Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Adventures Ventures Onward

The addition of the tabletop gaming area at 2018's Destination Star Trek allowed a lot of fans the chance to dip their toe into new waters.

Featuring Attack Wing, Ascendancy (need a good week to play that beast), Frontiers and Fluxx, one game with a major presence was the roleplaying Adventures.

Already boasting an impressive lineup of packs from the core book, the line is going to be expanding more and I got to speak to the man behind the game at this year's event.

"We released it at GenCon last year," explained Nathan Dowdell "and we've got a few source books and supporting material released since then and there's more on the way."

A fan of Star Trek since he was a "small child", Nathan explained that once he'd calmed down from being asked to take on the challenge of Adventures, the focus wasn't on trying to simulate the world of Star Trek so much as trying to emulate Star Trek stories. 

"You have the bridge crew and the senior staff on screen and they're the ones making all the big decisions. Then you have some other characters that come in and help with that. The game is built to handle that kind of storytelling and that kind of episodic nature as well as moral and personal dilemmas, grappling with the Prime Directive  - things that you would see in an episode of Star Trek.

"This is rather than just letting you play things out which can lead to crews going pirate and we needed to make it as Star Trek as possible."

Out on sale already are the Core Book, the Alpha and Beta Quadrant and Command, Science and Operations Division supplements plus These are the Voyages mission expansion.

"There's been a hugely positive reaction to it," continued Nathan; "Obviously there are some people for whom it's not their taste and you can't please everyone and that can lead to diluting your ideas. Then there are those who've grabbed onto it and become passionate about it. There are numerous streams on YouTube and Twitch playing the game and I'm shocked and thoroughly pleased with the response to it."

So what makes it so popular and great to play?

"When you get down to playing it, the rules are engineered to support that collaborative team work, problem solving ethos.While it's not about phaser shootouts they are in there because they are a part of Star Trek as is ship combat but there's as much emphasis on figuring out the conundrum of the week or solving a scientific problem or simply talking it out. The rules are there to support teamwork, collaboration; the group as a whole benefits when one person succeed. Working together is a crucial part of the way things are played. Those elements speak from the heart of Star Trek."

The future for Adventures is still rosy with more set to fill out 2019 including the Delta and Gamma Quadrant supplements which should satisfy any Dominion or Borg fans out there! Plus you can play as any of the original, The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine crews with the available character sheets.

Thanks to Nathan Dowdell for his time to explain the growth of Star Trek Adventures.

For more on Star Trek Adventures head over to Modiphius 

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Saturday, 27 April 2019

Last One For Now: Such Sweet Sorrow S02 E13/14

The plan is set and Section 31's fleet is on the way.

So settle in for the two part season finale as the crew decide to scuttle Discovery and make off on the Enterprise before Leland arrives.

Of course given that this is Star Trek that's never going to run smoothly and the sphere data is protecting itself first by cancelling the self-destruct and second by defending itself against an attack by the Enterprise. Damn, this stuff really wants to survive and it seems that the time crystal from Boreth may actually be the answer.

WOW. Now part one is how to set up your pieces for a big finish. Such Sweet Sorrow is all about part two. Everything here is laying the foundations for a finale that I believe will change the way the series progresses fundamentally. Of course, this being Star Trek I would then suggest that we're being fed information to deliberately put us off the real scent. The silly thing is that from the start a lot of the signals about the signal have been there in the titles - the crystals, the Red Angel suit, Section 31...and we just missed it like many of us did with Lorca in season one.

But Such Sweet Sorrow, Part One is also an incredibly poignant hour of TV. It really seems that there is no way out except for the crew to take Discovery into the future and securely out of the way of Control so much so that we have final letters being dictated by the whole of the bridge crew plus a visit by Sarek and Amanda who have sensed that something is coming. There's a genuine sense that this could well be the end, it's building to something very final from the off with lots dedicated to closing down story threads not just here but in the second part as well and we're not just talking about the Big Bad of the season.

Burnham's journey within year two has been a bit messy with the hint that she was the Red Angel being a red herring - at least for that point of the arc. I had the suspicion that it would be returned to since you'd have to be pretty dumb to get her mixed up with her mother. Now it's evident that Michael will be in the suit and that she is the one responsible for the seven signals, only five of which are revealed by the end of episode 13, the last two being held back for the reveal in episode 14 - kind of guessed they would form something to do with the close out of the season.

But let's get to the bit most of us have wanted to talk about and that's the USS Enterprise herself. We have waited, we were teased and finally we get to see the bridge of Pike's ship in all her glory and my word is it stunning. Instantly this is a leap ahead from the Ikea concept from the Kelvin Timeline - it looks functional, it's more "real" to look at and is everthing you would hope an updated Constitution Class starship would be if The Original Series was filmed today. The colour scheme - although not to Georgiou's taste - harks back to the orange and black of The Original Series with curved viewscreens, buttons crafted by the team behind New Voyages and there's even those funky gridded panels in the corridors taking you back to that inspired '60's design yet keeping it ever so modern.

Here, again though, Anson Mount is superb as Pike with a truly wondrous scene in which he says farewell to the crew of Discovery and it's almost as if the audience are joining them to offer their respects to the starship's temporary commander. Absolutely loved that part of the episode yet you know there's more to come since this is only number 13 from 14 instalments this year.

It also feels as though Discovery's misdirection that the Short Treks were just there as fillers between seasons isn't actually true. Saru's past certainly linked in and now all the hints at time travel give rise to the belief that Calypso, my personal favourite of the four, will actually play a part in the finale and is potentially the future location in which the Discovery is hidden. Saying that, even Runaway has now been entwined with the main run of episodes with the reappearance of Queen Po from Xahea. It all makes "perfect" sense when you look at the bigger picture with the queen's advanced technological assistance helping to make the time crystal work. Cue the odd flash forward for Burnham and Jett Reno which offers up the vision of the Enterprise being hit with a torpedo weapon of some kind that is lodged in its hull.

You expect a certain level of build up here and every scene is filled with sprinkles of information or action that you hope and pray will be taken hold of in the final hour of the season. 

Part Two on the flipside is likely to be remembered as the most game-changing episode of Star Trek ever written. It's an hour of action from start to finish as the Enterprise and Discovery take on the might of Control. It's an unrelenting onslaught of action scene after action sequence which leaves, oddly for Star Trek, very little room for actual character moments and at times it feels that even giving an extra episode to the season can't make up for the fact there's so much that has to be crammed in to this finale it does feel rushed.

Michelle Paradise's script is high octane with some great twists and high energy yet there is a large chunk of time devoted to flashbacks to make sure we've all successfully connected the dots of each episode, each signal although the reasons as to why each signal is created is well worth the explanation even though we all worked out four episodes ago that it had to be Michael who was causing them.

Yet Such Sweet Sorrow actually showcases Discovery at its worst and best. While being unpredictable and on a fantastically galactic scale, the episode is a visual spectacular with spinning battles, classic phaser fire, some of the best staged fights in Star Trek and truly wondrous visitations to the Enterprise and her awesome crew but it's like eating the biggest carbs meal ever - it's very bloated and at times feels far too much.

So I might spoil a few bits if you've still not seen it, but Cornwell's death seems almost pointless, the defeat of Control with a bit of martial arts and some big magnets seems incredibly simple and I can't fathom why the programme - which comes across as being damn intelligent - would not have made a backup/copy etc in case of this scenario. 

The space battle is on another level for something staged for a TV audience yet the amount of small one man craft, shuttles and the like that are borne from the Enterprise and Discovery is hella excessive - would there be enough room for the crew?

Then there's Burnham and Spock's heart to heart and the time spent working out what's happening in regards to her calculations and the signals which takes an eternity - an eternity in which Control should have stopped her. In short it's a bit of a mess and that's before you even start to think about how the signals were all observed right back in episode one but then have been appearing sporadically through the season or just why Tyler is on the bloody Klingon ship after he's supposed to be dead. Phew, it's a lot to take in and not all particularly well constructed. Could this be a change of direction mid-season thanks to the switch in leadership on the show?

Everybody in front of the camera here pulls together to try and make this work. It is great, adrenaline filled TV but from a Star Trek perspective it's not quite successful and the final payoff for the crew isn't too much of a surprise considering how much this year has drawn on the Short Treks when it was made very clear they were standalone; cough Calypso cough.

Cudos goes to Ethan Peck and Anson Mount not just for this episode but for the season as a whole. They have pulled off the impossible with grace and style making a whole new generation and an old one fall in love with their takes on Spock and Pike. The clamour for a spinoff of some form is at fever pitch on whatever platform you care to peruse so I hope CBS take note.

As for Discovery's future it's odd that the season closes on the Enterprise, not even giving us a hint of what is to come in season three. In some senses it does show that the producers have listened to fans and stepped away from canon into the safety of a 950 year time jump. It erases the show from the 23rd Century and any concerns of canon clash plus opens up a whole new set of options for a crew out of time.

Season two of Discovery has, for the most part been a light year ahead of its first season potentially placing it as the most structurally sound series to air since those classic 66-69 shows. I have been entertained, gobsmacked and occasionally blown away by the places we have been but now the greatest challenge - to imagine a future further away than we have ever seen in the franchise - is yet to come...

What were your thoughts on the two-part finale? Was it worth the build up? What are your expectations for season three?

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Check out our other episode reviews from Discovery HERE

Thursday, 25 April 2019

The Holy Core: The Return of the Fan Flick

Remember the days when SKoST used to wax lyrical about the next fan film? The next big adventure dreamed up by the people who love Star Trek the most?

I know, it's a long time ago and a certain set of guidelines that came into play following the whole Axanar debacle changed the face of fan-made productions and restricted the unending creativity of many a Trekkie wanting to wield a camera.

Recently coming to my attention has been the second venture into Star Trek adventures from the team that brought us Chance Encounter back in 2017. The Holy Core trailer has gone live this month and, as you would hope and expect, there's very little you can guess from the selection of snippets collected together.

My friend Paul (Laight) and l always made films together and we were looking to do another one as we tend to do one every few years just off our own backs, low budget and we fund them ourselves," explained writer/director Gary O'Brien. "We've done a lot of stuff over the years and we batted some ideas around about an older man meeting and talking to a younger woman. Now if you see that in films it tends to be something sinister and I wanted to turn that dynamic and make it a more positive thing. We didn't have a story or plot it was just that nugget of an idea as a central theme of what the film would be broadly."

Paul then took over at this point and one of the concepts that he introduced to it was a sci-fi angle which turned out to be Gary's favourite from the proposals and this then evolved into a Star Trek script.

Of course just to throw a spanner in the works, this was the time when the fan film guidelines came into play; "We ended up doing our first Kickstarter for Chance Encounter in May 2016 and we were halfway through that fundraiser when the guidelines came out." recalled Gary, "We allowed ourselves to be grandfathered in as we were already fundraising for the film and I'd have to look back but I don't believe we fell foul of any of the guidelines anyway."

Chance Encounter came out in 2017 but The Holy Core is a distinctly different beast to its predecessor.

"We were happy with how well received Chance Encounter was; it was our first Kickstarter, our first Star Trek film and it had a very small budget. We knew what we were doing as a film but didn't know what we were doing when it came to Star Trek fan films so we did it and put it out on YouTube. People seemed to like it even though Chance Encounter isn't the most atypical Star Trek story."

Gary felt that they were missing a lot of the common traits of the franchise in their first fan film foray; "There's a huge list of elements that you assume are going to be in there (Chance Encounter) but it's devoid of all of them and still feels like a Star Trek film."

It was decided to start a new fundraiser and with their new learnings plus a shuttlecraft set they stepped out once again with The Holy Core. "We were dipping our toe in the water with Chance Encounter so putting all the more Star Trek elements into The Holy Core isn't a conscious decision to put more elements in," said Gary, "It was because this was going to be Star Trek from it's very inception whereas the first one was an idea of a story about love and we could put a Star Trek skin on it. What we learned was that we didn't need to be so tentative and just do a full on Star Trek film and because of that all the extra elements follow from that decision."

With a new cast of six, this one's set to be more of an ensemble piece as with their previous work it felt that the bulk of the story was taken up with just two characters planetside.

"Everything was built on my front room," continued Gary in reference to the shuttle as well as the bridge station that we see in the trailer and has been featured on social media in the recent past; "It became a workshop for about a year!" 

The choice to set The Holy Core in The Next Generation era came about with Gary being a fan of that particular piece of the franchise and initially with Chance Encounter it could have been in any period at all; "I think that came down to the fact I had a The Next Generation tricorder and tunic so let's do that."

What they didn't realise at the time was that the choice to go with that meant that The Holy Core would also be set in the same frame due to the already built shuttle and assembled items.

"I'm not an expert when it comes to Star Trek fan films although I do think they did a fantastic job with Continues and the Prelude to Axanar was very well done. Aside from those I'm not too familiar with the rest but that said what will make The Holy Core different is that production wise it's going to sit just below Star Trek Continues I think. They have a lot of resources and put them to good use. We don't have the standing sets or stars that you will have heard of but what we will have is something that has the production values of that show along with a proper consistent story that flows and is hopefully well done."

In terms of CG, The Holy Core has also surpassed its predecessor with a damaged shuttle and even a Nebula Class starship making an appearance; "There's one beauty pass of a ship in Chance Encounter but that's about it. CG has moved on quite a bit since then and there's a lot more in this new production."

The film will centre on a race of beings whose existence is focused around their religious beliefs. Starfleet come along to fix their atmosphere following centuries of warfare on the planet. The two sides are finally coming to their senses and have reached out to the Federation to help them take the next steps. 

Said Gary; "Our Starfleet people will get different takes on what their beliefs mean and against that backdrop we have an adventure aboard the shuttle while the crew on the ship deal with a more moral dilemma. There's an A and B story; one is high spirited and one is more cerebral. It's a good balance and it moves along nicely. That's about as much as I can say without giving too much away!"

Reflecting on the time into which Star Trek Continues dropped the franchise was being handled at the time, Gary recalled that this was an era with very few but very divisive Star Trek material in the form of the Kelvin movies. "Continues, Axanar and Renegades capitalised on the fact that people wanted new Star Trek material and that was what drove those to their successes. If our Chance Encounter film had come out at the same time as those big boys I suspect we might have got a bit less attention because they were so dominant and had names attached. Our one might have fallen by the wayside. 

"With releasing The Holy Core now with Discovery and these other shows slated to be coming in quick succession I'm not sure [about how it will be received]. I think that people who will watch a Star Trek fan film are clearly the minority of people who watch Star Trek and some would never watch a fan film anyway. We're not really in competition with anyone right now and we're not vying for attention between real Star Trek and us."

And what about a third instalment?

"I've thought about that myself," concluded Gary, "I've not ruled it out. I think if I do another one we will have to find a way to up our game in terms of production level. There wasn't a big gap between finishing Chance Encounter and starting The Holy Core. I've had help from some great people but I've being doing a lot myself and it's been a full time job but I don't think its feasible to have two months off and start again. If we can up the game then I would love to but I need a break!"

The Holy Core is due for release within the next few weeks...you an find out more by taking a look at their website right HERE

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Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Boldly Going Online: The Official Starships Collection Special USS Enterprise NCC-1701-F

Dear reader, I have failed. 

Way back in the history of Some Kind of Star Trek I attempted to play Star Trek Online. I dabbled, I teased, I tickled it under the chin and then walked away. It wasn't for me, I didn't get it. 

Then it dropped on to PS4 and I installed it, left it to fester on the console library but still couldn't quite drag myself to have a go and sink back in. But the recent release of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-F from Eaglemoss has had the unexpected result of turning me back on to Star Trek Online

More on that in a future post I have no doubt, but just reading some of the background to the digital flagship and having a replica of the outstanding design seems to have had a positive effect. Eaglemoss have released two versions of the Odyssey Class starship, one in Federation grey and a second in its more recognisable online livery. 

It's that second one which I've dropped a few quid on as both come with the same magazine and I didn't see the point in forking out for two. Is the Enterprise-F worth adding to the increasingly bowing shelves? Is it worth punting for a ship that's only ever been featured in a game?   

Similarly sized to the Enterprise-E, the F seems to fair better when it comes to detail. For starters the hull is far less cramped with lifeboat hatches, windows and that aztec hull pattern which meant that the E was overloaded with colour. The white and black paint scheme here is incredibly striking and means that the ship isn’t rammed full of detail and you can actually take in the finished result more easily. The panel lines are well marked out with the windows painted on rather than attempting to align them with hull indentations; wise move on this scale.

The thin strip phaser banks arc around the top of the primary hull with the registry decals crisp and the Starfleet pennant precisely marked behind the tiny bridge and in front of the main shuttlebay which itself is bracketed with another pairing of ship name and number.

Am I that impressed with the Online paint scheme? Not so much but it's visually striking with the black elements highlighting sections of the hull and emphasising the streamlining. Importantly Eaglemoss have lined the pennant on the top of the secondary hull up with the one on the saucer section and this trails right back to the docked auxiliary craft that nestles at the rear of the engineering section.

Unusually for Eaglemoss this craft is constructed in three sections with the metal primary hull giving way to two pieces of plastic which form the secondary hull and pylons.

On the underside of the saucer the paintwork is beautifully recreated in all its digital simplicity with the blacked sections again drawing attention to points of the hull and once more having defined panel lines sunk into the metal and plastic sections. 

The main feature on the underside is that game changing double-neck which sees the primary hull suspended over the secondary hull by two curving arms - only ruined by what appears to be a stabilising pin in the middle which annoyingly breaks that clear central space in two. Man that's annoying seeing as the two arcing necks seem to be quite thick and supportive especially to the back where they sweep down into the body of the Enterprise.

Decals are once more kept pretty simple with pennants on the outer sides of the necks including rhe ship registry but you do find yourself looking down to the solid black undercarriage that leads your eye towards the nacelles one way and to the very well finished navigational deflector. Now there have been a lot of ships - Enterprise's, Nebula Class craft - where the deflector has been a bit of a slap, dash and blob it on job yet with the Enterprise-F the end result is clean and distinct with all the key parts of this eye-shaped piece of ship tech clearly marked. Probably the best one on any ship from the line.

Moving out across the sweeping pylons to the nacelles, disappointingly Eaglemoss have had to go with the bussard collectors and the warp grilles being painted on rather than being translucent sections. Scale, cost and flimsiness of the build will all be factors and at first glance I did think they had managed it only to be deflated on a closer look. Given it's not your "perfect" vision of how the engines should look, they are accurate to the online starship with all the parts well defined and painted in. The black stripe across the top does make it seem a bit "pimped" however it's in keeping with the rest of the starship's eye-catching livery.

Build quality on the Enterprise-F is excellent with only the needle-point warp engines giving any concerns around structural integrity. They are a little flimsy but only if you start attempting to work out if they're flimsy if you catch my drift.

For the stand, this one's dead easy to display with a firm but steady grip around the back of the primary hull giving a stable, amidships hold on the Odyssey Class vessel. I did need to file down the peg from the plastic clip to the base just to get it in the hole but that's minor compared to some of the other disasters - and if you did get an Enterprise-F stand with your USS Bonaventure you will be able to get a replacement from Eaglemoss!

Now to the magazine and a first here because we're dealing with Star Trek Online and not the televisual or movie shoots of the franchise. The overview of the ship, it's construction and service within the timeframe of the online game are extensive bringing it almost bringing up to date and including shots of the ship right back to when the game first launched.

Moving through it would be wrong not to include the background to Adam Ilhe's unique twist on the familiar form of the Enterprise which was the competition winning entry to design the new Federation flagship. That twin neck was certainly a key factor as to why this was the chosen one!

Closing out the issue we take a closer look at the universe of Star Trek Online and how the galaxy has evolved since the end of Nemesis. A lot has changed and Online takes into account events not just from the Prime Universe but also the key destruction of Prime Universe Romulus which was introduced as part of the Kelvin Timeline movies. Many a voice from the franchise have graced the stories to date including Aron Eisenberg, Tim Russ and the great Leonard Nimoy as well as more recently venturing into Discovery territory. If you've not tried it, this might give you a bit more insight into just what it's all about - and yes, it might be one of the reasons I've stepped back into the digital Star Trek universe. 

The Odyssey Class model will not be every fan's choice but it does play a huge part in the mythos of Star Trek as it exists today. The franchise has grown beyond TV, movies and books to a much more interactive level and it's incredible that Eaglemoss have chosen to include this vessel in their range. It shows how much a part of Star Trek its online offshoot has become in the past decade. Great ship, totally unique finish and a real beauty of a large ship on a smaller scale - this is what the regular issue E could have been with a bit less clustered detail.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a Borg Sphere to destroy...

Which Enterprise-F did you go for? Or did you not bother?

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Sunday, 14 April 2019

Joining the Dots: Through the Valley of Shadows S02 E12

When Kenneth Marshall shows up as another Klingon you know you’re in for a good story.

And back he is for only our second Klingon episode of the year taking us to the fourth signal of seven which points Discovery in the direction of the monastery on Boreth.

Quick reminder - that’s the place where Kahless (or Kahlesh depending on your pronunciation) indicates he would return to in the future and for Klingons to wait for him there. Flash forward to The Next Generation and that kind of comes to fruition but for now it’s the location of two fairly significant things; the time crystals and the son of L’Rell and Voq.

Through the Valley of Shadows starts off incredibly understated and a lot easier paced than the last few weeks. Leland has absconded with Control still running through his veins and Burnham decides to pursue him/it alone rather than risk the programme getting its claws into the sphere data which is locked into Discovery’s memory banks. Spock offers up some assistance and the pair head off to find a Section 31 ship which failed to report in on schedule. 

The emotional juggernaut and canon machine step into fourth gear with all the Boreth links plus one of the biggest Captain Pike nods you will ever see in the franchise. Seriously, it’s huge and puts a brilliant new perspective on events in the captain’s life. Mind blown, totally, Gone. 

Anson Mount is unquestionably the key to this episode, sealing his own fate to save the galaxy and all life there in. It’s the ultimate sacrifice and he plays the emotion and realisation of what he has to do in acquiring a time crystal to tee. Mount has turned the ‘one ep’ Captain into a rounded character who may well be one of the franchise’s greatest creations and starship commanders - and all in the space of just 12 episodes. Pike does all he can and carries the weight of the universe on his shoulders more than we have ever seen before - and keeps it all locked away to himself. Incredible. 

Away from Discovery, Burnham and Spock find the Section 31 ship with the whole crew spaced. There’s one survivor; xxx xxx former officer aboard the USS Shenzhou. Saving him from space, the trio board the empty ship to find out what happened only for there to be an unsettling reveal.

Control is a right devious opponent taking over the body of another Section 31 operative and trying to eliminate Burnham once more. Seems that she’s been lured there and my hypothesis is that she is the one responsible for defeating Control hence the obsession to kill her. Another rough and tumble fistfight this week and one that lacks the grace and finesse of Michelle Yeoh and Alan Van Sprang’s martial arts foray last week. It’s much more guttural and survivalist with Burnham even double phasering at one point. Now that’s a skill. 

While both the A and B plot are linked to beating Control, the Pike piece is outstanding while it feels Spock and Burnham are left to clean up the dirty work. Their encounter with Control is a reminder that it could be anyone or anything but this narrative lacks the emotional kidney punch that we get from seeing Pike as we know him from The Menagerie. Honestly, that point when we see the out of focus wheelchair roll into view just sent chills down my spine and the makeup from Mount is spectacular. Bravo to all involved.

Thirdly - yep, there’s a tertiary plot here has Jett Reno back for her third appearance to remind Doctor Culber that he has another chance to sort his relationship out with Stamets. It’s tightly packed in around the other two huge chunks of story yet it works because it feels like a natural continuation of this piece of the series’ arc. Second chances? It’s a will-they-won’t-they situation and we have to acknowledge that this Culber 2.0 May just not want to go back. It would be very Star Trek for him not to and strike out on his own but the fan feeling may well drive them back together. 

Through the Valley of Shadows is a dense episode with lots to take in from the opening seconds. The Control story is excellent and powered in no small part by the ever awesome Sonequa Martin-Green and my second favourite Spock of all time but Anson Mount is out of this world here and there’s nothing that can top it. Each week he amazes and has truly got fandom right behind him - and we didn’t think he could do it.

You have to admit that the combination of sterling script and an actor of his calibre make the time crystal story incredibly poignant. This episode quietly closes down the Son of L’Rell/Voq story for now which seemed to be going nowhere at the beginning of the season. Thinking back a lot of these later stories have shored up the weaker parts of the year and this is definitely one. Top marks all round but whether or not you regard the other segments, you’ll only ever remember The Valley of the Shadows for ONE thing...

Shaping up for a killer season finale? What's your predictions?

Trace the journey of season two with SKoST's episode reviews

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Thursday, 11 April 2019

Mum's the Word: Perpetual Infinity S02 E11

It's impossible to review episode 11 without ruining it for anyone who hasn’t yet seen The Red Angel. 

If you haven't then look away right now - and shame on you for wanting to ruin the twists and turns of Discovery!   

We’ve now uncovered the real identity of the Red Angel and its not Michael but her mother who is inside the suit. We’re treated to a series of flashbacks to family life for the Burnhams culminating in the Klingon attack which - as we have been led to believe - cost her parents their lives. 

Now it seems that her mother escaped using the Red Angel suit and has been travelling through time unable to return to the ‘present’ as was and being tethered to a time 900 years in the future where Control has obliterated the Earth and humanity.   

Michael’s mother is heavily restricted due to the forcefield in place and all of the time we spend with her is on the Project Daedalus facility in pretty much one single spot. Sonjia Sohn who plays Gabrielle Burnham’s is...ok. There’s nothing spectacular here and after the big reveal of the previous episode there’s not a great deal that could top answering one of the series’ biggest conundrums. In fact it might be a bit of a letdown even though the occupant of the suit wasn't someone that anyone saw coming. That was a proper curveball into the show and all credit to the writers and producers for managing to keep it quiet until airing. Sohn manages to get through her scenes but I don't think her level of concern over Michael's near-death just to make her turn up is played to its full effect; I'd be a lot more p****d about the whole situation. 

The best bit about this story however, is how the series' B story manages to wrap itself around the A plot and, by the end of the episode replace it as the main objective of the show and the Discovery

The Control programme seemed to come from left field mid-season and while we were all distracted by the Red Angel it began to take hold, drawing Discovery and Section 31 into a much more devious plot in which we discover it is the dangerous element of season two and not the Angel as we might have expected from the teaser trailers. 

Lots has been posted that this might be the ‘birth of the Borg’ but it just can’t because we know they already exist in the 23rd Century and the 22nd since the escaping drones of Regeneration are heading that way. The effect of Leland being taken over by the programme is fairly graphic for a Star Trek episode with the network of greying veins across his face not unlike a well known assimilation process administered by half-cybernetic life forms. Taking over Leland is, ironically, logical since Control can't replicate humans "in the flesh" and can only get away with representing them in holo-communications - might this be a reason why The Original Series "dumbed down" in technology after this era because it became such a risk and dangerous to use? Were Starfleet forced to go backwards in development to stop the Section 31 strategy program?

Perpetual Infinity isn’t there to blow you away although it is a fine episode...again... but it’s a fulcrum of the season in which the Red Angel story is explained and probably closed with the snapping of the micro-wormhole elastic band effect and both Burnham’s mother and the suit vanishing back into time. As noted it feels like a large, missed opportunity here with the pair unable to truly come together but this 11 episode long cliffhanger reveal seems to be over far too quickly and we’re now off after the Leland/Control villain of the piece. 

Culber 2.0 returns to duty this week and immediately ends up on the away team to the test site with Stamets and Tilly. Now ladies and gents, while I love all three characters I'm in the belief that this is an away team immediately doomed to failure even without the inclusion of Nahn or an obligatory Red Shirt. Where's the sense in sending down a very inexperienced ensign plus two former lovers one of whom has some memory issues to work out since he was abandoned in the mycelial network. Burnham needs to up her insurance premiums on this one before beaming down.

There's a fantastic, climactic hand-to-hand sequence between Leland and Georgiou which has Michelle Yeoh's handiwork at choreography all over it. It's fast-paced, filled with martial arts moves and keeps the tension in play to the dying seconds - but it while the Red Angel has escaped Control's clutches (for now) I would put money on it coming back. 

But what can the final handful of episodes have in store for us? Somehow the crew will stop the destruction of the galaxy that Spock has foreseen. The readings that showed Burnham was in the suit still play on my mind and I am still mulling over the belief that she will end up using it as I wouldn't see it likely that the instruments would be that out to mistake her mother for Michael.

Could we have played out the arrival of Michael's mum just a bit more?

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