Thursday, 22 February 2018

New Ways of Thinking: Star Trek Discovery The Official Starships Collections Issue One: USS Shenzhou

The USS Discovery might be the main ship of its series namesake but as fans will know it wasn't the first hero starship of the latest Star Trek show.

These larger starships come at just under three times the price of the regular starship collection issues and are limited to just one every four weeks. How will we survive? 

Scaling in relative to the special issues in both price and cost, the USS Shenzhou is a masterful piece of work from Eaglemoss. Packaged in its own polystyrene carton in a unique Discovery Collection box, opening it up and taking the first look at her nearly took my breath away. It seems that Eaglemoss may well have a real winner on their hands with this new series.

Getting her out of the pack and taking a closer look impresses even further. The upper hull from the front of the saucer to the shuttlebay at the rear is one solid piece of metal with the shuttle landing deck, the warp pylons and engines plus the lower half of the saucer all being in the lighter plastic material - much in the same way as you would find in the other much longer running Starships Collection.

The detail is just as good as you would expect in the special issues but somehow it feels as though Eaglemoss have really nailed this collection given that issue one launches just before the finale of the first season and in the fact that they have had direct access to the original files from which to build these brand new scale replicas.

The saucer section itself is incredibly eye-catching with that two shades of grey paint scheme and then the sharp red striping bearing the registry and name which arcs around either side of the hull as well as cutting a scythe down the centre of the circle. Right at the front we have the main deflector including the double prong and this little dish is actually made in plastic and attached to the front. 

You do notice the lack of purple hue around the dish and also just behind it, leaving this forward feature a little dark yet there are still some lovely finishing surface details around and on the deflector itself. To either side it is guarded by two "shoulder"-like features which bear recessed hull detail.

Examine these more and you'll note that these should not be so flush to the hull as they are on the model and that they are missing the white dashing to indicate windows. In fact the surface detail in both these hollows is a bit blurred. While we are on the subject of windows, those coloured around the edge of the saucer do not line up correctly and are straying across both the dark and light grey striping that marks the end of the hull.

Step back from the deflector and you have a raised central feature which extends right back to the top of the singular shuttlebay. There are a series of white dashes to indicate the windows on the hull and Eaglemoss have wisely avoided the classic recessed windows with an attempted paint alignment which has failed on virtually every model since the original collection started four years ago. 

What I would say here is that given the Shenzhou is supposed to be an older ship and that the red paint coupled with the greys does make it seem of a more senior age, there is a glaring lack of aging on the surface of the craft. 

One of the more distinct things about the hull to the rear of the primary hull are the fins and the printed surface detail which has been worked into the original ship mould. The saucer has some sublime subtle hull panel lining while the darker panelling is also privvy to some careful work which impresses when it comes to accuracy.

Take note that there are four small squares to either side of the saucer. Look at the mag and you'll see there appear to be phaser banks but on the model these must have just been too damn fiddly to reproduce and are missing from the scale Shenzhou. While I am niggling, it could have done with a bit of weathering just to show the age of the NCC-1227 which has seen, I would guess, much better days.

Also back there we have the ship name across the top of the shuttlebay again in hull colour against the red decals. The added colour on this one really helps bring the ship to life and helps highlight her most important attributes. The shuttlebay door itself seems a little under detailed and fairly simple, sitting just above the main join line. Either side we have two pink hued impulse engines painted out rather than being in translucent plastic.

The stand fits around the back end of the Shenzhou very cleanly, gripping above the impulse engines and underneath the lower pylon. Very smooth fit and holds the weight well although my plastic sprew was a pain in the ass to get into the standard black base. Note as well, Eaglemoss, make sure you have a spellchecker as it should be labelled Shenzhou and not Shenzou!

On the underside the most prominent feature is that underslung bridge with its large forward windows. The detailing here is less vibrant however it continues with the two shades of grey and red highlights. Significantly though the windows painted on  to the two concentric darker grey bands are perfectly aligned which leaves me wondering how the hell they cocked up the ones on the top.

The panelling lines are also a lot stronger in the plastic underside in comparison to the top of the saucer.  Again we have some lost definition when it comes to the recessed sections towards the front but the amount of defined panel lines and also the inclusion of the teeny tiny registries to the port and starboard sides more than makes up for the lack of depth on some of the sections.

The distinctive red markings draw your attention back to the business end of the Shenzhou and the warp engine assembly. This is great piece of design and build work with struts arcing out from the underside of the saucer and also between the two nacelles creating some interesting open space work that is fairly unusual for a Starfleet vessel.

The lower of the two supports again bears that dark and light grey colour scheme blocked out to remove that solid uniform finish. In fact it's very noticable that there is no aztec pattern anywhere on the Shenzhou leaving the four different hull colours to define the ship in a very different way to anything else we've seen in recent years in a Starfleet vessel. We shall return to that issue shortly...

Then we're down into the warp engines with a more aggressive look than we've seen before. These are almost blades to cut through the fabric of space rather than the tubes or oblongs that we see on an Enterprise for example. The very shape of them is spectacular, sweeping to a sharp point at the rear. Nor are these particularly flexible which I might have expected from the length of the engines.

I would be careful around children and the points however because they are quite sharp. Looking from the front edge back you can see that there is an inset translucent section within their structure opening to a vent-like slit about a third of the way along. It parallels to the red markings again present as a continuation of the paintwork on the main hull and with this on both sides, the engines are also finished off with a Starfleet pennant that's probably more suited to the movie era than to ten years before The Original Series. These might be small but from a timeline point of view they are massively out.

I suppose that's actually the thing with the Shenzhou; it highlights the creativity of John Eaves' work as well as the advances that Eaglemoss have made combined with the chance of recreating this direct from the source reference materials that are mere months old rather than decades.

It's a stunning model and the scale works wonders although many will feel it is horrendously expensive at just shy of £30 a pop - and even more wallet destroying if you're already committed to The Official Starships Collection and the Graphic Novel Collection.

Also in the box this month we have a leaflet giving an overview of what's to come plus the first magazine. The artwork is a bit of a bummer because it shows off some of the subtleties missing from the good but not perfect scale model. For one there are those missing phaser banks but also there's the screamingly obvious aztec pattern. It's not as blatant as before but every CG image of the ship clearly shows off the tonal differences. Frustrating? Yes.

The compact 16 page mag, which fits inside the delivery box, is spit between the ship profile and then a designing section. It's a format that Official Starship Collection fans will know in a second as it's been around for over a 100 issues elsewhere. The stories around its creation and design necessities to be distinctive from previous Starfleet ships as well as being different enough from the USS Discovery is fascinating and with all this it feels right that this should be the first craft released into the wild as part of this new series.

Ok, let's shut this down finally. It's going to be an incredible if expensive collection. As yet the subscriber gifts are still unannounced so signing up is a little bit of a gamble (looking at you freebie Borg Cube) but I don;t think it'll disappoint in any way when it comes to the main attractions. Winner - yes. Path to bankruptcy - definitely.

What are your thoughts on the first of the collection? What are you looking forward to?

Live on YouTube
Like our page on Facebook 
Follow us on Twitter
+1 us on Google+
Add us on Tumblr

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Home Run: S1 E15: Will You Take My Hand?

It all comes down to this.   

The Klingons are heading for Earth as the war appears to be coming to a divisive conclusion. However while they’re going one way, Discovery is heading the other with the plan to spore jump beneath the surface of Qo’noS.  Did we also fail to mention that the Terran Emperor Georgiou is posing as her Prime Universe self? Well, she is, leading to more than a few palpable moments of tension and wordplay between her, Burnham and Saru with just a few jibes around eating the Kelpien. 

The rest of the crew are oblivious to this Georgiou’s real origins and when she’s out of sight the differences are striking - especially for L’Rell who ends up receiving a pasting as the Terran Emperor ‘seeks’ information to help with their mission. Georgiou also singles our Tyler due to his rather messed up origins and chews out the former Starfleet officer/Klingon Torchbearer placing him in an uneasy position ahead of what could be a deadly situation.

That deadly mission is to use a drone to map out the Klingon homeworld and viable military targets to end the war and strike at the heart of their power base. An away team of Burnham, Georgiou, Tyler and Tilly take the drone to the surface in search of a temple which will allow them access to the network of tunnels and caves beneath the surface.

The visit to the Orion black market doesn’t quite go to plan however with Georgiou getting laid, Tilly getting high and Tyler and Burnham having a rather belated and inappropriately timed heart to heart. What does transpire is that the drone isn't a drone but a bomb that Starfleet - and Admiral Cornwell - are well aware of and if it's dropped into the tunnel network and activated then it's bye bye Qo'noS.

Burnham manages to turn the potential catastrophe around by giving the bomb trigger to L'Rell so that she can use it as a rather powerful bargaining chip to unite the 24 Houses and rule a reforged Klingon Empire.

So the season ends (well, not quite but we'll come to the closing minutes shortly) and after 15 episodes this, I'll be quite honest, felt like a bit of a flat ending. The adrenaline pumping moments just weren't there, it seemed almost tame in comparison to earlier episodes however, it was packed with some cool references to The Original Series and the movies as well as having perhaps one of the most truly Star Trek conclusions of any Discovery episode to date. Did you spot the Ceti Eels? How about (now) four time Star Trek guest star Clint Howard drinking what we all suspect and hope is Tranya? What about seeing Spacedock apparently under construction? This was an episode that any fan of the franchise minutiae would have wet themselves over and probably been hospitalised in the last 90 seconds. 

Burnham is the undisputed star here, using the episode and the Mirror Georgiou to get her to reflect on her actions and experiences since the Battle at the Binary Stars and look how far she has come from that time. Michael is a different person; more level-headed and not just driven by logic. Her humanity has come to the fore and her relationships with Tilly and Tyler have affected her in different ways but yet both have ultimately made her more human.

Will You Take My Hand? may not be high-octane but it could well be the finale that Discovery deserves, rounding out all the aspects of the season neatly with just a sprinkle of set-up for season two - but let's come back to that even later....

I was surprised that none of Tyler. L'Rell or Georgiou ended up dead reflecting on the body count for the season but this in turn means that any or all of them could pop up again at any time in future years. Having settled everything with Burnham while Tilly took a "trip", the ending for Tyler is a little less signposted with him not really sure of what he is or where his life is going to lead. It's somewhat bitter-sweet in that while he has exorcised the personality of Voq it still has such a hold on him that he feels he is more at home on Qo'noS than with the Discovery and Michael. To be fair I had questioned where they could take him in a second season so this closure felt the best option.

Perhaps that isn't the case in relation to Georgiou who is now just running all over the Klingon homeworld. Again keeping her alive and allowing her to flee means we will almost certainly hear from her again as Burnham's permanent shadowy nemesis. A bold move not to kill off but hey, this season has all been about bold moves.

What did succeed was that there was some form of solid conclusion to the war and to the year as a whole rounded out by Burnham's most Star Trek of Star Trek speeches at the HQ in Paris. It felt worthwhile celebrating not just the success of Discovery's mission but also the mind-blowing success that has come from this first, fledgling year of the show. Both Stamets and Tilly rightly received promotions while Burnham is back at her Shenzhou rank although not in the position of first officer - and then there's the fact we are getting a new captain for the new year. Who? Start your bets now.

Maybe we should really look at this finale as a series of moments and scenes rather than a piece of storytelling as a whole. It's an odd one where I felt that the parts were great but just didn't add up to a better and more satisfying whole. I can dig out some great speeches, sublime events and effects but overall episode 15 left me a little hollow even when it went for the emotional tug of saying goodbye to Tyler.

And then it came right back at the end and slapped us all round the face without even the slightest warning.

I've been a big fan of the subtle hints and nods to the rest of the franchise, even accepting the whole Spock/Sarek/Michael thang that's been going on so the arrival of a certain Constitution Class ship was something more than a little special. We know that Pike is in command but it's the slight tweaks to the design that have fans talking. The engines are a little more NX-01 than The Original Series and those pylons have more in common with the movie refit than than the spindly appendages of the classic.

Whatever you think, the return of the iconic starship has to spell big things for the second season and this year is gonna drag...

What was your favourite moment from the finale of Discovery?

Live on YouTube
Like our page on Facebook 
Follow us on Twitter
+1 us on Google+
Add us on Tumblr

Friday, 9 February 2018

Setting It All In Place: S1 E14 The War Without, The War Within

For all intents and purposes it appears the war is lost. The Klingons have control of over 20% of Federation space and there's also the small matter of Emperor Georgiou to accomodate.

The Discovery has returned to its universe of origin but nine months late. The arrival of Admiral Cornwell and Sarek is somewhat unexpected with both shocked to see the return of the Crossfield Class starship - a craft that the senior Starfleet officer saw for herself destroyed by the Klingons.

Of course it wasn't and now the return of the ship and the information concerning how to overcome the Klingon cloaking technology is going to come in very handy. Cornwell's attitude towards the Mirror Georgiou is another matter and the presence of the emperor provides a chance to find a new way to combat the warrior race since the Terrans have left Quo'noS a blackened ball of dust and conquered more of the galaxy than the Federation has yet to explore.

With 24 separate houses taking on the Federation, Starfleet is feeling the pressure and their trip to Starbase 1 reveals that the station has been overrun by the Klingons so the plan is hatched to jump the Discovery inside their homeworld, map it and its defences and then jump out. Since the ships’s mycelial forest has been wiped out, Stamets terraforms a barren moon into a source of spores thus also creating a brand new supply for future use in a matter of minutes.

But it doesn’t stop there because a deal has been struck that sees Mirror Georgiou step out onto the bridge of the Discovery in full Starfleet captain’s attire, announced to the crew as the rescued commander of the Shenzhou who will lead them to Quo’noS and begin the end of the war.

Another week and another bunch of twists to take stock of. The return of both Sarek and Cornwell was unexpected but logical in the big scheme of things. The admiral isn’t quite the military commander I thought she would be, seeming to lose track when the overrun Starbase 1 is seen and her moves within the episode being more political than tactical leaving the finer and riskier decisions in the hands of the Discovery crew. The vapourising of Lorca’s fortune cookies was a cool touch drawing a line under that arc and any further use of his name in the episode. 

Now that we are back in the main universe it does feel that the trip to thE Mirror Universe was a nice sojourn to relieve the tension of the bigger season arc which hasn’t lost any of its impact. The break cleverly has allowed for a lot of changes to take place off screen and for the plot to actually be accelerated from the opening of the war to what will more than likely be the final gambit in the finale next week. 

What is glaring from this episode though is how much the main cast tend to take a backseat to the driving force of Cornwell, Sarek and L’Rell. While these three do not dominate the episode, there are a great deal of the key moments of this episode dedicated to them. It's even more obvious in the way in which Doug Jones' Saru has a much more subtle part to play here but his evolution as a character is eloquently understated with him stepping in to assist the out-of-depth Cornwell in a moment of weakness to help steady the ship. Every episode since the break has made me re-evaluate the brilliance of Jones and the writing for the Kelpien officer making him now one of the highlights of the show even when he's not at the forefront of the story.

Admiral Cornwell’s reintroduction to L’Rell is a pivotal point in the episode. Contrasting starkly to Saru’s one on one in which he stated the Klingons were on the back foot (albeit in a Mirror Universe) here the admiral switches the other way admitting that the war is actually going pretty well for her people. The challenge with L’Rell has been to keep her interesting and fresh even though she has spent nearly half the season confined to Discovery’s brig. Placing her here has worked phenomenally well and applauds the amazing work of  the writers, directors and it goes without saying, Mary Chieffo to use L’Rell as the continuous Klingon voice and presence reminding us of the greater threat that has loomed across the season. Her character may have not altered much but having her present has opened up the opinions and thoughts of the Starfleet crew in regards to the war and what has happened to Tyler/Voq. 

Sarek's relationship with Michael receives a little more screentime this week with him realising just how much she has had to endure through the time since her incarceration for mutiny. Their final scene together in which they bid each other farewell feels somewhat ominous however I can't believe that they would kill off Martin-Green's Burnham seeing as she is the series' main character. Surely the finale will offer her the chance for some form of redemption back into the official ranks of Starfleet or are we going to need to wait until season two for that? 

Shazad Latif also deserves a ton of recognition for his work here and throughout the season. My god has he been through the mill virtually every week. This time we see the aftermath and the shell that has been left behind following Voq’s exorcism. Tyler is even more broken than the apparently post-conflict officer we met back in Choose Your Pain and now faces the rest of his days carrying the memories of his transformation from Klingon to human and his brutal, emotionless murder of Doctor Culber. The encounter he has with Stamets is incredibly telling and a powerful moment as he attempts to apologise for such a gruesome act that he did not willingly commit. Indeed, Tyler is almost ostracised by the crew in the mess hall only to be rescued from solitude by Tilly and then the other bridge crew.

That scene in reflection to the meeting with Stamets are like chalk and cheese. One where we recognise it's not Tyler's fault and the other seeing past that but still not being able to come to terms with the individual they see before them. This also goes for Burnham whom Ash almost killed in the Mirror Universe.

Her declining of Saru's request to visit the recovering Tyler almost reminded me of the decision by Worf in The Enemy not to give blood to save the life of a Romulan; it came across that harshly but you can see where she's coming from. For no fault of his own (in some respects), Tyler could not control the Klingon inside - what I do wonder is how this is going to be fully wrapped up in episode 15 and if Tyler does stay around, what will his character get up to next season?

Episode 14 is a huge amount of set up for the finale without question and with the run time of 49 minutes (minus a few for the lengthy recap), a lot of work is set up here to close off the year neatly. If you think about it there's actually nothing rounded off this week. It's all about the planning, the preparation for the spore drive jump to end all jumps and the war at the same time.  The War Without, The War Within isn't a big hitter for the season, more the chance to catch a breath and take stock of where the show has been and come back from. 

Now we stand at a key time in the war, the Federation is on the backfoot, all is at stake and we have just one more hour of Star Trek Discovery left to conclude this amazing first season...

What are your expectations for the season finale?

Live on YouTube
Like our page on Facebook 
Follow us on Twitter
+1 us on Google+
Add us on Tumblr

Friday, 2 February 2018

Have You C-een Her? The Official Starships Collection Bonus Edition USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C Probert Concept

So far every model that's been released has been seen on screen or been featured in the ongoing novel series but now Eaglemoss is turning its attention to its first conceptual starship.

Yes, with the Probert Concept USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C we have the first of several might-have-been's. Seen in profile on the wall of the Enterprise-D conference lounge for the first few seasons of The Next Generation, the first version of the Ambassador Class was a much more obvious visual missing link between the Excelsior and Galaxy Class. 

For the first time here we have the opportunity to get this rare design in your hands. There's no big departure from the primary and secondary hull configuration bordered with two warp nacelles but it's when you get down to see how the design changed between 1987 and Yesterday's Enterprise that things really get interesting.

For starters let's kick off as you would expect by casting our eyes over the metal top section of the primary hull. As with the re-imagined later design it's still a familiar round saucer section yet there are a myriad of differences and details to get in close with. There's a much darker tone variation in the blue/grey aztec paint scheme and rather than having three separated phaser banks there is a single strip running around the hull much like the later Galaxy Class. It cuts a better balance on the hull in my opinion and breaks up what could be a very large and singular hull pattern.

Dotted across the hull and raised we have a number of lifeboat hatches. What is it with raised versus dipped detail on this collection I ask? Here the raised hatches are absolutely perfect in colour and alignment to that colour but then...well, we'll come to it in a bit so bear with. Across the whole of that upper hull section we have further emitter and feature detail picked out in a dulled yellow with printed-on windows in white. No sunken detail here so their placement is, again, spot on.  The bridge module to the centre, which apparently was conceived to be able to detach as a separate vessel does not have the definition to its edges that we see on something like the Enterprise-D. 

There's much more of a sweeping bump to the surface of the hull with a moderate level of detail in evidence. It's not great and the colours of the hull features do seem to blend in with the rest of the saucer a little too easily. When you do line her up against the Yesterday’s Enterprise C, the difference in the registry decal size is glaring with the Probert C much less in your face and also bearing some wobbly red bordering.

To the back of the saucer we have two more features to discuss that are painted up in pastel shades - the wide shuttlebay and also the warp field generator plus impulse engines just underneath. They are as muted in their colours as the rest of the call outs on the saucer and in comparison to the redesigned C they fade into the background a lot more easily - so much so I nearly missed them completely. Maybe this is quite telling of the design to in that there was no later development of this particular version which means some of the fineries were likely never refined if you will.

While we’re here lets mention the stand fitting. Its the usual rear saucer clip, fitting around the secondary hull as we’ve experienced with virtually every other Enterprise since the dawn of time. the base and clip fitted together perfectly for once which means my Probert C doesn’t have that inconvenient list to port that a couple of ships seem to carry.

Let's flip the saucer over and take a look at the underneath. Straight off you can spot the inset plastic saucer section which does align perfectly with the aztecing pattern on the outer metallic edge. It also sits nice and flush into the slot but perhaps would have made more sense if it were parallel to the underside phaser strip which mirrors the single bank that circles the top of the ship. There's also more of that creamy coloured highlighting but this time blocked around the lower sensor platform and following the edges of what appear to be landing struts or at the least some form of access panels.

Again the saucer carries the ship registry and in keeping with other ships of the line, the name Enterprise sits snugly in front of the neck. Both the underside decals are pristine and well aligned as are the decals marking out the ends of the phaser strip. To be honest, the bottom of the saucer is well finished if a little bland. Even the rows of windows are well spaced and finely painted on. 

Now lets move a little bit to the south and that graceful neck section bringing the two hulls together. There's certainly the suggestion of the shape of the Galaxy Class in there but Probert has twinned that design piece with the slated, black support that was evident on the earlier USS Excelsior. The pattern might not cross the whole of the neck but its very noticeable and is the first of the more major differences between this and the Yesterday’s Enterprise finished product.

To the rear of the neck section and sitting below the red impulse engines of the saucer we have what is for all intents and purposes a second impulse engine suggesting that the C would have had separating capabilities like the later, larger D. This engine sits mid-neck flanked by two columns bearing more printed on windows. The painting on that engine block does look a little rushed for my liking and there’s no break in colour for the two bars which run across the middle - its just one big blob of paint.

However, your attention probably won’t be drawn to the blobby engine but to this ship’s most glaring and embarrassing omission. For some inexplicable reason all the secondary hull detail forward of the neck section on both sides doesn’t exist. There’s no aztecing, no windows, nothing but the blue hull paint and its fairly baffling as to what has happened. Was it a real error? Was it due to a fiddly painting angle (can’t be as I would guess the saucer would not be fitted at this point) or something else? 

There seems to be no real reason from Eaglemoss on this one and it does bring some level of disappointment to what has been a highly anticipated starship. Nevertheless the remainder of the topside of the secondary hull has its paint scheme fully intact with two tone blue/greys and a smattering of windows for good measure. Thing is once you’ve seen the gap at the front your eye gets automatically drawn to it.

The hull shape is distinctly moving away from the Constitution Class guise and combining the traits of the B and D with a more elliptical and raked shape. On the top we have the Federation red stripe from the neck right to the second shuttlebay with two phaser strips marked up and running parallel to the hull. Behind them and in tiny script we again have the ship name and registry to the port and starboard respectively. Just a little off with the red edging decals for the phaser strips but we’re talking millimetres not centimetres. 

Pushing out past the phasers we are onto the warp engine pylons that echo the first iteration of the Enterprise-D’s. Sweeping forward, these pair of supports show some real grace and flair, lifting up to carry a rather spindly pair of warp nacelles.

Now we have mentioned that the ‘real’ C and this concept are very different in size and the most obvious point is right here in the warp engines. These are much more slim-lined, longer and a bit pointy. The top warp grilles are there as with the later version and here the paintwork of grey and blue seems to meld together at points rather than being distinguishable particularly at the bussard collector end. The grilles to the sides of the engines are incredibly thin and well done to Eaglemoss for managing to engineer them into the design and make them translucent. Each nacelle also carries the ship registry right at the rear tip and the field emitter coils burn a striking bright orange again well painted into the recess of the engine. Those bussard collectors are, correctly, fitted in translucent red and really finish off a very good and complex engine construction.

Again moving underneath, you’re hit by the gaping size of the main deflector. Similar to the Galaxy Class ‘eye’, the is solid coloured blue with a darker centre and dips back into the hull. If there's one other inconsistent consistency along with windows in this collection its the ability to create a sense of depth and light in the deflector dish and this is no exception. The grey dashed detail around the edge is on the other hand very nice and correct to the hull indentations but it doesn’t make up for the deflector blob.

As with the primary hull there are the standard raised lifeboat hatches and horizontal phaser strip as well as the two Starfleet pennants along either side. Some of the windows do appear misaligned and very close/overlapping onto the liftboat hatches. Take a closer look and it seems that the aztec paint scheme is slightly out of alignment too as it doesn’t match up with the red decals sitting just above the ventral phaser strip. Now that's disappointing. This error then extends down to the four square red decals between the two warp pylons and in the decals kerbing the end of the two phaser strips under those said pylons.

Here too is another join line and this one is very obvious with mine having a larger gap to one side than the other - and this is the problem with this bonus edition.  It feels unfinished and in some of the things I’ve highlighted here, rushed. Maybe mine might be the exception when it comes to the decals lining up to their intended spots but the error in the paintjob to the front of the secondary hull is unforgivable. 

Right, to the magazine now and this edition is rammed full of just about everything you could ever want to know about this conceptual design, the origins and some of the finer details we never got to see - actually no; no it isn’t. For me the magazine is a completely 100% missed opportunity from Eaglemoss. The opening pages might bear a fantastic CG image of this gorgeous and tragically near-forgotten design but the bones of the ship are missing in every way. Basically Andy Probert designed her for the lineage, there was a relief created for the observation lounge wall and that’s your lot. 

Magically and well worth a read in an attempt to pick yourself up from the gutting disappointment that was the ship overview there’s a good spread om the influential work of Mr Probert during the evolution of The Next Generation. This magazine IS filled with multiple examples of his work on the bridge for the D, the exterior of the iconic starship and many more pieces that he was involved with during the early years of Star Trek’s return to TV. This piece does make the magazine worthwhile but I think fans will feel shortchanged that there wasn’t more discussion around what features were dreamt up for this version of the Ambassador Class.

For all of the errors and faults that this kodel carries its still a brilliant glimpse of the Star Trek that might have been had Probert’s design remained a part of canon for Yesterday’s Enterprise and the Ambassador Class as a whole. What we can now look forward to is the Phase II USS Enterprise and the concept for Voyager. Given how well this one appears to have sold, fans definitely have a hunger for the more obscure designs that we never saw.

What are your thoughts on the Probert-C? Good model or shoddy finish?

Live on YouTube
Like our page on Facebook 
Follow us on Twitter
+1 us on Google+
Add us on Tumblr

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Goes Around Comes Around: S1 E13 What's Past is Prologue

After three episodes of build up, it felt like this week's Discovery was the big pay off when it comes to the Mirror Universe.

With the hugely signposted reveal that Lorca wasn't Lorca but in fact Mirror Lorca, the Terran Empire looked to be on the backfoot especially when the deceitful captain released his troops from their Agonizer booths including one Commander Landry. Ooooh - can't you see how this is all coming together after 12 episodes of set up?!

His plan is simple, remove Georgiou and take control of the Empire and while he had counted on Michael Burnham, Lorca had ironically not counted on Michael Burnham.

It's a fraught battle through the city-sized starship with some of the best phaser fights we've ever seen in Star Trek as the two sides clash. The rebels are countering forcefields, facing sentry guns and there's more phaser fire than in any single episode of the franchise ever.

Burnham is caught in the middle of a more metaphorical cross-fire however as she is forced to choose between two captains who have their own designs on her future. Her final decision is, of course, most logical and the ensuing hand to hand combat as Georgiou is brought before an apparently victorious Lorca is spectacular. If you thought that the fight in Battle at the Binary Stars was good then this is a whole new level of brilliance and showcases Michelle Yeoh's abilities even more. The sharp, cutting direction from Olatunde Osunsanmi is probably the best of the season as he keeps the lights low, playing off shadows and even just the lights of the weapons to keep the viewer in the thick of the story. It all makes the action sequences sizzle here and you can soon see that there actually isn't that much to the story this week.

Also for note is the parallelling of the badges that both Georgiou and Burnham have kept the insignia of their fallen comrade. The link, as Burnham notes, is strong across any universe.

Sonequa Martin-Green may be the star here but it is the two more senior actors who steal this week's show and not just because of their final, bloody confrontation. Isaacs' full Mirror Lorca is a calculating and driven individual with his motivations much more open and his thoughts less concealed than they were (and had to be) in the Prime Universe. Yeoh on the other hand seethes in every scene, making for easy comparison to her Prime counterpart and probably being the character who is most diametrically opposite to her alternate self.

Mirror Stamets really is a slimy creature in the Mirror Universe, selling himself out to whichever side he sees fit. His demise comes as more of a relief in What's Past is Prologue but serves also to remind us of where Prime Stamets started out in Context is for Kings with his aloof stuffiness and disdain. He might not be a fan of Lorca but he realises which way the wind is blowing pretty quickly.

While the visuals are the best we have seen in Discovery and therefore easily the best in the franchise as a whole, the narrative as a whole is a little weak. Lorca turns too quickly from his colder ‘Prime’ facade into an all out bad guy with great haste. Perhaps too much and perhaps stereotypically going from shadowy captain to full out "villain" (is there a distinction in the Mirror Universe?) may well be the biggest leap of the show's short run. Could Lorca have been more of a freedom fighter than looking to seize the Empire? Possibly but then again I think we might have thought less of his dark motivations if this was the case.

Any remorse or regret for his actions and those he plans to carry out simply disappear away and there seems to be not even the slightest concern over anyone's welfare except his own. His demise however was a real shocker and something i never saw coming from Star Trek. To kill off the captain in 13 episodes is unprecedented by Star Trek standards with only Kirk (bridge collapse) and Sisko (being the Emissary) as previous examples but both survived at least to the end of their respective series!

As for Prime Lorca  he may have swapped places with Mirror Lorca during the explosion on the Buran as it was escaping from the Charon. Maybe he died on the Prime Universe version of his old ship but I don’t think we will see him again. Isaacs is in full Terran mode here bolstered by the leathers, bruises and a heavy hand on a phaser. It becomes more evident that he has been forging the Discovery into a weapon and its crew into soldiers. Will he be back? I hpe not because the return of Lorca would weaken the impact that Isaacs has had on the show and cheapen the franchise. Let him lie.

What we do see is that Burnham’s connection to Georgiou in whichever universe is much stronger than the one she had begun to forge with Lorca. Delivering Phillipa to him plays on his weakness for Michael but there is alterior motive. Their relationship in the Mirror Universe is so pivotal to Lorca that he will accept anything to have her onboard in any form.

Over on Discovery we have some real character growth and development with Acting Captain Saru. Devising a plan to destroy the ISS Charon and return them to the correct universe all at the same time, the Kelpien commander has earned the trust and respect of his crew during a testing time. THAT speech and then his subsequent actions as the Discovery attacks the Charon are so far removed from the self-doubt he demonstrated in Choose Your Pain you absolutely believe the journey he has come on. Indded, his issuing of commands and again, the direction of this scene is sublime. The speech? Top five for me alongside "Risk is our business" and Sisko's "place where I belong". Magnificent.

The action on the Discovery also provides ample chance for the assembled bridge crew of Detmer, Airiam and Owosekun more time than before and certainly more dialogue than before. It's more than welcome and Mirror Owosekun even gets to meet a disintegration-end thanks to Lorca.

So with Stamets back from his spiritual walk in the mycelial network and able to navigate the Spore Drive to get the ship home there's just one thing that needs to be done (makes all that part about interphasic space and the like was quite pointless doesn't it?).

The challenge is that the Charon is siphoning power from the mycelial network thanks to the work of Mirror Stamets and this in turn could cause the collapse and destruction of the whole multiverse. Y'see, the Mirror Universe is all about short term vision and short term goals with no long game. This does allow for some great spacebourne action that Discovery has been missing with the ship weaving in and out of the Charon before finally escaping and using the residual energy wave from its destruction to get home - with an unexpected guest.

What’s Past is Prologue delivers in every aspect that Star Trek should. There’s intense action (and trust me, reading this back I was surprised how often I used the word), surprises all along the way and even the ending isn’t quite what you would expect although with two weeks to go it was never going to tie up everything neatly and we have Klingon war to end. As for being the best of the series so far, I'm not sure because I really loved Despite Yourself and actually have a yearning to watch the first two episodes again for comparative reasons. What's Past is Prologue ends just one piece of the first season arc and the trip back to the main universe is perfectly timed leaving us not wishing for our adventure on the other side to come to an end. The revelation that Stamets has dropped the ship back nine months later than they left is lump-in-the-throat inducing with the slow realignment of the territorial map exposing the cost of the war. The Klingons, it appears, have won.

Discovery has definitely grown and in this episode we really see who its standout cast are. Saru has never been given the right amount of screen-time but his step up into command during this Mirror Universe adventure has redefined the character from such humble origins. His use of "my friend" when speaking to Burnham is incredibly telling of the cyclic nature of their relationship from The Vulcan Hello, through her mutiny, arrival on Discovery and actions since. Cudos to the writers for playing out a long game on that one and it certainly pays off in the most subtle of ways.

Discovery is showing every week how brilliant a show it is with each twist, turn and Easter Egg. What we can expect from episodes 14 and 15 I have no idea but does anyone else suspect we might get to here about a little place called Axanar?

How do you rate What's Past is Prologue? Best of the season?

Live on YouTube
Like our page on Facebook 
Follow us on Twitter
+1 us on Google+
Add us on Tumblr