The Legacy of Batman

Return of the Joker

Batman gets to work and interrupts a heist by the Jokerz; a new group we haven’t seen in the show.  There’s a spot of gentlemanly behavior, when he hesitates to hit the pair of girls.  There’s no such hesitation after they taser and kick him.  Of course, Batman stands out from other heroes and saves one of the girls when they start to plummet to their death.  Her twin sister rescues her.  Destruction is caused, but one of the Jokerz gets away with a computer component.  When they meet up with their mysterious boss later, it’s not enough.  When one of the gang members speaks out on his frustration with their current jobs for the mysterious boss, the boss shoots him.  Okay, this is something new…and made a bit worse by the revelation that the original Joker is back and he is ready to give Gotham a wedgie.

Back in the Batcave, Bruce can still throw a batarang with precision.  And his company has dropped “Powers” from their name, returning to Wayne Enterprises.  Bruce is taking more control of his company again.  He keeps an eye on his protégé and questions Terry’s decision to go out that evening; he’s sore and tired, but Terry quips back, “the night is young and so am I.”  That lasts all of a couple minutes once he hits the club with Dana; he falls asleep on her.  Later, at a Wayne Enterprises party, the Joker’s laugh interrupts the festivities.  Terry, as Bruce’s assistant, tries to head off some of the Jokerz gang.  Once Bruce is fine for the moment (he takes out one member with a cane), he tells his assistant to “go to work.”  A minute later, Batman swoops in to save the patrons.  The Joker rises out of the floor and causes mayhem, but ultimately escapes.  Terry grouses to Bruce later in the cave that he should have gone after the Joker, but Bruce reassures him he did the right thing by saving the people.  However, he won’t talk about the Joker.

Terry switches tactics and goes to Barbara Gordon; “what do you know about clowns?”  “In this town, they’re never funny.”  And she refuses to talk.  Terry comes back to the cave to see Bruce going over the Joker’s file.  He is listed as deceased, yet when Bruce runs an analysis on the voices from the archive and from the previous night, they are a match.  When Terry asks again, Bruce calls the man a psychopath and a monster; and he wants Terry to give back the suit.  He has no right to force this life on the young man, or anyone.  Terry disagrees; Bruce didn’t force the life on him, Terry stole the suit.  And they come from two different worlds.  For Terry, Batman is a way for him to make up for past sins (running with a gang, etc), this appeases his soul and is a chance for him to be a worthwhile human.

  “It’s what I want, Bruce.” 

“Stupid kid.  You don’t know want you want, none of you did,” Bruce retorts as he walks away.  Terry throws the suit as his feet and runs out.

With his new free time, Terry meets up with Dana at the club again.  Bright side, more time for her.  Bad side, less pocket money.  Their evening is interrupted when the Jokerz gang shows up and goes after Dana.  The two girls attempt to distract Terry while Dana is grabbed, but he fights them off.  Dana is hurt and Terry puts Chelsea in charge while he finishes off the gang.  He heads to Bruce, who has been working on Joker anti-toxin.  The clown himself shows up in the cave and greets Bruce “hello Batman.”  A gas fills the room.  By the time Terry arrives in the cave, the clown is gone, but he left graffiti and a mess.  Bruce is frozen on the floor, wheezing out a few words between a weird laugh.  Terry administers the anti-toxin in time and calls Barbara for help.  She finally opens up about what last transpired between Bruce and the Joker, still adamant that it’s not the real Joker, but Terry deserves answers. 

Dick Grayson had already left; Tim Drake was Robin.  He was abducted and she and Bruce spent three weeks searching for him before a clue was delivered.  The Joker and Harley Quinn had taken Robin to Arkham Asylum.  They decided they wanted a family of their own and decided to “borrow” one of the kids that Batman had lying around.  The Joker molded Robin into “Joker Jr” and not pleasantly.  He tortured the kid (and shows Batman a video) and now know who’s under the cowl.  Barbara goes after Harley, who falls several stories, though they never found the body.  Bruce goes after the Joker.  The Joker gets a lucky cut on Bruce and holds Batman up for Robin to kill.  Robin ends up shooting the Joker amidst laughing, then crying.  Barbara tells Terry they buried the Joker and Tim was able to put the events behind him after extensive therapy, but Bruce forbade him from ever donning the Robin costume again.  Tim eventually left as well.

Terry decides to pay Tim a visit while in the Bat suit.  Tim is adamant that he knows nothing about the Joker’s reappearance and he as much as anyone wishes the clown gone.  Besides, he was so sick of the crime-fighting that he never wanted to see his suit again.  Terry goes searching for other clues, Barbara sitting in the chair in the cave this time.  She does suggest that Terry look up Nightwing for more stories if he wants.  Batman checks on a disgruntled Wayne Enterprises employee, thinking he’s behind it, but finds the Jokerz gang there, ready to waste him.  Yes, the employee had been in on the one attack, but the man behind the scenes decided to tie up loose ends, sending a laser weapon after the man and Batman.  Batman saves him, but is more than happy to turn him over to the commissioner. 

Bruce is up and around a bit more now and apologizes to Terry; he never wanted the young man to go against the Joker.  Terry notes that he is a completely different Batman, he never was a Robin.  And it’s then that they notice the only costume the Joker completely shredded was Tim Drake’s old costume.  And Terry puts together the parts he knows the Jokerz have stolen and they align with Tim’s expertise.  Bruce tells him to suit up, and take Ace with him.  The Joker is not pleased that Terry has figured it out shoots down the Batmobile. 

Between Ace and Terry, they take out the Jokerz gang.  Terry finds Tim face down, but then the man starts acting funny and feels unwell.  Soon his body transforms and Tim Drake is not just in league with the Joker, he is the Joker.  Or rather, as the Joker explains, the old Joker implanted young Tim with a chip coded with the Joker’s genetics.  Tim doesn’t realize he is the Joker.  His first order of business is to threaten to either go after Dana, Mary and Matt, or Bruce.  Ace attacks and the fight begins.  The Joker knows all of the tricks from Bruce’s peek and Terry is out of his league.  Bruce suggests that Terry tries to drown out and power through the Joker’s talking.  Terry has a different idea.  He likes to talk too.  He mocks the Joker; it was sad that he fixated on Batman in the past; the man wouldn’t know a joke if it bit him in the cape.  Oh, and Terry fights dirty.  Proof the Joker doesn’t know him.  Terry laughs, the Joker is pathetic.  “Not funny,” the Joker growls.  “I thought you wanted to make Batman laugh!” Terry calls down from the rafters.  “You’re not Batman!”  The Joker gets a good hit and Terry’s on the ground, the Joker trying to choke him.  Terry picked up a joy buzzer and burns out the chip on Tim’s neck with it.  Terry manages to get himself, Tim, and Ace out of the hideout before the laser (that has been running through Gotham) hits.

Terry visits Tim in the hospital alongside Barbara.  Tim thanks him and compliments that “Bruce couldn’t have chosen anyone better to put on the mask.”  Bruce actually shows up to visit Tim.  Before Terry leaves, Bruce corrects his earlier statement; “it’s not Batman who make you worthwhile, it’s the other way round.”  (On a funny note, Dee Dee, the twin girls from the Jokerz gang, have their bail paid by their grandmother, Nana Harley [Quinn]).  At the end, Terry stands over Gotham, in the suit, ready for work.  He slips on the mask and swoops into action.

As already stated, Terry McGinnis as Batman makes a few more appearances in the DC Animated Universe.  He shows up in an episode of Static Shock, where a young Static time-travels to the future, meeting old Bruce Wayne and the new Batman (and having to help break his future-self free from the Kobra gang).  He also appears as part of the two-part episode Once and Future Thing in Justice League Unlimited.  In the first half, Batman (Bruce Wayne), the Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman chase a thief named Chronos to the past, specifically, the Wild West.  They then end up following him to the future in the second half and there meet the older Static, Warhawk (who happens to be the Green Lantern’s son), and younger Batman.  Also featured are the new Jokerz gang that were introduced in Return of the Joker…with some upgrades.  The heroes manage to escape, after taking a beating and Batman leads them to the new Justice League headquarters, the old Hamilton Hill High School.  The Watchtower had been attacked and most of the members killed.  Old Bruce enters at that moment to keep everyone from dwelling on the bad; they’ve got a mission to attend to.  Bruce faces his younger counterpart and comments “surprised to see me?”  “A little,” original Batman remarks, though he’s more surprised to see he lived that long. Terry quips “Batman, Bruce Wayne, Bruce Wayne, Batman…or, have you met?”  They deliver “not now!” at the same time, so he gripes “what did they use to call it, stereo?”

The main issue is that the time line is becoming polluted, as original Batman notes, and Bruce responds that history is becoming fluid.  This needs to be stopped.  Batman writes a program to put an end to Chronos’s time travel belt; now they just have to find him.  Terry tries to warn Batman he doesn’t know the new town.  “Are criminals superstitious and cowardly [and we laugh because of the musical!]?”  “Yup,” Bruce responds.  They catch one of the gang and original Batman’s method of interrogation is to hang him over a building and tell him to talk before his arm gets tired.  Bruce hauls the criminal away and growls he can’t believe he was ever that green…his cane is a bit menacing in his hand, but he succeeds.  They can get to Chronos through his wife.  

There is a final showdown between the League and the Jokerz while time itself unravels.  Dee Dee pins Terry and electrocutes him.  We hear his cries of pain, then Bruce at the school shouts “Terry!”  Then silence.  But Green Lantern and Batman follow Chronos who wants to see the beginning of time and put a stop to the madness.  They end up back at the Watchtower from when everything started; the only ones to remember the events (and putting everything back in order).

Justice League Unlimited also brought us Epilogue.  We’re even farther in the future; Terry has bulked up and sneaks into Amanda Waller’s residence for some answers.  Apparently, Bruce needed a new kidney and Terry was found to be a perfect match.  The odds of that are suspicious, so he does a DNA test and discovers his DNA matches that of Bruce, not Warren McGinnis.  There is a scene where Terry confronts Bruce about it and also where he breaks things off with Dana, but these turn out to be just a dream.  Terry is mad at Bruce, thinking he meddled, but Amanda admits it was her doing; Project Batman Beyond.  She used project Cadmus (which, the Joker used on young Tim Drake in the flashback of Return of the Joker; Terry admits it was as low blow when he accused Bruce of it) and Batman’s DNA from crime scenes; then she overwrote Warren McGinnis’s reproductive DNA to that of Bruce and so when he and Mary had a son, Terry, he was in fact, Bruce’s son.  (This was a way to explain how both Matt and Terry have dark hair while their parents have ginger hair; Warren and Mary were selected since they had similar psychological profiles to Bruce’s parents.)  Amanda originally had planned that Warren and Mary would be killed while Terry was a child to mimic the tragedy Bruce underwent to become Batman, but the assassin backed out, arguing it was not what Batman would want.  So life continued unassuming until Paxton Powers had Warren McGinnis murdered and Terry met Bruce as a sixteen-year-old.  She urges Terry not to make the same mistakes as Bruce and points out that he is Bruce’s son, not his clone.  He doesn’t have quite the brilliant mind that Bruce does, but his heart is just as big, if not bigger. 

The episode ends up Terry contemplating an engagement ring for Dana, then helping Bruce out with his meds and vowing to continue to be Batman.  Bruce urges the younger man to eat something before attending to League duties.  Terry quips he’s stubborn, like his old man.

First, my thoughts on Return of the Joker; I think it’s a great continuation of the Batman Beyond story and a reasonable way to bring back Batman’s greatest enemy.  Because who would have ever expected that the Joker was hiding in Robin?  And the showdown between Terry as Batman and the Joker is great.  Terry is a different Batman and he doesn’t have a history with the Joker.  I wouldn’t say he’s not emotionally involved in the fight, because this man did harm his mentor (I’m sure running down to find Bruce gave Terry flashbacks to finding his father).  Terry also shows that he’s not a brash teenager any longer; when Bruce doesn’t want to talk about something, he does back off, same with Barbara.  But he is correct that he deserves answers.  Also, Bruce doesn’t waste time telling Terry off for suspecting Tim; Bruce trusts Terry’s skills.  And he tries to help during the showdown with the Joker, giving Terry advice.  And I think it’s a bit sweet that Barbara fills in for Bruce after the Joker’s laughing gas attack.

And the irony of Mark Hamill aka Luke Skywalker voicing the Joker will never not be funny (and it will always be funnier that he voiced Fire Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender)

As for the Justice League episodes; Epilogue at least gives us a proper ending to the series (as does Return of the Joker; Unmasked was pathetic and lame).  And I agree that it gives us a reasonable explanation to the family non-resemblance Terry has with his parents.  On the one hand, it’s sweet that Bruce has a biological son, though in the lore, he adopted Tim Drake (apparently Dick Grayson was a ward, which had some standing; I reiterate, Batman lore is not my strong suit, I just like this show).  Terry will continue his legacy not just as Batman, but potentially as a Wayne (he’d have to find some way to explain that to the public pending circumstances).  And as Amanda points out, Terry is Bruce’s son, not a clone.  He is not Bruce Wayne, he’s still just Terry.  His decisions were his own.  On the other hand, there is a more compelling story of Terry being Batman with no blood connection to Bruce.  I’m glad the episode ended well nevertheless.

As for Once and Future Thing, Terry is hilarious at times.  I’m a bit sad to realize he was essentially killed at one point, though relieved that it was erased.  It’s a satisfactory story, though I mainly watch it for the “Batman meet Bruce Wayne” bit.

This was one series I explored fanfiction early on.  I have several recommendations that I repeatedly re-read:

Katfairy has “Beyond Knightfall” where Terry lands is a spot of trouble and his friends have to help him out (though I wish it would be completed), and “Divine Secrets of the YoYo Sisterhood.”  It has a good mix of drama and humor.

“Virus” by ChampagneWishes could be another episode in the show.

Bumpkin has some good little scenes in “Welcome to My World,” “An ‘Inside Peek’ into Mary’s Mind,” and “Nelson’s Wake Up Call.”

Tomy’s “Reparation” is excellent and “Reclamation” is good as well.

Jadeling has a whole series of stories, most especially “Lover, Friends, and Family.”

And if you want a hilarious crossover joke, try “Ron Beyond” by speedster.

Next Time: Batman Forever and Batman and Robin with Chris O’Donnell.

“Anything broken?” “If I said yes, could I go home?” “No.”

Season Three

The Royal Flush Gang is back in King’s Ransom, minus Ten.  And King gets angry if you mention her.  Turns out he’s working with Paxton Powers; well, more like Paxton’s assistant.  King is having an affair from his Queen.  She’s not happy with the state of the family, things are not like when her father was in charge.  King tries holding Paxton for ransom, but Bruce won’t deal.  If King has a problem, Paxton wrote the policy.  Though Bruce is now able to nail Paxton on some crimes (and Barbara has a snarky comeback when Paxton protests being arrested; he’d never try to kill Bruce, he was like a father to him.  Well, Bruce doesn’t glow in the dark like Paxton’s real father).  And when Queen finds out about the affair, she goes after her husband.  King protests to Batman, “do you have any idea what it’s like living in someone’s shadow?!”  (Yes, he does.)  On a happier note, Melanie stays out of the criminal activity and even pays Jack’s bail so he can have a fresh start.

There is a thief running around Gotham, stealing isotopes and wearing a force field, making him Untouchable.  Bruce and Terry investigate the force field and discover that Wayne Enterprises is funding its’ research to be used for patients with weak immune systems.  Terry befriends one of the female teenaged patients (and Bruce makes a crack that women used to throw themselves at his feet; he simply stepped over them).  She does help discover that one of the doctors is behind the thefts.  While Bruce is away in Inqueling, Terry has to face Inque by himself; he refuses to risk Bruce again, after the last encounter brough out the dangerous Bat Armor.  Dana is not as upset about Terry missing their date; she’s figured out that Bruce is a father figure to Terry.  Terry admits to Max that his girlfriend may not be so far off.  Inque is in trouble and needs to lay low; she finds her daughter and convinces her to steal the appropriate mutagen.  But after only sending money her entire life, the daughter betrays her mother for her large bank account.  Batman is not convinced that Inque is truly gone at the end.

An old friend of Terry’s returns; Charlie Big Time Bigelow.  He was the one who took Terry on a heist when Terry was fourteen and Charlie was eighteen.  It was when Terry’s parents were divorcing and he was being an angry kid with Charlie.  Terry didn’t realize what was going on until it happened.  Terry got three months in Juvie, Charlie got three years in jail.  Now he’s out and wants Terry’s help.  Terry refuses; he has a life now, a job.  However, he still feels guilty and tries to get Charlie a job at Wayne Enterprises.  Bruce figures out that Charlie is trying to get in with another crew and is using his connection.  Terry goes after Charlie; Batman is waiting at the next break in.  Charlie is exposed to cerestone, a growth hormone.  He becomes large and disfigured and goes after the crew.  Batman is involved in the fight and takes down Charlie.

Bruce starts to feel his age in Out of the Past.  Terry treats him to the Batman musical for his birthday; Bruce does not find it amusing.  [Though, the music and lyrics are very good, even using “I am vengeance, I am the night, I am Batman.”  And criminals are a “superstitious and cowardly lot.”]  he reminisces about his past relationships and Talia al ’Ghul steps out of the shadow.  Terry even knows who she is; he’s actually done research on the Bat computer.  She’s offering Bruce a trip to the Lazarus Pits for eternal youth.  Bruce takes it when Batman has to save him and a young woman from an accident.  The process works and Terry enjoys working out with a more youthful Bruce.  But Bruce feels like it’s a cheat, so they plan to leave.  The guards won’t let them, so the two kick butt together (and the Animated Series theme plays for a minute).  And Talia is actually Ra’s al Ghul; he used his own daughter to continue to cheat death.  His ultimate plan is to transfer his consciousness into Bruce, now younger and stronger, and return to Gotham to take over the company as Bruce’s long-lost son of Talia’s.  Batman to the rescue!  The pits are ultimately destroyed and Bruce bids farewell to his beloved.

There is a gorilla on the loose in Speak No Evil.  The local university used human DNA to give the gorilla human intelligence.  Now he’s after James van Dyle; he appears to be a conservationist but is actually a poacher and captured the gorilla and his mother years ago.  Batman helps the gorilla and investigates, but he’s captured.  The gorilla helps get him out of a tiger’s cage and the commissioner is there to arrest van Dyle.  Bruce and Terry release the gorilla back into the wild so he can scare away poachers.

Superman shows up in The Call, a two-part episode.  The Justice League tower in Metropolis is facing danger, superheroes are being put out of commission.  Superman comes to Gotham to ask Terry to help the Justice League.  The other members are not happy about young Batman joining them and they don’t trust him.  Batman does his research and even rescues Aquagirl when she’s in danger.  Superman feels there is a traitor in the League and right now, he only trusts Terry.  Metropolis is under multiple attacks and the League is spread thin.  Warhawk receives a distress signal and Batman follows him because no one else heard it.  Warhawk is apparently killed in an explosion and when Bruce investigates the footage, it looks like Superman is responsible.  Bruce has kept kryptonite on hand, in case Superman ever went rogue again.  His directive to Terry is “do whatever it takes, but make sure you stop him.”  However, turns out that Warhawk is alive; he suspected something when he was the only one to receive the distress call and now trusts Batman when he suspects Superman.  When they go to confront Superman, he is being controlled by an alien starfish.  He escapes, but Bruce knows where the Fortress of Solitude is located.  There, the League finds a zoo of alien creatures.  Batman uses kryptonite to stop Superman and Aquagirl is able to read the starfish’s mind to discover that the starfish was kidnapped from its’ home world.  Superman eventually freed him, but kept him locked up again.  Now the starfish wants freedom and to take over the world, so he’s using Superman.  Superman and the starfish wake up and take control of the League, except Batman.  Now Batman has to fight several other superheroes in order to save the world (just another day in the life, huh).  Superman goes after Batman and eventually an electric shock brings Superman back.  They work together to free the League and to stop the starfish’s friends from escaping.  Superman almost traps Batman (“he knew what he was getting into” Superman tells another hero when they protest Batman is still underwater), but Batman flies up at the last second.  They send the starfish home and Batman is offered a full-time position with the League.  Old Batman was only ever part-time.  Then they have something in common, Terry remarks.  Superman muses, more than you think.

Big Time is back in Betrayal and Bruce has to warn Terry against going after Charlie again.  Leave it for the police.  But Terry won’t back down.  He ends up kidnapped by Charlie (Max picks up the backpack with the suit and Bruce calls her to warn her against putting it on…the old man knows everything).  Charlie wants Terry to join the new operation as his loyal companion.  Terry refuses, which makes Charlie angry.  Terry escapes and Charlie chases.  When he catches his old friend, Charlie says he can’t kill Terry due to their friendship.  Terry convinces Charlie to go to the police; yes, he’ll go to jail, but while there, Terry will have Bruce’s company search for a cure to the cerestone.  When the police arrest the gang, Charlie runs.  Terry is only slightly surprised, but now he’s angry.  Charlie lied to him; he never had any intention of going good.  He used it as a way to get the leaders out of the way and now he’ll take over the gang.  Bruce drives by and throws the bookbag to Terry.  Batman appears a minute later to save Bruce and take on Charlie.  Bruce once again warns Terry against facing an old friend.  Charlie ultimately falls off the bridge during the fight and Terry claims he outgrew him.

Terry faces the Kobra cult in the two-part Curse of the Kobra.  They start by stealing a thermal bomb and Batman can’t face off against all of them.  Instead of berating Terry, Bruce sends him to an old martial arts teacher to fine-tune his technique.  There, Terry makes friends with Zander.  He even introduces Zander to Max when they go to get a slice of pizza (“who’s bad, who’s rad, who’s never been had,” she cheers when she beats Zander at a video game).  But Zander is being groomed for something else and can’t socialize with his new friends.  Turns out, Zander is the leader of Kobra and they have something big planned.  Then he kidnaps Max (who immediately calls Bruce and Bruce immediately sends Batman to her house when they hear her scream).  Batman ends up with a minor concussion and four cracked ribs after trying to go after Max and Zander.  Bruce warns him that it will hurt to move and breathing won’t be fun.  He helps with the investigation since Terry is in no condition and blaming himself is not productive.  When Bruce finds the hideout, Terry immediately suits up: “I’ll breathe on the weekend.”  “It’s a toxic waste dump,” he tells Bruce when he arrives.  “Or so they say.  Can you think of a better way to make people want to avoid the place?”  “Call it a high school?” Terry quips.  Max meanwhile attempts her own escape (after being changed out of her clothes into something that is almost slave-Leia inspired).  She’s stopped by a dino-man, the result of a Kobra lackey breathing in green gas.  Zander’s master plan is to use the thermal bomb to heat the Earth up so only he and his men will survive and thus they’ll rule the world [not the brightest plan], and he’s chose Max as his companion.  He likes that she’s different, though to make her subservient, he does order her to be gassed.  Batman goes in (sore) to rescue Max and receives a bit of help from a ninja in the shadows.  After Zander breathes in the gas to go through the transformation, their teacher (the ninja) appears to take him down.  She buys Batman and Max time to escape.

At a science symposium in Countdown, Mad Stan interrupts to “blow it all up!”  He comes across a man in distress afterwards and rescues him from federal agents.  The man is actually a synthoid; Zeta is back [tying in to the new show that was developed].  Mad Stan figures it’s the feds out to get him so he arms Zeta with a secret bomb and releases him.  Batman discovers the plot and now has to go after Zeta. He tries to get the feds to help him, but they are only concerned about getting Zeta back, not the innocent people that could be hurt or killed.  Batman of course finds the bomb in time, but they’re surrounded by the feds.  Zeta pretends to be Batman so he can escape and Terry gets out as himself in disguise.  [Not a terribly exciting episode.  Nor is the final episode.]  Unmasked relates a mission Terry had when he was first becoming Batman when he showed a young kid his face in order to rescue him.  Kobra found out and kidnapped the kid so they can find out who Batman is.  Terry lucked out and the kid remembered his face as a famous action figure.  Terry uses the tale as a caution to Max for making jokes about Batman in Terry’s place. 

If the final episode feels like a letdown, never fear; Terry McGinnis shows up as Batman in a follow-up movie Return of the Joker and several episodes of Justice League Unlimited.  What I really appreciated about this season is Bruce showing obvious care and concern about Terry.  I do so love when a crochety character shows tenderness to a select group of important people.  Bruce may be learning from his past mistake of shoving people away.  Overall, the episodes are not as interesting as season two, but Out of the Past was fairly interesting, giving Bruce a little bit of the limelight again. Charlie Bigelow as a villain after being a friend to younger Terry is a good twist; Max remarks in his second appearance that Charlie was always a monster, just now his outside matches his inside and Dana never trusted the guy. It highlights Terry’s growth as a person. As he remarks when Charlie first approaches him, he has a life now.

Next Time:  Return of the Joker and the other episodes featuring the new Batman.

“Where were you?” “Oh, just out saving the world.”

Batman Beyond: Season Two

Season Two opens with introducing a friend of Terry’s, Maxine Gibson (voiced by Cree Summer, who has provided voices for hundreds of shows and games, including Susie Carmichael in Rugrats and All Grown Up, Valerie Grey in Danny Phantom, and Princess Kida in Disney’s Atlantis movies).  In Splicers, Terry faces off against Dr. Cuvier, who leads the splicing movement in Gotham; splicing animal DNA in humans.  DA Young stands against the movement, understanding its dangers.  Even Terry agrees with him, though his friends are piqued by the teen craze.  When Batman investigates the Chimera Institute (Reborn to be Wild), he’s electrocuted and captured.  Cuvier injects bat DNA into Batman, but Batman escapes, in time to help stop an attack against Sam Young.  Barb has to stop Batman from killing one of the henchmen (even calling him Terry in the process); the invading DNA is starting to take over.  Barb calls Bruce to warn him and Terry steps out of the shadow; he’s now half man, half bat.  He attacks Bruce, but the old man is a few steps ahead and already has a mutagen antidote ready.  Terry is cured and takes Ace to help him track down Cuvier “you find, me stop.”  Cuvier spends part of the fight as “a true Chimera,” injecting himself with multiple animals’ DNA.  Then Batman overloads him and he gets real creepy.  Ace leaps to Batman’s rescue and Batman returns the favor “don’t touch my dog.”  The factory ends up going up in flames and Barb speaks to Terry afterwards; he can’t live a life of narrow escapes.  It’s a thankless existence with few rewards.  To Terry, the small rewards are the best, like now being friends with Ace.

Earth Mover is a bit creepy.  Terry is studying with a classmate, Jackie, and they feel something watching them.  Terry chases after a blob, which throws him around a bit (and he gets right back up), but it disintegrates into dirt.  Later, there is an earthquake at a field where Terry is with Dana, Jackie, and her stepfather.  Radioactive goo spills out and they all run.  Batman swings in to the rescue.  The truth comes out that Jackie’s birth father worked for Bill, until there was an accident illegally dumping chemical waste.  Tony was believed dead and Bill adopted Jackie.  Turns out Tony’s DNA was scrambled with the earth thanks to the waste and he’s now trying to contact Jackie and get revenge on Bill.  Batman helps saves the pair and Tony finally dies.  (Terry does have to point out to Bruce that ten years ago, when some of this went on, he was only seven so no, he didn’t read the news.)

A few Jokerz find a new government vehicle abandoned (because it was going to overheat) and take it for a Joyride.  They terrorize Gotham with it and Batman has to work with the woman who developed it to get it shut down before the nuclear core blows.  Of course, Batman saves the day and another teen realizes he does not want to join the Jokerz.  Lost Soul is also a bit creepy; a businessman from the past who had his mind stored in a computer decides that when he’s woken up he’s going to take over his grandson’s body.  He manages to take control of the Batsuit and attempts to drown Terry before Bruce uses the kill switch.  The suit escapes the Batcave and Terry decides he’s going after it.  Bruce tries to stop him; that suit is very powerful and just punched through a stone wall.  Terry brings up “is Batman just the suit, or the man inside?”  Bruce gives Terry one of his old utility belts and Terry uses Nightwing’s mask.  The actual suits won’t do much good since they have bullet holes and cuts in them.  Using his wits and gymnastic moves he already possesses, Terry faces off against the controlled suit and runs a spike plugged into a magnet to shut it down.  At the end, Terry says he’ll be glad for a few nights off for Bruce to reprogram the suit.  Bruce quips, it’s the suit that’s out of commission, not Batman.

Max is running a program in Hidden Agenda to discover Batman’s true identity; she’s brilliant and bored.  Terry is fearful that she’ll find out his secret, but first he has to protect her from a band of Jokerz out to hurt her.  They’re led by a classmate angry that Max beat his test score.  For a while, Max believes Terry is one of the Jokerz, but quickly realizes the truth.  She’s eager to help Batman, going after the female Joker when Batman tells her to run.  “Not what I meant,” he quips.  Max points out to Terry at the end that her knowing his secret can be good; she can cover for him with Dana when he as to cancel dates.

Batman gains a Stalker in Blood Sport.  Stalker is a poacher who is now hunting Batman as the ultimate prey.  He bears a scar down his back from an encounter with a panther; the scar now gives him enhanced strength and other abilities.  Stalker also believes that the bat spirit is an ageless soul that inhabits the strongest warrior in each generation.  Terry doesn’t realize he’s been marked after his first encounter with Stalker and ends up leading the man to his younger brother while he’s babysitting.  So Batman swoops in to rescue Matt (which Matt finds thrilling).  Matt even quips to his brother that Batman is super cool, unlike Terry.  To which Terry responds, “we can’t all be Batman.”  Ten is back in Once Burned, stealing from a high-stakes poker game to pay the Jokerz ransom to get her family back.  Turns out, it was all a test by her family to prove her loyalty.  Melanie stays with Terry while she’s in Gotham and really wants to get back together with him.  But she goes on the run after breaking with her family and Terry decides to not read the note she left with Batman for him.

Max pressures Terry to let her help Batman in Hooked Up.  He ends up agreeing when clues from comatose runaways lead to the Virtual Reality gaming room.  Max is approached, but Terry is hesitant and suspicious.  She goes without him and comes under the thrall of Spellbinder, who is using virtual reality to give people their dreams, in exchange for money.  They steal when they run out and when they get too much of their dreams, it puts them in a coma state.  Max likes the dream world because she’s alone at home and in the dream, her family surrounds her.  She does ultimately help take out Spellbinder, but she’s beginning to learn what Batman’s world is really like. 

Rats is another creepy episode (this season has several).  As you can guess, rats feature heavily in the episode.  Dana is mad at Terry for breaking another date, but decides to give him another chance when she finds a white rose.  However, Terry ends up late for the date anyway (keeping Mad Stan from blowing everything up).  And when Dana goes to leave before he arrives, she finds another rose, then is chased by large rats.  She wakes up in an underground lair of Patrick, the rat boy.  He collects unwanted things and has been spying on Dana, realizing that Terry’s been letting her down, so he’s brought her to him.  She plays along to get Patrick to leave, then attempts to escape on her own (you go girl!).  She gets away for a while, but ends up lost and stuck; Patrick finds her.  Batman is also searching desperately for Dana when her father reveals to Terry that Dana never came home.  He discovers the giant rats at their meeting place and follows them back to Patrick.  While Batman fights Patrick, who has decided that Dana needs to die since she won’t stay with him and teases him like others have (he’s done this before…you might not want to think about that), Dana fights off the rats and starts a fire.  Gotham’s underground seems riddled with chemical waste and a pool of it explodes while Batman flies Dana to safety.  It’s Terry who meets her above ground and she has him take her home.

A psychic girl, Tamara, contacts Batman to save her in Mind Games.  The Brain Trust told her parents she was going to a gifted school, but when they try to contact them, they get nothing.  With Tamara’s help, Batman is able to track them down and rescue the little girl.  Max pops up in the episode, helping Terry study while on patrol (all presidents are boring, according to Terry), and accompanying him to a swanky hotel to find the girl.  There is a supposed ghost haunting Hamilton Hill High in Revenant.  Strange accidents have been happening around school, so a few girls hold a séance to contact the ghost (at home, Matt wants to hold one to contact his father).  Nelson interrupts them and the “ghost” attacks.  Batman has to begrudgingly save Nelson.  But Bruce doesn’t believe it’s an actual ghost; not because he doesn’t believe in ghosts.  He’s seen actual magic, but this stunt seems “so high school.”  Terry puts together some of the clues and visits Willie Watt in Juvie.  Willie has retained his powers and is responsible.  He escapes and goes after Nelson, then fights Batman.  Willie is locked up again and cannot access his powers.  At home, Terry reminds Matt of the good memories they have of their father.

When animals start going nuts in Babel, Bruce and Terry realize that Shriek is back.  And Shriek plans to use sound to his advantage and terrorize Gotham; he’ll drive them all mad unless Batman hands himself over at midnight.  Barbara tells him “you’re out of your mind” on the phone; Shriek answers “duh.”  Barbara calls Bruce and he is the first to offer himself up as Batman.  But he’s not the Batman people know now.  And Bruce won’t hand Terry over so easily; while he may trust Barbara, he doesn’t trust the others around her.  “That kid’s done a lot for the city; it’s time for the city to do something for him.”  Max cautions Terry that he has friends and family that would miss him if he handed himself over.  And the public isn’t going to do anything to protect their vigilante hero.  But Terry still shows up at the Batcave in his suit; it’s not his first plan to just hand himself over, but he also remembers why he became Batman.  And he figures out where Shriek is hiding.  They fight and Shriek is buried in a pile of rubble.  Back in the cave, Bruce thanks Terry for reminding him why he started his crusade.  This is one of my favorite episodes because it’s about Terry as a person, not in the suit.  He has to decide that he’s the kind of guy to put others ahead of himself.  And I love Bruce standing up for him.

Terry’s Friend Dates a Robot is exactly what it says on the tin.  Terry’s friend Howard is trying to be popular.  When he accompanies Terry on an errand to a synthoid factory for Bruce (he has Terry run simulations against the classic villains as training), he discovers a man running a side-gig, hooking men up with…let’s say female companions.  Howard orders himself a hot and loyal girlfriend.  And it works to get people to come to his party.  But “Cynthia” attacks Nelson when he makes fun of Howard.  And she tries to go after Chelsea when she flirts with Howard; Terry manages to stop that.  And at the party, when Howard tries to hook up with Chelsea, Cynthia goes berserk.  Max buys some time for Batman to swoop in; and Howard does nothing to help when he utters “can we still be friends?”  As Batman points out, that is never the right thing to say.  Cynthia self-destructs and Howard now has to deal with irate parents.

While Barbara won’t hand Batman over to Shriek, she will believe that he killed Mad Stan in Eyewitness.  To be fair, it’s not entirely her fault.  Spellbinder is behind it; and Batman interrupted an undercover sting.  But Terry has to go on the run for a while after he finds cops at his home asking to see him.  Bruce luckily believes him and works to clear up the video recording of the last fight between Batman and Mad Stan.  Barbara reminds Bruce that Terry has a record; he knows.  Terry spent three month is juvie, but Bruce argues, the teen is still learning.  And if Barbara takes Batman in and reveals Terry’s secret, she reveals a lot of other secrets too.  Bruce is able to give Terry the clue to reveal Spellbinder.  Barbara makes it up to Terry by giving him a student award to cover for the police looking for him.

Curaré is back in Final Cut.  She’s taking out the rest of the Society of Assassins.  The last member comes to Batman for protection (voiced by Tim Curry, a most excellent Cardinal Richelieu in Three Musketeers with Chris O’Donnell [who plays Robin in Batman Forever and Batman and Robin]).  He’s planted a bomb in Gotham that will go off if he doesn’t input a code every twelve hours.  Batman needs to stop Curaré, or a lot more people will die.  Max again tries to help Batman, but Terry warns her off.  She doesn’t listen and is almost killed by Curaré.  Batman saves her (and warns her not to call him “Terry”) and the assassin dies.  Now it’s a race to find the bomb and disarm it.  And fight off Curaré.  The latter task is Batman’s and Max has to deal with the bomb.

Dr. Wheeler has set up a ranch for troubled teens in The Last Resort.  But his methods aren’t the best.  Busloads of kids are being sent to the ranch for minor things, apparently due to a new parental liability law.  Luckily, Terry is not sent, but Batman investigates because what kind of ranch would take his friend Chelsea alongside a legitimate threat like Sean Miller.  Wheeler’s methods run alongside those use to brainwash prisoners of war; and he’s using it on kids.  Terry heads in as himself to speak to Chelsea; he has to sneak past the guards to get the truth and ends up running into Sean Miller.  Wheeler catches him and throws him in a cell.  If no one comes looking for him, he’s to be terminated.  Terry works with Sean to escape and Batman swoops in to finish the job.  The kids run free and Batman has to stop Sean from killing Wheeler.

Terry’s friend Jared shows up again in Armoury.  His stepfather throws him a lavish birthday party, then ends up laid off.  As a weapons’ developer, his skills are just not called for now and he struggles to find a new job.  An old buddy suggests some illegal methods and the man takes them so he can maintain appearances.  That means stealing from Wayne-Powers and Batman gets involved.  Jared figures out the truth of what his stepfather is doing and the partner is not happy.  Batman shows up and the partner tries to kill him, but the stepfather saves him.

Batman’s identity is almost revealed in Sneak Peek.  A nosy journalist, Ian Peek, has found a way to get exclusive dirt on celebrities.  Turns out, he has a belt that allows him to go intangible and sneak through walls.  When Ian gets in a spot of trouble, he finds the Batmobile and sneaks a recorder inside.  He captures an image of Terry unmasking in the Batcave and Bruce alongside him.  He plans to reveal the exclusive on television.  Terry attempts to tell his mother, but she laughs him off.  He goes as Batman to Ian to persuade him to not reveal Bruce; he’s done too much good for the city.  Ian is his usual reporter self.  Batman flies away.  Then Ian needs Bruce’s help; he can’t control the intangibility, he needs Bruce’s company to save him; after all, the original scientist worked for him.  Oh yeah, he killed the scientist.  Bruce isn’t happy and walks away.  Ian attacks and luckily, Batman is nearby.  When he begins to sink through the floor, Batman tries to save him, but gravity is the only thing that works on him now.

Eggbaby actually won an Emmy award for the show and it is a fairly funny episode.  It’s a classic family studies episode, which Terry is failing.  So he has to take care of a baby simulator, an egg.  While being Batman and facing Ma Mayhem and her boys from stealing rubies.  Bruce is not happy that Terry takes the egg on patrol (for a second he thinks there is an actual baby and does Terry have something he needs to tell Bruce?), but he also won’t watch the egg.  Through various mishaps, Terry has to get the egg back.  And all the excitement is apparently good for his grade because he’s the only one to pass since he gave it positive stimulation.

There’s a synthoid on the loose in Zeta (which ended up being the backdoor opener to a new series that no, I did not watch).  It first masquerades as a teacher at Hamilton High, then the feds show up and start shooting (not the smartest of ideas).  Zeta was a deep cover operator for the NSA, whose purpose was to infiltrate, interrogate, and dispose of terrorists.  Now it’s gone off target.  Max gets involved and Batman goes to save her.  Turns out, Zeta doesn’t want to kill anymore.  Max persuades Batman to help and when Zeta resists killing an NSA agent, he does help Zeta disappear.  The NSA shows up in the next episode, Plague, when they’ve hired Stalker to track down False Face, who is helping the terrorist organization Kobra spread a super virus through Gotham on credit cards.  Batman and Stalker have to work together and their styles do not wholly mix.  They stop the virus, but False Face gets away.

Batman faces a gang of thieves who have metal accessories in their bodies in April Moon, thanks to a specialized doctor.  He gave the gang their powers hoping to save his kidnapped wife.  When Batman does further investigating, it turns out that she was in on the operation, which breaks the doctor’s heart.  Batman is able to defeat the gang, though the leader escapes.  He goes to the doctor at the end of the episode, not knowing that the doctor knows the truth now (that can only spell bad things).  Luckily, the next episode is a bit funnier, and a bit of a spoof on Star WarsSentries of the Last Cosmos is an elaborate series of video games.  One of Terry’s friends excels at the game and is invited to the home of its creator.  Who believes the story he has spun, that he is a Wise One and uses the kids on sentries to destroy his enemies, like the Dark Regent is on Earth.  They attack a hall of records and Batman investigates afterwards (dissing Jar Jar at the same time).  Batman is able to reach “the Dark Regent” first, who is actually the original writer of the game series, the other man was the producer, but wanted more of the profits, so he cut the writer out.  His charade falls apart and the kids leave him.  They turn up on the writer’s doorstep and ask their questions.  “It began a long time ago, in a cosmos far from Earth…”

There is a masked man attacking people who disrespect kids in Gotham, named Payback.  Bruce figures out the connection between the kids; they all attend youth counseling.  Terry goes in and has a convincing story about being overworked and underappreciated by his boss.  Batman goes after the wrong man first and gets in an argument with Bruce (proving his point).  We do get this exchange (this episode has some of my favorite quotes from the show):

“Ow!”  “Why weren’t you watching your back?”  “I was too busy watching my front.  Am I supposed to have eyes everywhere?”  “Only if you want to live to a ripe old age.”  “You don’t make it sound too inviting.” 

They attend a fancy dinner and Payback attacks…as planned.  Payback goes after Bruce. 

“You’re a mean old man, you know that?”  “Mm-hmm.  And what are you?”  “Your worst nightmare!”  “You have no idea what my nightmares are like.” 

Of course, Batman saves Bruce and Payback is revealed to be the counselor’s son, hoping that taking out the kids’ problems would allow his father more time to spend with him.

Terry leaves a date with Dana, Max, and Howard, then ends up following a guy in the subway.  The next day, he’s not at school and Bruce can’t hail him.  Max decides to help Bruce find Where’s Terry?  Batman wakes up in rubble.  There’s a runaway kid there who wants Batman out of his domain.  He’ll lead him topside.  Batman thought he recognized someone.  He did; Shriek is behind it.  But the tunnels make aiming bad for him.  Batman sends the kid on for help, but Shriek strikes again, releasing the river into the tunnels.  Batman can now escape and goes to help the kid.  Meanwhile, Bruce and Max track down Terry’s backpack and Bruce uses Max as a decoy so he can find Terry.  A well-aimed strike with his can puts Shriek out of commission and the kid decides to run back home.  Luckily for Terry, his mother doesn’t suspect anything; she just now thinks that he makes his bed in the morning.

We discover Ace’s background in Ace in the Hole.  His previous owner had him in dog fights.  He managed to run away during a police raid and found Bruce while he was paying his respects to the spot his parents were murdered.  They save each other from a clown and Bruce takes Ace home.  Now the previous owner is back and Ace chases after him.  Batman searches and even goes undercover as Terry.  Ace finds the bandages with Terry’s scent and Batman discovers that the owner is making serostone growth hormones to use on the dogs.  Batman has to face one of the huge mutant dogs, but Ace breaks free in time to help him.  It’s a happy ending, with Bruce and Ace reunited.

I like the character development we see in this season.  Bruce genuinely cares for Terry, even if he is sarcastic about it.  He doesn’t want to see Terry hurt.  And Terry cares for Bruce.  When his mentor wears the powered Bat-armor, he’s fearful of the effect it will have on the elderly man.  This season also shows Terry coming into his own as Batman.  He doesn’t always need the suit and he’s developing his own deductive sense.  Though, could the bad guys please stop electrocuting Batman?  That’s got to have some consequences for Terry down the road.

Next Time: Season Three

“I’m Batman now”

Batman Beyond

I’m not entirely sure how my brother and I stumbled onto this cartoon aside from it was on when we came home from school.  It was also my first foray into the superhero world.  I of course knew basics about the major superheroes; I knew Batman, Superman, and Spider-man existed, but I never read comic books, I never played video games.  This is essentially a continuation of Batman: The Animated Series, but I had never watched it.  The stories though are what kept me coming back.  It does feature Kevin Conroy, who has voiced Batman in any number of shows, as Bruce Wayne.  And Will Friedle (Eric in Boy Meets World; he’d later go on to voice Ron Stoppable in Kim Possible) headlines as Terry McGinnis.

The first episode is a two-parter, entitled Rebirth and gives us the back story.  Batman is breaking up a kidnapping, but he now has heart issues, so when he strains too much, he ends up breaking his one rule and picks up a gun to scare off a crook.  He’s disgusted and retires.  Twenty years into the future (where cars fly now, but obviously written before our technological advances because there are no smartphones) Gotham is rank with crime.  Gangs modeled after the Joker roam the streets and cause problems.  We meet Terry McGinnis when he takes on one.  Wayne Enterprises is now paired with Powers, headed by Derek Powers, and we soon learn the merger was not for the best.  Terry’s father, Warren works for Wayne-Powers; his friend delivers him secret information then disappears.  Warren reads the information and realizes something horrible is going on at the company.  He and Terry argues over Terry’s temper and fights before Terry storms out to join his girlfriend Dana at a club.  Jokerz attack outside the club and Terry takes them on.  Before they can hurt too many in the crowd Terry takes a bike and leads the gang away.  He ends up on Wayne property and meets old Bruce.  Terry attempts to keep the gang away, but Bruce uses his cane to great effect.  But he’s overexerted himself, so Terry helps him back to the house and gets his medicine.  Before he can leave, he finds a bat stuck in a clock and discovers the Batcave.  Bruce chases him out.

Terry arrives home to find police there, and his mother.  His father is dead, police are blaming Jokerz (we noticed a henchman of Powers waiting outside [Mr. Fixx, voiced by George Takei, aka Mr. Sulu from the Original series]).  Terry finds the information tucked away and makes the same discovery as his father.  He goes to Mr. Wayne, yelling “something stinks in your company!”  When Bruce doesn’t respond, he shouts “you’re no Batman!”  The episode ends with the gate opening.  The second part of the episode reveals that Powers is using the company to make nerve gas to supply to a dictator.  Wayne reads the information and is furious, but sends Terry to Barbara Gordon, the new police commissioner.  Terry doesn’t trust the cops and ends up stealing the new suit to take care of business on his own, including finding out that Powers had his father killed.  Terry’s got the quips down (“just in time for fall”) and learns the suit quickly.  But Bruce is not happy with Terry and shuts down the suit.  Terry pleads for help and Bruce relents.  When the new Batman goes to break up the delivery of nerve gas, Powers is hit by a cannister.  Batman goes after the boat and Mr. Fixx, ending up sending the boat to the bottom of the harbor.  Powers is secretly treated, but it makes him radioactive and turns him into a more classic villain; he’s got the chuckle down.

Bruce visits Terry at his home the next day and offers Terry a job in front of his mother.  A part-time assistant is the official cover, but Bruce tells Terry he needs an ally.  “Welcome to my world,” he tells the young man when Terry agrees and they shake hands.

Black Out introduces Terry’s first villain, Inque; a woman who underwent genetic manipulation and can now slide through cracks and uses it to commit corporate crime.  Powers has hired her to attack Foxteca, a company with times to the old Wayne Enterprises, knocking out his competition for a government contract.  Powers is displeased with Batman interfering and sends Inque to kill him.  She hides in the Batmobile (which flies now) and makes it back to the Batcave, but Bruce is crazy prepared.  She does try to bring the cave down on them, but her new body dislikes being frozen by a freeze gun.  Bruce calls Barbara Gordon (voiced by Stockard Channing, Rizzo in Grease, and the aunt in Practical Magic [I like the concept of that movie, but it’s also a bit creepy]); his new errand boy is making a delivery.

Batman has to take on a giant lifting machine in Golem, controlled by a teenaged boy (a classmate of Terry’s) who is going after a bully at school.  As Terry tells Bruce, there’s a line of people that starts with him and wraps around the block, twice that has beef with Nelson Nash.  Unfortunately, an accident fries the controls of the Golem to Willie’s mind.  He’s ultimately caught and the machine is destroyed.  Willie keeps the powers.  Mr. Freeze [I know him more as played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 90’s Batman and Robin movie with George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell] returns in Meltdown.  A doctor tests a theory on him to give his head a new body; to see if it would work for Derek Powers.  Bruce doesn’t trust Freeze, but Terry thinks he’s not too bad.  When Freeze realizes the doctor and Powers mean to betray him, he tries to turn villain again.  He ultimately saves Batman by shooting Powers, now known as Blight.  The building collapses on Freeze.

Heroes brings new heroes to Gotham; accepted by the public and backed by the government (and as noted by fans, they’re very similar to Fantastic Four).  They’re the Terrific Trio and they will wage a war on crime in Gotham.  Terry’s younger brother Matt still thinks Batman is the coolest, so his big brother rewards him with ice cream.  However, one of the members of the trio, Magma is dejected; this is not how he had planned his life.  He discovers that their friend knew an accident would occur and didn’t stop them.  The Army has turned on them and Batman gets embroiled in their fight.  The Trio secretly escapes and Batman is still Gotham’s defender.

Batman’s second new villain shows up in Shriek.  A scientist is working for Powers to use sound as a mean of demolition.  Powers sends him to the old part of town to tear it down so he can turn a profit.  Bruce gets the board to stop him, but he’s almost killed by Shriek when he visits the old police station.  Batman saves him, but Bruce is admitted to the hospital.  And he starts hearing voices.  Powers is gleeful, but Batman breaks him out.  Terry tries his hand at investigating and confronts the sound scientist.  A batarang damages his suit and he ends up deaf.  Bruce explains to Terry he knew he wasn’t crazy because the voice called him “Bruce.”  He calls himself something different in his own head.  Terry drops his voice, “that’s my name now.”  “Tell that to my subconscious.”

The Royal Flush Gang returns in Dead Man’s Hand; they’re a family of crooks that steal from the rich.  When Terry briefly breaks up with Dana due to his limited social life, he hooks up with Melanie; who happens to be Ten from the gang.  Her father vows to get revenge on Batman for breaking up the gang.  Bruce and Terry also get into an argument and Terry doesn’t feel any better when Melanie breaks things off with him; her family is pressuring her to put the family first.  Terry traces the call to a hotel, to discover the trap that the gang left for him.  He connects Melanie and Ten and then has to fight the family when they return.  He ends up saving Ten, but has to watch as Terry while Melanie is led away.  Bruce starts to tell him the story of Selena Kyle.

The Winning Edge could be called the “drug” episode of the show (very popular in the 90s).  Terry falls asleep in class and his grades drop.  His mother starts to believe that he’s using the popular drug going around “slappers.”  She enforces a curfew, which cuts into his Batman patrolling.  Bruce wryly notes he knows how to handle archcriminals; mothers are another thing.  In the meantime, Terry discovers that one of his classmates is stealing and using the funds to purchase “slappers.”  They examine one and Bruce realizes the formula matches venom, used years ago by Bane.  Batman pays a visit to Bane to discover that the man is on life support due to using the drug.  When Batman traces the shipment, he also discovers that Bane’s doctor is the one behind the drug; he had to make it for Bane and decided to make a further profit.  Batman and the doctor fight, the doctor falling into a pile of the product and overdosing.  Terry tests clean, to his mother’s relief and a story comes out about the kids on the sports team using the drug, the coach implicated by turning a blind eye.

Another new villain pops up in Spellbound.  A man in a weird leotard uses an orb to hypnotize his victims and steal expensive items.  First, it’s a classmate of Terry’s.  Then a wealthy fashion collector.  Terry borrows a different suit, belong to “DG” to attend a wedding where the villain shows up to collect priceless jewels.  Batman rescues the bride, but ends up hypnotized.  Bruce is able to help him out of it by connecting to his vidlink.  At school, the psychologist decides to check in with Terry after the death of his father; and working for Bruce Wayne.  Bruce hears a break-in and finds out Terry was hypnotized again.  Bruce had made the deduction that all of Spellbinder’s victims had a connection to Ira Billings, the psychologist.  Batman heads out to stop Spellbinder and tries not to get caught in the visions of zombies.  Again, Bruce coaches him and Batman unmasks Ira.  At the arrest, Barbara Gordon begins to make the connection between the new Batman and Terry (Terry also comments to Bruce earlier “guess you’re the expert on troubled kids.  You collect them,” tying back to the animated series.

Inque is back in Disappearing Inque.  She’s been imprisoned on ice, but her caretaker starts to take things too far and is fired (he’s been a bit creepy, confiding in her and even kissing the ice).  The caretaker sabotages her containment and she escapes.  But the ice has damaged her genes further and she can’t shift back into a human.  So they break into a lab to mix a serum to fix that.  The caretaker wants to become like her as a reward.  Inque also plans revenge on Batman; she also wants the old guy she’s heard in the headset.  Young Batman does end up captured and Inque threatens to kill him.  In true hero fashion, Batman warns his mentor not to come.  Bruce goes anyway, clad in his exo-suit that gives him incredible strength, but puts too much strain on his heart.  Together, they do manage to defeat Inque (and you hear a bit of the animated series’ theme) and now the caretaker is the one locked up and has to listen to a woman tell him all her woes.

Barbara Gordon features in A Touch of Curaré.  Curaré is an assassin sent by a society to kill Sam Young, the District Attorney, and Barbara’s husband.  Batman helps stop her first attempt.  Afterwards, Barbara visits the Batcave, to Terry’s surprise.  He’s further surprised to realize she was Batgirl.  Barbara warns Bruce and Terry to stay out of police business.  Batman still keeps an eye on things and bundles a trap set for Curaré.  Barbara is waiting for Terry afterwards; she takes him to a diner to have a conversation.  She stayed with Bruce after Dick Grayson left (she was more than partners with Bruce at that point).  On the streets, Batgirl and Batman were great.  But to Bruce, there was nothing but the street.  So Barbara left.  She doesn’t hate Bruce, she just hates what he became; a great man all alone.  Bruce will keep protecting Barbara, though Terry warns him he doesn’t want to get on the wrong side of her; he respects her.  Bruce also warns Terry that Curare will be desperate now; assassins from the society who fail become the next target; they kill their own.  Batman does end up swooping in to save Barbara and Sam, and Barbara proves she can still use a batarang.  She comments to Batman is was like old times.  And just like old times, Batman vanishes.  The episode ends showing that Curaré managed to escape, but now someone else is after her with their own super sharp sword [that thing acts like a lightsaber, deflecting bullets, cutting through steel doors.]

Blight is back in Ascension; he’s burning through his skin that covers his radiation, not helped by his temper.  New arrangements must be made; so he calls in his son, Paxton (voiced in this episode by Cary Elwes; most famous as Westley in Princess Bride, Robin Hood in Men in Tights, and the evil uncle in Ella Enchanted, and I totally want to check out Castle for Christmas).  Paxton will be his front man, but Derek will retain the true power.  However, in a board meeting, Derek loses his temper and reveals himself as Blight.  He goes into hiding.  The Batsignal lights the sky again; Paxton is asking Batman’s help in finding his father, under the guise of helping him.  Bruce does warn Terry about sounding too vindictive going after Blight; the teen’s also not terribly sad that he may have inadvertently caused the accident that made Derek Powers into Blight.  The man had Terry’s father killed and hides from the law.  He taunts the man when he finds him aboard a nuclear sub.  “This is personal,” he declares.  You killed my father.  “Do you know how little that narrows it down?” Derek is flippant.  But Derek has a larger problem once Paxton steps out.  He taught his son the only way to get power is to seize it, and Paxton has no problem killing his father.  Batman tries to step in, let justice be served.  But Blight goes supernova and the sub begins sinking.  Paxton escapes and Batman carries some of the men he was just beating up to safety.  But Batman is not sure that Derek is truly gone.

I like the banter in the show and how they develop the relationship between Bruce and Terry.  And I am fine that this show is not all light and fluffy.  It’s not too dark, which a lot of Batman movies and such try to do.  Batman can get knocked down and it really is a team between Bruce and Terry.  The creators also commented that while some of the original villains make comebacks, they also wanted a new Rogues gallery for this Batman.  And yeah, as a teen, it was cool that Batman’s suit has jetboots and the Batmobile flies, and he’s a teen just like us who has to deal with school and homework.

Up Next: Season Two

A Wee Bit of Fandom

I promise, I have not dropped off the face of the Earth! Life is just…hectic, chaotic, all those words. I most certainly will continue with my blogs on Star Wars (I want to share some of my favorite Extended Universe [now termed Legends; we’ll get into that later] novels). Sadly, those will most likely come after the new year. I don’t know what it is these past few months, but free time has floated by. I’m sure it’s a trait of adulthood, that when a day off rolls around, it gets filled with errands and chores and everything else; it’s just getting annoying.

On a happy note, I did accomplish some writing that made me happy…nothing publishable because my brain still refuses to concentrate on that work. Nevertheless, the stories have made me happy and a few plotlines are still floating about in my head. Heavily influenced by re-watching Disney XD’s show Lab Rats. [If adults can like Spongebob (I hated that show when it was out and I still don’t get it), then I can like Lab Rats 🙂 ] The show featured three bionic siblings who saved the world on missions. Adam, the eldest, had super strength, Bree, the middle child, had super speed, and Chase, the youngest, had super intelligence. The show ran for three years, and there was a half season of a spin off Lab Rats: Elite Force which added characters from another show, Mighty Med. The show was just getting interesting when it was cancelled. Chase is my favorite character; I like smart guys, though he could be egotistical at times and could probably use a smack upside the head.

I just needed something fluffy to occupy the time after work and before I fall asleep. It works.

If you happen to be interested in Lab Rats fanfiction, I can recommend: “A Slow Poison and a Final Straw” by WolfenM on AO3 and a whole slew of works by MoonlightMystery13.3 over on Fanfiction.net. 88keys has some good stories as well and “Because Family Matters” by Scribbler123 is worth a read.

I do want to thank everyone who has continued reading these blogs! And I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween! (One of my favorite holidays; I love dressing up in costumes, but kindly keep your gore and horror far away from me. You’re lucky I managed to watch Supernatural.)

I promise, Empire Strikes Back is coming!

You’ve Become the Very Thing You Sought to Destroy

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Let me include a few thoughts about Clone Wars first.  While I have not watched the whole series (and not entirely sure if I want to due to some plot points I’m aware of), it does come up in fanfiction a lot.  I watched most of the traditional animated series when it came out, and it was weird.  So no, I did not want to watch the animated film that came out later and I objected to the idea that Anakin had a Padawan.  And, by the way, the film is still weird.  The series, once I gave it a chance, it better.  I learned to like Ashoka and was pleased with elements they included in parts of Rebels that I happened to catch.  I agree with some plot points that occur in the series (SPOILERS); I thought it was interesting to give Obi-Wan a possible love interest (and if you’ve read some of the Legends books, you know this isn’t the first time).  I adore his sassiness; because my favorite characters tend to be snarky, so much fun!  Anakin isn’t as whiny, huzzah.  We see clones in action and bond with certain ones (which comes to bite us in the butt later).  I was not fond of them bringing Maul back because, really!  Obi-Wan sliced the guy in half and he fell down a shaft [I could make a comment regarding the sequel movies here…apparently that does not mean death in the Star Wars universe…I also disagree with that; more of that rant later].  Can we be nice to Obi-Wan, please?  There are some plot lines that I understand needed to occur, but wish they hadn’t because we’d rather see our characters ultimately happy (after we whump them a bit)

I am interested in reading the Wild Space novel, which has been referenced in several stories (which will be listed at the end of the blog), but for now, on with the main event!

All the familiar faces are back: Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan, Natalie Portman as Padmé, Hayden Christensen as Anakin, Christopher Lee as Count Dooku, Samuel Jackson as Mace Windu.  Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Kenny Baker as R2-D2 are the only two actors to appear in all of the original and prequel movies; in fact, the characters appear in all nine films, plus Rogues One, as well as two of the cartoon series, Clone Wars and Rebels.  A fun note about the title of this episode; originally, Episode VI was supposed to be Revenge of the Jedi, but George Lucas decided that revenge was not the Jedi way, but completely acceptable for the Sith.

After the title crawl, the film opens with a huge space battle; you really get a feel for the scope; there are layers and levels and feels a bit like a roller coaster…so be careful if you have a bit of a squeamish stomach.  Also, we now realize fully where the stylistic designs for the Empire originated; those certainly look like Star Destroyers and it doesn’t take much to see the similarity between clone troopers suits and stormtroopers.  Our heroes are in the thick of it and Obi-Wan’s starship gets attacked by buzz droids, so he’s not happy.  Anakin tries to help and R2 is cool; they ultimately end up crashing into General Grievous’ ship [I’m not a fan of Grievous; he was totally unnecessary, you’ve got Dooku]…Obi-Wan does a totally awesome flip out of his fighter and slashes through droids.  Now, time to spring the trap and rescue Chancellor Palpatine.

Anakin and Obi-Wan confront Dooku together this time; Sith Lords are their specialty, but Dooku is quick to take Obi-Wan out of the picture, throwing him into a walkway.  Anakin gets a bit cocky and Dooku can sense fear, hate, and anger in Skywalker, but he doesn’t use them.  Anakin manages to disarm (literally) Dooku and crosses a red and blue blade at the Sith Lord’s neck.  Palpatine orders Anakin to kill Dooku (Dooku was not aware that that was part of the plan); his Sidious voice comes out when he growls “do it” [and that throne looks awfully familiar…fast forward to Return of the Jedi].  Anakin decapitates the Sith Lord and frees Palpatine.  [Ok, seriously, you’ve got Christopher Lee and you use him for about ten minutes, to make room for some mostly-droid being that should have been hacked to pieces the first time he crossed someone’s path]  The Chancellor then tries to get Anakin to leave Obi-Wan (all part of his plan), but Anakin will not leave him.  All three manage to get captured by Grievous, for about a minute, then Anakin and Obi-Wan escape their bonds.  Grievous is a coward and abandons ship.  Anakin manages to land the wreckage of the ship, or as Obi-Wan puts it, half a ship, and calls it “another happy landing.” 

Obi-Wan leaves the politics to Anakin, who sneaks away as soon as possible to visit his wife.  Padmé quietly reveals that she is pregnant.  Anakin is happy (though note the brief hesitation).  Their happiness is soon marred by nightmares Anakin has of Padmé dying in childbirth.  He will not let what happened to his mother happen to the other woman he loves.  Now he’s on a search to find a way to save her.  He even seeks help from Master Yoda, with no details revealed.  Yoda once again counsels Anakin that fear of loss will lead to the Dark Side; attachments lead to jealousy and greed.  Anakin does not seek help from Obi-Wan.

Instead, the Council is concerned by the powers that Chancellor Palpatine is amassing.  Palpatine puts the next step of his plan into action and appoints Anakin as his personal representative on the Jedi Council, planting doubt in Anakin’s head [along with the dream about Padmé, no doubt].  The Council reluctantly accepts the appointment, but will not grant Anakin the rank of Master.  After the meeting, where Yoda states he will help the Wookies on Kashyyk, Obi-Wan and Anakin talk.  Anakin may not have asked for the position, but it is something he has wanted and Obi-Wan tries to get his former Padawan to see that Palpatine is interfering with the Jedi.  The Council, against Obi-Wan’s protests, are asking Anakin to spy on Palpatine (which is what Palpatine is asking of Anakin, but he’s too blinded by loyalty bought at a young age to see that…Palpatine tells Anakin what he wants to hear, so the young man keeps coming back).

Anakin visits Palpatine that evening.  The Chancellor feeds the young Jedi the information on where Grievous is hiding.  Then their conversation drifts to the Sith; Palpatine claims they are similar to the Jedi in their quest for greater power.  “All who gain power are afraid to lose it.”  He also knows a Sith legend on Darth Plageus, who could manipulate the midi-chlorians in a life form and create life [hmm, maybe that’s how Anakin came to fruition], and also, how to keep from dying.  That perks Anakin’s ears, his thoughts are on Padmé.  Palpatine claims that the Dark Side is a pathway to many abilities that would be considered unnatural (and Anakin is so consumed with thoughts of his wife he doesn’t question how the Supreme Chancellor knows Sith legends, or why, or why he’s telling him these things).

The Council decides to send Obi-Wan, who has more experience, to Utapau to capture Grievous.  Former Master and Apprentice bid each other good-bye; Anakin apologizes and thanks Obi-Wan for his training and Obi-Wan declares his pride in Anakin; he’s a far greater Jedi than Obi-Wan could ever hope to be [we’ll get to some Obi-Wan appreciation in a bit].  “Good-bye, old friend,” Obi-Wan says in parting.

Obi-Wan engages in a duel with Grievous on Utapau, leaping down and quipping “hello there.”  Grievous, proving to be a lazy coward, first instructs his guards to kill the Jedi (and weird opening lightsaber stance), Obi-Wan quickly rids himself of the pests.  Then quickly removes two of Grievous’s extra limbs to even the fight.  Obi-Wan’s division of clone troopers [the 212th] arrive to take on the droids, and Grievous runs off.  Obi-Wan pursues him and loses his lightsaber.  When the pair fall onto a platform, Obi-Wan first uses an electro-stave, then decides that hand-to-hand combat is a brilliant way to take on a heavily machined opponent (Obi-Wan, dear, don’t kick the droid) and he gets thrown around a bit.  He manages to grab a hold of a blaster while he’s dangling and a few well-aimed shots ignite what is left of Grievous’s organs.  “So uncivilized,” he quips when he regains his feet (call forward to A New Hope when he refers to a lightsaber as a weapon of a more civilized age).

Meanwhile, Mace Windu senses a plot to destroy the Jedi, the Dark Side surrounds Chancellor Palpatine and there is a fear that he will not set down the extra power he has been granted.  Now the Jedi Council is treading a dangerous line, planning to take control of the Senate.  At the same time, Palpatine is speaking to Anakin, making him believe that everyone else is out to get Palpatine and then he blatantly tells Anakin “only through me can you achieve a power greater than any Jedi,” only the Dark Side holds the power to save his wife.  The young Jedi finally realizes that Palpatine is the Sith Lord they have been looking for all these years.  He wisely goes to the Council.  Windu orders Anakin to remain at the Temple while they arrest Palpatine; Anakin argues that the Masters will need him.  Well, one point for Anakin for finally making a good decision and Windu has a point that Anakin would be comprised, facing Palpatine, but Anakin does not handle sitting still well.

Palpatine continues to weave his influence over Anakin and Anakin leaves the Temple for the Senate building, walking in on the arrest.  Palpatine has finally drawn his own lightsaber and killed the three Masters who accompanied Windu.  Windu has Palpatine cornered, Force lighting reflecting off his blade back onto the Sith Lord.  Anakin pleads that he needs Palpatine in order to save Padmé.  Palpatine pretends to be feeble and Anakin still argues to do the right thing, then takes off Windu’s hand when the Master goes to strike down Palpatine.  Palpatine strikes back, shouting “unlimited power!” and tosses Windu out the window.  Anakin realizes he’s made another mistake and promptly agrees to be Palpatine’s apprentice and turn to the Dark Side [because that’s very logical; let’s negate the good decision made with the worst possible alternative].  Palpatine is now fully Sidious, scarred face and deep voice.  We hear the Imperial March when Sidious names his new apprentice Darth Vader.

That’s not terrifying at all

Sidious proclaims the Jedi an enemy of the Republic and sends Anakin to the Temple to kill all the Jedi there.  Afterwards, he is to go to the Mustafar system and destroy the Separatists leaders.  Anakin leads the 501st division of clones on the Temple, he’s gained the yellow eyes of the Sith, and they murder all there, including Younglings (our hearts start breaking).  Sidious issues Order 66 and the clones turn on their Jedi generals [oh boy, after learning to love these clones and see that they love their Jedi commanders in Clone Wars, yeah, stomp on our hearts why don’t ya…we also discovered in the cartoon that this order is compulsory; the clones were essentially under mind control and didn’t have a choice…bar a few we find out later].  Yoda, already reeling from feeling Anakin, manages to sense his attack and escape, with the help of a familiar Wookie (Chewie!).  Cody and his men fire on Obi-Wan, after he gave his general his lightsaber back.  Obi-Wan falls into the water and does not emerge.  We see him steal a fighter and escape.

Bail Organa investigates the commotion at the Temple and is lucky to escape alive after witnessing the clones kill a Padawan who tried to defend his home.  He boards his ship (the Rebel runner we’ll see in the opening of A New Hope) and goes to rescue Jedi.  He makes contact with Obi-Wan.  Padmé cries when she sees the Temple in flames and is thankful that Anakin is alive.  Anakin reports that there was a Jedi rebellion and they must stay loyal to the Chancellor [deleted scenes show that Padmé was already doubting Palpatine and was part of the group that would become the foundation of the Rebellion, including Mon Mothma and Bail Organa].  Obi-Wan joins Yoda at the Temple and they take down some clones and change the outgoing message to turn the Jedi away from the Temple [we eventually discover most notably in A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller that Caleb Dume/ Kanan Jarrus was the young Padawan who recommended this to Obi-Wan].

Palpatine calls a special Senate meeting that Padmé and Bail attend where he blames the Jedi who have left him scarred.  But his resolve is stronger than ever.  So, in the name of security and stability, he will dissolve the Republic and create the Galactic Empire!  As Padmé puts it, “this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.”  [There is a can of worms here that I am not brave enough to open.]

Obi-Wan doesn’t want to believe the security recordings when he discovers it was Anakin who marched on the Temple, or that he has turned.  The two Jedi Masters must face the two Sith Lords; Obi-Wan begs Yoda to allow him to go after Sidious, he cannot go after Anakin.  The young man is like his brother, he cannot kill him.  But Yoda fears Obi-Wan would not survive Sidious, so Yoda takes on the Sith Master himself.  Obi-Wan goes to Padmé; he must find Anakin.  But Padmé won’t say where he husband has gone; and Obi-Wan knows she’s pregnant, and Anakin’s the father.  [Side rant here, it’s made clear in Clone Wars that Anakin and Padmé are not as subtle as they believe they are; Obi-Wan has probably known for a while that there is something between them, maybe not marriage per say.  And how does no one else know Padmé is pregnant!  Look at how she dresses now!  (Mind you, they are pretty gowns, and I love her more natural hairstyle, but that’s beside the point).  And she’s have to be a far ways along; it’s stated at the beginning that Anakin and Obi-Wan have been gone for months in an Outer Rim Siege, meaning her baby was conceived the last time Anakin was home.  How do her friends not guess?]

Padmé flies off to see her husband and Obi-Wan stows away on the ship; he knows his friends.  Anakin has executed all the Separatists leaders but is still excited to see his wife.  Until she questions his actions.  Anakin now believes that Obi-Wan has turned her against him; it’s back to being all Obi-Wan’s fault.  Then Obi-Wan reveals himself and Anakin turns on his wife.  He chokes her (cause that’s a real smart idea with a pregnant woman) and Obi-Wan tries one last time to talk sense into his former Padawan, but his mind is lost to Palpatine’s machinations.

Thus begins the Battle of the Heroes [another stunning masterpiece composed by John Williams.  I can remember Jimmy Smits introducing this piece at A Capitol Fourth, referring to the orchestra as “some friends,” I thought it was funny and totally cool that they played it in Washington D.C. for everyone].  It’s blue lightsaber versus blue lightsaber (a first for the series), brother versus brother.  This is the most epic duel of the entire saga [I will fight you on this].  It is fast, and no, that was not digitally altered, Hayden and Ewan performed this duel themselves and are skilled enough now to fight at that speed.  This is a fight between foes that know each other’s fighting styles intimately.  They’re often a blur of blue and will use the same move against each other.  Heck, they even throw in a bit of Duel of the Fates at one point.

At the same time, Yoda faces Sidious in the Senate building.  Sidious resorts to throwing the Senate seats at the diminutive Jedi and it ends as a stale mate.  Yoda escapes and tells Bail Organa he must go into hiding, failed, he has.

Obi-Wan expresses his own failure to Anakin.  Anakin is now immersed in the Dark Side and feels that the Jedi are evil (goes back to everything Palpatine has fed him for over a decade).  Obi-Wan gains the high ground and cautions Anakin to surrender.  Anakin is still cocky and flips over his former master, but he’s still in reach of Obi-Wan’s blade and loses the rest of his limbs.  The heat of the lava lands on him, burning and scaring him as Obi-Wan releases his pain: “You were the Chosen One!  It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them!  Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!”  Anakin shouts his hatred at Obi-Wan.  “You were my brother, Anakin.  I loved you.”  [Excellent acting by Ewan]  Obi-Wan cannot bring himself to end his best friend (which could be argued was a mistake, but we love Obi-Wan too much to judge him too harshly), so takes his discarded lightsaber and walks away.  He takes Padmé to Bail Organa where the medical droids deliver her twins (a bit of a shock to everyone, except us).  Sadly, she’s lost the will to live but tells Obi-Wan as he holds newborn Luke that there is still good in Anakin.

Palpatine senses Vader is in trouble and saves him, but that necessitates a large black suit to keep him alive.  This is where that iconic look comes from and that distinctive breathing.  When Vader asks about his wife, Palpatine tells him that he killed her.  Construction begins on the Death Star [why it takes nineteen years to build the first one, unless there were large-scale prototypes first…there are a few plot holes between the ending of III and beginning of IV].  Padmé’s family buries her on Naboo.  Yoda recommends that the infants be split up for their protection; Bail offers to take Leia to Alderaan.  Obi-Wan will take Luke to his family on Tatooine (cue theme from Episode IV).  Yoda has one final lesson for Obi-Wan; Qui-Gon has kept his identity in the Force and offers to teach the remaining Masters.  We also get a quick scene that shows C-3PO’s memory was wiped before working for Bail Organa, but R2-D2’s was not…meaning that little astromech knows everything.

So now, all we have to do is wait for the next generation to grow up.

This movie, like the other prequels, has its good and bad points.  Anakin’s Heel-Face Turn was too sudden when it finally happened.  Yes, the ground work has been laid, particularly since Attack of the Clones.  But it seems within the space of a few hours, Anakin goes from ‘I trust the Jedi Council to handle this threat I discovered’, to ‘I kill the Jedi Master and boom, now I’m a Sith Lord’.  And then he takes it out on his wife.  Of course, this is majorly influenced by Palpatine’s schemes, but I really want to smack Anakin upside the head.  [And this is why there exists many fix-it fictions].  And all Padmé does it sit around, being pregnant.  She took charge and kicked butt in the previous two films and now, nothing.  She loses the will to live after giving birth…yes, this obviously had to happen because she’s not around in the originals (and begs the question, how did Leia have memories of her…plot hole), but still disappointing.  Grievous was an unneeded character; you already had an extra bad guy and why build up Count Dooku if you’re not going to use him.

The banter was fun; Anakin was a bit better, at least at the beginning of the film; not so whiny.  The massive duel at the end was epic!  That sells the entire film; it’s fraught with emotion.  Obi-Wan may not have been planning on killing Anakin, but he did plan on stopping him.  What makes it even more interesting is that the two characters (and actors) were evenly matched.

Up Next: Solo

I’ll put my musings on the Jedi Code here:

As the extended universe wrote out, the Jedi Code declares There is no emotion, there is peace.  There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.  There is no passion, there is serenity.  There is no chaos, there is harmony.  There is no death, there is the Force.  I’m sure someone has done a paper somewhere comparing this to different philosophies or religious beliefs and this as it is written out is a mindful way to live.  For a while, I felt that the Jedi Code was meant to make Jedi into unfeeling beings, which is the opposite of what humans are.  As humans we have emotions, we are emotions.  And as a teenager, just getting into the fandom, I went along with the idea that the Council was denying Anakin’s basic needs as a human; of course he should feel love.  But there is a difference between love and attachment.  It circles back to that saying “if you love something,  let it go.”  The attachment rule is to prevent the Jedi from putting one thing or being or whatever about another.  Like Anakin putting the fate of Padmé above the rest of the galaxy.  Of course Jedi should love and have a compassion, but they have a larger duty to the galaxy.  In Clone Wars we see Obi-Wan tempted due to love, but he resists.  Is the Council flawed?  Yes.  It’s a bit odd to look back and see that wise Master Yoda made some mistakes.  Like, instead of simply telling Anakin over and over that fear leads to the Dark Side, how ’bout some actual help? And it pains me to say this, but technically Palpatine had a point in telling Anakin to completely understand a subject, he must study all aspects, not just the dogmatic, narrow view of the Jedi. There is obviously a fine line (and someone could make the connection between magic and the Force and compare Harry Potter to Star Wars…I do not have the time for that, lol), but simply excluding something because it is “dark” without understanding it is asking for trouble. Caution is urged, of course.

It is heavily implied within the extended universe that Qui-Gon Jinn loved a fellow Jedi Master, Tahl and his decisions regarding her were not wholly logical.  It caused a rift between him and Obi-Wan more than once while Obi-Wan was a Padawan. …Yeah, I’ve come to realize that Qui-Gon was not the greatest Master and this is where fandom has declared Obi-Wan deserves hugs. I once thought Mace Windu cold and unfeeling.  While he too was flawed, as is any good character, he also had his depths.

Some Obi-Wan Kenobi appreciation [can you tell he is my favorite character?]:

He’s referred to as the Ace on TV Tropes [a lot of this information came from there, but I certainly agree with their points]; one of the best Jedi that the Order ever had.  Third strongest Council member after Windu and Yoda; tactical genius, top diplomat (Negotiator), expert pilot (out flew Jango Fett), master of multiple forms of lightsaber combat (particularly Form III [Soresu] and Ataru).  Considered to be the single best defensive duelist in the galaxy in his prime.  In canon, the only battle he loses is against Vader in A New Hope and he most likely threw that as a distraction to help Luke.  He faced off against the Sith, killing an apprentice when he was only a Padawan and Grievous.  Became a broken ace after the death of Qui-Gon and most of the Order, and (SPOILER) his love Satine by Maul [I disliked that bit].  Saw the death of Padmé and spent nineteen years in hiding on Tatooine with guilt and trauma. 

Sees more combat that most of the other Jedi in canon.  More of a brother relationship with Anakin, less of an age gap; bicker like siblings (and it is hilarious).  The one who started the trend of Jedi generals wearing clone trooper armor in order to relate more closely to their troops.  Primary enemy of Maul and Grievous, but greatest enemy was Anakin.  Took a Level in Badass: goes from getting very lucky against Maul to a Master who defeated Grievous and bested the most powerful Force User in the galaxy.  Badass Bookworm – intelligent, cultured gentlemen, who can kick a lot of ass when the time comes for it (love this!).  Bash Brothers and Big Brother Instinct and Mentor with Anakin.  The fandom is quick to point out that while Obi-Wan undoubtedly made mistakes in training Anakin (and he beats himself up for it), he went directly from being a Padawan to having a Padawan and one who was already too old to begin Jedi education yet young to be a Padawan.  And had several members of the Council who disagreed with training the boy, so cut him a little slack.

Is described as “the ultimate Jedi” partially because he is modest, heroic, focused, and kind.  Nevertheless, if you push him far enough (like taking part in the murder of almost his entire “family” aka Jedi Order, including innocent children) he is prepared to hack off your limbs and leave you alone to slowly burn to death.  Calm facade breaks while fighting Anakin in Revenge.  Anytime the emotionally controlled Obi-Wan get emotional, something is wrong.

Humble Hero [fanfic authors recognize this]: It seems that Obi-Wan is the only being who doesn’t understand how great a Jedi he is – when the Council proposes to send their ‘most cunning and insightful Master’ after Grievous, he has no idea who they mean.  He’s also surprised when Mace Windu (the guy who created his own form of lightsaber combat) refers to him as ‘the master of the classic form,’ note, the master, not simply a master.  He is easily the nicest and most immediately personable member of the Jedi Order in Prequels.  Overall, maintains a kind demeanor and strong moral code in spite of the vast amount of hardship he faces.  Slightly aloof and snarky and times, but also polite and compassionate.  The Paragon: stands as pinnacle of heroism; selfless, morally upright, humble, and inspires others, in control of his impulses and emotions.  Not perfect, but closest to embodying ideals of Jedi Order.  Extremely clever, worldly, intelligent.

Does get beaten up at times (Attack of the Clones where he jumps out window and then the arena).  Combat Pragmatist.  Sharp wit and sardonically sarcastic sense of humor (could be a result of seeing death and destruction…I believe somewhere in Legends canon, young Obi-Wan suffered from visions).  Gentleman Snarker [I love that]: Obi-Wan’s polite, diplomatic demeanor can mask some pretty biting snark.  Poster boy for Snark Knight; he also likes to flirt with his enemies. Mainly meaningless, but still funny.  Refuses to give up after learning about the occurrences of the Jedi Purge and Anakin’s betrayal of the Order.  Still hurt years afterward, still believes Luke will save the Jedi.  Jedi are fettered as a rule, but Obi-Wan explains the strength that comes from resisting the temptation of the Dark Side while confronting Maul later.  Makes up for lack of character growth with the sheer amount of action he goes through.

Foil to Anakin, both skilled and famous Jedi with troubles love lives: Anakin and Padmé obviously.  Obi-Wan and Duchess Satine (Legends: Siri).  Obi-Wan takes firm hand training Anakin, more of a gentle touch training Luke.  Throughout Prequels and Clone Wars, Obi-Wan has several good reasons to turn to the Dark Side, but resists.  Cannot be corrupted.  Has Innocent Blue Eyes that symbolize his heroic, righteous, and pure nature.  Mentor Archetype.  Morality Chain to Anakin: Anakin respected Obi-Wan enough that Palpatine had to get him off the planet before turning him to the Dark Side, and Anakin still tries to (threateningly) talk Obi-Wan out of fighting him.  Morphs into dark version of Worthy Opponent.  Dooku  considers Obi-Wan a worthy opponent (Hardeen plotline; foil an attempted kidnapping by disguising himself as a bounty hunter and sabotaging the plot from the inside)

Implied friendship formed with Padmé and turned blind eye to her relationship with Anakin.  Good is not Soft: prefers to settle conflict diplomatically.  But will fight.  Demonstrates some of the most powerful Psychic Powers in canon.  Also prone to passively enhancing his physical strength and durability with Force; shot straight up four feet by arm strength to beat Maul; shook off blows from Grievous that sent him falling thirty feet; and fought Anakin within inches of lava.

Similar position to Han Solo in Prequel Trilogy; they both serve as older brotherly figures (Han to Luke, Obi-Wan to Anakin…I’ll get into more of the former when we hit the original trilogy because I love that part).  Obi-Wan is Anakin’s Jedi Master and partner who Anakin also saw as a Parental Substitute while Han is Luke’s partner and closest friend, who later becomes his brother-in-law.  Conversely, Anakin and Obi-Wan’s bond is destroyed, while Luke and Han have a rocky start but become family (even before marriage).  Belligerent Sexual Tension with love interests (Satine, Leia).  Obi-Wan Ideal Hero, Han Anti-Hero.  (SPOILER): Both are murdered by someone they had a complicated father-son relationship with.  Driving force behind the Prequels, but still major character in New Hope.

Disagrees with (SPOILER) dismissing Ahsoka [and another reason I’m not keen on finishing Clone Wars].  Also believes the Council should be more open with Anakin about their concerns over Chancellor Palpatine and the Sith, but overruled.  The Stoic: has one of the most unpleasant lives (and afterlife?) of any character in fiction, but remains clam, never complains, and usually keeps his emotions well in check.  You Didn’t Ask: rather sad one, only reason didn’t stay with Satine is she didn’t ask.  Oh, and Leia is Luke’s sister.

Later in life, the Atoner for training the man who destroyed the Jedi Order and never recognizing the threat Anakin really represented.  Will still cut off arms if need arises.  Even after all the trauma he went through in his younger days and having spent almost twenty years living as a hermit, Obi-Wan is a remarkably kind and patient man.  Explanation for fight against Vader; stalling and Vader’s powerful attacks.  Starts off as a young and brash apprentice to Qui-Gon, becomes more wise and experienced Jedi Master, culmination in teaching Luke, his former pupil’s son.

And thus I am totally excited for the upcoming show on Disney+ and very glad they kept Ewan McGregor for the role.

Some fanfiction recommendations, all from AO3:

Check out

Both Lost Destiny and Crossroads by Nihes are interesting, but you end up wanting to punch something at the end.  However, Jedi Babysitting for Professionals is hilarious

I certainly hope that Big Fat Bumblebee’s Found is continued because it is certainly time that someone takes care of Obi-Wan.  Brothers care for brothers, Infuriating Man, Battle of Wills, and Enforced Convalescence are heartwarming (apparently the only thing Anakin and Mace Windu agree on is caring for Obi-Wan, not the Order, or the Republic, or even the Force, but yes to Obi-Wan).

Meysun’s There is no Pain is rather poignant, and you certainly want to wrap Obi-Wan up in a hug afterwards.

As I Fall and A Long Way Down by KCKenobi include some Obi-Wan whump.  Some Things You Just Can’t Speak About is another one that makes you want to wrap Obi-Wan up in a hug.  We get some protective Mace Windu in Old Wounds.

Must_Be _Thursday’s Just Surrender is rather good.

AndyHood’s Fought for Him really emphasizes why Obi-Wan needs some hugs.

Siri_Kenobi12 gives us some Obi-Wan whump in TestedMemoirs of Kadavo is wonderful and I already told you I love It Takes a Village from the write-up on Phantom Menace.

You Are Wanted Obi-Wan Kenobi by allwalkfree is my new favorite story.

“It’s Continuing Mission…to Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before”

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.

Ready for new adventures

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 have been and always will be, your friend.”

Star Trek

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.

Up Next: Star Trek Into Darkness

Jumpin’ off the deck, shovin’ into overdrive

Top Gun

The classic 1980’s film starring Tom Cruise as Maverick, Val Kilmer as Iceman, and an appearance by Meg Ryan as Carole.  I have an interesting history with this film; my father loves planes and loves this movie, but I refused to watch it as a kid.  Then, my friend played in while I was on vacation with them in middle school, so I finally watched it and enjoyed it.  But, I like it for the planes.  I don’t care about Tom Cruise.  Though, who can forget the line: I feel the need, the need for speed!  The film does have the very cool song Danger Zone performed by Kenny Loggins (so I use this film as a connection in “Six-Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” since Kenny Loggins did the iconic Footloose song in that film as well).

The premise is the top one percent of Naval aviators attend the Fighter Weapons School, known as Top Gun, to learn dog fighting.  One of the instructors, Viper, later states in the movie that the ratio pilots shooting down enemy planes in the Korean War was 12 to 1, then dropped to 3 to 1 in Vietnam because they relied too much on missiles; they had forgotten how to dogfight.  The film opens with activity on the flight deck on an aircraft carrier.  Maverick and his rear-seat partner, Goose are flying with Cougar and Merlin and encounter enemy Soviet MiG (they used the A-4 Skyhawk and F-5E Tiger as stand-ins for the MiGs, though they did use actual F-14 Tomcats, which are now retired).  Cougar gets shaken up after a MiG gets a missile lock on him, but Maverick scares them off.  Maverick doesn’t land and instead goes back up to help talk Cougar down.  While it was very brave, it was against orders.  But Cougar has given up flying, so their commanding officer sends Maverick and Goose to Top Gun.

Maverick is known for his wild flying, but he’s good enough at what he does that he doesn’t get thrown out of the Navy.  He and Goose attempt to hit on a woman at a bar by singing You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, in which all the guys join in; then discovers that she is one of his civilian instructors at Top Gun.  Though a civilian, her call-sign is Charlie; she has a PhD in Astrophysics and the Pentagon listens to her.  And she, of course, starts to fall for Maverick when he demonstrates that he flies as well as he says he does.  Their theme throughout the film is Take My Breath Away.

Maverick butts heads with Iceman because Maverick’s flying is reckless and he has the habit of leaving his wingman.  They’re both vying for the top spot at Top Gun.  That volleyball scene is just an excuse to have the young men shirtless.  Maverick is also trying to prove himself after his father mysteriously dies during an encounter while flying.  Viper later explains to Maverick that his father was indeed a good pilot and saved several lives during his last mission, but it occurred on the wrong side of a map line for the politicians.  Maverick does get reprimanded several times for ignoring rules that are set.

We see a wonderful, happy family shot between Goose, his wife and son, Maverick, and Charlie, singing Great Balls of Fire before Maverick and Goose fly a “mission” with Iceman and Slider.  Iceman is slow to take a shot and when Maverick moves in, his plan gets caught in the jetwash, causing it to flat spin (an actual fault in the F-14, and very dangerous).  Goose has to eject them and he hits the canopy, dying (that has actually happened).  Maverick is lost without Goose, even though it wasn’t technically his fault, he feels like it is.  Goose was his responsibility.  His friends try to help him out, but when Viper sends him back up for another “mission,” he freezes and can’t take the shot.  He tries to quit Top Gun, but his conversation with Viper encourages him to stay and at least graduate.  Then he, Iceman, Slider, Hollywood, and Wolfman are sent on an assignment.

Hollywood, Wolfman, Iceman, and Slider are the first two planes up and encounter MiGs; more than they thought.  MiGs like to fly close together to hide their numbers on radar.  Hollywood and Wolfman are shot down and eject.  Maverick is teamed up with Merlin, Cougar’s old partner, and they have to go up and help Iceman and Slider.  Maverick and Merlin end up in a jetwash again, but manage to recover.  But it still shakes Maverick, like Cougar earlier in the film.  Merlin and Iceman are begging for help, but Maverick takes a moment to think of Goose.  Then engages the enemy planes and gets them off of Iceman.  He’s learned not to leave his wingman.  He then does his famous flyby, accompanied by Iceman.  The crew all cheer the two planes and the once-adversaries are now at least friendly and joke they’ll be each other’s wingman.

Maverick is given his choice of duties and decides to go back to Top Gun as an instructor.  Charlie meets him there, playing You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling on the jukebox before she shows herself.

Yes, this is a simplistic write-up of the film; with the flying action and jargon (which is apparently mostly made-up), it is a film that is better experienced simply by watching.  It increased Navy recruiting and was backed by the Navy.  There were obviously artistic licenses taken and several of the flight maneuvers were done “because they’re cool.”  Sadly, an experienced stunt pilot was killed while filming this movie and the movie was dedicated to him.  There is a sequel subtitled Maverick that is due out…sometime.  It was due out this summer, but many movies have been postponed.  Tom Cruise is back, as is Val Kilmer.  I fully intend to see it with my father, for the planes.

pair f-14 picHowever, this film also inspired the hit series JAG that I loved.  It starred David James Elliott as Harmon Rabb Jr (he was also a Tomcat pilot), Patrick Labyorteaux as Bud Roberts Jr, Catherine Bell (check her out in Hallmark’s Good Witch series) as Sarah MacKenzie, John M. Jackson as A.J. Chegwidden, and Karrie Turner as Harriet Sims.  That shot from early in Top Gun where the two planes come to formation is used in the opening credits of JAGJAG also introduced NCIS midway thru its run, and NCIS has gone on to run for seventeen seasons so far and it in turn spun-off NCIS: Los Angeles (love Sam and Callen in that one), and NCIS: New Orleans.  I primarily know the middle seasons of JAG, the first ten or so seasons of NCIS (Gibbs’ dynamic as the team’s father is amazing and I was sad to see various characters leave), and the first couple seasons of NCIS: Los Angeles (Callen is definitely my favorite character).  And that is how I play “Six-Degrees of Kevin Bacon;” Footloose leads to Top Gun which leads to JAG which leads to NCIS and thus various actors from there.

 

 

Up Next: I start the Bond movies, but I will be dealing with the last eight or so.  It may be sacrilege, but I haven’t watched any of the original Sean Connery films all the way thru; I’ve seen bits.  But I am familiar with Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

A Random Fandom Update

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?