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Star Trek: Voyager – Workforce, Part II (Review)

Workforce, Part I and Workforce, Part II form an interesting two-parter.

A large part of this is purely structural, and down to the role that they play within the larger arc of the seventh season of Star Trek: Voyager. One of the most common, and biggest, criticisms of Endgame is that the episode doesn’t actually offer any meaningful pay-off to the seven-year journey. The characters never actually get set foot on Earth, never get to come home. The final shot of the series is the ship itself approaching Earth, with no sense of what it was like for those characters to return to the home that they had sought for more than half a decade. To be fair to Endgame, the finale does open with a flash-forward that features a crew reunion decades after their return, but that timeline is erased by the events that follow.

Chakotay or the highway.

Season finales tend to offer some indication of what happens to the characters after the end of the television series, an assurance to the audience that their journey is over and that their lives will work out. On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, What You Leave Behind resolved the Dominion War in its opening sixty minutes before spending thirty minutes wrapping up various plot threads. On Star Trek: The Next Generation, the future timeline in All Good Things… hinted at potential futures for the characters. Even on Star Trek: Enterprise, the much-maligned These Are the Voyages… featured the characters bringing the ship home to be decommissioned so that Archer could lay the groundwork for the Federation.

In contrast, Voyager just stops. There is no real consideration of what happens to the crew; Admiral Owen Paris never gets to meet his granddaughter, the Maquis never get their pardons, Janeway never reunites with Mollie. There is no sense of how they settle into life after their adventure, no question of what happens to them when they aren’t defined by their seventy-thousand-light-year journey across the galaxy. Oddly enough, this complete absence in Endgame makes Workforce, Part I and Workforce, Part II feel much more important in the larger context of the season.

Over the moon about it.

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The Last Jedi, Dunkirk and the Death of the Hero…

One of the more interesting aspects of living through a pop culture moment is that it is often quite hard to properly assess anything from that subjective vantage point.

It is too easy to assume that this moment is the most important moment in history, to suggest that the entirety of history has been a path leading to this moment or to the moment just beyond it. There is also a clear desire to find signal in the noise, to sift through the nearly impossible volume of data that threatens to overwhelm any filter and find a pattern. As such, it is always tempted to declare particular movies as the important to this particular moment, or to find trends when none actually exist.

At the same time, there is something to be said for trying to sift through contemporary pop culture and to observe trends. In particular, to see how those trends reflect back on the world in which those films were produced and the world in which they were released. In particular, one of the more interesting aspects of Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi and Dunkirk is a clear and conscious shift away from the conventional heroic narrative inside genres traditionally associated with such grand epic themes.

At a point in time when the political right seems to veering closer and closer to fascism, it is particularly striking to have last year’s sweeping science-fiction epic and last year’s highest profile war film both consciously rejecting the politics of the “strong man” and the “chosen one.”

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The X-Files – Anasazi (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

Burn it.

– C.G.B. Spender, 16 April 1995

On alien soil...

On alien soil…

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X-Men: The End – Book Two: Heroes and Martyrs (Review/Retrospective)

This May, to celebrate the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, we’re taking a look at some classic and modern X-Men (and X-Men-related) comics. Check back daily for the latest review.

To describe Chris Claremont’s three six-part miniseries that comprise X-Men: The End as “convoluted” is to miss the point. Of course they are convoluted. Claremont is essentially writing a gigantic epilogue to his work on Uncanny X-Men. He is tidying away decades of continuity and offering a sense of closure to his work on these characters and their world. Claremont is an exceptional storyteller when it comes to long-form serialised storytelling.

As a writer, Claremont tends to layer interesting twists on top of interesting twists, with every resolution opening up more avenues for future stories to explore. He has demonstrated an ability to string along plots for decades, revisiting characters and situations years after most readers had forgotten about them. These are the qualities that make his Uncanny X-Men run so deeply fascinating, but they are also the qualities that make him a bit of an awkward fit for a concept like The End, an epic miniseries built around the idea of wrapping up the entire X-Men mythos.

Some things never go into fashion...

Some things never go into fashion…

However, what is so fascinating about X-Men: The End is that all of the elements that Claremont uses are the same elements that he has been playing with since he took over Uncanny X-Men. The story beats have a familiar pattern to them, the themes are familiar, the characters speak as they did in the years that Claremont wrote them. What is fascinating about X-Men: The End is the way that it serves to really set Claremont’s take on the X-Men in stone, treating the elements associated with Claremont as a truly inexorable part of the comic’s mythology.

X-Men: The End is very much a Chris Claremont comic, through-and-through. That’s what makes it feel like such a perfect fit.

A wing and a prayer...

A wing and a prayer…

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