If you are a devotee of time travel...

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Ark 1.7: "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)"

The Ark 1.7 offered a dazzling array of concepts and developments, and was the best episode so far in this new series.  If I've said this before, that's an indication of how good The Ark has become.  Even if I hadn't said that, The Ark has moved into some fine science fictional territory.

[And there will be spoilers ahead ... ]

So, I said in my review last week that I thought that other Ark floating motionless out there in space was Ark 5, carrying William Trust, the creator of the Ark project, who had planned on going out to Proxima B in Ark 5.  And, though Trust plays a big role in episode 1.7 (see below), turns out that the motionless Ark is not 5 but 3.  I got the name but not the number right.  Reminds me of that Beatles song, "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)".

But how did that later Ark get to this place before Ark 1?  Here the series pulls out an old but still surprising science fiction chestnut:  Ark 5 had faster than light travel, developed by Trust's successor.  It, too, was disabled, most of its crew destroyed, by some kind of powerful, unexpected force.  Which turns out to be ... Ark 15.  Hey, once you can travel faster than light, you can travel faster and faster, right? That's logical, as Spock might say.

And as icing on the cake of this fine episode, here's the big role that William Trust plays: at the end of the episode, two of our favorite characters, thinking they have only seconds left to live, are about to kiss ... when a code that only William Trust could know is delivered just in time to save them.  Thanks Lane for bringing Trust out of suspended animation just in time.  You can always trust Dean Devlin to deliver an excellent episode.

See you back here next week with my review of what I hope is the season one (not series) finale.

See also The Ark 1.1: Worth Watching ... 1.2: Why I'M Enjoying It ... 1.3: Asteroid and Comet ... 1.4: Hallucinations ... 1.5-1.6: More than One

a second ship around Proxima Centauri B, too ...

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Press Play: Time Travel Via Cassette

So, I just watched Press Play on Hulu.  I don't know why I didn't come across this movie sooner.  It has the two most important elements in my pop cultural life, time travel and music, and, you know, it's quite good.

[Some spoilers ahead ... ]

Here's the set-up:  Laura meets Harrison in a vinyl and cassette shop in Hawaii run by Cooper (played by Danny Glover).  They both have a love of mixtapes, and fall in love.  Then, four years after Harrison is killed on the way to surfing by a car, Laura discovers that she can go back in time, to before Harrison was killed, every time she plays a song on a mixtape that she and Harrison were making.  When the song ends, she's back in the future in which Harrison was killed four years earlier.  She warns Harrison to be careful about that car, but he dies anyway in a different accident. So, the gist is: Laura can change only the circumstances of Harrison's death, not his death itself.

That's a pretty nice set-up writers James Bachelor and Greg Björkman put together.  Glover is always good to see on the screen.  Clara Rugaard was winsome and winning as Laura, and Lewis Pullman was sensitive and cerebral as Harrison (first time I've seen Rugaard, and Pullman was good in Outer Range).  The music was appealing, too, and new to me.

Now, I generally prefer science fiction to science fantasy -- in time travel, that would be a time machine vs. click your heels together -- but Press Play had such a sweetness, a refreshing innocence, that I'm fine with its fantasy.  It kept within the contours of its story -- music takes us back in time, all the time, in our minds, so why not play with the fantastical possibility that it can also take us back in time in reality -- and the ending was ...

Well, see it yourself, and see if you agree with me that the ending was right.

It's Real Life

alternate reality about The Beatles on Amazon, and  FREE on Vocal

Monday, March 13, 2023

The Last of Us Season One Finale: The Limits of Utilitarianism

Well, the season one finale of The Last of Us, just up on HBO Max tonight, was everything it could be and even more.

[And there will be spoilers ahead ... ]

So, first, here's what happened.  Turns out, at least as far as the docs in the hospital that Joel and Ellie finally get to, think: only by destroying Ellie's brain can her immunity to the fungi be disseminated to the rest of humanity.  We never find out if they're scientifically right or wrong, because Joel, once he finds out what the docs plan to do with Ellie, kills the doc about to perform the surgery and everyone else in his way so he can make good his escape with Ellie.

But here, then, is the question: was Joel right to do this?  Was he right to go against the fundamental principle of utilitarianism of the greatest good for the the greatest number, and deprive humanity of its rescue from death, all so one person, Ellie, can survive?  I tend to be utilitarian in many things, but ...

I would have done exactly what Joel did, had I the lethal prowess, to save Ellie.  Does that mean I'm weak?  Did Joel ignore logic and give into his emotions? Well, he did follow his emotions, but that doesn't mean he was weak or even illogical. Maybe there's a higher logic at work here.  The logic of going with your deepest emotion, if that emotion is love.

Joel acted on that principle, but he's not a philosopher.   He unconsciously refuted the utilitarian principle, and then he compounded that ethically dangerous action by lying.   Parents often lie to their kids -- the younger the kids are, the more often they're not told the truth, presumably for their own good.  I said Joel was right to save Ellie.  The docs could have been wrong.  Even if not, he was right to save her.  But was he right to lie to Ellie at the end of the episode when she asked him if he had told her the entire story of what had happened back at the hospital? Here I'd say, probably not.  I'm pretty sure I think he owed Ellie the truth.

On the other side of both of these issues, we have Marlene. She kills Ellie's mother Anna, her friend, after she'd given birth to Ellie, after Anna had been bitten, on Anna's instruction. She saved baby Ellie's life. Marlene is able to think clearly, rise above her emotions, and make tough decisions. The decision to kill Ellie, the baby she saved, years later, was an even tougher decision. She went with her head, not her heart. John Stuart Mill would have approved. It's tough to hate or even dislike her, because she was really trying to do the right thing. Unlike Joel, she told the truth. But Joel had to kill her -- fittingly, the last person he killed -- to escape with Ellie. I think he made the right decision here, too. 

Being right two out of three times in these hellish circumstances ain't bad.  And The Last of Us was 100% right to give us such an ethically wrenching season finale.  I'll certainly be back here with more reviews when the series resumes.

See also The Last of Us 1.1-1.2: The Fungus Among Us ... 1.3: Bill and Frank ... 1.4: Gun and Pun ... 1.5: Tunnels ... 1.6: Joel ... 1.7: Riley's Wise Advice ... 1.8: Ellie vs. the Resort

I talk about The Last of Us, beginning at 40mins 40secs

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Luther: The Fallen Sun: The Risen Hero

I just saw Luther: The Fallen Sun -- the continuation of Idris Elba's Luther TV series, in a 2+ hour movie on Netflix, and thought it was excellent, in all sorts of ways, for all kinds of reasons.  In fact, minute for minute, I thought it was better than any of the many series we've seen of Luther since it came on the screen in 2010.

[I'll warn you here of spoilers, though you won't find too many here, other than what you see in the blurbs and the trailers.]

So, Luther's in prison, not because he was framed, but because of the corners he illegally cut -- what he "had to do" -- to get the criminals in the past.  His adversary is a brilliant sicko, Robey (played by Andy Serkis), who is adept on the Internet and in torturing and leaving his victims hanging, literally.  One of his victims is a young man, and Luther was on the case but unable to get Robey before Luther was incarcerated.  Fortunately for Luther, the storyline, and the ultimate resolution of this movie, DCI Raine, who is currently investigating Robey without much success, suffers her daughter being kidnapped by Robey.  This is fortunate for the story, because it obliges Raine, who starts out being adamant about not enlisting Luther, and keeping him in prison, to instead welcome him in the frantic hunt.

As most of you no doubt know, Idris Elba was at at one point being considered to play James Bond, but recently actors his age were ruled out of that running.  First of all, Elba looks young enough to me.  More important, he's an outstanding one-of-a-kind actor who played and defined the indelibly memorable Stringer Bell in The Wire and continues to do the same in Luther.  He would have done the same for Bond.   I mention this because the Luther is this story has Bondian aspects, especially in snow and ice-water action near the end of the movie.   The Luther in the TV series rarely if ever made it out of London, if I remember correctly.  The Luther in this movie is now both literally as well as figuratively a man of the world.

But apropos both Bond and previous Luthers, I did miss any love interest (such as Indira Varma's Zoe Luther) or even the partially erotic spark (with Ruth Wilson's Alice Morgan) in this Luther movie.  Maybe that's because two hours is a little too short for such relationships to really start, let alone play out, when there such a demonic psycho to be caught.  But that absence is yet another good reason to make another Luther movie.

See also Luther 5.1: Back in Fine, Depraved Form ... Luther 5.2: "A Chocolate Digestive" ... Luther 5.3: Bitter Fruit ... Luther 5.4: Lethal Love

And see also Luther: Between the Wire and the Shield ... Luther 3.1: Into the Blender ... Luther 3.2: Success ... Luther 3.3: The Perils of Being an Enemy ... Luther 3.4: Go Ask Alice


My Picks for the Best Time Travel Novels that Respect the Paradoxes (Don't Worry, I Didn't Pick Any of Mine)

read all about them here

You 4.6-4.10: More than the Previous Seasons

Well, I entitled my review of the first half of You Season 4 on Netflix, "So Far, Less than the Previous Seasons," so, in all fairness I entitled this review of the second half of Season 4, "More than the Previous Seasons".   That is, more as in better.

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

Let's start with one part which was very well acted and executed, but a bit cliche, since Fight Club and everything that's come after.   Rhys is a manifestation of Joe's most evil side.  But Ed Speleers, whom I've now seen in Picard Season 3, is a first class actor, and he does a fine job bringing Joe's malign id (see Freud) to life.  Plus, it's refreshing to see Joe talk to himself, when that self is another person, rather than just talking to us, the audience.

And the rest was nonstop catapulting of the Joe Goldberg story into a another, higher level.  The season ends with Joe and Kate not only together, but fabulously rich, which of course will enable Joe to do all kinds of more damage in a subsequent season.  Love Quinn never lifted Joe to this level, and it will be fun to see where that goes.  I also have to say that, for some reason, Joe and Kate remind me of Harry and Meghan, and I mean that as a compliment, because I certainly don't think Harry is a killer.

The Nadia story was good, too, and, in general, I liked Joe as a professor.  If he ever applied for a job at Fordham University in the Communication and Media Studies Department, where I'm a Professor, I would definitely want to hire him -- of course, assuming that he wasn't also a psychotic killer.   The Marianne, Phoebe, and Tom Lockwood stories were ok, and served their purpose, even if none of those characters were as memorable as Kate and Ed Speleers's "Joe".

Last, the effervescent literacy that lifted all the seasons of You is back in fine form in Season 4.  My favorite line?  Actually, it's a phrase -- "analog book" -- an excellent retro alternative to printed or paper book.  Hats off to Michael Foley and Sera Gamble (the credited writers), assuming they were the ones who came up with this phrase.   And Penn Badgley for another great performance as Joe/Jonathan, and Charlotte Ritchie as Kate.

See also:  You: Review from an Unconflicted Fan ... You 2: Killer Charm ... Spoiler-Free Review for You 3 ... You 4.1-4.5: So Far, Less than the Previous Seasons


Thursday, March 9, 2023

The Ark 1.5-1.6: More than One

I thought I'd review episodes 1.5 (on last week) and 1.6 (on tonight) together, because their stories are closely connected, or, more closely connected than usual.

[Of course, spoilers ahead ... ]

There were two big reveals at the end of 1.5:  Baylor (well played by Miles Barrow, who was also good in The Peripheral,  another excellent, very different new science fiction series) is the killer, and he steps up to save The Ark but actually to protect William Trust.  A good character name, if you think about it.  What's his name?  Will Trust.  Obviously, a pivotal character, but will you trust him to do what's right for The Ark, or in the crew of The Ark's best interests?

Probably not.  And in episode 1.6, we find out, also at the end of the episode, that there's another Ark out there in deep space.  At least, it looks like an Ark.   And we see this after we learn that it was Trust's intention to get out to Proxima B on Ark 5.

So, is that starship Ark 5?  And, if it is, did it somehow go through a black hole or some time loop in space which sent it back in time, which is how first The Ark would encountered it tonight? Starships with humans encountering other starships that have travelled backward or forward in time with humans -- alive or dead, or sometimes starships of human construction but with no humans -- is not a new theme in interstellar starship stories.  Star Trek has had stories like that.  And, come to think of it, so did my 2001 novel, Borrowed Tides.

The Ark has now moved into an excellent science fictional niche of weekly different crises with an underlying foundation of a much bigger, more profound story, being revealed so far in just glimpses and intimations.  Works for me, and I'll see you back here soon.

See also The Ark 1.1: Worth Watching ... 1.2: Why I'M Enjoying It ... 1.3: Asteroid and Comet ... 1.4: Hallucinations

a second ship around Alpha Centauri, too

Monday, March 6, 2023

The Last of Us 1.8: Ellie vs. the Resort

Well, tonight's next-to-last episode -- 1.8 -- of The Last of Us -- was everything it should be.

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

Ellie was at her absolute best so far in this series.  She progresses from killing a deer to the demonic leader of a town (or actually a "resort," he says), whose people under his guidance are practicing cannibalism.  And along with that, she manages to get penicillin -- enough to get Joel back in action, after one shot of the antibiotic at night and another the next morning.  Now I have no idea if penicillin can work that quickly, but it probably does, and even if not, it makes for a good story.

The key development in all of this is Ellie manages to triumph without Joel's help.  She would have survived even without Joel.  We've seen her contend with the elements, and people, and the infected before, but this is her best moment.  She uses everything she has -- including distracting her attackers by saying and showing she's infected (though the leader sees through that) -- and taking every opportunity to get on top of things, which she indeed does.

Does this mean she no longer needs Joel?  No, not at all.  The world in which they live is universally dangerous, and each of them, Ellie and Joel, need all the help they can get.  And as we've seen all season, the two of them are the best sources of that help, for each other.

I'm looking forward to seeing what further lessons we learn in the season finale next week.  What clues will it leave us for the second season, and who knows how many seasons to come?  It's at times like this that I wish all of its seasons were up online, so I could see every one of them.

See also The Last of Us 1.1-1.2: The Fungus Among Us ... 1.3: Bill and Frank ... 1.4: Gun and Pun ... 1.5: Tunnels ... 1.6: Joel ... 1.7: Riley's Wise Advice

I talk about The Last of Us, beginning at 40mins 40secs

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Star Trek 3.3: Brass Tacks

Well, Star Trek: Picard 3.3 finally got down to brass tacks -- maybe "finally" is not warranted, since this is only the third episode of this new and final season -- but ...

[Spoilers follow]

The confrontation between Picard and Riker, culminating in Riker's dismissing Picard from the bridge, owing to the apparently bad advice and pressure Picard had given Riker, resulting in what Riker characterized as sending everyone on this Starfleet ship to their deaths, well ... that was something to hear and see.

I do think Riker was being a little tough on Picard, though.  First of all, no one forced Riker to follow Picard's strong and repeated advice.   Second, and maybe this is first, things didn't look too good for this starship whatever course of action Riker took.  Third, from this side of the screen as a television viewer, there's no way that everyone on this ship will die.  It's way too early in this final season to do that, and I really doubt anything like that will happen even in later episodes.

Meanwhile, it was great to see Picard and Beverly talking.  Picard has a right to be angry that Beverly took so long to let him know about their son.   I of course was very glad to see that Jack survived.  He's far too pivotal a character to go this early or indeed any time in this story, either.

And it also great to see Worf and Raffi.  Worf is in great shape, and Michael Dorn is doing a fine job recreating that role.  Worf and Dorn have aged well.  I like the wisdom Worf has attained over the years.  All that's left now is to see Worf and Raffi reunited with the rest of our heros on the massively endangered Titan.

That will take some enjoyable-to-see doing.  These Changelings are a dangerous species.

See also Picard 3.1: Crusher's Son ... 3.2: Picard's Son

And see also Picard Season 2 Finale: Resolves and New Vistas ...  Picard 2.9: Cooperation!  ... Picard 2.8: Borg, Q, Soong, FBI ... Picard 2.7: The Bread Was Tastier than the Meat ...  Picard 2.6: Borg and Soong .. Picard 2.5: Don't Walk Away Renee ... Picard 2.4: 2024 LA ... Picard 2.3: Agnes, Borg, Badge ... Picard 2.2: Q and Borg ...  Star Trek: Picard 2.1: Cameos and Time Travel ...  Star Trek: Picard (Season One): Non-Pareil 


                                                        a little time travel story -- free

Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Last of Us 1.7: Riley's Wise Advice

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

Well, first of all, I was glad to see that Joel was alive at the beginning and conclusion of The Last of Us 1.7, fulfilling what I said in my review of 1.6 last week, that if you don't see a character's head cut off or blown to bits, there's always a chance that she or he survived.

Now all of that took maybe a minute to show, and The Last of Us devotes the whole rest of the episode to another nearly standalone story, this time of Ellie and her best-friend Riley, whom she also has a crush on, back in Boston, after the fungus apocalypse, before she ever met Joel.  This story within a story was woven in so well, I didn't even quite realize that Ellie was back in time and in Boston until Riley said something about needing to leave Boston the next day.  And then everything, including Ellie's mention a little earlier of a time machine (a nice meta-touch), fell into place.

So, does this now mean that Joel and Ellie are permanent characters on this series, or at least for this first season of this series?  Perhaps not, but I think there's a chance that they will indeed endure.  And I think that's a good thing.  You can't make everyone expendable in a story.  Or maybe you can, but I think stories are always enhanced by having some permanence, some continuity, of characters.

This season will end after two more episodes.  And HBO has already called for a second season.  I'm hoping we'll see Joel in all of that, and more.  In the meantime, it was good to see Ellie's first love tonight, and in what circumstances she first got bitten by the infected.  Riley presumably didn't survive.  But her very wise advice that the two shouldn't take their lives, and instead live every moment they had left to the fullest, not only made everything we've seen of Ellie in this first season possible, but is very good advice for all of us on the other side of the screen

See also The Last of Us 1.1-1.2: The Fungus Among Us ... 1.3: Bill and Frank ... 1.4: Gun and Pun ... 1.5: Tunnels ... 1.6: Joel

I talk about The Last of Us, beginning at 40mins 40secs

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Sharper: Scams Cubed

This seems to be a season for non-linear neo-noir caper thrillers set in the New York area.  A few months ago, Kaleidoscope appeared on Netflix, so linear you were invited to watch the episodes of that series in any order you chose.  Sharper, which debuted on Apple TV+ a week or so ago, is a movie, not a series, so you can't really choose the order of the parts.  But the parts are equally non-linear, and the story just as captivating.

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

This time, we're treated to scam artists not bank robbers.  But given that the object of the scam is a billionaire, the money in Sharper is even bigger than the object of the heist in Kaleidoscope.  And the complex story is just as much a pleasure to watch unfold.

Tom works in a bookstore in the Village (we find out a little later that he owns the bookstore, and in still later segment that that's because his father is a billionaire).  He meets and starts falling in love with Sandra, a student at NYU, who of course has a dissolute brother who desperately needs money -- some $350,000.  Tom is able to give her that money -- against her (faux) protests -- after which Sandra disappears.  Thus ends the first of a series of escalating, interconnected scams.   Here let me say that Justice Smith as Tom was good, and Briana Middleton as Sandra was major-league superb.  This is the first time I've seen either on the screen.  I'd say both have great careers ahead.

And this as I said is also just the first of the scams.  Julianne Moore plays Madeline, the billionaire's wife, and a master scammer herself.  John Lithgow plays the billionaire, and, unless I missed something, pretty much the only person in this narrative who is not a scammer.  It's always good to see both of them on the screen.  And especially so in the same movie.  (I read somewhere that Lithgow may be back again as the Trinity Killer in one or more of the Dexter spinoffs that are percolating, and it was great to see him as Churchill in the early seasons of The Crown.)  Sebastian Stan, in addition to having a memorable name, also puts in a memorable performance as Max, who, well, is and isn't what he seems to be, but mostly is.

On the rare chance that you've read this far and haven't seen Sharper, I'm not going to tell you much about the ending, except that it's satisfying and everyone gets their just deserts. (With those scenes in the Japanese restaurant, I almost said just desserts. Mine is mochi ice cream.) Put Sharper in the category of excellent narratives that begin in bookstores -- the Lifetime now Netflix series You would be another example -- which gives it double creds as both a bookstore and a non-linear crime story.  Either would be enough for me to see it, and just for good measure Sharper has some sharp acting.  Creds to writers  Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka, and director Benjamin Caron.

Star Trek: Picard 3.2: Picard's Son

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

We found out at the end of Picard 3.1 that Beverly Crusher has a son in addition to Wesley.  And we find out at the end of Picard 3.2 that Jack Crusher's father is Picard.  That's a nice, game-changing development, and amply explains why we didn't know of Jack in previous Star Treks.

The other nice touch in 3.2 is seeing Worf.  Unfortunately, we see little more than seeing him.  But that's at least an intro to learning much more about where he's been and what he's been doing over these many years.

Otherwise, I have to say that this second episode was somewhat pro-forma and not exactly bursting with original scenes and stories.  At this point, the most interesting new character is Captain Liam Shaw, well played by Todd Stashwick.  It's fun seeing someone in command so unimpressed by Picard and Riker.  And it's entirely understandable, given that he's not privy to a lot of what we saw in Star Trek: TNG.

But, more seriously, I said last year* that I was enjoying Strange New Worlds much more than Picard, which was surprising, given how much I loved Star Trek: TNG.  And so far, though I very much enjoyed the first episode of Picard Season 3, the second episode alreadys seem to be suffering from the same ennui.  Seeing our favorite characters back in older action is great, for sure.  But I'm still waiting for a story as riveting as Strange New Worlds, and the original Next Generation.


See also Picard 3.1: Crusher's Son

And see also Picard Season 2 Finale: Resolves and New Vistas ...  Picard 2.9: Cooperation!  ... Picard 2.8: Borg, Q, Soong, FBI ... Picard 2.7: The Bread Was Tastier than the Meat ...  Picard 2.6: Borg and Soong .. Picard 2.5: Don't Walk Away Renee ... Picard 2.4: 2024 LA ... Picard 2.3: Agnes, Borg, Badge ... Picard 2.2: Q and Borg ...  Star Trek: Picard 2.1: Cameos and Time Travel ...  Star Trek: Picard (Season One): Non-Pareil 


                                                        a little time travel story -- free

Friday, February 24, 2023

Your Honor 2.7: Satisfying and Powerful, Almost a Finale

Your Honor 2.7 was so good, so satisfying, so complete, it almost could have been a finale.  But I'm glad it wasn't, because I want to see more.

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

Probably the single biggest shocker is that Mayor Charlie is such a bad guy.  He was working with the dirty cops, and had them kill Robin because her investigation was getting too close. Or maybe did nothing when they killed her, because he had been working with then, which is almost as bad.  His good friend's wife.  Hard to believe, but New Orleans is not only a dirty city with dirty cops but a crooked Mayor.  Maybe not so hard to believe.  New York City, where I live and work, had one in the late 1990s.  I don't know if he was crooked then -- he certainly supported cops who attacked innocent people -- and then he went on to help inspire an attack on the US Capitol in 2021.

But I don't want to get too distracted in this review by real life, which I guess can often be worse than fiction.  Life is pretty bad for Michael Desiato, who lost his wife and then his son.  We see him crying at the end of this episode, and he has ever reason to cry.  I'm glad he has a grandson and a de facto daughter-in-law to comfort him.

Other important things happened in 2.7.  Somehow Eugene wasn't killed by that dirty cop's shot.  And he manages to survive in the hospital.  And Big Mama's people are finally beginning to realize that they're not going to have lives that are anyplace close to safe and secure, working under her.

What remains to be seen is how the Baxters play out in all of this.  Will they give up their attempt to kill Eugene?  If they find out that the Mayor was at least indirectly responsible for their son's death, will they let that pass?  I doubt it.  And I'm very much looking forward to the next three episodes.

See also Your Honor 2.1: Scorching ... 2.2-2.3: Who Knows What? ... 2.4-2.5: The Mayor and More ... 2.6: Pent-Up Angers

And see also Your Honor 1.1: Taut Set-Up ... Your Honor 1.2: "Today Is Yesterday" ... Your Honor 1.3: The Weak Link ... Your Honor 1.4: The Dinner ... Your Honor 1.5: The Vice Tightens ... Your Honor 1.6: Exquisite Chess Game ...Your Honor 1.7: Cranston and Stuhlbarg Approaching Pacino and De Niro ... Your Honor 1.8: Nothing More Important ... Your Honor 1.9: Screeching Up to the Last Stop Before Next Week's Finale ... Your Honor 1.10: Final Irony

The Ark 1.4: Hallucinations

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

Well, I guessed early on that the source of the hallucinations in The Ark 1.4 was the water from the comet -- the giveaway was in the everybody drinking up (or down) the new abundance of water drained from the comet -- but that guess didn't stop me from enjoying this rollickingly good episode.

In which we learned a bunch of things, in which most importantly not only is Garnet not the (or even a) killer, but she's a twin, which means the video that shows her slitting the guy's throat was not a deep space fake, it was a video of her twin sister.

Also, we learn about Garnet that she has some improved DNA which makes her especially fit to lead the ship, though that may not be exactly what the DNA was intended for.  We also learn about whom various other people on the crew have special affections for, and that both deepens these characters and gives us foundations to understand their future actions.

Strickland had a bigger role than usual, and that was welcome, as he's become one of my favorite characters.  Someone who's not bound to any code but his or her own is good for the ship, if that code seems logical and moral, which Strickland's apparently is.

But let's look at the very ending.  The Ark seems to make a habit of revealing very crucial and dangerous things in the very last scene, a time-honored but still very effective way of telling a story in a television series. This time the reveal is that the calamity that befell the ship might have been the result of an attack by a non-human intelligence out there in the depths of space.  So by this forth episode, the lethal danger facing the ship has ratcheted up from an asteroid to aliens -- though, come to think of it, the attack could have come from humans after all, maybe time-traveling humans from the future.

Whatever it is, bring it on.  I can't wait to see more, and I'll see you back here next week with my next review.

See also The Ark 1.1: Worth Watching ... 1.2: Why I'M Enjoying It ... 1.3: Asteroid and Comet

here's what happened to the first starship to Proxima Centauri

Sunday, February 19, 2023

The Last of Us 1.6: Joel

[Big spoilers ahead ... ]

Well, I should have known when Tess was killed so early in the season of The Last of Us -- played by no less than Anna Torv -- that anyone and everyone was expendable in this superb narrative.  (As I said in my review of the first episode, I haven't played the game and know nothing of its story.)

But I didn't expect that Joel would go, and certainly not in the way that he did.  The scene with him and his brother Tommy convinced me that Tommy would escort Ellie, Joel would stay behind in Jackson with the Christmas lights and the movies, and we'd see him again sooner or later in the story.  In fact, I thought his change of mind was not quite believable, at least not to me.

I have a principle regarding life and death on the screen, which I usually mention as soon as a major character is killed.  The principle is: if the head isn't severed or blown to bits, there's a chance the character survived.  I guess I saw too many characters on 24 come back to life, i.e., not really killed.

So although we didn't see Joel in the coming attractions, I'm holding out hope.  I assume he was killed in the game.  But even if he was, that doesn't mean he was killed in the TV adaptation.  Adaptations are by definition not the same as the original.

In any case, The Last of Us continues to be one masterpiece of a series.  I said earlier that it's become my favorite post-biological apocalyptic series, and that only becomes more so with every episode.

See also The Last of Us 1.1-1.2: The Fungus Among Us ... 1.3: Bill and Frank ... 1.4: Gun and Pun ... 1.5: Tunnels

I talk about The Last of Us, beginning at 40mins 40secs

Your Honor 2.6: Pent-Up Angers

Your Honor 2.6 continued on its powerful pace with an investigation of Robin's (Michael's wife's) murder and a shocker of an ending not directly connected to Robin which I'm not going to tell you about, in case you haven't seen it.

And I'm not going to say "spoilers ahead" because if you thought for a moment that Michael killed his wife, you aren't worth warning.  Of course he didn't.  Whatever problems Michael and Robin had, he's no murderer.  The guilt he felt in Season One about Rocco's murder of the guy in prison, whom Michael set up to protect his son, is ample evidence of Michael's decency.

It was good to see Michael and Elizabeth join forces to find out who did kill Robin, starting with Elizabeth's declaration that she originally thought maybe Michael did kill her daughter, but came to realize he could never do that.  Their eventual discovery of who did kill Robin is not surprising at all, given the current state of those public servants' service in this country.

In addition to Robin's killing in the past, there are two other violent encounters which may or may not be murders.  One is the shocker at the end, which I said I wasn't going to tell you about.  The other is Jimmy hauling off on Frankie.   Which, frankly, is completely understandable, and I'm even not sorry to see.

If you think about it, Frankie is always offering advice, but has been pretty much useless in protecting the Baxter family, most especially Rocco, who could have been killed by Eugene's bullet last season had not Adam been in the way.  Jimmy must be plenty angry at his wife, but he's not going to hit her.  He has to take it out on someone, however.   If Frankie survived that pummeling, maybe he'll learn to do better and talk less.

Your Honor as a series can't do much better, because it's already top of the line, and I'll see you back here next week with my next review.

See also Your Honor 2.1: Scorching ... 2.2-2.3: Who Knows What? ... 2.4-2.5: The Mayor and More

And see also Your Honor 1.1: Taut Set-Up ... Your Honor 1.2: "Today Is Yesterday" ... Your Honor 1.3: The Weak Link ... Your Honor 1.4: The Dinner ... Your Honor 1.5: The Vice Tightens ... Your Honor 1.6: Exquisite Chess Game ...Your Honor 1.7: Cranston and Stuhlbarg Approaching Pacino and De Niro ... Your Honor 1.8: Nothing More Important ... Your Honor 1.9: Screeching Up to the Last Stop Before Next Week's Finale ... Your Honor 1.10: Final Irony

Friday, February 17, 2023

The Ark 1.3: Asteroid and Comet

Well, as I've been expecting and been told, The Ark keeps getter better and better with every episode.

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

The main event in episode 1.3 is what to do about the next-to-no water left on the ship, usurped by an even more deadly danger, an asteroid hurtling towards the ship, which will reach and demolish the ship in hours.   The resolution of this dilemma upon dilemma is one sweet piece of science fiction at its best: Alicia sees the asteroid has a tail, which means it's a comet not an asteroid, which means it's made of water.  Which means that, if The Ark can fly a shuttle near the comet and match its speed -- increasing its speed is not so hard, given that the The Ark is in deep space with no atmospheric resistance -- The Ark can siphon off some of the comet's water, and refill The Ark's nearly empty tank.

Which it does, after some defiantly heroic maneuvers by Brice.  So, Coleridge's "water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink," is surmounted and countermanded by the ingenuity of the crew, now working mostly together.

But, of course, this is not the end of this fine episode.  Before the credits roll, we learn that Garnet has a violent streak.  We already know that she's not averse to using physical force to get her orders obeyed.  But now we learn that she can slit someone's neck if she sees herself in any physical danger. 

The overall message: not everyone is what they seem to be on this crew.  The people who survived the catastrophe are not only survivors, but have histories that we don't know about.  A welcome element in a new series.

See also The Ark 1.1: Worth Watching ... 1.2: Why I'M Enjoying It

here's what happened to the first starship to Proxima Centauri

Star Trek: Picard 3.1: Crusher's Son

Good to see Star Trek: Picard back with the beginning of its third (and final) season on Paramount Plus yesterday.  All kinds of fun things in this first episode, including Riker back with some great repartee and all sorts of other good touches including Riker accidentally calling Picard (who's now an Admiral) "Captain" once again.  But my favorite moment came at the very end, when--

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

We learn that the character played by Ed Speleers is Beverly Crusher's son.  This is very significant for one big reason:  He's not being played by Wil Wheaton, who of course played Wesley Crusher in the original TNG.  We don't hear the first name of the Speleers character, but IMDb says it's Jack Crusher.

Speelers, by the way, is an excellent actor.  He played a sinister villain, Bonnet, in Outlander.  And he checked in with a fine performance as another villain at the end of the first part of You, Season 4. (One of his specialities seems to be coming in at the end of an episode.)  But the question is: why didn't Picard bring back Wesley, played by Wheaton?

Well, he did appear briefly at the end of Picard, Season 2, as a Traveler, and I guess if this Traveler had been able to help Beverly out of her predicament in 3.1, he would have done so, making Picard's emergency visit, the motivation for this whole new season, unnecessary.  But there's no reason Wesley can't appear later in this season, and I hope he does.

Meanwhile, it will be wonderful to see how and when the original cast will be reassembled.  Good job so far by Terry Matalas

See also Picard Season 2 Finale: Resolves and New Vistas ...  Picard 2.9: Cooperation!  ... Picard 2.8: Borg, Q, Soong, FBI ... Picard 2.7: The Bread Was Tastier than the Meat ...  Picard 2.6: Borg and Soong .. Picard 2.5: Don't Walk Away Renee ... Picard 2.4: 2024 LA ... Picard 2.3: Agnes, Borg, Badge ... Picard 2.2: Q and Borg ...  Star Trek: Picard 2.1: Cameos and Time Travel ...  Star Trek: Picard (Season One): Non-Pareil 


                                                        a little time travel story -- free