual PTSD someone would have whether they were the survivor of Klingon torture or were a Klingon who had been through what Voq has apparently been through.

The Empress of the Terran Empire is Philippa Georgiou (if the ruler in actually female).

The Discovery goes head to head with the Defiant.

Our Lorca is the Mirror Universe Lorca, and the Prime Universe Lorca is a homocidal maniac.

Captain “Killy” gets more awesome lines in Episode 11!

We see a goatee.

Scorecard
Five Starfleet Deltas

The next episode of Star Trek: Discovery airs tonight in Australia, and should have just aired in the US and UK.  It’s called “The Wolf Inside.”

Star Trek: Discovery airs in the United States on CBS All Access, with new episodes appearing on Sundays at 8:30pm ET.  In Canada, the show airs on the Space Channel at 8:00pm ET, also on Sundays.  Outside of the US and Canada, Star Trek: Discovery airs on Netflix on a Monday.  8:00am BST in the United Kingdom, and usually at 6:00pm AEDT in Australia, but last week the episode dropped at 7:00pm so it might arrive later than usual again.

See you in a few days for another review.

LCARS Interface

A Future To Believe In

50-years-launch-50-more-v2

Now that Star Trek is officially 50 years old (having celebrated its actual birthday a few days ago), it’s a good time for a die hard Trekker to reflect on his or her love of that particular universe – and why it continues to mean something to them years after their first exposure to it.

I’ve been in the middle of that process for a few months now, ever since the announcement of Star Trek: Discovery.  The recent release of Star Trek Beyond intensified it for me, and I decided to start talking to other Trekkers to see if I could find a common theme around what makes so many of us love Star Trek and keep loving it.

What I learned was Star Trek does two things really well, and both of those things resonate strongly with long-term fans:

  1. Star Trek shows us a future that’s worth fighting for, that’s worth dreaming about, and that’s worth wanting to help shape, and;
  2. Star Trek is a really intimate and personal experience for every single person who loves it, and that, possibly, is it’s greatest magic.

That second point is a frustrating one if you’re a show runner.  Star Trek does have a formula of sorts, but it’s a really hard one to get right.  Without exception, fans want challenging storylines that are provocative and insightful – which is scary for a show that needs to make money because, as Gene Roddenberry learned the hard way, you’re bound to piss someone off and risk alienating a segment of your audience.  Fans want a meaningful relationship with the characters which means you must get two things right straight off the bat – the writers room and the casting process.  Fans want it a little dark without losing the hopeful future Star Trek promises us… and despite craving intelligent science fiction we want that science fiction all wrapped up with pretty action set pieces that are full of amazing (and expensive) visual effects.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people about Star Trek these last few months, and for every single person there was always a deeply personal story attached to their love… “Star Trek was my ‘safe space’ when I broke up with my husband…” “Star Trek got me through bullying when I was a kid…” “Star Trek is what got me into the military…” “Star Trek was the thing that helped me set my moral compass…”

Those often amazing conversations showed me that while all of the above about challenging storylines and great VFX is true, the actual core ingredients are the characters and their dynamic.

Star Trek has a ‘secret sauce’, and that ‘sauce’ is its characters who are our conduit into that universe and it’s vision for tomorrow.

What I loved most, while talking to fellow fans, was that the characters who resonated with them weren’t always the obvious ones.  Yes, I heard a lot of Kirk love, Spock love, McCoy love, Picard love, Data love, Siski, Kira, Janeway, Seven, Archer, T’Pol and Trip love, but I also heard a lot of Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, Scotty, Geordi, Beverly, Deanna, Wesley, Quark, Jake, Odo, Dax, Chakotay, the Doctor, B’Elanna, Kes, Neelix, Harry, Hoshi, Malcolm, Phlox and Mayweather love.

In the original series, some of those characters never got the chance to say more than “Aye sir,” and “Hailing frequencies open, Captain,” yet they still effected people – and more often than not, deeply.  Why?  Because they were representative.  Sometimes in obvious ways – Uhura was a woman in a position of power and a black woman at that, Sulu was an Asian who wasn’t a normal 1960s stereotype, and Chekov was a Russian at a time when the US and Russia didn’t have a lot of love for each other… but they weren’t just representative in that way.  Uhura was an expert and a woman in command who could come out and honestly say “Captain, I’m frightened.”  Chekov was a whiz kid whose emotions were always written clearly on his face.  Sulu had a cheeky and sometimes sardonic sense of humour that now and again seemed to say “you’re a complete dick, Captain.”  Watch some of the original episodes and listen to Sulu’s responses to Kirk or Scotty when they give a command that seems to defy common sense.  Both Uhura and Chekov do that at times also.  These characters were representative of real emotion, sometimes overtly expressed, sometimes subtlety conveyed, and we fell in love with them because of that.

Those human moments in a show that was so different to anything else on television, delivered by personalities we could relate to, gave us an ‘in’ to Gene Roddenberry’s universe.

For me, it was McCoy, Uhura and Spock.  They were my pathway into the original Star Trek.  Beverly, Deanna, Wesley and Geordi my conduits into Next Gen.  Jadzia and Bashir my way into DS9.  Janeway, Kes, Chakotay and the Doctor my door into Voyager, and T’Pol, Phlox and Malcolm my way into Enterprise.  Each of those characters had qualities I possessed or aspired to possess and they resonated with me and still do today.

I grew up in the sort of neighbourhood where every week someone was stabbed, bashed, and in someway victimised, and as a child I needed something that showed me a future full of intelligent, compassionate people who fought to get rid of those horrific things from people’s lives.

When I was bullied at school, Star Trek was my retreat.  I could lose myself in that world and dream of a future that was brighter than the one I saw for myself.

As I hit my teenage years and then adult years, Star Trek started to shape my morals as a person and many of the idealistic concepts in Star Trek still guide me today – particularly IDIC and the idea that we are stronger together.

I became an actor in my late teens because I wanted to go to Los Angeles and get cast in Star Trek.  I did make it to Los Angeles, but never got the chance to be in Star Trek because I made it there a year or two after Enterprise went off the air.

I became a professional Counsellor because of Deanna Troi.  Even though I’m a guy, Deanna and her profession spoke to me and though we barely ever got to see her do any real work as a psychologist, I still invoke her preternatural calm and warmth when working with clients.

I’ve always known that Star Trek was one of the most important influences in my life, but I’d never really spent a great deal of time wondering why.

This year seemed to demand it, and I’m glad I spent a little time exploring and reflecting on what Star Trek means to me and why it’s still the world I retreat into when I need to recharge.

There are so many quotes and examples I could provide to illustrate all the ways in which Star Trek has affected me, too many actually, so instead I’ll just choose a few…

Kirk’s statement in The Final Frontier, that he needs his pain.  That speech still effects me to this day.  Our pain, our failures, and how we deal with them all, defines us.  There are so many experiences in my life that I wish had never happened to me, but I cannot deny their impact and how they have strengthened and shaped me.

Kira’s dedication to her spiritual life mirrored my own journey to understand some of the indefinable but poignant experiences we all encounter in life.

It was something similar with Chakotay.  His spiritual life and journey, though often mired in stereotype, was beautiful and I loved that it was included, but the fact he was a physically strong and imposing, but deeply spiritual and sensitive man was what hit me like a sledgehammer.  It hit me deeply, in the same way the startlingly beautiful and noble Uhura did and in the same way the generous, calm and gracious Deanna did.  As a 6’2″ guy who’s been described as physically intimidating, but who is softly spoken and by nature a pretty caring bloke, it was fantastic to see a man on TV who was also all of those things, and who chose to use his presence not to constantly threaten and intimidate but to nurture and support.  It was what I needed to see and it came at a time in my life where I was in danger of going off the rails.

You might be thinking… “hold on, what about Riker?”

Will was always a little too ‘big’ a personality for me to connect with.

Star Trek is unique in its ability to craft characters that are universal but speak to each individual viewer.  If there’s one thing the creative teams behind each show and movie did really well, it was creating characters we can relate to.  I don’t know if they consciously tried to do that, but that’s what they did.

Each series and each film had its ups and downs story wise, but the characters were always exceptional.  Yes, Kes didn’t have a lot of room to grow and Neelix had the odd issue and could be pretty damn annoying, but by and large the characters are the thing that makes Star Trek shine.  At least in my opinion.

As we look forward to Star Trek: Discovery, with each of us no doubt carrying a small wish list around in our minds, I personally hope that the creative team behind the new series get the fact that no matter what, the characters are our way into this new version of the universe, and that Star Trek really is an important and intimate experience for each of us and that needs to be respected.

Yes, we want great stories and we want allegory and we want brilliant special effects, but if Star Trek is to succeed it needs incredible characters and it needs a way to inspire hope in us and allow us to link with the show in a way that is meaningful.  It needs to be something that mirrors all of us, in some way, and tries hard to be relevant to this generation of young people as they look around for heroes to aspire to be like.

Star Trek is important.  It’s important to me, it’s no doubt important to you if you’re reading this, and it’s important to the world.

What do we have on television now?  Zombie hunters who are now borderline sociopaths, families warring over a stupid iron throne and committing atrocious acts in their quest for power, families backstabbing each other over musical empires or political ambitions… there’s not a lot of hope, and there aren’t many shows demonstrating a different, better way to be.

Star Trek did that, and it can do it again.

I hope Bryan and Alex and everyone else involved with Star Trek: Discovery truly appreciate just how important Star Trek is at both that personal, intimate level, and that much bigger, aspirational level.

Bryan has said the world needs Star Trek now more than it ever has, so I think he does get it.  I hope he is able to realise his vision with the amazing creative team he’s assembled.

So thank you, Star Trek.  Thank you for shaping me, and for shaping so many amazing people I’ve met, and thank you for not being frightened of shining a light in the darkness – even when shining that light hasn’t been popular.

I’ve had enough of the depressing, sarcastic, angst-filled shows on television these days.  So many are so devoid of hope it’s depressing.  I need and I want something that challenges me intellectually, and I need and I want something that reminds me of just how amazing we are as a species.

The bright future Star Trek describes is the future I want, and it’s a future worth believing in.

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Two More Writers Join Series VI

Star Trek Series VI

The creative team behind Series VI has grown again, with two new writers joining the team – one a Trek veteran, the other a former colleague of Bryan Fuller.

According to Ain’t It Cool News, Joe Menosky and Aron Eli Coleite have joined the team that currently includes Gene Roddenberry’s son Rod Roddenberry, Heather Kadin, Nicholas Meyer, Kirsten Beyer, Trevor Roth, Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman.

Joe has real Star Trek credit, and has written for The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager.  He has over 50 hours of Trek TV on his resume.

Aron rose to fame on the popular television series Crossing Jordan and worked with Bryan on Heroes.  He’s also worked on the the Uncanny X-Men comic series and has two feature films he’s written in development.

To learn more about Joe, visit Memory Alpha right here.

To learn more about Aaron, visit his Wikipedia page here.

The Ain’t It Cool News article is right here.

It’s a wonderfully eclectic group of writers that Alex and Bryan have brought together, covering pretty much every form of media there is.  Comic book writers, novelists, movie and TV writers!  It’s a very exciting team, and possibly one of the best writers rooms that has ever been put together for a Star Trek show.

This new series is going to be freaking fantastic!

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Star Trek: Renegades Update

Banner - Nichelle Nichols Joins Renegades

There was a wonderful little surprise awaiting me in my inbox this morning, as I checked my e-mails after staggering out of bed and fortifying myself with some coffee:

Nichelle Joins Renegades

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve probably caught onto the fact that Uhura (alongside Doctor McCoy and Sulu) is one of my favourite Star Trek characters, and that Nichelle, in particular, is a personal hero.

Finding that e-mail this morning was like having someone drop a beautiful early Christmas present in my lap.  Having the first lady of science fiction join the cast of Star Trek: Renegades just feels right – and it’s wonderful to see that every Trekker’s favourite Communications Officer is now an Admiral.

If you would like to read the official announcement, visit the Renegades Kickstarter page here, and as well as that announcement, you’ll also see that the Renegades team have surpassed their funding goal of $350,000 and are sitting pretty on $378,181.

Nichelle’s return to the Star Trek universe is something to be excited about, though I admit I am also a little worried.  The e-mail suggests (it doesn’t clearly say) that the next two episodes won’t just be Chekov’s swan song, but Uhura’s as well.

I can (just barely) deal with losing one beloved TOS character, but two?

All I can say, is that the Renegades guys had better send me tissues along with my reward for helping to fund episode two if they kill off both characters, because there will be tears if we lose both Admiral Chekov and Admiral Uhura!

If you haven’t yet become an investor in Renegades, I encourage you to do so.

Why?  Well… apart from it being Star Trek that actually takes place in the prime universe, and apart from the fact it’s REALLY good, there are 16 words, or eight names, that should convince you:

Terry Farrell
Robert Beltran
Nichelle Nichols
Cirroc Lofton
Aron Eisenberg
Hana Hatae
Tim Russ
Walter Koenig.

Not since Star Trek: Of Gods and Men have we had such a stellar cast of Trek characters all appearing on screen together.

It’s phenomenal.

If that’s not worth a few dollars, then I do not know what is.

My heartfelt thanks to the Renegades team for bringing such an outstanding cast together.  I do not know how they’re going to give all of these amazing characters the screen time they deserve, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

Here’s to “Requiem” parts 1 and 2.  THESE episodes will be a 50th Anniversary gift worth celebrating.

As much as I’m looking forward to Star Trek Beyond, I’m looking forward to Star Trek: Renegades “Requiem” more.

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Star Trek: Renegades Update – Another Alumni Joins the Team

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I feel like my blog is fast becoming the number one Star Trek: Renegades fansite!

Which isn’t so bad.

As you might guess from the title of this entry, another Star Trek alumni has joined the growing ranks of the Renegades cast.

Who have they attracted this time?  Well, it’s not a well known face from Star Trek: The Next Generation, as I’d hoped, but it is a well known face from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Aron Eiseberg, who played Nog in all seven seasons of DS9 has signed on to star in one of the upcoming episodes.

Aron Eiseberg

Aron will be reprising his role as Nog, which brings a nice bit of symmetry to the show with Jake also being in the new series.

So that’s Terry Farrell (Dax, ST: DS9), Robert Beltran (Chakotay, ST: VOY), Cirroc Lofton (Jake, ST: DS9), and now Aron Eiseberg.

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I have no idea how they’re going to fit all of these guys into one episode – or even if they’re going to try, but I hope they do.  They’re probably going to spread their appearances out, but it would be really good to see Jadzia, Chakotay, Jake and Nog all on screen together with Chekov and Tuvok.

That would be a little bit of a geekgasm!

Spoiler Alert

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of how the Renegades writing team are going to pull all of this off, especially the return of Jadzia Dax.  The only conclusion I can come up with is that they’re going to have to bring an alternate reality Jadzia into the series because Jadzia died at the end of season six of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and her Mirror Universe counterpart is also dead.

The Renegades website says Terry will be playing Jadzia, so unless that’s a typo or a mistake, it’s going to have to be a clone, or a flashback or some other sci-fi twist.

It’s no surprise that Terry is coming back to Star Trek.  She has said, on more than one occasion, that she did not want the producers and writing staff to kill off Jadzia, as she had hoped to have the option to return at some point, but the powers-that-be chose a more dramatic end to her story arc.

As much as I’m looking forward to Renegades, I’m perhaps most interested in how they’ll bring one of my favourite characters back from the dead.

The only thing I know for certain is that I’m looking forward to the next installment.  I’m really happy with the supporting cast they’ve pulled together, and I’m thrilled that the creative team have given some thought to an arc (across five years) for the main characters.  I’d love to know what it is and how it all plays together with the hints dropped in the pilot.  I just hope they can pull off the funding they need.  It would be incredibly disappointing if this series died because of the financial constraints of putting up an independent series without the backing of a major studio.

As always, as more news on Star Trek: Renegades comes to light, I’ll post it here.

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Star Trek: Renegades Update – An Incredible Collection of Trek Talent

Star Trek Renegades Banner

The team behind the new independent Star Trek series, Renegades, are kicking goals in a big way!

Not since Star Trek was being produced professionally for television, and not since the amazing Star Trek fan film Of Gods and Men, has there been such a remarkable collection of Trek-talent gathered together to produce a quality science fiction show for our viewing pleasure.

We still don’t have a complete picture of what the next two episodes of Renegades will bring, but we do know that episode three features the possible demise of Admiral Chekov (Walter Koenig has said that episode three of Renegades will be Chekov’s ‘swan song’), and that we’ll be seeing Commander(?) Chakotay and Jadzia Dax again (at least it sounds like Terry will be reprising her role as Jadzia when she guest stars).

Now, in another media release from the Renegades team, we’ve learned that Cirroc Lofton, who played Jake Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, will also be joining the cast and reprising his role as the son of the Emissary.

Cirric Lofton

But that’s not all!  Renegades has recruited some truly legendary behind the scenes support for the first season of their internet TV series.

On October 21, the Renegades team announced that Melinda Snodgrass will be returning to televised Star Trek after a 25 year absence.  If you’re saying to yourself “that name’s familiar…”, you might have seen her credit on a little episode called ‘Measure of a Man’ (among others), which first aired in 1989 as part of the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  You might have also picked up a book she wrote called ‘The Tears of the Singers’, published in 1984 as part of the TOS crew’s novelised adventures.

Melinda Snodgrass

As if that wasn’t enough, there is one more Trek-alumni joining the crew and this announcement will hopefully set your Trekker-hearts a flutter!

Andrew Probert.  Andy is a living science fiction legend.  His first film and television work was done way back in 1978 on the mini-series Battlestar Galactica, he contributed to the design of the Cylon centurions and worked on one of the physical spaceship models for the Colonial fleet.  From there, he was hired to work on Star Trek: The Motion Picture and helped design the beautiful new USS Enterprise, which is still one of my all time favourite starship designs.  Of particular note are his designs for the bridge of the Klingon battlecruisers.  His work essentially set the style for the design of future Klingon vessel interiors.  His career has been long and varied, and he has contributed to shows like Airwolf, and films like Back to the Future, Space Camp, Tron, The Philadelphia Experiment, and more.  He is, to Trekkers, best known for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation where he designed the bridge of the USS Enterprise D, the Ferengi Marauder and the Romulan Warbird (which is arguably still one of the most unique ship designs in Star Trek).

Andrew Probert

Melinda will be writing episodes two and three of Renegades (to begin with), and Andy Probert will be lending his exceptional conceptualisation and design skills to the production.

There’s no word on how long Terry Farrell, Robert Beltran and Cirroc Lofton will be appearing in Renegades, but hopefully it’s for a long time.  Jake’s character in particular, had an amazing story-arc and as the son of the Emissary to the Bajoran people, there are some incredible story opportunities still to be explored with that character.

Thank you, Renegades team, for recruiting such outstanding talent to your production.

Now… if you could just let slip some more details about the upcoming two episodes I’d be a very happy fan.

If you’d like to learn more about Cirroc Lofton and his career, you can do so at his Wikipedia page here and his IMDb page here.  Something you might not know about Cirroc, is that he starred in Star Trek: Of Gods and Men a few years back, as the Vulcan Sevar, so he is quite familiar with the production team behind Star Trek: Renegades.

If you’d like to learn more about Melinda Snodgrass, you can do so at her official website here, her Wikipedia page here and her IMDb page here.

If you’d like to learn more about Andy Probert and his career, you can do so at his official website here, his Wikipedia page here and his IMDb page here.

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Terry Farrell Becomes a Renegade

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Over at the Star Trek: Renegades website, their news section is reporting that the lovely Terry Farrell is joining the cast of this brand new independent Trek series.

Terry played Jadzia Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for six years, before her character was killed off.  Her character was a fan favourite, and her loss was keenly felt by many of us.

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There’s no information on who or what Terry will be playing, or which episode she will make her first appearance in, but you can keep tabs on that by signing up for the Star Trek: Renegades newsletter.  All you need to do is jump over to their site and add your e-mail address to the growing number of Renegades right here.

If you’d like to see what Terry has been up to since leaving DS9, check out her IMDb profile here, or her Wikipedia page right here.

I’m excited to see Terry back in a Trek production – it’s great news.  I’m hoping more Trek alumni become involved, and, I admit, I’m still secretly hoping that both Nichelle Nichols and George Takei make an appearance.

I can’t wait for episode two.

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Star Trek: TNG – The Worf Chronicles

Star Trek Created by Gene Roddenberry

A while ago I made a reference to the various pitches that have gone to CBS in the hopes of becoming the next Star Trek television series.

I’ll take a look at them over the next little while for those of you who haven’t stumbled across them yet.

One of those pitches is for a series set between the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Nemesis, focusing on everyone’s favourite Klingon, Worf.

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With possibly the longest title in television history: Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Worf Chronicles, the possible series hopes to focus on Worf with some cameos from the Next Gen era actors, which we can assume might also include characters from DS9 and ‘Voyager’.

I can’t actually see a series in this idea. A two or three part mini-series, for sure.  An ongoing, 13 episode, renewable series that might last five to seven years?  Not really.

Thankfully, people disagree with me!

A recent drive to promote Michael Dorn’s pitch to CBS saw close to 70,000 mini-muffins descend on CBS studios.  The push to encourage CBS to put the series to pilot was carried out by Dan Deevy.  Simply titled “We Want Worf”, it is unclear if the muffiny-goodness influenced CBS or not.

Dan is organising another push to get CBS to make a pilot, and you can learn all about his efforts over at 1701News, by clicking here.

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