I have a, we’ll say multifaceted relationship with Star Wars. This was one of the first fandoms I got interested in as a teenager, but it certainly wasn’t love at first sight. My parents put on the original trilogy, long before there were even rumors of prequels, when I was growing up; and I had no interest whatsoever. The most interesting things I can remember from that was that Frank Oz voiced both Yoda and Fozzie Bear. I was about ten when the prequels came out and still did not have much of an interest. That changed when I volunteered to man the children’s librarian’s desk during the summer reading program. All the new children’s books were right behind me, including the Jedi Apprentice series, which tells the tales of the early days of Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s master/apprentice relationship. One sounded vaguely interesting (Number 12, The Evil Experiment, if I recall correctly), so I gave it a go. And enjoyed it. And then borrowed all of the other books in the series (which I finished in quick order; they were easy reads for me). So I favored the prequel movies for the longest time. Still didn’t necessarily want to watch the original trilogy. Until I picked up another book at the library: Young Jedi Knights, chronicling adventures of Han and Leia’s twins, Jania and Jacen…I’ll get into all of that when we hit the original trilogy. Again, I was hooked and thus brought into the fold of the original trilogy.
It was not always fun being the only one of my friends in school interested in Star Wars. Harry Potter was fine, everyone at that point loved it. As a teenager, the Jedi Code sounded interesting, mastering one’s emotions. I read Star Wars and Philosophy and ended up writing a paper for college writing based on it [Living Morally in a Business World; not the project I am most proud of]. For a while, Star Wars played a role in developing my fanfiction world. Star Wars fanfiction was actually the first fanfiction I read. Then, I got into Lord of the Rings and that eventually took over. I still like Star Wars and definitely have favorite characters and there are some books I will re-read multiple times, but growing into an adult changed my perspective on certain things (like Qui-Gon Jinn might not be the epitome of best Jedi Masters…partially influenced by some awesome fanfiction stories on AO3) and I now heavily favor the original trilogy. Except the lightsaber battles, because they’re just totally awesome in the prequels.
I know there are about a half dozen different ways to watch this film franchise; I seriously debated posting this in release order, but I felt it would be too much jumping around. I also will not be covering any of the cartoons; I’ve seen a good bit of Clone Wars and Rebels, but not all of them. And I have not watched and don’t necessarily intend to watch The Mandolorian…I do not have time. (I’m also really behind on the MCU shows on Disney+ right now, so it becomes a choice). I do intend to watch the Obi-Wan Kenobi series when it comes out. Apologies for any disappointment. Star Wars is such a huge part of pop culture that it is expected that one knows certain things going into the prequels.
George Lucas put together a great cast for Phantom Menace. Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List [no, haven’t watched and not one I think I will], Gawain in Excalibur [I probably should watch that movie], the Irishman played Scottish folk hero Rob Roy, appears in Kingdom of Heaven and Batman Begins. He voices Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, and makes bad guys fear for their lives in the Taken franchise) is Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, Ewan McGregor (he’s got a great voice in Moulin Rouge, is a bit funny in Down with Love, is dashing in Miss Potter, and voices Lumiere in the live-action Beauty and the Beast. He appears in Nanny McPhee Returns, Angels and Demons, and a seriously weird movie The Island [I watched it because he was in it and I still get freaked out by memories of it]) is his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Natalie Portman (before she was Jane Foster in the MCU and Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl) is Padmé Amidala and Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean, the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, The Duchess) briefly appears as her handmaiden Sabé (the girls looked remarkably alike at that age). Samuel L. Jackson (before intimidating everyone as Nick Fury in the MCU) introduces Mace Windu, I recognize Terence Stamp now (Siegfried in the hilarious Get Smart movie in 2008) as Chancellor Valorum. Ian McDiarmid returns to play Palpatine; Frank Oz, Kenny Baker, and Anthony Daniels all reprise their roles from the original trilogy.
Now, let’s venture “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”
Jedi ambassadors are sent to the Trade Federation blockade of Naboo to force a settlement. Master Qui-Gon Jinn feels that negotiations will be short. As young Obi-Wan Kenobi points out later, they are short indeed; the Trade Federation is under the control of a Sith Lord, Lord Sidious, who instructs them to kill the Jedi. Not so easy, they find out. The two Jedi sneak down to the planet and make their way to the Queen. They pick up Jar Jar Binks along the way [I don’t hate him, but he is annoying], but make it in time to rescue Queen Amidala and her handmaidens. Qui-Gon recommends taking Amidala to Courscant to plead her case with the Senate, but their ship is damaged while escaping the Trade Federation blockade. Little R2-D2 to the rescue!
They still have to divert to Tatooine to make repairs. The Queen sends Padmé along with Qui-Gon to find parts and in town, they discover a little boy in the shop; Anakin Skywalker [who very awkwardly tries to flirt with Padmé; mind you, he’s nine and she’s fourteen. Why a nine-year-old is using lines he picked up from spacers…] Qui-Gon attempts to use Jedi mind tricks on the shop owner, but they don’t work, only money. So Anakin chimes in when he takes the newcomers home that he has built a podracer. He’ll pilot and win and his new friends can repair their ship. Qui-Gon is intrigued by this boy, a bit to Padmé’s displeasure. Anakin’s mother admits to Qui-Gon that her son has no father [um, when did the Chosen One become Jesus? Though technically, there are several mythical heroes that do not have fathers; Geoffrey Monmouth’s legend of Arthur terms Merlin as one such lad]. But Shmi feels that Anakin was meant to help Qui-Gon and Padmé. Qui-Gon does manage to use a Jedi trick in order to gamble for Anakin’s freedom; sadly, the owner will only let one go.
Anakin wins the podrace [space Nascar] and Shmi encourages him to go with Qui-Gon. As any nine-year-old boy would, he doesn’t want to say goodbye to his mother; but this is his chance to live out his dreams of seeing the stars. On their way back to the ship, Qui-Gon encounters a man dressed in black, carrying a red lightsaber. We know that this is Darth Maul, Lord Sidious’s apprentice, tasked with finding the Queen and Jedi. Qui-Gon manages to escape and introduces “Anakin Skywalker, meet Obi-Wan Kenobi” (and those of us familiar with the original movies see foreshadowing!) On Courscant, Queen Amidala meets with Naboo Senator Palpatine and Chancellor Valorum to discuss politics; Palpatine does not have much faith that their situation will be dealt with swiftly. He urges Amidala to consider voting out Valorum.
Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan report to the Jedi Council. The Sith (enemies of the Jedi) have returned. Qui-Gon also informs them about Anakin, believing he was conceived by the Force (how is that a thing?), thus making him the prophesized Chosen One who will bring balance to the Force. The Council doesn’t quite believe Qui-Gon, but allow the boy to be tested. He is truly Force-sensitive, but he is too old, and too attached to his mother. Attachments are forbidden within the Jedi Code. Qui-Gon attempts to take Anakin as his Padawan. One problem, he already has a Padawan. So he declares Obi-Wan ready to face the trials to become a Jedi Knight. The Council tables the discussion; Queen Amidala has chosen to return to Naboo to fight for her people. The Senate is in an uproar over outing Valorum and Palpatine is nominated to replace him (more foreshadowing…some of us know where this is going). Yoda warns Anakin “fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”
Our heroes return to Naboo and Amidala meets with the Gungans to form an alliance (and a background pilot is a younger Richard Armitage, fun fact). And turns out, Padmé is the real queen! Sabé has been pretending to be the queen in order to protect Padmé. Boy, is Anakin surprised. The Gungan army will be a distraction against the droid army [and you’ve listened to John Williams a bit too much when you can tell there is a note sequence in the droid invasion theme that is heavily reminiscent of Indiana Jones facing off against the Nazis; not identical, but pretty close] while Padmé and her people sneak into the palace and take the Trade Federation leaders hostage.
Qui-Gon orders Anakin to stay safe in the cockpit of an empty fighter. Then Darth Maul enters (most dramatic scene of the film and to the amazing Duel of the Fates soundtrack). The Jedi will handle him, Padmé will go around. I must say, it is very cool to see a young woman take charge and kick butt. But the best part of the movie is Duel of the Fates, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon facing off against Darth Maul [fun note, the actor hired to portray Maul, Ray Park, is a professional martial artists and swordsman. Liam and Ewan did most of their own stunts and fighting as well; Ewan kept bending his prop lightsaber. Further fun fact in regards to the words behind Duel of the Fates, they are taken from a Welsh poem and translated into Sanskrit; if you’re John Williams, of course you do that]. These are the Jedi warriors in their prime (compared to a disabled man and elderly man fighting in A New Hope). There are flips and kicks and falling down platforms. Maul manages to separate Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, trapping them all in separate force fields [what that area is actually supposed to be, I have no idea. It looks cool, so we go along with it]. Maul and Qui-Gon make it through the corridor, but there is one field left, holding Obi-Wan back. And he witnesses Maul run his Master through. His “no!” echoes through the chamber. Maul is waiting for him and it is an aggressive duel. Maul overpowers Obi-Wan enough to disarm him of his blue lightsaber and kick him into a shaft.
Meanwhile, Anakin has kept his promise to stay in the cockpit, along with R2-D2. Then he tries to help Padmé by shooting droids, but that engages the autopilot and takes him into space above the planet. He accidentally crash lands into the droid control ship and blows it up from the inside, escaping to the cheers of the other pilots. Padmé outwits the Trade Federation leaders. Obi-Wan summons up his strength and leaps over Maul, calling Qui-Gon’s lightsaber to him, and cutting his enemy in half. Both halves fall down the shaft, but Obi-Wan runs to his fallen master. Qui-Gon’s last words to his Padawan are to make him promise to train Anakin. Obi-Wan agrees.
When the Jedi Council arrives alongside the newly elected Chancellor Palpatine, they confer the status of Jedi Knight on Obi-Wan. Yoda personally disagrees with the decision to allow Obi-Wan to train Anakin; he senses grave danger in training the boy. Obi-Wan is willing to go against the Council to honor his fallen master’s final wish. Yoda retorts “Qui-Gon’s defiance I sense in you, need that you do not.” Ultimately, the Council has agreed to let Obi-Wan train Anakin Skywalker. At Qui-Gon’s funeral, Yoda and Mace Windu wonder if Obi-Wan has killed the master or apprentice Sith. (Then the shot focuses on Palpatine…foreshadowing!) The film ends with a joyful parade between the Naboo and Gungans, declaring peace.
Now that I am older and re-watching the movie, the first part just seems to drag. As mentioned above, Duel of the Fates is the highlight of the film. I understand the necessity of setting up the back stories for all these characters we know, but a good portion of this film falls flat. John Williams’ score is of course, amazing.
Some fanfiction stories that I have discovered that tie-in with Phantom Menace include
It Takes a Village by Siri-Kenobi12
There is no Pain by Meysun
Both of these require some knowledge of characters introduced in the Jedi Apprentice books.
Let me first thank all of my loyal followers; I am pleased to have hit the 100 mark. This is my 162nd post in just about three years and I’ve still got a ways to go! I hope you all are enjoying these and much as I am enjoying re-watching them!
Star Trek Beyond
The film released the same year as the fiftieth anniversary of the original series. Idris Elba (Heimdall in the MCU) joined the cast as villain Krall. Sadly, Leonard Nimoy passed away the year previous, but Spock Prime is mentioned in the film, and this was the last appearance of Anton Yelchin as Chekov; he passed away in an accident about a month before the film released.
The film begins with a goodwill mission gone awry, but still funny (and Chris Pine has a devil of a time saying the alien race’s name). Alas, Captain Kirk is getting a bit jaded after 966 days in deep space; he’s starting to wonder what are they trying to accomplish. But maybe some leave on the Federation station Yorktown will bring a reprieve. Or as Bones classifies it, a snow globe in space waiting to break…ever the optimist. Bones and Kirk toast to Kirk’s birthday, a little early considering the circumstances, sharing some of Chekov’s Scotch (acquired without his knowledge possibly). Jim is now a year older than George ever became and he is seriously wondering what he believes in. In Yorktown you seriously have to wonder which was is “up” and we discover that Spock and Uhura have broken up. Sulu has a family and Chekov likes to flirt with alien females. Spock also receives word that Ambassador Spock has passed away (in deference to Leonard Nimoy’s passing).
We, the audience discover that Kirk has applied for a Vice Admiral position, but the discussion is put on hold while the Enterprise embarks on a rescue mission through a nebula. But the victim is a traitor. There is a swarm of enemy ships waiting above the planet on the other side of the nebula. They attack the Enterprise. Kirk orders the crew to abandon ship after fighting off the invaders, led by Krall. They are searching for the artifact he brought back from the last mission. First, Kirk tries to separate the Bridge dish from the ship to give it a fighting chance, but the enemy is ruthless and cuts everything to pieces. Then they take the escape pods. The battle ends with survivors crashing to the surface and the dish of the Enterprise sliding into a field. [Within the first half hour, they have utterly destroyed the Enterprise, again. Why must every Star Trek film destroy the ship?]
Scotty finds an alien woman, Jaylah, who is willing to help him. She wants to get off this planet as much as the Enterprise crew. Spock and McCoy escaped together and Spock was injured. The pair manages to get along, though they snip at each other all along the way, as they are wont to. McCoy even gets Spock to reveal the reason behind his break-up with Nyota; Spock feels it is his duty to help repopulate New Vulcan and he wishes to step away from Starfleet. [So both Spock and Kirk are planning on leaving, but haven’t told anyone…nice going.] Uhura and Sulu are with the remains of the crew, held prisoner by Krall. Chekov is with Kirk. They make their way to the saucer supposedly to find what Kirk stashed, but it reveals their guest’s treachery.
Uhrua and Sulu discover why Krall wanted the artifact; with the technology left by the inhabitants of the planet, he can suck the life-force from his prisoners and extend his own. With the artifact, he can do so on a grander scale. And plans to attack Yorktown. Scotty discovers that Jaylah has been living in the remains of the U.S.S. Franklin; a wreck over a hundred years old. They eventually meet up with Kirk and Chekov (and there’s a wordless battle over the captain’s seat) and begin to plan their escape. Scotty manages to find Spock and McCoy just as they are about to be attacked. McCoy patches the Vulcan up a bit better and Spock reveals that he gifted Uhura with a rare gem from Vulcan, which emits low level of radiation, meaning they can lock on to that signature to try to beam out their crew. Short version? He low-jacked his girlfriend…which Bones helpfully points out.
Kirk gets to ride a motorcycle as a distraction against the guards, using Jaylah’s holographic technology and Jaylah gets to kick some butt. Scotty beams the crew out of danger. Then just comes the task of getting a spaceship that was never meant to take off from land and hasn’t run in a hundred years to fly back into space. To start, just tip yourselves off a cliff and hope to reach terminal velocity before hitting the bottom. The crew pulls it off and race after Krall, who has already left for Yorktown. And worse news, Krall used to be Captain Balthazar Edison of the Franklin. He feels that the Federation forgot about him and thus swears vengeance upon the Federation.
Once the Franklin passes through the nebula, they have to disorient the swarm ships. They beam Spock and McCoy onto one enemy ship, cutting off Bones’ famous line “Damn it, I’m a doctor, not a -” And in order to drown out the swarm’s communication, they blast rock music, which is classified in the twenty-third century as “classical.” It is rather awesome to see the enemy ships just explode in a wave of sound and the Yorktown shields repel them in a similar fashion. But a few of the enemy make it into Yorktown. McCoy and Spock do what they can, but the Franklin has to burst out of the water to take them out. But Krall now looks like Edison and blends in with the crowd. He’s going to take the device to the central air circulator, hook it in, and watch everyone disintegrate in Yorktown. It comes down to Kirk chasing after him and a midair fight between the two. Kirk does attempt to talk sense into Edison, but the man is too far gone. So Kirk attempts to vent the device into space and almost follows himself; better to die saving lives than live taking them, he declares to Edison. That is the world Kirk was born into. Edison is not so lucky. Spock and Bones catch Kirk before he can go splat on the “ground” in Yorktown. “What would I do without you, Spock?”
The recent events have proved to Kirk that he is not ready to settle down as a Vice Admiral. His place is in the stars, with his crew. We shed a few tears as Spock goes through Spock Prime’s final effects, and finds a picture of the original crew (from the fifth movie. Only four of the original main cast of the Original Series are still alive. James Doohan, the original Scotty, passed away in 2005. DeForest Kelley, the original Bones, passed away in 1999. That leaves William Shatner, the original Kirk, Nichelle Nichols, the original Uhura, Walter Koenig, the original Chekov, and George Takei, the original Sulu).
A fairly happy ending; Bones has arranged a celebration with the rest of the crew for Kirk’s birthday. It appears as if Spock and Uhura are back together and the command crew all stand alongside each other, watching the new Enterprise being built for their continuing mission. Both Spock and Kirk have decided to stay aboard. All of the main cast share reading the ending titles. In the middle of the crawl, the movie is dedicated in loving memory of Leonard Nimoy and for Anton.
I appreciated the small moments they inputted in memory of Leonard Nimoy because he was a huge pop culture icon (and frankly, without him, there may not be any Star Trek.) But this movie seemed to drag compare to the previous two. Krall seems a stereotypical villain and while I’m okay with Kirk saving the day, can we give the poor guy a break? And stop breaking his ship! That part annoyed me the most. I am ultimately glad that the crew is staying together because it would just be sad if they broke up. To me, the best parts are when the command crew is all doing their job, surviving together through a crisis. And the theme is still amazing!
On the plus side, I have discovered some amazing fanfiction stories (and I want to investigate some more). I highly recommend checking out
What Sulu Sees by IsmayDeVain
beamirang’s stories, particularly Genesis if you can find them
And I just discovered kcscribbler’s works on AO3; they are wonderful and leave me laughing for a full minute at times.
Next Time: A slight change in plans; I’m going to go ahead and start Star Wars, pending my schedule. And yes, it may be a bit controversial, but to me it is the most logical, and I will progress in episode order, inputting Solo and Rogue One between Episode III and Episode IV.
I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge Star Trek fan; I got more into Star Wars in my teens, but I fondly remember watching Next Generation while growing up. So my captain was Jean-Luc Picard. My parents watched the original series and there are pictures of me as a young girl in displays at the National Air and Space Museum when there was an exhibit; so I was at least aware of the original series. But when a new movie was announced, I first dismissed it because I didn’t watch the original, why would I watch the new one? My parents saw it and enjoyed it, so I eventually decided to go one evening when I was home from college. And thoroughly enjoyed it. It was filled with action, filled with characters in my generation. I cannot speak for how it was received or how it measures up to longtime fans, but the new movies did create a new fan. Can I quote minutia about the series or the craft or the larger universe? No. But I can do that with other shows, so I think it balances out, lol.
The rebooted movie series premiered in 2009 (and that is how it tends to be listed within fanfiction communities, or sometimes NuTrek), directed by JJ Abrams (who has gone on to do Star Wars Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker). It stars Chris Pine (a bit dashing as Nicholas Devereaux in Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, then voiced Jack Frost in Rise of the Guardians, Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods, and became the ‘Chris’ for DC in Wonder Woman playing Steve Trevor. He played a younger Jack Ryan in Shadow Recruit and stars as Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick in Outlaw King…which I really need to watch) as James Tiberius Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Zoe Saldana (Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, Neytiri in Avatar, and before all of that success, she was Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl [Jack Sparrow had stolen her boat]) as Nyota Uhura, Karl Urban (yes, I know he joined the MCU as Skurge in Thor: Ragnarok and is one of The Boys [which recently gained Jensen Ackles, but no, I don’t believe I will be watching the show], but for me, he will always be Eomer in Lord of the Rings) as Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and Simon Pegg as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. Leonard Nimoy appears as Spock Prime, and that was wonderful. Eric Bana (Bruce Banner in the 2003 Hulk movie [which is not part of the MCU], Hector in Troy, Henry Tudor in The Other Boleyn Girl)is Nero and Bruce Greenwood (the President in National Treasure: Book of Secrets) is Christopher Pike. Rounding out the bridge crew is John Cho as Hikaru Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Pavel Andreovich Chekov. Chris Hemsworth (before he was Thor) briefly appears in the beginning as George Kirk and Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan in Once Upon a Time) is Winona Kirk. [My father has made the humorous connection that in Thor you join Kirk’s father and Anakin Skywalker’s mother]. And Winona Ryder (I know her best from 1994’s Little Women) plays Spock’s mother, Amanda Grayson.
The film begins with the USS Kelvin facing a lightning storm in space. A huge ship emerges and begins firing on the Kelvin. The captain (played by Fahran Tahir, who has appeared in numerous television shows from JAG to Supernatural [Osiris] to Once Upon a Time [Nemo] and a bad guy in Iron Man) orders an evacuation and puts George Kirk in charge when he goes to meet the enemy. George’s wife is in labor and anxiously awaiting her husband to join her, but autopilot has been knocked out, so George must pilot the starship manually in order to buy everyone else time to escape. Winona delivers a son in the shuttle and they decide to name him after both their fathers: Jim Tiberius. They’re a family barely a minute before the Kelvin is destroyed. We fast forward a couple years and a young Jim Kirk is racing his stepfather’s antique car in Iowa, then crashes it into a ravine, barely escaping himself. Meanwhile, on Vulcan, a young Spock is teased by agemates for being half human. He cares not for his sake, but when one boy calls his mother a whore, Spock initiates a fight. His father encourages Spock to embrace the Vulcan way of life and control his emotions, lest they control him. And when asked why he married Spock’s mother, his response is “it was logical.” Another time skip and Spock is being accepted into the Vulcan Scalene Academy. A fine honor indeed, until one points out Spock’s disadvantage of having a human mother. While Spock tells the leaders “live long and prosper,” you can tell he means something else and he elects to join Starfleet.
Back in Iowa, Jim starts flirting with Uhura at a bar and honestly, everything was going fine until other cadets got involved and started a fight. Captain Pike enters the bar and a sharp whistle gets everyone’s attention. He speaks to Kirk afterwards, commenting that the young man’s aptitude tests are off the charts and calls him a genius repeat-offender. He encourages Jim to join Starfleet, then dares him to do better than his father; he was captain for twelve minutes and saved eight hundred lives. Jim shows up for the shuttle the next morning (and riding the motorbike like he did reminded me of Top Gun [which apparently was an influence in Pine’s performance, along with Harrison as Indiana Jones and Han Solo]). A man sits next to him, a doctor who is scared of space and flying, but only has his bones left. “I may throw up on you.”
Three years later, which Kirk bragged he would complete his coursework compared to four, and Kirk takes the infamous Kobyashi Maru test…and wins. By cheating. Spock brings him up on charges, but they’re interrupted by a distress call from Vulcan. Cadets are assigned to ships, but not Kirk, pending his hearing. Bones sneaks him aboard the Enterprise under the pretense of a medical emergency. Captain Pike comments that the maiden voyage of Starfleet’s newest flagship deserves more pomp and circumstance, but they will follow through on their mission. Sulu is piloting (after a little bump) and Chekov makes his first shipboard announcement. Jim hears about the “lightning storm in space,” and instantly knows they’re flying into a trap. Despite some hilarious side effects, he manages to grab Uhura who intercepted a Klingon transmission earlier and reports to the bridge. Spock first tries to get him off, but once Kirk calmly explains his logic, Spock backs the notion that all may not be as it seems. Uhura takes over at communication and the Enterprise braces for battle when they drop out of warp, to find the rest of the fleet decimated. Nero hails them and once again requests the captain to board his vessel. Pike has Spock, Kirk, and Sulu follow him; Spock will have command while Pike is gone and Sulu and Kirk are to try to knock out the drill that is aimed at Vulcan. And he makes Kirk second in command.
Sulu does get to break out his sword while battling Romulans on the platform and they succeed in knocking out the drill. But the Narada shoots a pinprick of red matter into the core of Vulcan, which will eat the planet and create a black hole. Chekov luckily is able to beam Sulu and Kirk aboard as they’re falling and Spock beams down to save the elders and his parents. But Amanda falls to her death at the last second. Spock orders the ship to rendez-vous with the rest of the fleet in another system, and we see Uhura privately comfort him, but Kirk urges they return to fight. Spock works out that Nero is from the future and by coming back, has altered events, creating an alternate reality; their destines have changed. “When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” (Funny note: this was originally a quote from Sherlock Holmes, which Spock in the original series claimed was a distant ancestor. Then, in the newer Sherlock series, Sherlock makes this remark and John calls him Spock. It’s all just a big ball of wibbly wobblly, timey wimey stuff)
Onboard the Narada, Nero demands that Captain Pike tell him about Earth’s defenses so he may destroy it and continue with his retribution against Spock. And…he uses creepy bugs. Then Spock kicks Kirk off the Enterprise, stranding him on an ice planet. Lo and behold, Kirk is saved by Spock…not the young one, the original Spock. Who relates to Kirk, through a mind meld, how 129 years in the future, Spock tries to save Romulus from an exploding supernova, armed with red matter. But he was too late. And Nero, a “particularly troubled Romulan,” vows vengeance. They both get sucked through the black hole, but Nero arrives first, destroying the Kelvin. What was seconds for Spock was actually twenty-five years before he emerged. Nero captured him and stranded him so he could witness the destruction of his home, Vulcan. They find Scotty and Spock Prime gives him Scotty’s own equation on trans-warp beaming so the two young men can board the Enterprise. Spock advises Kirk to gain captaincy of the ship; Spock has just lost his home and is of course, emotionally comprised. Then Kirk can take on Nero. But Spock Prime will not accompany them; he implies a catastrophe may occur if both Spocks would meet. Kirk points out before they leave that coming back to the past to change events is cheating. Well, Spock learned from an old friend.
The bridge crew is obviously surprised to discover Kirk and Scotty aboard the Enterprise and Kirk has a rather uncomfortable confrontation with Spock, resulting in a fight. Spock’s father has to call him off and Kirk does gain command. Spock and his father share a quiet moment, and his father finally reveals that he married Amanda because he loved her. So Spock rejoins the bridge as Chekov reveals his idea to hide behind Saturn’s moon so Kirk can beam aboard the Narada. Spock volunteers first and Kirk insists on joining him. “I could cite regulation, but I know you will just ignore it.” Spock is learning.
Nero is starting the drill at Starfleet Academy while Spock and Kirk sneak aboard. Well, they end up fighting Romulans pretty quick, but Spock makes it to the futuristic shuttle and escapes so he can blow up the drill. Kirk goes after Captain Pike. And Nero just shouts after Spock, “I want Spock dead now!” Spock returns on a collision course, which of course would ignite the red matter, creating another black hole. But Nero is past reason now and shouts to “fire everything!” The Enterprise to the rescue (and it is so darn cool to hear the theme play and the ship rises up) and Scotty proudly manages to beam three people from two ships onto one pad. Kirk tries to take the high ground and offer Nero and his crew compassion, which in this case Spock argues against, but Nero refuses. Kirk has all weapons fire and destroys the Narada. But the Enterprise is caught in the gravitational well of the black hole and while Scotty is giving it everything she’s got, they’re falling. He suggests as a last ditch effort to eject the cores and they ride the blast wave out.
On Earth, the two Spocks do indeed meet; Spock Prime may have lied a little to Kirk. The elder encourages his younger counterpart to remain with Starfleet and forge a friendship with Kirk it will define them both. Put aside logic, do what’s right. Kirk is given commendation and captaincy of the Enterprise, relieving Pike who is now an Admiral (and confined to a wheelchair as a result of those creepy bugs). He enters the bridge of the repaired starship, finally wearing a gold command shirt. Spock the enters and offers to be Kirk’s first officer. The gang is back and ready for new adventures.
Leonard Nimoy gives us the final voiceover: “Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission, to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life forms and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before.” [The original tagline was a five-year mission, and was ‘where no man has gone before.’ I appreciate that they kept the slight revision for this film.] And the exit music is the original theme.
I felt this film was a good balance of action and drama, with the right amount of comedy thrown in. The soundtrack is cool. Poor Kirk gets beat up a lot throughout the story. And ultimately, they got the characters to all be where they’re supposed to be. It’s more fun to see Spock and Kirk at odds with each other and it will make their ensuing friendship deeper and the crew respects Kirk for his actions; keeping everyone safe and pulling them through a fire. Scotty is hilarious, I certainly believe that Uhura could kick butt. Bones is long-suffering but caring and Chekov is quite frankly adorable.
Everything fit with the basics that everyone knows about the show simply from pop culture, without having to know every episode or movie and for someone who doesn’t know that, it made it an easy film to watch. It was also written so it can all go together; they’re all canon because this is recognized as an alternate reality. These familiar characters can have new adventures without taking anything away from the original. (Of course, fanfiction comes up with their own ideas, which I’ll post my favorites with the last movie). This was a solid update; technology was advanced enough to put it in our future without being cheesy or completely improbable. Great cast, they made the roles their own and I certainly recommend this film.
This has become a pop culture hit, Fox cancelled the series after only one season. But it gained a following and Joss Whedon fought to bring it back as a feature film. Now, I did not watch it when it originally aired; I came to it one evening at a friend’s apartment in college and saw the second season. At the end, I asked about another season and found out there was only the one, but I did track down the movie. It’s a mixture of Western and science-fiction; Whedon explains that humans left Earth, found another galaxy and terra-formed the planets to support life and America and China, being the two big superpowers, melded to form one culture. So yes, you have space ships and laser pistols, but you also have horses and regular pistols.
The show follows the tales of the crew of the Firefly-class ship named Serenity. Captained by Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (played by Nathan Fillion, a self-proclaimed geek who later starred in ABC’s Castle drama [it’s excellent, check it out and he even brought back his Browncoat costume in a Halloween episode]), he brings aboard his former cohort Zoë (Gina Torres; she’s actually appeared in the Matrix movies and has gone on to the series Suits and other television series, including a few voice acting roles like in Star Wars: Rebels) to be his first mate. Piloting the ship is Hoban “Wash” Washburne (the ever-hilarious Alan Tudyk from Knight’s Tale and recently voicing secondary characters in Rogue One and Moana), who has married Zoë. Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin; she’s appeared in V on ABC and is in both Deadpool films) is a registered Companion on board who uses Serenity to provide services to far-off clients. Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin, no, he’s not one of the big-name Baldwin brothers, but he did show up in two episodes of Castle and even an episode of JAG and NCIS) is their onboard mercenary, good with a pistol, not so good with manners. Kaywinnit Lee “Kaylee” Frye (Jewel Staite, a lot of guest appearances, even on Castle and part of Stargate: Atlantis) is the cheerful and brilliant mechanic who keeps the ship in the sky. Shepherd Derrial Book (Ron Glass; he sadly passed away in 2016, he has a filmography back to the seventies) joins as a passenger and occasionally disagrees with Captain Reynolds in regards to religion. And Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher; he’s voiced Nightwing/Dick Grayson in several recent shows and movies) and his younger sister, River (Summer Glau, well known for Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles [which I don’t intend to watch], she made an appearance on Castle as well, Hawaii Five-0 and Big Band Theory, and she was even in an Hallmark Christmas movie, Help for the Holidays [it’s adorable]) round out the crew.
Now, apparently, the show was aired out of order due to Fox executive meddling, but the DVD released them in the correct order. We start the show off with a two-part opener: Serenity. There was a civil war in this galaxy [Whedon was influenced by Jeff Shaara’s Killer Angels novel, also the basis for the film Gettysburg], between the Alliance and the Independents, or Browncoats. Mal and Zoe fought for the Independents and it came to a head at the Battle of Serenity Valley. The Independents are desperate for air support, but it never comes. Orders come in for them to lay down arms. It killed Mal’s sense of faith and nearly killed his spirit. But six years later, he’s doing odd jobs to keep flying and keep out of the Alliance’s way, so sticking to the Rim worlds. We catch up to the crew pulling an illegal salvage job; and Wash plays with dinosaurs: “We shall call it, this land.” “I think we should call it your gave!” “Ah, curse your sudden, but inevitable betrayal!” “Now die!” But he gets it in gear to put out a distraction to save his cohorts. They make their way to Persephone to finish the deal, the captain remarking “there is no power in the ‘verse to keep Kaylee from being cheerful” [and why my friends remark I am most like Kaylee]. They meet with local “businessman” (use that term loosely) Badger (played by Mark Sheppard, who has been in several geeky shows, including Supernatural as Crowley, Doctor Who as Canton Everett Delaware III [he plays a Brit in an American show and an American in a British show], as well as X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, NCIS, Star Trek: Voyager, Charmed and many others) to complete the deal, but he weasels himself out. The goods they stole are marked and that makes it difficult to unload. So, they’ll try Patience on another planet, and hope she doesn’t shoot the captain again. But, they need legitimate business as well and take on passengers, including Sheppard Book, Dr. Tam, and Dobson.
Makes things a bit interesting for the crew and Mal informs Zoe “if anyone gets nosy, just shoot them…politely.” Shooting happens, but only after Mal has figured out one of their passengers hailed the Alliance. He thinks it is Simon, but it’s actually Dobson, who shoots Kaylee when she surprises him. Simon won’t treat Kaylee unless the ship runs; he does not want the Alliance onboard either. Mal helps Simon, then opens his special box in the hold and discovers a young woman curled up inside. This is River, Simon’s younger sister that he broke out of an Alliance facility because they were hurting her for her intelligence. Captain has to continue with the job and isn’t dumb enough to not realize that Patience will set up an ambush. There’s a shoot out, but he gets his money. That’s how things are supposed to work; “I do the job and then I get paid.” He comes back to the ship to discover Dobson is free and threatening River. Mal shoots the federal agent and tosses him off his ship. They also have to run from Reavers, dangerous people on the verge of being creatures that has the whole universe terrified. Wash pulls a Crazy Ivan [remember that term from Hunt for Red October?], turning quickly and blowing the engines into their pursuers (Kaylee is fixed up enough to help out). Mal offers Simon and his sister a place on his ship; they’ll be safer on the run and the ship could use a doctor. And assures Simon he’s not the kind of man to kill another in his sleep. If he aims to kill you, you’ll be awake and armed. At the end of the day, Serenity is still flying. It’s not much, but it’s enough.
After a little trouble at a small bar, Mal and the rest of the crew are on their way to a new job. Inara holds Kaylee enthralled in her shuttle, brushing her hair and having some girl time, which Mal has to interrupt. While it is manly and impulsive, Inara’s request is that the captain does not march into her quarters. But he needs his mechanic, Mal requests, the engine room looks like terrifying space monkeys have been at it. Niska has a certain reputation [and seems to be the quintessential Russian-type villain] and wants the crew to pull a train heist. Easy enough it sounds. Until they discover there is a squadron of Alliance guards onboard. Just makes it more fun, Mal quips to Zoe. They complete their end of the job and unload the goods, only to discover once an investigation begins that it was medicine they stole, sorely needed in the backwoods town. Inara uses her respectability to get Mal and Zoe out of custody, but Mal now needs to plan how to return the medicine. Deep down, Malcolm Reynolds is a good and honorable man. Slight problem; Niska’s men have shown up. Jayne gets a lucky shot and Mal explains that they’ll return the money to Niska to square things away, but they won’t be delivering the stolen medicine. The first henchman disagrees and gets thrown through the engine. The second man hastily agrees and Mal and the crew get to be heroes for a second, giving the medicine to the sheriff under the cover of night.
Serenity comes upon a drifting ship in Bushwacked and receive more trouble than they intended. It looks deserted, which is a bit odd in the middle of space. Until they discover one man. Mal has him locked in the infirmary, surmising that the ship had been hit by Reavers. Then they run into an Alliance ship, hide Simon and River, and are detained and questioned (Wash’s interview is funny). The survivor begins to attack the Alliance crew and Mal finally gets the Alliance officer to help, even saving his life.
Shindig is one of my favorite episodes. Inara plans to meet with a regular client, Atherton Wing (played by Edward Atterton. He was much nicer as King Arthur in Mists of Avalon and then plays Mordaunt in Charmed and has a possible connection to Arthur. He also appeared in Man in the Iron Mask as a relative good guy). Mal meets up with Badger, who has another job for him; the sleaseball figures that Mal can cozy up to a potential client at a local party. It does give the captain a chance to apologize for accidentally insulting Kaylee earlier; she gets to wear the poufy dress she saw in a shop earlier and accompany him to the party. They run into Inara and while Kaylee gets surrounded by men to talk engines, Captain “Tightpants” dances with Inara, then gets in an argument with Atherton. Atherton challenges Malcolm to a duel, with swords. The client is impressed by Malcolm, but the captain has to survive first. Inara, as a trained Companion, has some knowledge with swords and helps her friend out, despite some disagreements. Mal has the bad habit of calling Inara a whore to her face, but took exception to Atherton’s mere implication. Well, Atherton was insulting Inara as a person, Mal explains. Atherton appears to have the upper hand, but Mal comes back after breaking his sword to beat Atherton; and Inara providing a distraction by appearing to take Atherton’s offer to exclusivity. Mal leaves Atherton breathing, which will bring the man shame. “Mercy is the mark of a great man,” and he stabs his opponent. “Guess I’m just a good man,” another stab. “Well, I’m alright.” Atherton tries to threaten Inara, but she points out guild law; Atherton is the one who will be blacklisted.
Now, the crew intended to mount a daring rescue, but Badger sits onboard to keep an eye on them. There is a humorous interaction between the man and River, who copies his accent. Then she sweeps by her brother, remarking “call me if anyone interesting shows up.” That would have worked as a distraction, but they missed their opportunity. Inara and Mal show up before the second plan can go into effect. And the cargo that the client wishes to offload? Cattle.
We get some flashbacks to the Tam siblings (young Simon is played by a young Zac Efron) when they were younger in Safe. The crew is unloading the cattle, after the captain warns Simon to keep his sister under control. Kaylee continues to be interested in Simon, who is a bit oblivious and demeaning. River wanders off and finds a wedding dance. She shows a bit of the girl that remains under the weird dreams and sayings. Then Simon is kidnapped. Unfortunately, things do not go smooth with the cattle transfer and Sheppard Book is shot in the ensuing confrontation. Serenity has to leave the Tams behind in order to save Book. They’re desperate enough to go to the Alliance for help, but it’s not until the officers see Book’s ID card that they agree to help, which is a bit suspicious. Back on the planet, Simon and River are taken to a hill village where Simon is to be the local doctor. River understands what Simon has given up to rescue her; a promising career, safety, wealth; all to save her. Simon unfortunately remembers their father essentially disinheriting him for attempting to rescue River. Their parents never suspected anything was wrong with the government school and their father was more concerned with their image, than helping either of his children. He bailed Simon out of trouble once, he vowed not to help again. Then a local woman declares River a witch for knowing what people were thinking. The town gets riled up and prepares to burn River at the stake. Simon climbs up with her, the ever-protecting big brother. Serenity appears in the sky and Mal and Zoe walk into town in the nick of time. What does that make them? Big damn heroes. River is their witch, so cut her down, he instructs the leader. He insists that they are part of the crew; it doesn’t matter if he necessarily likes them.
Mal dresses up as a woman to complete their next job in Our Mrs. Reynolds, telling their opponent, “I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you.” A celebration is thrown by the locals for their help and Jayne and Mal get pretty drunk. So the next morning when Mal discovers a young woman onboard, he’s a bit confused as to how she got there. And even more confused when she tells him they’re married. Book looks up the customs, and yes, they are technically married. He later warns Mal that if he takes advantage of Saffron, he will burn in the “special Hell, reserved for child molesters and those who talk at the theatre.” Jayne even offers Mal his prized gun, Vera, in exchange for Saffron. Mal firmly declines and shows himself to be a bit of a gentleman. He is certain he will be a bad husband and will not take advantage of Saffron and even advises her to toughen up. Turns out she didn’t need to toughen up; this was all a con to get the ship. She attempts to seduce Wash, who is loyal to Zoe, so she has to knock him out after she’s knocked out Mal. She gains control of the ship and steers it to salvagers before escaping. She almost has Inara fooled, but the Companion recognizes the training and goes after Mal. She passes out after kissing Mal’s lips. Luckily, Jayne and Vera manage to shoot out the net intended to hold them and Mal eventually tracks Saffron down to knock her out.
Jaynestown turns out to be a place where the people worship Jayne as a Robin Hood-type hero. He had pulled a job years back that resulted in him dumping the magistrate’s money into the town square. The locals are poor and dirty and suppressed, but the actions they viewed as heroic gave them the courage to stand up for themselves. Why, there’s even a ballad about “the hero of Canton/ the man they call Jayne!” [Captain Stout will sing the ballad, complete with the hat, at faire for Tyme Travellers weekend.] It does provide an excellent cover for the crew to steal what they need. And meanwhile, onboard Serenity, Book and River differ over the Bible and then River hides from Book once she sees his hair unbound…it really is hilarious. “Too much hair,” she moans to Zoe and almost doesn’t want to come out because “it’ll still be there, waiting.” And the magistrate in question had hired Inara to make his son into a man. Well, it worked. He stood up to his father and made sure Serenity could escape.
Odd as it may sound, I like Out of Gas. We get some back story on how the crew members ended up on Serenity. Mal bought her, on purpose, though Zoe wonders. Wash was brought on as a pilot and Zoe initially wonders at his mustache and they pinch Jayne from another gig, promising him better pay and his own rom. Kaylee wasn’t the first mechanic brought aboard, but she fixed the other mechanic’s problem despite having sex with the guy. But the main problem at present is an explosion in the engine. Zoe knocks Kaylee out of the way, but she’s hurt. And life support got knocked out. Despite some disagreements, Mal gets Wash to send out a distress beacon, then orders the rest of the passengers to split into the two shuttles. Mal will stay aboard incase their miracle comes. Inara tries to convince Mal that this isn’t the ancient sea, the captain doesn’t have to go down with the ship. And some stranger does come to the rescue, but they shoot Mal, obviously intending to take the ship as their own. Mal won’t let that happen; he orders them off his ship, but leave the part they need. He bleeds across the ship, putting the engine back to rights, then passing out right in front of the button Wash wired to bring the shuttles back. He wakes up to discover his crew disobeyed his orders and returned for him; very lucky for him. It’s just so sweet how they are all one big family.
Events almost come to a head on Ariel, a Central planet. River is getting worse, but Simon doesn’t have all the tools he needs in order to treat her. He comes to the crew with a job; sneak him and River into diagnostic room in the hospital. In exchange, he’ll tell them what drugs to take that will bring the most on the black market. And being a Central hospital, it will be re-stocked in a matter of hours, meaning no one should die from their theft. Wash and Kaylee get an ambulance up and running; Jayne, Mal, and Zoe will be the crew. They’ll take Simon and River in as corpses, then wake them up. Jayne is in charge of the siblings while Mal and Zoe do the thieving. Except, Jayne got stupid. He alerted the feds and changed the plan. They don’t show up for the pick-up. Instead, Jayne gets taken with the siblings and River has to get them away before worse men come. The “two by two, hands of blue,” men show up with blue gloves and sticks that resonate at a high frequency, causing blood to pour out of their victims. Mal figures out what Jayne tried to pull and has a discussion with him through the back door as they’re lifting off. Simon and River are part of Mal’s crew, so any betrayal against them is a betrayal against Mal. Jayne is a bit repentant and Mal doesn’t end up killing him. His final warning to Jayne is “if you want to stab me in the back, do it to my face.”
Niska returns in War Stories. Wash is getting concerned that there is more to the relationship between his wife and the captain than simple Army buddies. Wash and Zoe argue the fact while River and Kaylee chase each other like children in the cargo hold. “Ah, the pitter patter of tiny feet in huge combat boots,” Mal remarks. “Shut up! One of you is gonna fall and die and I’m not cleanin’ it up!” Wash claims that he can handle himself and decides to go on the drop with Mal instead of Zoe. Well, things don’t go smooth again and their contacts are killed and Mal and Wash are captured. Zoe, Jayne, and Book go to investigate when they’re late and Book proves he’s a strange Sheppard; he knows an awful lot about the Alliance and guns for a preacher. Meanwhile, Wash discusses the issue of his wife with Mal; he figures they’ve never slept together which is causing sexual tension. Mal points out one time that Zoe didn’t obey him; by marrying Wash. All the while, Niska is electrocuting the pair. Mal keeps Wash talking to keep him alert. Zoe plans to offer Niska a deal, all the money the crew can put together in exchange for their captain and pilot. Niska takes the money, but it’s only enough for one. Zoe immediately chooses her husband. Well, maybe more than one…Niska cuts off Mal’s ear. One of the few times you hear Mal scream. Wash insists they go back to rescue Mal. Zoe agrees and the two arm themselves. Jayne eventually agrees to come and even Book, Simon, and Kaylee gear up to save Mal. Book will stick to shooting kneecaps, the Bible is fuzzy on that subject.
Too bad Niska’s killed him; this is not the age for heroic men. He brings Mal back so he can prolong the torture. The three most experience enter the compound first. But Book and Simon have to soon follow them. Kaylee can’t; she’s scared. But men come towards the ship. River picks up the dropped gun, takes one look, then turns away and shoots each man once. “No power in the ‘verse can stop me.” Kaylee had used that line earlier, playing with River. Mal goes after Niska in all the commotion, but his henchman takes over. Niska escapes and Mal continues fighting, but he won’t say no to some help. Simon borrows a tool from Inara’s female counselor client in order to re-attach Mal’s ear.
Saffron pops back up in Trash, portraying the wife of an old friend’s of Mal. Mal is wise to her antics, but is still tempted by a high paying gig she has lined up. They’ll sneak in and steal the first laser pistol from a wealthy officer who certainly deserves to have the piece taken. Not everyone is keen on following “Yosaffbrig’s” plan, particularly Inara. But the crew gets the drop on Saffron. Inara was their back-up for when Saffron double-crossed them. She locks Saffron in the garbage bin for the feds to pick up. And River also knows what Jayne tried to do on Ariel, so when Simon has to patch up the mercenary, he promises that the man will always be safe from Simon; they’re on the same crew, so they gotta trust each other. Oh, and Saffron made Mal take off his clothes before leaving him stranded, so he gets to walk back on his ship proudly butt-naked.
The Message reunites Mal and Zoe with an old friend from their squadron, Tracey. Except Tracey is dead and shipped himself to Mal and Zoe. And Kaylee’s not speaking to Simon because he managed to put his foot in his mouth…again. But Tracey’s dead body brings a whole mess of trouble to Serenity’s crew. They need to know how the boy died. Except when Simon goes to do an autopsy, Tracey wakes up. He managed to fall in with the wrong crowd and tried to make big bucks carrying organs. Then he tried to double-cross those people, who are now after him. He just wants to make it home now, but he doesn’t trust the rest of the crew. Mal has a plan, but before he can enact it, Tracey gets trigger-happy and Zoe puts a bullet in Tracey. He manages to take Kaylee hostage, who has gotten sweet on him, but Jayne (who has gained a ‘cunning’ knitted cap from his mother) shoots him in a standoff. If the boy had waited a minute, Mal could have explained that Book realized the feds chasing them were far out of their jurisdiction, meaning this whole deal was off the records. But they do right by Tracey and take him to his parents for burial.
Inara’s friend, Nandi is in trouble in Heart of Gold. [And the above is my favorite quote.] The local leader, Rance Burgess (played by Fredric Lehne, the father-in-law in Greatest Showman, appeared in an episode of Castle as well, and big bad Azazel of the early seasons of Supernatural and many other guest appearances) is trying to claim an unborn child from one of Nandi’s girls…she does run a legitimate whorehouse. But Rance is cruel and could make a real difference in the town, but decides he likes to retain all the power. Mal agrees to meet the man, with Inara deigning to be on his arm, once he washes it. And he does not like what he sees; Rance is determined he is right and will use any justification. So Mal’s first plan is for everyone to run. But Nandi refuses. So, they’ll board up and fight. At this point, Zoe brings up to Wash that she wants a baby. Wash argues that it is a dangerous world to bring a helpless child into, but Zoe is adamant. That evening, the pregnant girl goes into labor and Nandi spends time with Mal. She finally kisses him and takes him to bed. Inara discovers it the next morning and is seemingly fine with it. With no puritanical view on sex, she doesn’t mind when her friends engage in it. But we see her crying later. And Nandi realizes what we all have been seeing for a while; Mal and Inara have feelings for each other, only they don’t recognize it. There’s no time to make up to each other; Rance and his men attack. Thanks to a traitor in the girls’ midst, Rance is able to get to the newborn baby. Inara holds a knife to his throat so he’ll give up the child, but he pushes her away, then shoots Nandi. Mal goes after Rance and punches him. The pregnant girl comes out with the baby and briefly introduces the boy to his father, then shoots Rance. The crew stays for the funeral and afterwards, Inara talks to Mal. Mal feels like he failed Nandi, but Inara comforts him. We think they will finally admit the truth, but instead, Inara announces she’s leaving.
Objects in Space rounds out the series. River walks about the ship and can’t help but hear everyone’s thoughts and be a bit disturbed by them. Then she thinks she’s found a stick, but it’s really a gun. Everyone freaks out, but Mal gets the gun off her. Kaylee finally admits what River did when they rescued Mal from Niska. Mal has his own theory; River is a Reader, a psychic. Everyone eventually goes to be a bit disgruntled. Then bounty hunter Jubal Early sneaks aboard Serenity. He knocks out Mal and locks the crews’ quarters. But Kaylee is in the engine room. She at least picks up a wrench for defense when she hears something, but he threatens to rape her if she makes a sound. (Oh yeah, he’s a creep and everyone pretty much hates him for making Kaylee cry). She has to tell him where Simon and River are. Jubal finds Book first and knocks him out, then finds Simon (shirtless), but no River. The creep tries to be philosophical and even mistakes Simon’s question on the Alliance for asking if Jubal is a lion. Simon puts up a bit of a fight, but Jubal threatens Kaylee again and forces Simon to help him look for River. He hits Inara when she tries to talk him out of his search.
Then we hear River over the speakers. She has become Serenity, because no one else wanted her. Jubal questions Simon, who quips “I can’t keep track of her when she not incorporeally possessing a ship…we had a complicated childhood.” Meanwhile, River comforts Kaylee and tells her she needs to be brave; then hatches a plan with Mal. River starts to get to Jubal, telling him he’s a liar and despite his supposed code, he likes causing people pain. Jubal finally figures out River is on his ship. But River agrees to go with Jubal, to save everyone else. Well, Simon’s not going to let his sister walk into danger, and tackles Jubal. He gets shot in the leg for his trouble, but still goes after the bounty hunter. Kaylee has managed to secretly unlock the dorms and Mal sneaks out. He’s waiting for Jubal when he leaves Serenity and punches him into space. Mal catches River on her way back and comments on her brother messing up their plan. It all ends happy with River and Kaylee hanging out.
The Big Damn Movie, Serenity gives a bit more of the back story of how everyone came to be in space, but it’s actually a memory’s of River. Well, not really; someone is watching a playback of how Simon broke River out. The Operative will be hunting them down and is not afraid to get messy, speaking of how some ancient cultures threw themselves on their swords when they failed. Serenity is still flying, though they may have an interesting landing, as in “oh god, oh god, we’re all gonna die.” Mal insists that he takes River on a robbery job; she may warn them of trouble. Simon is not pleased, but Mal is captain. River indeed senses trouble: Reavers. Our favorite crew escapes, but we also see that Mal has become a bit harsher in the time between the series and the film. Simon punches Mal for endangering his sister and declares they will be getting off at the next port. Kaylee is unhappy they’re leaving, but Mal has business to attend to. River wanders into the bar and a commercial on the television makes her attack everyone. She pulls a gun on Mal just as he pulls his pistol. A phrase from Simon knocks her out and it’s Mal who carries her back to the ship, to handcuff her. Simon finally reveals that he was warned this may happen and was given the safe phrase. But Mal suggests there is something going on, something to do with the Alliance. River had murmured “Miranda” before she went wild. (Unfortunately, the Operative has seen the same footage).
Wash suggests they go to Mr. Universe (David Krumholtz, Bernard from the first two Santa Clause movies) for information. The crew gets a little break, visiting Sheppard Book on Haven, then Mal has to go rescue Inara. He knows he’s walking into a trap, but he does it anyway. And the way he knows it’s a trap; he didn’t get into an argument with Inara. Inara is pretty handy when Mal attempts to take on the Operative and her incense is actually an explosion, allowing her and Mal and escape. Onboard Serenity, Jayne has let River out and she attacks him, then hits Simon. But she has discovered that “Miranda” is a planet. Unfortunately, Reaver territory lies between Haven and Miranda. When they hit planetside again, the colony is in flames. Mal gets one last conversation with Book before he dies. All of their friends have been hit; the Operative admits he is a monster, but it’s not his place to question why the Alliance has sent him after River. And now Mal’s mind is made up. They’ll disguise his ship in order to sneak through Reaver territory.
They make it through and discover the secret that River has been holding in her mind. The Alliance had added an element to the air on Miranda to make it peaceful, to stamp out aggression. A team investigated on why everyone had died. Well, all aggression and fight was gone from them; they just laid down and died. Barring one tenth of a percent of the population; it strengthened their aggression…turning them into Reavers. Well, Mal and the crew need to get this information out; someone has to speak for these people. Because one day, the powers that be will decide they can make people better. “So no more runnin’; I aim to misbehave.” They’ll go back to Mr. Universe. Sadly, the Operative has beat them there and there is an Alliance blockade between Serenity and their goal. Well, they’re ready for that and bring a whole Reaver contingent behind them. So the Alliance has to fight them instead of our heroes. Wash manages some fancy flying, “I’m a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar.” And he lands, destroying bits of Serenity in the process. Before we can cheer, he’s run through with a spear [Whedon is cruel!].
The rest of the crew will make their last stand to buy Mal time to get to the backup equipment. Kaylee even picks up a gun because now she’s got something to live for; Simon regrets never being with her. But Kaylee is injured, as is Zoe. They retreat a bit and then Simon is shot. River declares that he has always taken care of her, now it’s her turn. She sprints into the other room, tosses his medical bag in, but the door closes before she can make it back through. She’s now locked in a room full of Reavers.
The Operative has caught up to Mal and shot him, then tries to paralyze him so he can dispatch him with his sword. But Mal had taken shrapnel there during the more and that nerve cluster was moved, so he disables the Operative instead and slides his sword down so he can’t move. He inputs the message and sets it to broadcast. Mal finds his crew and the doors finally open to reveal that River has dispatched all the Reavers. The Alliance breaks in and asks for orders. The Operative finally tells them to stand down; “we’re finished.” The Operative lets the crew go, after everyone pitches in to repair Serenity. There is a memorial service for Mr. Universe, Book, and Wash. Kaylee and Simon ever get their time together (with River watching). The Operative cannot guarantee that the Alliance won’t eventually come after the crew; the regime may be weakened, but not gone, nor are they forgiving. He will disappear.
Happy news, Inara decides she won’t leave. Mal becomes the pilot and takes River as his copilot, nicknaming her “albatross.” The first rule of flying? Love.
I like Firefly; maybe not as much as some other series and movies, but it was fun to re-watch the series. I adore the family dynamics; Mal is certainly the father of the group, keeping an eye on everyone, protecting them. Zoe and Wash are adorable together; and Zoe is totally badass! Kaylee is fun, as is River, when her mind is kind to her. Summer Glau has a background as a ballerina, so she is naturally graceful, which is cool to watch in fight scenes and that’s how she’s able to do some interesting stunts. And it’s heartwarming how much Simon cares about his sister.
Honestly, not as fond of the movie. It’s filmed darker and doesn’t have the warmth visually in the shots that the series had. It is a logical progression from the show, but totally wish Whedon hadn’t killed Wash! I have heard there are comics that continue the story, but I have not read them. The encyclopedia is fairly interesting. And I absolutely love the bloopers! I will watch them over and over just for the laughs. The sarcastic quips are another great element of the show.
Of course, I have discovered some fanfiction stories related to Firefly:
The first was actually a huge crossover with the anime Zoids (the only anime I ever watched, I think it was on Cartoon Network when I was in high school). But totally check out Ancient Legacies by Dragon-Raptor.
And A.Windsor’s Pirate Children series can be a fun read (depends on the story, but warnings accompany the write-ups)
Up Next: We continue a little with the space theme and cover the new Star Trek movies.
Yes, I said in the last post that I’d be taking a break for the holidays (because life gets nuts), but did you really expect that I wouldn’t say something about the end a beloved show? The heart wrenching finale aired last night and I will mark spoilers. (And yes, I had to do that title)
I never expected to become a Supernatural fan, or part of the SPNFamily. I did not watch it when it premiered; I probably wasn’t even aware it existed at that point. I was still in high school; getting into Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, so definitely into the fantasy genre, but not horror. I don’t do horror movies. I remember seeing the DVD covers at my cousin’s and thinking, “I will never watch that.” (Pretty sure it was the cover with a giant snake on Sam’s arm and thinking, “that must be a bad guy”…oh how wrong was I). I think my friend in college mentioned it and I still resisted. At that point I watched NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Castle. Mainstream shows.
2015 rolls around; I’m working two part-time jobs, life is a bit nuts (when is it not, but there are phases), and my friend begins suggesting that I would like Supernatural. My cousin chimes in (I should thank her for letting me borrow the series on DVD). A guy friend offers that if I don’t like the show, I can come back and punch him. So I give it a whirl…and I still don’t like the horror bits. Then, I get hooked. It becomes, how many episodes can I watch before I go to work? Oh, let’s watch one in the evening. Which then becomes, how many can I watch before I fall asleep? The eleventh season was getting ready to air and I only had up through season nine on disc. So I bought season ten to watch on Amazon, because I had to find out what happened. (And this was just about the point that “binge” watching was becoming a thing). I know my friend got numerous texts from me as I watched, usually like “What!!” or “this just happened!” I mean, it did take a little suspense away from the early seasons because hey, I knew they survived till season nine or whatever.
I utterly fell in love with Sam and Dean Winchester. I fell in love with brothers who would do anything for each other. They were tough guys, but they showed vulnerability around each other. I wanted to wrap them up in hugs. I also probably yelled at them for being stupid idiots.
And of course, I dived into the fandom and found it thriving. And I discovered Jared’s “Always Keep Fighting” campaign. And that helped. Because life it hard sometimes. I could look at Sam and Dean, and I could look at Jared and Jensen, and see strength, and see the love they have for each other. Finding out that Jared and Jensen are like brothers in real life is heartwarming. And if the Winchesters can face down death and demons and monsters, I can face down the dark thoughts in my head.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, as much as we wish this show could go on forever. And these wonderful men have their own families they want to be with. Even though I’ve never attended a convention, I’ve watched bits online and I think it is utterly wonderful that Jared and Jensen, and Misha, and all the rest have embraced the fandom so much. I’m grateful for what we’ve had from this show. And the fandom will never die. Heck, look at Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings, all still going strong. And I will certainly continue to re-watch and re-watch this show.
*SPOILER ALERT* It didn’t really hit me that the show was ending until Castiel’s goodbye. There have been sacrifices throughout the show; John for Dean, Dean for Sam, Sam for Dean. But this was a final sacrifice. We know there won’t be any coming back. And Cas’s voice changes a bit. It’s now Misha. And he’s saying everything we know and feel about Dean. And I have tears pouring down my face. (I’m re-watching it and I still cry). Cas says “I love you,” to Dean…which could run from and include friendship love to romantic love…and I’m okay with that. Then Dean crying at the end of the episode, my heart breaks. I had to sit for a minute and process everything once it ended.
The penultimate episode went differently than I expected. I figured there would be a huge, bloody showdown. There was, a little…then Chuck is de-powered and Jack is the new God. And leaves the boys. I cry a little, for the boys. I felt it was a satisfying conclusion for Jack; in all, I think the finale was well thought and planned out. I know there are shows that just suddenly end, or the writers quickly have to come up with a way to conclude everything and it’s rushed and it shows. The montage at the end had me in tears and it almost wrapped up the series there.
I reiterate SPOILER ALERT: Going into the final episode, I had hope that maybe it would end happy; the boys live and have families, or just carry on doing their job. Originally, I figured the show would end bloody. And it had to be both boys going, together. And I kind of wanted Jody and Donna and all the other alive characters to gather to say goodbye to the boys. And all the ones in heaven to be gathered there to greet them. Starting the interview portion with the musical episode rendition of Carry On Wayward Son had me in tears early. Then the episode didn’t start with the original version and I was a bit confused. I’m glad Dean has a dog (especially since both Jared and Jensen have dogs). Masked bad guys are creepy, but we’re getting to the hunt a bit early. I don’t really remember that girl from the earlier season. Then Dean’s pinned. And it’s only halfway through…and I’m sobbing into a pillow (I’m crying again).
Because yes, Dean was always going to go out fighting. Saying he’s proud of Sam, oh, there’s a stab in my heart. Beautiful acting on Jensen’s part, the hitches in his breath. And they echo from the pilot “I can’t do this alone. … I don’t want to.” And Dean will always be with us, and he urges all of us to keep fighting. I’m just begging, “not without Sam.” Like I mentioned, I figured they both had to go at the same time. Dean just can’t leave Sam alone. There was the single man tear…and sobbing alongside Sam.
Heaven was beautiful (I think the crew took the opportunity to showcase Canadian scenery) and yes, it was nice to see Bobby again. And the car. Carry On Wayward Son finally plays and Dean’s smiling and driving. I’m still crying. Sam gets a life, like Dean always wanted for him (I kind of wonder who he married). Sam was weird looking as an old guy, and honestly, I expected him to pass in the car, though it was touching that his son told him it was okay. And of course I’m happy Sam is back with Dean, where he belongs. A final hug for us. I can see how there may be a short run sequel or movie or something…Dean and Sam’s Adventures in Heaven or something. So yes, satisfying. And so heart wrenching.
Let’s all take a breath… (Spoilers are finished)
I know both guys have projects coming up soon; they’ve already started teasers for Walker, and I’ll record it and watch it. Not sure I’ll try to get into The Boys, but I might find scenes with Jensen to watch. Not sure I’m ready to see these boys in something other than Supernatural, as characters other than Sam and Dean. I keep reminding myself of the Dr. Seuss quote that is very applicable now: Don’t cry because it’s over, Smile because it happened. I will be forever grateful to this wonderful show (and to my friend for introducing me). The fandom and the SPNFamily will live and carry on. I’m sure there will be dissenting views on the ending, but hey, that’s what fanfiction is for. A huge thank you to Jared and Jensen for these wonderful characters and all the cast and crew and writers for a show about love and family, even through dark times.
Thought I’d take a step away from my musical blogs (don’t worry, already got the next one planned) and mention the elephant in the room: staying at home because of coronavirus. I work retail, so I have not been to work in several weeks. For the most part, I’m handling it fine; I’ve managed to work on other writing projects, I’ve crocheted several afghans, I’ve gotten back to my books (huzzah!), and I’ve caught up on some movies and shows.
So let me go ahead and state: SPOILERS ALERT!
Finally watched Frozen II; I liked the story. I don’t think the music was quite as memorable as the first and I still can’t stand Olaf, but the sisterly bond was great and very interesting to delve into their family history. (Puts to rest the fan connection between Frozen and several other Disney movies, including Tangled).
Also finally watched Crimes of Grindlewald. Excellent. Though while watching, I had to remind myself that Leta Lestrange was not a direct relation of Bellatrix (same family, but distant cousins). And the Dumbledore angle was better than I feared it to be; I thought they would focus entirely on Dumbledore’s infatuation with Grindlewald, but SPOILER a blood pact is a more solid excuse. And I totally do not believe Grindlewald about Creedence’s real name; the only plausible way he is a Dumbledore is as a cousin.
Supernatural has put filming their final season on hold, but it’s ramping up to be a doozy. News was just released that the final seven episodes will air in the fall. Jack is back, yay I guess. I have loved seeing some old favorites again; Benny was seen briefly. Loved that Eileen was back (then dead, then back!) and I really wish that she could get together permanently with Sam. (Then we find Dean someone, unless they make Destiel canon, which would be cool). And it was hilarious to have both Daneel Ackles and Genevive Padalecki back and in the same episode! The alternative universe Sam and Dean were hilarious as well (though can’t beat their father coming back; love that episode and cried along [unless you watch the blooper where Jared hits Jeffrey somewhere with the pearl; everyone is on the floor in laughter]). I really want to punch Chuck in the face and I hope Amara may come back to help. The boys are shaping up to fight God; I believe they will win and save the world because that is what they and the show are all about; but it’ll cost them. I still figure there is a decent chance the show will end with both boys dead; unless they are serious about producing a film later. If not, the only way for the fans to accept that it is over, is for our beloved boys to die. Even then, we’ll still write fanfiction.
Speaking of fanfiction; I was reading something on Facebook the other night about how fanfiction started. I mean, I had an idea, but it was interesting and a little unnerving. I realized why disclaimers are always posted at the top because you don’t want some bigwig suing you, but to find out that fan writers were punished… Some of the more recent successes give me hope; but I still am not likely to post what I have written. I share with a few friends, but I use it for my own practice. And some of this may end up as an essay or article. In case you’re interested, Supernatural accepts its fan writers and the fandom that has sprung up around it, which makes me love the fandom and the stars even more.
MacGyver just finished its fourth season, which went in a different direction than I originally imagined, and has been renewed for a fifth season. Yay! Their season got cut short due to the virus, but they must have filmed enough ahead to finish things up. I personally miss Jack and wish they would at least mention him in the story. Mac’s spiraling a bit and the fans know that Jack would help him. Still not a hundred percent sure of Russ’s motivations, but he at least tries to keep Mac alive; and Matty is still there, yay! I adored the episode with the plane and Mac in Tesla’s house; the writing has been excellent this season. Personally, I have never been fond of pairing Mac with a woman because I feel it detracts from the story and female characters should exist in shows outside their connection to a man. I’ve warmed up to Desi, but still not wholly sure. I like Riley, and I’m liking the Riley – Mac dynamic, but this triangle is only going to end badly. I shed tears when SPOILER James died. And I’m even sad that Auntie Gwen died; because she had just decided to protect Mac and it would have been great for Mac to have a familial connection, particularly to his mother. Though, baby Angus MacGyver is the cutest baby in the world! (And I refuse to believe that he’s named Angus because of a sign for beef; that’s demeaning to the character). Fanfiction should keep me occupied until it’s back.
Also been re-watching Hallmark’s Good Witch, going through the most recent episodes and the movies and now starting at the beginning of the show. Some days I can handle Hallmark and some days I just get annoyed; real life does not give us the right guy and the right job to keep us happy. But I love the magical elements of Cassie and the story. She and Sam are adorable. I’d love to live in Middleton. And when things get rough, there is a comfort in knowing that things will turn out alright; it’s Hallmark.
My mother and I have also managed to catch up on Outlander; we got behind. I miss them in Scotland; that was a reason I loved the show. Not fond of the time they were in the Caribbean, but now that they’ve settled in the colonies, my interest is peaking again. I’m glad Brianna has joined her mother and is bonding with her father. And proud that Roger has followed (though at times he was a bit of an idiot). I’m glad Stephen Bonnet finally was stopped; though I wished it had happened sooner. Whenever I would see Billy Boyd, I kept commenting “bad Pippin!” though I had to explain to my mother what I meant. I like the family that is growing at Fraser’s Ridge, and Ian has returned. Brianna, Roger, and Jemmy have also ended up staying, yay. The final episode; they actually found Claire sooner in the episode I thought they might, but we did get to see Claire’s struggles with the aftermath. I’m sure the time-traveling Native American will return; we’ll have to see what sort of time jump there may be before the next season.
Also enjoying watching the original MacGyver series with my parents and catching episodes of Race to the Edge (still love the show!). We’ve put on a few other movies, like some older James Bond (which was a bit weird), and re-watching the Librarian films (I’ll be covering all of those and the show upcoming. And it also gave me a writing idea). We are also going back and re-watching the newest Star Wars movies in preparation for finally getting to Rise of Skywalker (never fear, they are on the list to cover…down the road; MCU stands between us and them).
As for books; since I am first and foremost a reader; I have made a tiny dent in my “to-read” pile (and bought a few to add). Finally finished Raging Heat, a Richard Castle book (based on the show Castle that I don’t think I’m going to be covering, due to length) and Ireland’s Pirate Queen about Grace O’Malley, which have been on the back burner for a while. Enjoyed Castle and Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. Read Jeffersonian Key by Steve Berry. Few other books in there that weren’t great, but a relatively quick read; got around to Sense and Sensibility and that was a bit boring; the movie helped make sense. Just finished a Philippa Gregory book, The Lady of the Rivers which is a prequel in a way to White Queen (my mother and I have watched the first episode of the series). Parts are interesting and it is relatively well-written, but parts are now appearing a bit implausible (which happens with her books). Now I can move on to other books on my list. My Richard Castle, Nikki Heat series is up to date, but I want to get to some others first. I’ve got half a shelf of romances that I need to catch up on, so I can go looking for those newest books. Picked up another Librarians novel (based on the show) and some Peter Jackson/ Lord of the Rings books (like I need more of those). Some history series and the first book to a couple fantasy series I’d like to try. Some fun books I am holding off on as a reward, like behind the scenes of MacGyver, the last How to Train Your Dragon art book (I am that much of a nerd).
What are you guys doing to keep your minds occupied? Any good movies or books? Creative projects?
One hundred posts…wow. I had no idea when I started this exercise that I would carry it on this long (seriously; I originally figured less than a year, then I finally laid things out and understood what all was invovled). I am blown away by the reading response I have built up and the fact that I have over fifty followers – thank you all.
Yes, my posting schedule has lessened a bit, but I am also trying to work on some other writing projects. I’d love to write some short stories to enter in contests to get published. And I have a massive fantasy series that needs laid out…when my brain cooperates. Right now it likes to play around with fanfiction and in turn focus on like the fourth and fifth generation of characters rather than background and world building. And my books also beg my attention; they cry to be read.
With the…current situation, I do have some more free time, so we’ll see how everything best fits in. I do apologize for the breaks that have occurred and I cannot promise that they won’t happen again. When not watching movies for this blog, I’m keeping up with the current MacGyver series (some of the episodes this season have been excellent), the final season of Supernatural (which will end in tears, when it finally does end…my guess is that both boys will die) and also working my way through the original MacGyver series (there are times it is hilarious; though personally I prefer Lucas Till to Richard Dean Anderson, that may be based on my age). Also catching up on Outlander (I finally read the first book; along with the first book of Game of Thrones; both are good, but I kind of prefer the show so I can see the full scope. I prefer the earlier seasons of Outlander, when it is more based in eighteenth century Scotland [a time period I like to study].)
But, I still have a huge collection of movies (one of these days, in a few years hopefully, I will have a place of my own and space to display and organize all of them) and I am looking forward to the upcoming genres. Next are musicals, which I love. Then action/adventure films (another genre I am more fond of) which will phase into the superhero genre (yep, I will attempt to tackle a good portion of the MCU…that’s going to be practically a year on its own). And I will finally get to some of my favorite series, like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and nearest to my heart, Lord of the Rings and Hobbit, and How to Train Your Dragon. And once we get into some newer and more popular films, I can add in the various fanfiction stories that I have read (and keep re-reading…which is how I distract myself from reading proper books).
Let me know what you think and here’s to another hundred!
The final season of Sherlock, so far. Not terribly sure we’ll get another season, since Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch are both busy with other projects. This is not my favorite season, but I guess the ending is somewhat satisfying. The Six Thatchers picks up where season three ended, Sherlock is back in England to solve the final Moriarty mystery. In the meantime, while he waits for clues, he continues to solve cases. And Mary and John’s baby arrives, a little girl they name Rosamund Mary, “Rosie.” I adore the scene where Sherlock is minding Rosie and speaks in eloquent sentences that boil down to: “If you’d like to keep the rattle, than don’t throw the rattle.” To which Rosie promptly responds by throwing the rattle back in Sherlock’s face!
Sherlock is put on the case of the mysterious death of a young man in a parked car in England when he was supposedly on vacation a week prior. Turns out, he wasn’t gone, he had hoped to surprise his father at his birthday the week prior, but had suffered some sort of stroke or something and died in the midst of the surprise and wasn’t discovered for a week. But what fascinates Sherlock is a smashed plaster bust of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. A slew of alike busts end up smashed. He stakes out the final bust and confronts the criminal, thinking it’s connected to Moriarty. It’s not, it goes back to Mary and her past as an agent. Her team was betrayed on their last mission and the only other survivor thinks it was Mary’s fault. it wasn’t, but Mary doesn’t want to put John and Rosie in danger, so she sneaks away, using her old skill set. Sherlock and John track her down and the old teammate dies when the police interrupt their discussion.
Sherlock promises to keep Mary safe and they all return to England. Sherlock first suspects Lady Smallwood, then realizes it was her secretary. He confronts her, as does Mary. The woman essentially did it for money, pulls a gun on Sherlock and Mary and hopes they will let her go if she promises to stop. Sherlock annoys her, but Mary jumps in front of the bullet. Mycroft, Lestrade, and John are on the scene. Mary apologizes to Sherlock for shooting him last year; they’re even now. She dies in John’s arms. John’s anger and grief are a bit hard to watch (meaning wonderful acting).
At home, there is a disc that arrived for Sherlock, labeled “Miss Me?” We all think it’s from Moriarty. No, Mary, getting Sherlock’s attention. She has one last case for Sherlock, save John Watson. Except, John doesn’t want to see Sherlock.
This carries over to The Lying Detective. John has gone to another therapist and during his session, a fancy red car shows up. Then we jump to Culverton Smith (played by Toby Jones; we’ve seen him in Ever After, Amazing Grace, The Hunger Games and the Captain America movies as Dr. Arnim Zola. He was the Dream Lord in an episode of Doctor Who during Matt Smith’s stint as the Doctor; he has also voiced Dobby in Harry Potter) hosting a gathering of his friends; he wants to confess something. Honestly, he creeps me out from the start. From there we see that Sherlock is not doing well separated from John. Smith’s daughter approaches him; she wants Sherlock to stop her father, he wants to kill someone. But Sherlock is off his game, he’s not able to keep up with his brain. Though he comes around in time to stop the woman from killing herself with the gun in her purse; and gives an excellent message (still reeling himself from Mary’s death):
Taking your own life. Interesting expression, taking it from who? Once it’s over, it’s not you who’ll miss it. Your own death happens to everyone else. Your life is not your own, keep your hands off it.
And Sherlock, well, Benedict, is rather impressive quoting Henry V‘s “once more unto the breech” speech. At that point, Mrs. Hudson coerces Sherlock into the trunk of her red sports car and drives to John, bringing us back to the start of the episode. Then they meet Culverton Smith and follow his day to a hospital, where the man creeps everyone out asking about serial killers (Sherlock had accused him of such on Twitter earlier). Sherlock hopes that Smith’s daughter will help put the nail in the coffin of his accusation, then it turns out the woman he met was not Smith’s daughter. Sherlock is very high at the moment. Smith won’t press charges, but he’ll take care of Sherlock.
John (after he beats up Sherlock a bit, Sherlock is fine with he, he did kill Mary) meets up with Mycroft in Sherlock’s flat. Mrs. Hudson takes control of the situation; she understands Sherlock where the other two men do not. Sherlock is emotional; that’s why he shoots the wall and stabs a problem. There is another disc, waiting for John. She orders Mycroft’s team out, and even Mycroft Holmes himself: “Get out of my house, you reptile.” John watches her message to Sherlock (he’s been seeing her ever since her death. It’s rather funny when “Mary” points out what Sherlock is doing to John and that what she is saying is John’s own brain). For Sherlock to save John, he must go to Hell; John will save him and in saving Sherlock, will save himself.
Back at the hospital, Culverton Smith has snuck into Sherlock’s room. Sherlock reveals that he wants Culverton to help kill him; increase the dosage on the drugs. But that takes too long for Culverton; smothering will be quicker. John bursts in at that point. Sherlock has managed to capture Smith’s confession in a listening device in John’s cane. Once in Baker Street again, “Mary” urges John to remain with Sherlock. Emotions come out and are dealt with. John reveals that he was cheating on Mary; he was texting a woman from the bus. It never went farther, but he wanted it to. And John urges Sherlock to respond to Irene Adler because he knows there is no guarantee how long you have with someone. John breaks down and Sherlock hugs his friend.
Things are better. Sherlock and John solve cases, Sherlock wears the hat. There may be a “thing” between Smallwood and Mycroft, interesting. John visits his new therapist again. She brings up the secret Holmes sibling that has been hinted at for years. Turns out the therapist was the woman that Sherlock met and talked out of suicide and she was the woman from the bus that was texting John. She is Eurus (the East Wind), the Holmes’ sister. The episode ends with her holding a gun on John.
The Final Problem is Eurus. Sherlock gives his elder brother a fright in his own home in order to make deductions (part of that may have been influenced by John). Though we do discover that inside Mycroft’s famous umbrella is a sword! Then a pistol! (Though, why is there a clown?) Mycroft reports to Baker Street the next day and finally reveals that Eurus is indeed the youngest of the Holmes’ siblings. But Sherlock doesn’t remember her. Childhood trauma, Mycroft explains. Sherlock blocked it. Eurus is a quantifiable genius, but she didn’t process things the same way as most people. She locked up Redbeard and wouldn’t tell anyone. Then she set fire to the family home. She had to be locked away. Mycroft eventually told his parents that she started another fire and died. Instead, she’s in Sherrenford, a maximum security prison. A drone flies into the flat with a motion sensor grenade. The three men wait until Mrs. Hudson is out of danger, Sherlock even brings up the possibility of John calling his daughter but there is no chance, then they move. Sherlock and John leap out a window and Mycroft is to make for the stairs.
Sherlock gets to be a pirate for a moment and commandeer a boat to get to Sherrenford. John is taken into Sherreford with a sea captain, who turns out to be Mycroft. Sherlock is already disguised as a guard and makes his way down to meet his sister. Mycroft berates the governor of the prison for the compromise in security; obviously Eurus made it out of the prison against his orders. And there was a psychiatric exam against his orders as well. Eurus can reprogram people, never to good results. This unfortunately includes the governor of the prison. And there is no glass on Eurus’s cell. She attacks Sherlock.
Mycroft’s Christmas gift is revealed to have been an unsupervised five minute conversation with Moriarty. Moriarty recorded lots of things for Eurus. (Yeah, not a good idea to put the two most dangerous psychopaths in the same room, especially when they both have a vendetta against Sherlock.) Eurus is now in control of the facility and has a series of tests lined up for her brothers and John. She is testing Sherlock’s emotions and logic First, either Mycroft or John will have to shoot the governor in order to save his wife. Mycroft refuses. John accepts, but ultimately can’t do it. The governor does it for them, but that breaks the parameters and Eurus shoots his wife anyway. Next, Sherlock is to solve a case with little information and pass judgment on three brothers for a murder. Eurus in due course kills all three, not understanding the hesitancy to take someone else’s life. Next, Eurus has wired explosives in Molly Hooper’s flat. Sherlock has three minutes to get Molly to say “I love you.” Poor Molly. It’s true, she has always loved Sherlock. Molly asks Sherlock to say it and mean it first. And he does. Molly whispers it in return. Turns out, there were no explosives; she just put her brother and a dear friend through emotional turmoil for nothing. Sherlock smashes the coffin in the room. All three men need hugs. But they must solider on.
In the next room, Sherlock is to choose which man to kill; only he and one other can continue on. Interspersed is a phone call with a scared little girl in a plane about to crash. Sherlock can be remarkable with children. Mycroft first tells Sherlock to shoot John, which John agrees. But Sherlock realizes that Mycroft is trying to goad him into killing his older brother. He cannot choose; both men are important to him. They are tranquilized. Sherlock wakes up in the burnt out family home, Musgrave Hall. Now, he has to find where John is trapped; the same place as Redbeard. Though there was one detail that Mycroft never told Sherlock. Redbeard was never a dog. “Redbeard” was Sherlock’s childhood best friend. They played pirates together. And Eurus had wanted to join, but boys being boys, they didn’t let her, so she chained the boy to the bottom of a well and let him drown. The little song she sang comes into play, along with the mismatched dates on the gravestones. Sherlock finds Eurus and figures out there was no actual plane that was about to crash; it was Eurus being scared and confused all her life.
A change comes to Sherlock and his family (which includes John). Sherlock now supports Mycroft, especially when the elder has to explain all that has happened to their parents. Sherlock visits Eurus and they play violin duets; she can never rejoin society, not after all she’s done. There is a sweet scene of Sherlock playing with John and Rosie. The parting words are Mary’s; she has always known what her men are. In the end, it’s all about the legend, the stories, and the adventures of the detective and his doctor. Her Baker Street Boys.
One element that I do like about this season is it humanizes the characters, particularly Mycroft and Sherlock. Sherlock admits that he can get full of himself. He is willing to kill himself to save John, even though he really doesn’t want to die (oh my goodness, whoever has to listen to that recording and hear Sherlock almost in tears saying “I don’t want to die…”) He truly views John and Mary as family. He lets Mrs. Hudson handcuff him to take him to John. And Mycroft is revealed to have always cared for Sherlock, and not just in passing. He protected him from the truth of what their little sister did (I can’t scrounge up too much sympathy for a person who knowingly and willingly let another child die, then wished the same upon their brother). As Lestrade says at the end, Sherlock Holmes is a good man.
The Eurus spin doesn’t quite sit well with me. The reveal of Mary’s old team seemed rushed. And Culverton, while extremely creepy, also seems contrived.
Now, for my favorite part of Sherlock…the fandom!
The Hillywood Show has done a parody video. I’m personally not familiar with the song they parodied, but the video is quite excellent. And check out the behind the scenes videos and video diaries; they filmed on the same location as scenes in the show, to the confusion of some British fans (their make-up is spot on). And Percy Weasley from Harry Potter guests stars at their Mycroft and Osric Chau (Kevin Tran from Supernatural and he has worked with the Hillywood girls before) is their Moriarty. There is a whole slew of other parodies; I started with the two Supernatural videos.
The fans already thought that there was another Holmes sibling long before Season Four, though it was a younger brother. Notice the new, young “Q” in Skyfall? (This is the theory I abide with) Could “Q” stand for Quentin, keeping with the unusual names? Ktwontwo has a whole series written about this family. Another fanfiction author, A Wandering Minstrel, suggests Trevalyan.
And then there is the whole “Superwholock” crossover deal. It’s a combination of Supernatural with Doctor Who and Sherlock. It’s funny, though I don’t quite understand how all three get squashed together. Maybe it’s angels? Sherlock states he’s not one of them, Doctor Who has the Weeping Angels, and Castiel is an angel. Ultimately it may boil down to they were the three most popular shows at the same time for a while.
After the Holidays: We’ll get back to some other historically based movies, starting with Master and Commander
The special 2016 New Year’s Sherlock special we got, set immediately after season three. They do a quick recap, “so far on Sherlock” then pose “alternatively…” All of our favorite characters are back, but set in Victorian England like the original work. We start with a Victorian re-telling of how John and Sherlock met, complete with Sherlock whipping a corpse in the morgue. Some time has now passed and John has been publishing his Sherlock stories in the Strand magazine (which is how they were originally published). The Abominable Bride is a case, briefly prefaced by Mary disguising herself as a client in order to visit her husband. A few comments made about a woman’s place in Victorian England; they are right on the cusp of the right to vote. Lestrade enters with the tale of a woman dressed as a bride shooting into a crowd, then committing suicide. But the strange part is, the next day, she appears in physical form to kill her husband. Molly Hooper poses as a man and Anderson works beneath her (a bit funny). She/he stands up to Sherlock, which is also awesome and reflective of hr progression in characterization. Sherlock begins to wonder if this is connected to Moriarty’s resurrection.
Months have passed and Mycroft calls for Sherlock, though he is humorously obese. Five more murders have occurred and he knows that a woman will be waiting for Sherlock and Watson at Baker Street upon their return. Her husband has been sent orange pips and knows his death is imminent (played by Tim McInnerny, who has appeared in Game of Thrones, Outlander, the live-action 101 and 102 Dalmatians, and Black Adder). John wonders if it could be an actual ghost, Sherlock insists it isn’t. They fail to save the husband. A note is later attached to the body: “miss me?” Some newer phrases start popping into Sherlock’s dialogue, like “virus in data” (this is alongside popular phrases like “the game is afoot;” they changed it to “the game is on” in the new series since most people don’t say “afoot” anymore). Floating newspaper clippings are a stand in for the Mind Palace. And Sherlock’s famous seven-percent solution is openly mentioned. Sherlock confronts Moriarty but finds no answers.
We’re jarred to the present by the airplane (from the end of season three) landing. Sherlock has delved deep into himself, wondering how he would have solved the famous case if he had been around at that time. Mycroft interrupts his younger brother, demanding if Sherlock has made a list. Ever since he found Sherlock years ago overdosed, he has made his brother swear to make a list of everything he has taken. Sherlock was high when he got on the plane; turns out solitary confinement is the worst thing for Sherlock. Mycroft reminds his brother “I will always be there for you.” I adore the sentiment we are seeing; I am a sucker for brotherly relationships [ooo, that gives me an idea of an essay to write]. Moriarty was wrong about Mycroft and Magnuson was correct; the eldest Holmes is not the Ice Man, but Sherlock is his weakness.
Back in Victorian times, word gets to Sherlock and John that Mary is in danger. Sherlock will always protect Mary, of that John can be certain. I also adore that they show Mary kicking butt!. She’s working for Mycroft and has found the heart of the conspiracy. Sherlock proposes that it was a group of women who banded together to extract revenge on the cruel men of their lives. The bride did not actually shoot herself the first time. Which left her able to kill her husband, then had help killing herself so a positive identification could be made. The rest were copy cat killers. There are tricks that can be used to make a ghost appear and in conclusion, the wife killed her husband. But underneath it’s still Moriarty. Sherlock is stuck dreaming between the present-day world and Victorian world. Again, he confronts Moriarty, though at the famous Reichenbach Falls. John comes as back up and kicks Moriarty into the falls. This aids Sherlock in waking up (though he has to fall again).
And he’s back and ready for the case. Mycroft asks John to look after Sherlock and there’s a note in his book about “Redbeard;” that’s been popping up lately. Sherlock knows that Moriarty is dead and he knows what he’s going to do next. A tiny kicker with Victorian John and Sherlock discussing the future; Sherlock has always felt that he was a man out of time. And now we’re ready for Season Four!
A Scandal in Belgravia picks up right where The Great Game left off, in the pool, with Sherlock pointing a gun at a collection of bombs. Then Staying Alive echoes through the room from Moriarty’s phone. He asks to take the call and starts congenial, then becomes angry at what the mysterious caller is telling him; “and know that if you are lying, I will skin you,” he drags out. Turns out for Sherlock and John, “Sorry, wrong day to die,” but warns them he will be in touch. On his way out, still on the phone, he tells his friend, if they’re right, they will be rich, and if they’re wrong, they will become shoes. We see a woman end the call, then ask another mysterious person, “Have you been wicked, your highness?”
John’s blogs bring in clients, advancing the duo, particularly Sherlock, to the status of Internet phenomenon. The press start showing up at crime scenes and Sherlock has to don the infamous deerstalker hat to hide his face. Sherlock attempts to solve a case from home, wrapped in a sheet, while John does the legwork on location. Then they’re both taken to Buckingham Palace. And…Sherlock still can’t bother to put on pants. Mycroft comes in to tell Sherlock he has a new case, but the client must remain anonymous. Sherlock refuses at first, even threatening to walk away while Mycroft holds the sheet (there’s a hilarious blooper of Benedict falling over in one take). He does take the case; the royal family is being threatened with scandal due to a dominatrix, Irene Adler holding compromising photos on her phone. This is the woman from the start of the episode. Irene receives photos of Sherlock and prepares for his arrival while Sherlock prepares to meet her. He has John punch him in the face (which John always hears when Sherlock is speaking, “but it’s usually subtext”) so he’ll appear suitably distraught to gain entrance to Irene’s residence.
Irene shocks Sherlock by entering the room stark naked. He stumbles a bit and can’t read her like he normally does. She further turns the table and asks Sherlock about his latest case; “brainy is the new sexy” (I totally agree). She eventually dons Sherlock’s coat to make John more comfortable, but they’re ploy to find the phone is interrupted by American CIA agents. They threaten John to make Sherlock open the case (the combination is Irene’s measurements) and with a hint from Irene, Sherlock warns his sidekick “Vatican cameos!” so they all duck as a gun takes out their opponents. Sherlock almost gets away with the phone, but Irene drugs him and escapes. She does return the coat while Sherlock sleeps (and reveals the solution to the case, where a backfiring car covers up a boomerang accidentally killing its owner), and also has now programmed his phone to moan sensually whenever she texts. Which hilariously interrupts Sherlock telling Mycroft off for yelling at Mrs. Hudson to shut up.
This transitions into a Christmas party at Baker Street. Sherlock actually apologizes when he embarrasses Molly Hooper, then his mood turns when he discovers that Irene Adler has left her phone, her insurance policy, for him. He warns Mycroft that they will find the woman dead that evening. He and Mycroft identify the body later that evening. Mycroft even offers Sherlock a cigarette which signals that Sherlock is suffering emotional pain. Sherlock tries to unlock Irene’s phone, but only has four attempts and discovers that if the case is forced, measures are in place to destroy the information. John is picked up while he’s out; he assumes it’s Mycroft again, but really it’s Irene. She’s not dead and she needs her phone back. And…Sherlock is listening. he’s in a bit of a daze as he makes his way back to Baker Street, but then he’s frighteningly focused when he discovers that Mrs. Hudson is in danger. The CIA agents are back. The leader is taken away in an ambulance, after falling out the window, several times. Sherlock declares England would fall is Mrs. Hudson ever left Baker Street.
Then he discovers Irene in his bedroom. She has a case for Sherlock. She has an important e-mail she got a hold of that needs decoding. Sherlock manages to crack it in less than a minute. Irene is impressed: “I would have you right here on this desk until you begged for mercy, twice.” Sadly, if we recall, she’s in the league with Moriarty and sends damaging information out. Moriarty contacts Mycroft and Sherlock has just set back a joint operation that could lead to a dangerous group, just to impress a woman. Irene attempts to blackmail Mycroft into her demands, but Sherlock has finally figured out her code to unlock her phone: I AM SHERLOCKED.
This puts Irene in danger. Mycroft visits John later so the man can inform his flatmate that the woman is in witness protection when really she’s dead. However…when we see her send her final text, a phone moans nearby. Sherlock is on hand to save her.
Hounds of Baskerville brings a familiar BBC face to play, Russell Tovey has appeared in Doctor Who and plays George the werewolf in Being Human (I only watched that show because Aidan Turner [Poldark, Kili from the Hobbit, and ironically Luke the werewolf from The Mortal Instruments movie] played Mitchell the vampire). One of the bar owners was Little John in BBC’s Robin Hood series as well. In this episode Russell is the client Henry Knight who witnessed his father murdered as a boy on the moors outside the Baskerville Army installation. He believes he saw a gigantic hound with red eyes tear his father apart. Sherlock is desperate for a case (so desperate, he begs for drugs) and almost doesn’t take it, until Henry specifically says, “it was a gigantic hound.” Hound is a more archaic term, why does he use it?
We get some gorgeous shots of Dartmoor. The consulting detective and his blogger sneak onto the base using Mycroft’s keycard and find a connection to an e-mail a child sent; her mother works for Baskerville, which explains the glowing bunny that shortly afterwards disappeared. So there is something strange going on at Baskerville. Sherlock convinces Henry to take them to Dewer’s Hollow (where the devil supposedly pops up). It’s foggy, they hear rustling. Then Sherlock sees a hound. He denies it to Henry, but John finds him later freaking out. “Once you rule out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be true.” John in turns call Sherlock “Spock” (There is Star Trek trivia that in the fourth movie [not the new ones], Spock quotes that line, claiming one of his ancestors said it, thus connecting Sherlock Holmes and Spock. NuSpock also quotes this line). Sherlock insults John, who goes for a walk.
Come morning, Sherlock apologizes in the way that he does. And another familiar face for him, Lestrade has come, on orders from Mycroft. John muses that it helps with Sherlock’s Asperger’s (I have no way of knowing one way or another if that is a true statement). Sherlock sends John to search the labs and freaks his friend out. Then discovers that the sugar he thought contained the drug does not. He must consult his Mind Palace. Henry had started to remember two words associated with the night his father was killed, “Liberty, In.” Sherlock also realizes that “hound” may actually be an acronym. It is. There was a CIA project years ago codenamed “H.O.U.N.D.” that took place in Liberty, Indiana. It was supposed to be part of chemical warfare and drive the enemy to terror and fear. But it adversely affected the subject and the project was scrapped. But a doctor from that time has started it up again.
Henry, with a gun because he’s starting to see the hound at his place, heads to the Hollow. Sherlock, Lestrade, and John race after him and run into his old family friend, Doctor Franklin, who has worked on the American project. Turns out, what young Henry had seen was Doctor Franklin wearing a gas mask and killing his father. The drug is aerosol form and is hidden in the fog of the hollow. Oh, and there is an actual dog; the pub owners had one that they hoped to capitalize on the tourist craze, but it grew too wild. They claimed to have had it put down; no, they just let it loose in the hollow to terrorize people. Franklin runs to escape prison…into a minefield.
At the very end, Mycroft lets Jim Moriarty leave interrogation, after having written “Sherlock” around his cell.
This leads right into The Reichenbach Fall. Sherlock’s popularity is on the rise, not that he really cares. He’s started solving high profile cases, even receiving the insufferable deerstalker hat as a gag gift from Scotland Yard. Then Moriarty simultaneously breaks into the three most secure places in London, including the Crown Jewels. He goes on trial and Sherlock is called in as a witness. In the loo beforehand, he’s cornered by a “fan,” actually a journalist who wants “the real story” on Sherlock Holmes. He dismisses her. Sherlock deduces afterwards, that Moriarty wanted caught. And he manages to be found not guilty. Jim visits Sherlock at Baker Street and informs his nemesis that the final problem is approaching. Every fairytale needs its villain. Sherlock needs Jim. Mycroft warns John briefly of an upcoming exposé on Sherlock, but more concerning is four assassins moving in nearby.
There is a kidnapping case. Sherlock solves it. But when he goes to visit the girl, she screams at the sight of him. Donovan, alongside Anderson, who have never liked Sherlock, start to believe that he staged the whole thing, just so he could solve it. John knows Sherlock is not a fraud, but Lestrade gets in trouble from his superior and has to come arrest Sherlock. John is offended by the superior and punches him, Sherlock uses it as an opportunity for the two of them to escape. Sherlock tracks down the journalist, who startlingly has a clear history of Sherlock’s childhood and a mysterious source, Jim Moriarty, who claims to be an actor named Richard Brook that Sherlock hired to play his nemesis. I hate this part; I dislike this woman. She got turned down by Sherlock but is so desperate to prove her career that she eagerly laps up a story to explain that he’s an ordinary man. As Sherlock tells John, it’s a lie wrapped up in a truth, so people will believe it.
Sherlock retreats to St. Bart’s and quietly enlists Molly Hooper’s help. She is a kind hearted person and has offered to Sherlock, even after he’s mean to her, that if he ever needs help, she’s there. He trusts her and tells her, she has always counted. “I think I’m going to die,” he tells her. “What do you need?” she simply asks. “You.”
John races off to Baker Street, thinking Mrs. Hudson is in trouble. But she’s fine (aside from an assassin is standing next to her). John then races back to St. Bart’s figuring that Sherlock is planning to face Moriarty alone. The opposing players meet on the roof. Staying Alive plays again and the final problem is that Moriarty has grown bored of Sherlock. Claims he’s ordinary; he’s beaten him. Sherlock retorts to the criminal, “Oh, I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I am one of them” [and he sounds so much like Kahn at that moment.] There was no magic key. He paid off guards, just like he blackmailed the jury. And now, to end his story, Sherlock must die. Sherlock must commit suicide; if he doesn’t, three gunmen are set up to kill John Watson, Greg Lestrade, and Mrs. Hudson. Sherlock thinks for a minute he would be able to get the information out of Moriarty, he figured out that in German, Richard Brook translates to Reichenbach, Sherlock’s fame-making case and he can prove that Jim created a false identity, but the insane man shoots himself in the head. Now Sherlock has no choice. John has arrived on scene; Sherlock makes him stay back. John calls his phone. Sherlock claims he has lied to John the whole time; John does not believe him. Sherlock jumps. John rushes to him, but is first hit by a bicyclist, and then the people won’t let him near Sherlock.
I still tear up at the end when John begs Sherlock for one more miracle, “just, don’t be dead.” John tells Sherlock’s tombstone that he was the best man, the most human person he had ever known and he will never believe that Sherlock was lying. He owes Sherlock so much. The camera follows John as he leaves the cemetery and pans to Sherlock watching.
I enjoy this season more than the first. I like the hour and a half long episodes because it allows the writers time to fully develop a story and delve into nuances. There’s humor and action mixed in with the mystery and drama. Sherlock still shows us that he is human and experiences human emotions, as much as he may deny them. He trusts Molly more than John at the end to help him pull off his suicide. He recognizes on his own that he hurt John’s feelings at Baskerville. I wish we had a more satisfying end to Moriarty, and more public, after what he put Sherlock through. And as Season Two ends, I desperately want to start watching Season Three.