Democrats Voting On Eliminating Superdelegates This Week–Will They Vote For Or Against Democracy?

A political party which uses superdelegates should not be able to use Democratic in its name. This week we will see if the Democratic Party continues to oppose democracy as the DNC votes on a proposal to eliminate superdelegates at their meeting in Chicago.

There have been proposals to eliminate superdelegates for years, including a recommendation by the Democratic Change Commission in 2009. More recently the Unity Commission recommended reducing the number of superdelegates. This has been expanded to a proposal which would remove the ability of superdelegates to vote for the presidential nominee on the first ballot, but they would still be able to vote on convention rules.

In 2016, the DNC worked to clear the field for Hillary Clinton early in the race. When Bernie Sanders did subsequently attempt to run against her, he was faced with the news media broadcasting delegate counts showing him to be way behind before a single vote was cast, playing into Clinton’s strategy of inevitability.

The proposal to prevent superdelegates from voting on the first ballot would make it much harder for a candidate with the support of superdelegates to take advantage of this, assuming recent trends hold and the nomination is decided on the first ballot.

Of course many establishment Democrats oppose this threat to their power. Not unexpectedly, some even see this change as a Russian plot (demonstrating  one of many reasons why we desperately need new leadership in the Democratic Party).

Norman Solomon, author of Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis, points out the irony of this vote taking place in Chicago:

The 1968 Democratic National Convention remains notorious mainly because of bloody clashes in the streets of downtown Chicago, where thousands of antiwar protesters encountered what a federal commission later called a “police riot.” Passions were also fraught inside the convention hall. From the podium, Sen. Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut denounced “Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago.”

But it’s less well known today that much of the mayhem in the streets and the angry dissent inside the amphitheater a half-century ago stemmed from the well-grounded belief that the Democratic establishment had rigged the nominating process for its candidate, Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Many of the delegates for the two antiwar contenders at the convention, Sens. Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern, were incensed at the party’s disregard for the will of the voters.

About 70 percent of the votes in the presidential primaries had gone to antiwar candidates, including Sen. Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated the night of his election victory in the California primary in early June. Yet the party conferred its nomination on Humphrey, a supporter of the still-escalating Vietnam War who had stayed out of the primaries ― but still ended up with more than two-thirds of the delegates at the national convention. The undemocratic process deepened the divisions inside the party and weakened public support for its ticket, aiding Richard Nixon’s narrow victory in the November 1968 election.

In other words, the Democratic establishment candidate lost in both 1968 and 2016 due to rigging the nomination for unpopular candidates as opposed to giving the nomination to the types of candidate who could win in fair primary system.

Eliminating superdelegates is an important step towards supporting democracy, but just one of many important steps. We also need to have the Democrats eliminate their other rules which help them rig their nominations, including front-loading primaries in southern states, and changing fund-raising rules and the debate schedule as in 2016.

It is an even worse attack on democratic principles when the democratic party both works to keep out true liberal and progressive views, while working with Republicans to limit the influence of third parties. The Intercept recently looked at a bill which was introduced by Democrats, although with limited support,which would help to promote real choice in elections:

In 2017, a group of House Democrats, led by Virginia Rep. Don Beyer, introduced H.R. 3057, the Fair Representation Act, which would require every congressional district in America to use ranked-choice voting. It would also require districts to be redrawn by independent redistricting committees, which would diminish the effects of partisan gerrymandering, and it would require the installation of multimember districts — a reform that would allow voters in each district to elect multiple lawmakers instead of just one, so that more people would be represented.

…advocates of ranked-choice voting raised the benefits of alternative voting schemes when, after Michigan’s recent governor’s race, the results suggested that if the third place candidate, who branded himself as a progressive, had been reallocated in a ranked-choice system, Abdul El-Sayed, a genuine progressive, might have come within arm’s reach of winning.

Europe provides several examples of other voting alternatives. French President Emmanuel Macron, for instance, ran on introducing greater proportional representation in the French legislature, and is slowly making good on that promise. Under proportional representation, parties are allotted seats based on the total percentage of the vote they get. Under that system, if Democrats were to receive 51 percent of the vote, Republicans 44 percent, and Greens 5 percent, they’d each get that percentage of seats in Congress.

Proportional representation is how elections are run in countries like Sweden, Germany, and Israel. It’s no surprise that legislatures in these countries often have seven or eight different political parties with significant clout, which then work together in coalitions on legislation, offering far more choices to voters.

By contrast, American political parties tend not to offer third-party voters any sort of election reform plans — even to win over their votes.

Ideally, if we are successful in reducing the influence of superdelegates, the long-term goal should be to both totally eliminate superdelegates and to institute these other reforms.

SciFi Weekend: The 100 Season 5 Finale; Star Trek News; Space Force Humor

The season five finale of The 100 showed why I have had mixed feelings about this series for the last few years.  While the show has its problems, it sure knows how to put together an intriguing season finale. It was the end of yet another cycle of continuing battles, followed by another reset, which I fear will lead to more of the same. Yet the reset in the finale has me interested enough to give the show yet another chance next season.

This season did do some interesting things. Once again the cast was put in a situation in which terrible decisions had to be made to survive. This led to fighting pits and cannibalism, along with a major character developing a drug addition in response to the decisions which were made. However, each season’s enemy and war might be more enjoyable if they didn’t drag on so long and sometimes become so convoluted. Jasper summed up the problem in his suicide note earlier in the season: “There is no light at the end of the tunnel, there is only the tunnel. Another enemy to fight, another war.”  Diyoza showed how convoluted the plots become in saying to Clarke, “It’s hard to keep track of whose side you’re on.”

The time jump and new setting starts Book 2 of the series, and largely resets to being more like early in the series. Instead of a dying earth there will be a new planet. The characters we know, which combines various groups as opposed to the original 100, and at least one new character, will again be trespassers on an inhabited planet. Most likely they will go through yet another tunnel with another enemy to fight and another war. The question will be what interesting things come into play while doing so with a new combination of characters.

TV Line interviewed Jason Rothenberg about the finale:

TVLINE | Let’s start at the very last shot: “End of Book One”? Explain yourself.
As the season was unfolding, we didn’t know that we were going to get another season, which is a difficult position to be in. I assumed we would, but we hadn’t gotten an official order. So I had to write an ending that would be both satisfying as a series finale and would tee up the next adventure. That was my target, which I feel like we hit. Had that been the end of everything, it would have been a bummer not to explore what’s down [on that new planet], but it would have been emotionally satisfying the way Monty’s life passes before our eyes and Bellamy and Clarke weep during his final speech. Thematically, Monty’s speech summed up a lot of what we’ve been talking about for five seasons. As we move into this new world, I really wanted it to be a new book. The first volume is closed and now we get to tell an entirely new adventure with the people we’ve come to love. It’s going to be crazy and amazing and beautiful and very, very different…

TVLINE | How did Christopher Larkin and Chelsey Reist react to finding out that this was their last episode?
It’s always a hard conversation to have. When I called Chelsey about it, she was in her car on the way to work, and she had to pull over because she got upset. But when I pitched her what it was, she immediately embraced it, loved it and saw how beautiful it was and what a satisfying emotional ending it would be for her character and the Monty-Harper relationship. I start from the point of those characters and what they wanted all season. Monty wanted to get back to space. He was happy in space. He did not want the war. So he found a way to live an entire happy, long life with the woman he loves, and to create a family. It felt like something we hadn’t done before, and I knew it was going to be emotionally devastating. I actually wrote the final act of the finale before the rest of the episode. It came out all in one creative burst. On the day we shot it, it was the most emotional anyone has ever been on set. Dean White, who did a fantastic job directing, knew that as soon as Chris [Larkin] started reading his lines, everyone would just burst into tears. So we had our first AD, Ian Samoil, read Monty’s part — and people were still crying. The camera guys were crying, I was crying, Dean was crying. It was crazy! You see it on camera where Bob and Eliza are just … the tears are pouring. I actually had to edit it down, because there was too much crying. I needed to pace it.

TVLINE | As was I. And I’m so thrilled we finally got to meet Shannon Kook’s character! As the son of the people who saved everybody, how important will Jordan be to the survivors in Season 6?
He’ll be very important. And his story is very fascinating. He’s a blank slate. He’s never been off that ship. He’s never known anyone but his mother and father. Everything he experiences is going to be for the first time — he’s never tasted anything other than algae before! It’s going to be a fascinating journey to see if he can keep that innocence and wide-eyed excitement that he’ll enter the season with, surrounded by all these people who are drenched in blood. As for how the other characters are going to feel about him: Murphy will be the uncle who tries to corrupt him, Bellamy and Clarke are the protective aunts and uncles who won’t let him get into danger. Everyone will have a different reaction to the child of Monty and Harper.

TVLINE | Switching gears a bit, many fans were worried that Octavia was becoming irredeemable. Do you think her actions this week (and last) helped, or does she still have a lot of work to do?
She definitely reached a breaking point and had a realization that it was her fault, for lack of a better word. She was willing, in last week’s episode, to try and make good by letting Bellamy, Indra and Gaia escape. Had she been killed saving them, that would have been a redeeming death for her. But she didn’t get that. We see that scene between Bellamy and Octavia at the end of the finale, where he’s putting her into cryosleep, and she’s looking for some sort of emotional connection with her brother, but he doesn’t really give it to her. She’s broken, and when she wakes up 125 years later, she’ll be in the same place where she went to sleep. It’s not like the six-year time jump of last season. She’ll be bringing everything into the new world with her. Her character in Season 6 is going to have to grapple with what she’s done and who she’s become and how everyone looks at her. It’s going to be a fascinating arc; it would have been too easy ending this season by killing her off. I do look forward to some sort of reconciliation in the future between the Blakes.

TVLINE | Even though nearly everyone survived, some of the injured characters are played by actors who are involved with other projects. What can you say about the fates of Kane and Gaia, specifically?
Everybody who went into cryo will come out of cryo. So all the characters who are with us at the end of Season 5 will be with us at the beginning of Season 6. Actors have deals that make things tricky, but we’ll do our best to work around [schedules] as much as we can. It’s a show where characters don’t necessarily get jobs in Cleveland and move away — especially in a world where there is no Cleveland anymore. The business side of it is always tricky, but creatively, I love Gaia and I think there’s a lot still there to explore. And what can you say about Henry Ian Cusick? He’s a legend, he’s amazing. He was great all season, and for the last five seasons. It’s been an honor to have him on the season. And he, too, will continue to play a role in Season 6.

TVLINE | Lastly, I have to ask: What was the significance of Clarke and Bellamybeing the first to wake up.
It was Monty’s plan to wake the two of them. When the two of them are on the same page, things go well. They are the leaders of this show and of the remaining people in the human race — until we find out what may or may not be on the ground of this new planet. [Monty] wanted to wake them and talk to them first and let them decide who to wake next and how to break the news. So that’s where that came from.

There was plenty of additional news coming out of the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention since last week’s post. TrekMovie.com has several quotes from the cast, including Anson Mount on his role as Christopher Pike:

There is “The Cage” and then there is  “The Menagerie,” and those are two very different things. I do kind of play around with this idea that we have this established character and now we are going back, and I am wondering, am I establishing a guy we can see moving forward that ends up making that decision in “The Menagerie,” but in a way that is victorious and self-realizing and not a tragedy. But, that hasn’t really informed me at all.

What has informed me more is growing up and watching The Original Series, and knowing the series and knowing Roddenberry’s work and that if this is Roddenberry’s original guy, he kind of has to be the embodiment of an optimism, the same optimism that Roddenberry had that we are at our most basic, good and curious and adventurous. So, having to put together a guy that covers those bases, but is still not a flat portrait of something that is just a protagonist. Because I am not the protagonist. I am here to augment the protagonist of this show.

It was announced that the Discovery season one Blu-ray and DVD will be released in November, providing an opportunity for those who do not subscribe to CBS All Access another means to view the series. However, unless you really want to own the set, the more economical way to legally view the season for those who do not want to pay every month would be to subscribe for one month and binge. Another option would be to get the seven day free trial and use it to watch quickly. As the price for the Blu-ray is currently $47.77, I personally have no plans to purchase considering that I can rewatch any episodes if desired on CBS All Access.

CBS TV Studios president David Stapf  told Deadline that the planned Star Trek series with Patrick Stewart reprising his role as  Jean-Luc Picard is part of a plan to have “a Star Trek something on all the time on All Access.” As I suggested last week, this should help give fans a reason to continue a subscription to CBS All Access throughout the year. I just hope they don’t dilute the quality of Star Trek as has happened with other franchises. Ron Moore also warned about the risk of franchise fatigue, among other quotes at TrekMovie.com. In this age of peak TV, I also wouldn’t mind if they did take a month or two break between each series. From the interview, after a discussion of other shows planned for All Access:

DEADLINE: How did the idea of bringing back Patrick Stewart’s character come about, and how long did it take to get him to do it?
STAPF: It came to us, as do all things Trek now, through Alex Kurtzman, with the idea of, wouldn’t it be cool to do something Next Gen-oriented, and/or get Patrick Stewart and/or any of those iconic Next Gen characters. As Patrick himself has said, he was of the opinion that “I’ve done that character,” but he got a meeting with Alex and some of the other guys and they won him over. The deal didn’t take that long once he decided to do it.

DEADLINEAny other former Trek franchises you are looking at next?
STAPF: No.

DEADLINESo that’s a definite No on William Shatner?
STAPF: (laughs) I would say, never say never.

DEADLINEIs it certain that one of the new Trek series will be a spinoff from Discovery, and how big a franchise universe are you looking to build?
STAPF: My goal is that there should be a Star Trek something on all the time on All Access. We know it draws an audience, and Discovery has done quite well.
DEBEVOISE: We started well and we’d love to have a second one.
STAPF: Yes, and as we learned, we want to do it right.

We have learned that we will be introduced to a new Spock on Discovery. Not it appears that there might be a new Kirk for the movie series. The Hollywood Reporter says that talks have fallen through with Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth. Apparently the poor box office for Star Trek Beyond leaves Paramount reluctant to pay Pine what previous contracts provided for (or what he can make in the Wonder Woman movies). Chris Hemsworth can also pull in far more as Thor than Paramount is willing to pay for him to reprise the role of George Kirk for the planned time travel story in Star Trek 4.

It is possible that this is all a negotiating tactic which will be worked out. If not, Paramount might come down to a choice of paying more in hopes of long term profits from the movie series versus recasting. If they recast Pine and Hemsworth, this then leaves open the question of a recasting the rest of the crew–which then might include Chekov following the death of Anton Yelchin.

It seems to me that with it coming down to money, another possibility might be to give in to Chris Pine, who is far more important for continuity. It would be far easier to have a different actor play George Kirk, who only appeared briefly in the first movie, unless they were counting on Hemsworth bringing in a larger audience.  If they do want a big name actor to play Kirk’s father, but one who might not be in as much demand as Chris Hemsworth, what about William Shatner? He does currently look like he could be Jim Kirk’s father, but that would have been more feasible if George Kirk had lived to an older age.

Speaking of William Shatner:

Except that I don’t think that only having played a Captain on television would change Trump’s mind about hiring him. Space Force has probably been the most popular meme on political sites this week, including one based upon Arrival below. Some more examples:

While this really has nothing to do with the proposal for Space Force, here is an interesting take on the risk of unintentional interplanetary war. While I don’t know enough about the physics to evaluate it, the article seemed worth looking at. If nothing else, it gives a potential science fiction plot. After I posted this on Facebook, I received a response with this article.

Abdul El-Sayed Attempting To Bring Progressive Wave To Michigan In Key Primary This Week

The goal this year must not only be to elect candidates to oppose Trump, but to also reform the Democratic Party (which is responsible for the situation in 2016 which enabled Trump to be elected president). Tuesday provides an opportunity for another progressive upset in Michigan, but it will be a challenge due to the presence of both a real progressive (Abdul El-Sayed) and a faux progressive (Shri Thanedar) who will divide the vote against establishment candidate Gretchen Whitmer.

El-Sayed is running on a platform similar to that of Bernie Sanders. Sanders has endorsed El-Sayed, and came to Michigan to campaign for him on Sunday. The previous weekend, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was responsible for a major upset over the Democratic establishment, came to campaign for El-Sayed. He was also recently endorsed by The Nation and previously received endorsements from groups including  Justice DemocratsOur RevolutionThe People for BernieOur Revolution, the Progressive Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party, and Democracy for America.

El-Sayed is behind in the polls, but victory might be within reach. Progressives are encouraged by the greater enthusiasm seen for his campaign as compared to his opponents. Progressives are also encouraged by the memories of Bernie Sanders coming back from twenty-points behind just prior to the Michigan Democratic primary in 2016 to upset Hillary Clinton. The polls missed support for a progressive alternative to the Democratic establishment then, and could be doing so again.

The front runner, Gretchen Whitmer, is the daughter of a former president and  CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and the recipient of their money. She is also the only Democratic candidate who opposes single payer health care. She has also benefited from dark money contributions, which has become an issue in the race.  When she twisted the facts to respond to El-Sayed, the Truth Squad at a Michigan newspaper called her claims “mostly inaccurate” as she tried to equate contributions from private individuals with her corporate contributions.

The task of upsetting the establishment candidate is made more difficult by the presence of faux-progressive Shri Thanedar, who is running as a progressive for strategic reasons, and has put $10 million of his own money into the race.  Hopefully the efforts of Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and several progressive groups will lead to progressives coming out to vote for the true progressive candidate in the race, Abdul El-Sayed.

SciFi Weekly: Patrick Stewart Returns to Star Trek; Spock On Discovery; Timeless Movie; Steven Moffat Returns To Time Travel; Humans Season Finale; Cloak & Dagger Season Finale; Marvel & DC Television News Briefs

After several weeks of rumors, it was finally confirmed at the Los Vegas Star Trek Convention that Patrick Stewart will be returning to Star Trek, reprising his role as Jon Jean-Luc Picard . Deadline reports:

The new series, which is not a Star Trek: Next Generation reboot, will tell the story of the next chapter of Picard’s life. It will be shepherded by Star Trek: Discovery co-creator/executive producer Alex Kurtzman who was tapped to oversee development of new Star Trek content under a big new overall deal with CBS TV Studios…

“I will always be very proud to have been a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course,” Stewart said. “It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over.”

“During these past years, it has been humbling to hear many stories about how The Next Generation brought people comfort, saw them through difficult periods in their lives or how the example of Jean-Luc inspired so many to follow in his footsteps, pursuing science, exploration and leadership,” Stewart continued. “I feel I’m ready to return to him for the same reason – to research and experience what comforting and reforming light he might shine on these often very dark times. I look forward to working with our brilliant creative team as we endeavor to bring a fresh, unexpected and pertinent story to life once more.”

We don’t have any specifics but it does appear that this will not be a reboot of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but will feature Picard after the events of the series. In other words, we will be moving forward, as opposed to the subsequent series which either took place in another part of the galaxy, or which have been prequels. This also avoids finding a way for him to appear on Discovery, as initial rumors suggested might be the case.

I think it is a safe bet that most Star Trek fans will be interested in at least checking this out, regardless of the nature of the series. (Although I sure do hope it is not Picard as headmaster at Star Fleet Academy.) This is also a wise move for CBS All Access. Presumably it will air at a different time than Discovery, making Star Trek fans more likely to subscribe continuously, as opposed to only taking out subscriptions part of the year to watch Discovery.

Jason Isaacs also appeared but was not talking about whether Lorca will appear on Discovery again:  “You can ask me any questions, any questions you like, including questions about any future sightings of Lorca, anywhere in Star Trek and I will probably continue to lie and keep secrets, like I did last year. You can ask anything you like, but you will get nothing out of me.”

Rainn Wilson discussed the Star Trek Short episode he will appear in as Harry Mudd: “It is very funny and weird. You see some alien situations you have never seen before in the Star Trek canon, and I am thrilled.”

Besides Jean-Luc Picard returning to television, we will have a different version of Spock on Star Trek: Discovery next season. Alex  Kurtzman discussed this with TV Guide:

Alas, Spock is definitely headed to Star Trek: Discovery in Season 2 but he won’t be the cool-headed Vulcan you know from the original Star Trek series. After dropping the big news that the OG character was headed to Discovery at Comic-Con, new showrunner Alex Kurtzman shared even more details about Spock’s much-anticipated appearance, and it looks like there’s some major family drama ahead.

“This is not entirely the Spock who has been formed enough to be the Spock that we know from TOS. There’s a lot of story about who Spock was before he becomes the Spock that is the yin-yang to Kirk,” Kurtzman told TV Guide. “What I’m so excited about is that we have an opportunity to present a version of Spock that’s both totally consistent with the Spock everyone knows but very, very different. And it’s all gonna tie to how we sync up with canon.”

Spock’s appearance on Discovery will be tied to his relationship with his adoptive sister Burnham, who he has never mentioned before in Star Trek canon. Kurtzman previously told us that Season 2 will explain exactly why Spock never brought up Burnham during his time on the USS Enterprisewith Kirk and the rest of the gang. And according to Sonequa Martin-Green, it looks like we’ll see firsthand some of the reasons why.

“We’re certainly gonna see Spock and we’re gonna be exploring those family dynamics,” she said. “We’re gonna see a lot between them.” Added executive producer Heather Kadin, “I think that like any brother or sister, there’s love. There’s deep wells of stuff. That’s what’s so great about exploring that relationship, is there’s a lot of tricky stuff that we get to dig into.” No word yet on who will play the famous Vulcan but we can’t wait to see him in action!

We will not get another season of Timeless, but we do have a shot at getting Rufus back. A deal has been made to bring back Timeless for a two-hour television movie to conclude the series. Entertainment Weekly quoted the show’s producers:

“While we wish we could’ve made another dozen seasons of Timeless, this is the next best thing,” said Ryan and Kripke in a statement. “We’re thrilled to take the Lifeboat out for one last spin and bring closure to our story. The studio, network, cast and crew are all doing this for one reason only: the fans. Because they deserve it. Because the fans made this happen and we thank them for their passion, support and helicopters. So? You guys want to get Rufus back or what?”

Steven Moffat is returning to time travel. Deadline reports that HBO has picked up an adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife. Moffat, of course, is experienced in time travel from his work as a writer and show runner for Doctor Who.

Written by Moffat based on the novel by Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife is described as an intricate and magical love story about Clare and Henry, and a marriage with a problem… time travel.

“I read Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife many years ago, and I fell in love with it. In fact, I wrote a Doctor Who episode called ‘The Girl In The Fireplace’ as a direct response to it. When, in her next novel, Audrey had a character watching that very episode, I realized she was probably on to me. All these years later, the chance to adapt the novel itself, is a dream come true. The brave new world of long form television is now ready for this kind of depth and complexity. It’s a story of happy ever after – but not necessarily in that order.”

Meanwhile, in the present, season 11 of Doctor Who has concluded filming. Some pictures from the season are available here.

Humans concluded on AMC a couple of weeks ago. While I downloaded it when it aired in the UK, I have held off on spoiling it until concluded in the US, especially with such a major event as (major spoiler) the death of Mia. Digital Spy discussed the finale with Humans creators Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley:

There’s only one place to start, really… When did it become clear you would be writing Mia and Gemma Chan out of the show?

SAM: Relatively early on. Obviously Mia is a completely central character to the show, and we took her on this journey – we were plotting her story, and it became clear that she was going to become this political symbol, a lightning rod, a face around which a group can gather.

And it was going to be about sacrifice. I remember, when we talked about her character, she’s always been extremely self-sacrificing. She’s always put others before herself, from Leo (Colin Morgan), and being a mother figure to him, to giving her life for Laura (Katherine Parkinson) in series two.

And we sort of felt like that self-sacrificing quality is the essence of the character in so many ways. And when we started her on this path, we felt that this could be the culmination of all of the stories of series three in many ways, in that every great movement, you could argue, needs a martyr.

I mean, I don’t necessarily agree with that, but many great movements have pivoted around a martyr. And when we had this idea that she could actually quite consciously make the decision to put herself in harm’s way because she understood the power of the world seeing that.

We felt like it was really exciting, because it was true to the character. It was meant to be moving, but it also was about how sophisticated and intelligent she was; that she makes a conscious choice to put herself directly in the firing line, because she knows the power of that image – that she had that kind of political savvy was really thrilling to us.

And obviously it was an extremely big deal to even contemplate killing off a central character like this. We spoke about it. Internally, when we were sure that this was the right story and felt true, we went and spoke to Gemma about it.

It was obviously extremely important to talk to her as early as possible, and to bring her into that process, and get her thoughts on it.

So it was a pure storytelling decision, then? It wasn’t motivated by anything else?

JON: No. It was purely borne out of storytelling decisions, from the very beginning…

Once you knew that you would be writing Mia out, did that impact on Niska’s arc for this series? Did her arc then become all about making her ready to become a leader?

SAM Yeah. That was very much in our thoughts. We’re always trying to do something new with the characters, and push something challenging on them. And for Niska, she has this great responsibility now. Literally, in episode eight, we see her say, “No, no, no – you’re thinking of Mia. She’s the mother of her species. She is the leader of the Synths.”

But for that baton to be passed onto somebody who’s not ready for it, or isn’t quite suitable, or is going to struggle to don that mantle… we felt that that was a really interesting point of connection between the two of them. And we loved that moment.

What exactly are Niska and V now that they’ve evolved into “Purple Eyes”?

VINCENT: Well, as the fans will know from season two, V is a near-omniscient AI programme that started off as a kind of template of the human mind, but has evolved and grown into something much more.

V isn’t limited by a body, and has this omniscience because she’s everywhere on the internet, and is connected to all things, and essentially, V has looped Niska into that.

So Niska now has a kind of similar all-seeing eye, and other abilities besides, perhaps, that we wanted to keep in our back pocket.

Let’s talk about Mattie, who’s giving birth to a human/Synth hybrid baby. What inspired that idea?

SAM: That child was referred to – and I can’t even remember why now, but throughout the whole story-lining process, that child was referred to as “the turbo baby”. I think it might’ve been our producer, the wonderful Vicky Delow who actually coined the term!

We’ve always had in the back of our mind that eventually there would be a synthesis – no pun intended – between humans and Synths, and that they would come together in some way. The great truth, the answer that we wanted to have, is that we’re not different to them and the future relies on mixing and melding [with] them.

It of course pushes the boundaries of just how science fiction we can be within the parameters of this show. But we wanted to find a way to examine how Synths and humans can come together.

Of course, we’ve had it before in Leo, who’s a central character. But when we struck upon this, we thought: it’s quite momentous, but it’s also very, very human, because it’s a young woman who’s fallen pregnant, with potentially extraordinary stakes.

We knew that we were going to have Mia’s death, and this huge battle, and the scenes with Niska and Odi, so we wanted to play all of that huge stuff, and then come back down to one of the most human things we have, which is Lucy Carless’s face, as she hears some impossible news.

We were always keen to have that as the final shot of this season. And fortunately, we were able to make it work, courtesy of Daisy’s writing and Richard’s great direction in this episode…

Cloak and Dagger completed its first season last week. TVLine spoke with executive producer Joe Pokaski:

TVLINE | Now that Tandy and Tyrone have finally gotten a taste of what they can do together, will that change how they operate next season?
Yeah, I think that’s exactly it. Season 1 was about understanding them as human beings, then thrusting them into a heroic role. Season 2, in our dreams so far, is about them choosing to be heroes, choosing to be vigilantes. We’ll look at the reality of it and how that bucks up against what you’re supposed to do — and what happens when you cross the line.

TVLINE | We’ve spoken about the pacing of the season. Will Season 2 follow the same gradual build, or will it be more hectic from the start?
Part of the reason we wanted to let it breathe was so you could really lock in on who these characters are. Having worked on a few genre shows, I know there’s an inevitability to it speeding up, which I think we saw begin around Episode 6. Part of the reason we deliberately lingered towards the beginning was because you can never go back. In truth, we’ll probably be at a similar pace in Season 2, or we might ratchet it up a little more. The training wheels are off a little in terms of storytelling, so we’ll be moving at a slightly quicker pace.

TVLINE | I guess it wouldn’t make sense for things to slow back down, especially since Tyrone is still wanted for murder.
Yeah, that’ll be a big obstacle. What we were excited to do — possibly because we’re masochists — was to take something away from Tandy and Tyrone at the end of the season. Tyrone’s main problem was that he was living in a gilded cage; in the first episode, he called his mom “smothering.” So when you do that on our show, it means that by the end of the season, you won’t have a mom anymore. We’re able to look at a different aspect of his personality and to knock him down and see how he gets back up. On the Tandy side, it’s the same sort of thing where she’s been in a little bubble — living alone and keeping people at arm’s length, which allows her to be cynical — but by the end, she’s seen what her mom’s gone through for her. She chooses to move back in, which is the right thing to do, but it’s going to be complicated. It’s going to recalibrate her morality, as well.

TVLINE | This is a potentially stupid question — and I’ve already told you I’m not a comic expert — but did Tandy and Tyrone break the curse of the Divine Pairing, or just prolong it?
They have broken the curse. We’re very excited about the idea of the next generation saving us all. We talked about it before Parkland and after Parkland. We love the idea that people have always said “This is the way it’s supposed to be,” and then our kids are the ones who say, “No. Just because you say this is the way it’s supposed to be, that doesn’t mean it has to be.” We take inspiration from Emma Gonzalez, the idea that we’re only going to be saved by young men and women who say “Enough is enough, we’re changing the rules.”

TVLINE | When Freeform announced that Season 2 will be “mayhem,” I figured we’d be getting a glimpse at O’Reilly’s alter ego. Was that the finished product, or will her look continue to evolve?
Everything we do with Mayhem, particularly in the first three or four episodes, is going to surprise the heck out of you. I don’t want to say too much, because I’m really excited about what we’re doing. It was a tease about how we’re turning up the volume in Season 2. Now that we’ve worked with Emma Lahana and we know what she can do, we’re going to present a Mayhem — and a character — unlike you’ve ever seen.

TVLINE | With a name like Mayhem, you’d think she’d be a villain, but in my research — again, not a comic expert — I found that she does a lot of good.
Yeah, she’s a little in the middle. The thing that excited me, in the most general sense, was the idea that if Tandy and Tyrone are choosing to be vigilantes, how do they react to the way that Mayhem operates? And how do they calibrate their own vigilantism, either away from or towards her?

Netflix has announced that season three of Daredevil will be released before the end of the year.

Moving on to DC television, and returning to Star Trek, Brent Spiner has been cast in a recurring role on Supergirl as the vice president.

CinemaBlend has a list of all of the new characters coming to the Arrowverse next season.

Arrow season seven will reportedly be closer in tone to the first season–which should be a big improvement over the last few seasons. Actually, if I remember correctly, I think that the second season might have been the best, but a desire to return to the tone of the first sounds like a wise move.

SciFi Weekend: More News From Comic Con Including The Orville, Star Trek Discovery, Doctor Who, The Expanse and CW Shows; Game of Thrones; Altered Carbon Renewed

Last week I began coverage of this year’s San Diego Comic Con, concentrating on Star Trek: Discovery, The Orville, and Doctor Who. This week I will add some additional information which came out at Comic Con on these shows, some information on other shows, and some news which came out later in the week.

Marina Sirtis will be guest staring in an episode of The Orville, which will be directed by Jonathan Frakes. John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox) is yet another former Star Trek actor who will be appearing in an upcoming episode of The Orville. More on plans for season two of The Orville in last week’s post and at TrekMovie.com.

Rod Roddenberry premiered a short film at San Diego Comic Con, which can be viewed here. More information at SyFy Wire.

Alex Kurtzman says that a new Spock has already been cast.

Last week I wondered whether Anson Mount would be taking command of the Discovery for the entire season, or just as an arc part of the season. This does not entirely answer the question of whether he will be in command of Discovery the entire time, but Mount did say how long he will be appearing on Star Trek: Discovery in this interview with TrekMovie.com:

They’re still shooting, so was it an arc or are you a season 2 character?

Oh yeah. I’m contracted.

For the whole season, I meant. Main cast, whole season?

Yep.

13 episodes.

Yep.

There’s something a little jaded about Pike when we meet him early on in “The Cage.” Would you say that maybe some of what he experiences in this is part of his arc that takes him to that point?

Editor’s note: The question was intended to touch on how “The Cage” informed Mount’s performance, and how it affects where Pike is now. The fast pace of the red carpet means sometimes questions aren’t phrased perfectly. To clarify, the events of “The Cage” took place in 2254, three years prior to DSC season two (2257).

You’re going to see some easter eggs that you’ll recognize about Pike, I can tell you that.

Michael Dorn says that there hasn’t been any talk yet about a Worf spinoff among the new Star Trek projects, but he is working on it:

“I think this Worf thing would be perfect — I mean, really perfect,” he says. “It’s just a matter of getting the phone number of the right guy or getting the email of the right person that can actually get you in there. It’s a little early in the game right now, but I still think there’s hope for it.”

Even though there’s a powerful mystique to being a Starfleet captain, Dorn’s idea isn’t to put Worf in charge of the Enterprise. Dorn is fascinated with Klingons and feels the race of warrior aliens could be explored even further. His idea is to put Worf in charge of a Klingon ship during a period of cultural change for their fictional empire. There would be different aliens — including humans — on the ship, and the shift toward diversity and inclusion would be a painful one for the Klingons.

“I’ve always liked the Klingons. I’ve always thought that they were the most interesting aliens outside of the Vulcans and all that,” Dorn says. “There’s a certain Shakespearian bent with the Klingons. They’re very nationalistic — there’s coups, there’s assassinations, there’s takeovers, there’s all these kind of things. Interestingly enough, they talk kind of Shakespearian.”

Chris Chibnall told Digital Spy why the upcoming season of Doctor Who will have three companions and be more of an ensemble:

“I love Doctor Who as a big, popular, mainstream, accessible show,” Chibnall said. “So I wanted to make sure that every member of the audience felt they had a relatable character, an access point. Hopefully it means that the show can resonate with the broadest possible audience.

“And of course, three companions with the Doctor… we’re really going back to 1963 – that’s the format of the show! You’re not changing the format, that’s how it started, really – which I only realised afterwards.”

The Doctor’s new friends – Chibnall says not calling them “companions” just feels “a bit more natural” but “is in no way a rule or edict from now on” – include Yaz (Mandip Gill), who is “in absolute awe of the Doctor” and Ryan (Tosin Cole), who “challenges the Doctor from time to time, gets it right sometimes, but wrong a lot of the time”.

“Ryan’s 19, Yaz is 19, and then you’ve got Graham who’s the oldest of the bunch, so we’ve got different generations, different genders,” Cole told us.

“People have an ‘in’, in three different ways,” Gill added. “We all bring something different to the group, with gender, race, everything. And just the personalities of the three characters are very different.

“They each have a very individual voice, where I think certain people will be able to instantly relate to Bradley Walsh’s character, instantly relate to Tosin’s… and hopefully just love us all!”

Walsh completes the trio as Graham, with Chibnall confirming that he thought of casting the star having worked together on ITV’s Law & Order: UK in 2009.

“He’s an amazing actor and that’s what I learned working with him on Law & Order,” he added. “He has an incredible emotional range. He’s able to be really funny, and break your heart. And these guys [Gill and Cole] are exactly the same, as is Jodie. It means you have a range of emotional flavours in the show.”

Io9 interviewed Naren Shankar, showrunner of The Expanse at Comic Con, and asked about the move to Amazon:

io9: Will fans be able to tell the difference with the shift to Amazon?

Shankar: I think we’re in real strong continuity at this point. Anybody who’s read the books know that the books change pretty radically, sort of season by season. We’re in book four now, and if you’ve read book four, that is set entirely on one of the alien worlds beyond the rings. We’re not going quite that far, to, just completely do that as the entire season. But I think one of the strengths of the show is that it keeps changing. But—hopefully we’re doing our jobs right.

It’s not like Ty [Franck] and Daniel [Abraham, who co-author the Expanse books as James S. A. Corey] stopped being involved in the show. [laughs]. So, it’s not that. [Show writers] Georgia Lee and Robin Veith have both moved on to other projects, but they’re still friends of the show and they’ll be part of it again, I have no doubt.

io9: Will working with Amazon give you more creative freedom, or at least release you from having to do things like bleep out swear words?

Shankar: Absolutely. None of those restrictions have to come into play, because those are all basic cable issues. What’s weird about it is that on Syfy all of that stuff was bleeped out, but if you happened to be watching it on Space in Canada, none of that’s bleeped out. It’s going to be, I think, terrific for the show, because we don’t have language restrictions, we don’t have nudity restrictions, we don’t have all of these things that conspire a lot of times to make, especially genre shows, not feel as adult as they should be. Not to feel real. In my mind, it sort of infantilizes genre [TV series] even more so. But that goes away on Amazon.

We also don’t have to jam the individual episodes into 43-minute chunks. There were a lot of times over the last few seasons that I’ve gotten a show through post, and it’s been like, “Man, it would much better if I could just open this thing up by two minutes.” But you can’t. That isn’t a problem on Amazon either. So I think there’s huge creative advantages. And honestly, this show was made for streaming. It was made for bingeing. That’s just what it is. And everybody [who works on The Expanse], I think to a person, would say the same thing. We kind of have found our home. This is the right place for the show…

io9: The third season had events from both book two and book three guiding its plot. Will there be any of book five in season four?

Shankar: Without giving too many spoilers [laughs]—there’s so much that is juicy from this point on. One of the great frustrations when we thought we’d been canceled at the end of season three was that the end of the third book is really the end of the first big movement of the series. Which is, after spending a lot of time inside the solar system, this gigantically important thing happens that opens up an entirely new frontier for humanity. And that starts happening in book four.

Yeah, the book itself is completely restricted to the storyline on this new planet, Ilus, and a huge portion of the new season [is based on] book four. But we’re also creating material [that takes place] back in the solar system, that reflects on the events on Ilus. It’s stuff that isn’t in the book, but it actually bridges books four and five going forward. There’s a whole bunch of things happening that are sort of referred to, obliquely, in the text, but we’re bringing them to life and actually playing storylines back in the solar system simultaneously.

io9: Can you name a couple of examples from past seasons when the show has added or changed material from the books?

Shankar: There’s a few examples, even going back as far as the pilot. Chrisjen Avasarela, she’s not in book one of the series. She actually comes into book two. Very early on, that decision was made to pull her into the original narrative to give Earth’s perspective of the events, so it’s not just Holden and Miller, which is the entire book one. Similarly, the character played by Elizabeth Mitchell, Anna Volovodov, she’s in book three but she’s not in book two at all. So because we knew that we would be bridging the end of book two and book three in the third season, we launched Anna at the beginning of season three—the backstory of Errinwright and her on Earth, that’s not in the books or the novellas. So we’re teeing up the narrative for future seasons of the show, but we’re creating new stuff that’s not in any of the published stuff. Ty and Daniel are right there with us, so we’ve talked a lot about how to bridge it. But I think people are going to be pretty psyched by what we do.

io9: Is the ultimate goal to finish the books?

Shankar: I would love to take the show to the end of book nine. Ty and Daniel have written a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. That is the perfect version of this for me—if we can keep the show going, and people like it, I think it would be remarkable to tell, because they are telling a story about the evolution of a species and sort of the fate of humanity in very, very big terms with a very particular point of view. I’d love to be able to take it to the end. That would be amazing.

Nora Allen said she made a “big mistake” at the end of last season, but it turns out that she made multiple mistakes per this report from ComicBook.com:

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, Helbing said that Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) has more than one mistake to deal with and that those additional mistakes are well on their way.

“There’s a bunch of big mistakes and they’re coming,” Helbing said. “It’s not just one.”

While Helbing didn’t elaborate on exactly what those mistakes were, during the show’s SDCC panel Helbing also revealed that the show, whose overall theme for season five is the concept of legacy, would be doing a younger version of The Rogues. If Nora, whose heroic codename is XS, is operating as a super heroic speedster in the future it would make sense that she would also have her own version of the Rogues, the iconic group of Flash villains in comics.

On top of the possibility of a Young Rogues, the season’s big bad, Cicada, has also been teased as art of Nora’s big mistake. A tease about the villain was supposed to factor into The Flash’s season four finale, but was ultimately cut for time, though it was confirmed that Cicada won’t be a speedster, something Helbing told ComicBook.com gave the show a way to change up the obstacles for Barry and the team.

TV Line looked at Legends of Tomorrow, including why they are not being included in next season’s Arrowverse crossover.

Supergirl will have feature television’s first transgender superhero next season.

Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger has been renewed for a second season.

It was revealed at Comic Con that the third season of The Man In The High Castle will premiere on October 5, with the entire season being released that date. Amazon has also renewed the show for a fifth season.

The final six episodes of Game of Thrones will air in the first half of 2019. A pilot for one of the prequel series will also start filming early in 2019. At present there are only plans to proceed with one series, with previous stories discussing several possible spinoffs.

TV Line has information on The 100.

Altered Carbon has been renewed by Netflix for a second season. Like Doctor Who, the show lends itself to the “regeneration” of the main character, or at least having a different appearance and star every season. Anthony Mackie, who has played The Falcon in Captain America and Avengers movies will play Takeshi Kovacs next season. It is not known if other characters from the first season will return.

Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits is being made into a television series by Apple.

Keeping Stories About Russia In Perspective

As I noted last week, there has been a lack of understanding of past relationships between world powers, and a lack of perspective, in recent discussions regarding Russia. Some act as if meddling in foreign elections is something new, such as a conspiracy between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency some thought she deserved, as opposed to a continuation of long standing practices (even if updated for modern technology) between world powers.

Some see signs of dirty financial dealings as meaning that the Republicans, and therefore much of our government, is under Russian control. It really is possible for Trump and other Republicans to be corrupt idiots without it being related to a Russian plot. Our politicians, from both parties, have shown plenty of ability to act both corruptly and idiotically without Russia for many years. Some people even seem surprised to hear that an alleged Russian spy used sex to promote her goals. Have they never seen an episode of The Americans? 

Lyle Jeremy Rubin , a former Marine signals intelligence officer who has worked at the NSA, has written about the need for perspective in Commentary. He points out how, “U.S. cyber operations in Russia, across Russia’s periphery, and around the world already dwarfed Russian operations in size, capability, and frequency.”

Furthermore, covert American operations are deeply invested in interrupting democratic processes not only in Russia, but everywhere else. This includes the heart of Europe, where corporate media is now pretending the United States has always respected happy norms and decorum. It is as if the Snowden leaks never happened. The Defense Department’s tapping of Angela Merkel’s phone never happened. The Obama administration’s spying on the German press, including Der Spiegel, never happened. The same administration’s outing of German government whistle-blowers never happened.

Electoral meddling in particular happens all the time, both to us and by us. The U.S. government rigged the Russian election for Yeltsin in 1996, and then they bragged about it in a cover story for Time. (You can still find the cover online.) This followed the disastrous capitalist “shock therapy” of the early nineties and preceded the rise of the Russian oligarchs. Putin’s brand of nationalist resentment grew out of this moment of extreme collective humiliation. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is happily on record pushing for the tampering of Palestinian elections in 2006.

As the political scientist Dov H. Levin has shown, between 1946 and 2000, the United States government conducted at least 81 electoral interventions in other countries, while Russia conducted at least 36. This does not include the U.S. government’s violent overthrow of dozens of governments during this same period, including democratic governments in places like Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), and Chile (1973). As recent as 2009, Hillary Clinton’s State Department played a complicit role in the brutal deposition of democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya’s government in Honduras. No other country, including Russia, even approaches this level of wanton disregard for the norms of sovereignty. Around the world, organizations that the U.S. “fund[s], support[s] and direct[s] are openly dedicated to manipulating foreign elections, creating U.S.-friendly opposition movements and even overthrowing governments that impede U.S. interests worldwide.” In 1999, President Clinton sent three advisers to Israel to try to swing the country’s elections for Ehud Barak. The New York Times reported that they were “writing advertisements, plotting strategy and taking polls” for the candidate. Imagine what the reaction would be if Putin had literally dispatched three top deputies to join the Trump campaign.

Of course, a few dozen wrongs don’t make a right, and the fact that U.S. outrage over Russian interference is comically hypocritical doesn’t make tampering with our elections unobjectionable. But anyone who sees the Russian activity as an antidemocratic outrage should be condemning the United States just as loudly, and treating the Russia story as some kind of unprecedented act of covert control is laughable.

That said, just because the United States leads the world in meddling of all kinds, that doesn’t mean we are immune to it. In fact, meddling from abroad comes in many forms. Prominent think tanks in Washington are funded by the Gulf states. The United Arab Emirates contributes generously to the coffers of the Middle East Institute (MEI) and the Center for American Progress (CAP). The Brookings Institute graciously accepts millions from Qatar. The Atlantic Council and Center for Strategic and International Studies enjoy similar arrangements with other oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia. The same can be said for numerous other repressive governments beyond the Gulf. And then there are the defense contractorsWall Street banks, and Silicon Valley behemoths, all of which have joined such governments in capturing intellectual real estate in academia as well.

Our politicians, of course, are being flooded with cash from foreign-related interests. Pro-Israel billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban have bought themselves outsized influence in both parties, with Adelson successfully financing Trump’s rise to power and Saban effectively blocking Keith Ellison’s bid for Democratic National Committee chair. The Turkish lobby, likewise, continues to prove itself another bipartisan force, with everyone from former House leader Dick Gephardt to disgraced national security advisor Michael Flynn being enlisted to secure Ankara prerogatives while whitewashing various crimes against the Armenians and Kurds. As for explicit electoral interference, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been implicated in foul play in the 2016 election. Same goes for Ukraine. Same goes for Israel in 2012. And these are just the instances so brazen that they have made their way into Wikipedia.

Peter Beinart also looked at the history of US meddling in other countries. He introduced the article with this argument as to why it is important:

Discussing America’s history of electoral interference has never been more necessary. It’s necessary not so Americans can downplay the severity of Russia’s election attack. It’s necessary so Americans can determine how—and how not—to respond. The less Americans know about America’s history of electoral interference, the more likely they are to acquiesce to—or even cheer—its return. That’s dangerous because, historically, American meddling has done far more to harm democracy than promote it.

After discussing this history, he concluded, “Washington’s current burst of nationalist indignation, like the one that followed 9/11, is both vital and dangerous if not tempered by an awareness of America’s own capacity for misdeeds. When liberals start calling people ‘traitors’ for acknowledging that capacity, they’ve gone badly astray.”

Beinart is right. If you think the greatest threat to our democracy comes from Russia you are totally missing what the Democrats and Republicans are doing (which is exactly what they want). Republican voter suppression is a far bigger threat to democracy than anything Russia has done. The Democratic rigging of the 2016 nomination is a far bigger threat to democracy than anything Russia has done. The actions by both parties to keep out third parties is a far bigger threat to democracy than anything Russia has done.

While Russia might have meddled in our elections, just as the US meddles all over the world, their impact has been minimal. The overreaction and hysteria over this is also far more damaging than anything Russia has actually done.

Perhaps we need a New Rule: American politicians who are upset about Russian meddling in US politics should make it a priority to make the US stop meddling in the affairs of other countries.

Fearmongering like this is commonplace:

Remember when they told us we were in grave danger because of the missile gap?
Remember when they told us that the whole world would go Communist after the first dominoes fell in Southeast Asia?
Remember when they told us that Saddam could hit us in minutes with his WMD?
Now they tell  us that Russian hackers are taking control of our government. As Douglas Adams would say, Don’t Panic.

We need enhanced cybersecurity, and a paper trail, regardless of whether future threats to the voting system come from Russia or elsewhere. While there is zero evidence that any votes were changed in 2016, we cannot take that chance in the future. Republican opposition to enhanced voting security makes no more sense than the Democratic claims that Russia altered the 2016 election results. However, we do not need to panic. We do not need to claim that those who question unverified claims are pro-Putin. We do not need to continue to restrict American speech on social media. We do not need to promote a further deterioration in the relations between nuclear powers.

SciFi Weekend: News From San Diego Comic Con On Star Trek Discovery, The Orville, & Doctor Who

We learned from the Star Trek: Discovery panel at San Diego Comic Con that Christopher Pike will be taking command of Discovery, but it is not how much of the season this will apply to. Even before the second season of Star Trek: Discovery returns, CBS All Access will be showing more Star Trek in the form of shorts. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Called Star Trek: Short Treks,each of the four-episode series will run between 10-15 minutes and feature deeper storytelling surrounding the characters and themes from Discovery and the expanding Star Trek universe. The series will launch in the fall and roll out monthly, helping to keep awareness of Discovery high before its return in January 2019.

Rainn Wilson will reprise his role as Harry Mudd in a short he will direct. Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures, Showtime’s upcoming City on a Hill) will star in another installment as Craft, a man who finds himself the only human on board a deserted ship. Additional episodes will explore Saru’s (Doug Jones) backstory as the first Kelpien to join Starfleet and Tilly’s (Mary Wiseman) journey aboard the USS Discovery and her friendship with an unlikely partner.

“There is no shortage of compelling stories to tell in the Star Trek universe that inspire, entertain and either challenge our preconceived ideas or affirm long-held beliefs, and we are excited to broaden the universe already with Short Treks,” Discovery showrunner Alex Kurtzman said. “Each episode will deliver closed-ended stories while revealing clues about what’s to come in future Star Trek: Discovery episodes. They’ll also introduce audiences to new characters who may inhabit the larger world of Star Trek.”

This should serve two purposes–keeping alive interest in Star Trek until Discovery returns, and giving fans a reason to continue their subscription to CBS All Access as opposed to only subscribing during the months when Discovery is on.

The following trailer was released:

Other news includes an announcement that Rebecca Romijn (X-Men) will guest-star as Number One. While Spock will be on the show, there is no answer as to whether it will by young Spock in flashbacks or Spock serving on the Enterprise. The trailer does indicate that Spock will be on leave at the start of the season, but will be involved in the problem which leads to Pike taking command of Discovery.

Alex Kurtzman was evasive when asked if Lorca will return after his apparent death last season. Culmets will be back, but we don’t know how. There was a hint that it had something to do with mycelium.

The video of the Star Trek: Discovery panel can be seen in the video above. Alex Kurtzman also discussed canon:

We know we owe you a lot of answers how Discovery connects to canon, and you will get a lot of those answers this season. Guaranteed. You’re just not going to get them the way you expect them. A lot of what the first season was about was about the crew finding each other, and coming together, and forming the foundation of a family. Now they really are a family. And so much of what’s will happen over the course of season 2 is going to test them constantly. And they’re even going to have to make choices between their real family and their starship family. So a lot of family pain is going to be a major part of it. As you may have seen in the trailer, there are these mysterious signals that appear. The signals are very significant, and form a lot of the investigative trail of why the Enterprise is here, and where they’re heading. And it will lead to a lot of surprises.

Earlier in the month I noted the plans for  James T. Kirk Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The next in the line of Star Trek themed spirits was introduced at SDCC: Ten-Forward Vodka. The manufacturer plans to send a batch into space, which will be blended with the larger stock so they can promote this by saying that every bottle contains a tiny bit of space-bound booze.

Star Trek Discovery will be returning in early 2019 with exact date not yet announced.

Seth MacFarlane said at The Orville panel that the initial marketing for the show gave the wrong idea about it. From TV Guide:

“Initially, I think the show was a little misrepresented in Season 1. It was marketed as a comedy, a hard comedy. I’m not sure why. I think there was a little bit of worry that this was so new and weird and different that it wouldn’t land if it wasn’t put into a box. It wasn’t necessarily representative of the show,” he said. “The nice thing is that the fans stuck with it and saw what we were, the tonal balance that we were riding and they embraced it.”

MacFarlane clarified that the marketing team for Season 2 was staying more in line with what he believes is the core ethos of the show.

“The show was always intended to be what it is now. I’ll start this by saying that I think the work that the marketing team at Fox did on the season is stellar. They just did a knockout job with [the Season 2] trailer,” he explained.

The feel of Season 2 is going to be a lot bigger in Season 1 as MacFarlane says the writing team is taking more risks in their sophomore season.

“There are two huge changes — the experiment was a success so in Season 2 the storytelling is more assertive and bold. There’s some narratively bold stuff that was just amazing to make,” MacFarlane teased. “What you’re going to see in Season 2 is a show that’s even more comfortable in its footing as far as existing in that Goldilocks zone [between sci-fi and comedy]… Every episode feels like a movie.”

IndieWire adds:

“This show was a tonal experiment of sorts,” MacFarlane said. “Comedy and sci-fi when you blend them together, they don’t always mix well. In features they do, but television is kind of hard to sustain. The pleasant surprise for me was that fans and viewers were willing to let us tell a story. They weren’t waiting for the next joke to come.”

MacFarlane said “different stories call for different tones,” just like life has different tones, and the comedy in “The Orville” was always meant as a “garnish” more than the main course. To that end, he said early advertisements for the hourlong series weren’t in line with the final product.

“Initially, I think the show was a little misrepresented,” MacFarlane said. “It was marketed as a comedy… I’m not sure why. Maybe there was a worry this was so new and weird and different it wouldn’t land.”

Video from The Orville panel above.

The Orville will return on December 30. More on the second season here, including that the second season will be at least one episode longer than the first as one episode was held back.

We have known for a while that we will have a new set of faces when Doctor Who returns, and Den of Geek has some additional information. This includes that, “Chibnall is writing five episodes and that two of the five guest writers on this series are women, including the first-ever woman of colour to contribute to the TV show.”

Deadline interviewed Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker:

DEADLINE: Jodie, besides this being your first Comic-Con, you are the first female Doctor Who. What is the significance of that for you?

WHITTAKER: Oh, it’s huge, really. I mean, your whole mind-set is programmed from being a kid that to play the Doctor, you have to be a man, and if you’re a girl you can be, could be a companion. So as an actor, for those rules to be thrown out the window at this kind of perfect time is really exciting.

DEADLINE: Why?

WHITTAKER: Because for the first time, the Doctor regenerates, but regenerates in this completely brand new way, which is really liberating. For me, now approaching the part it’s really liberating because there’s no rules for me in this way. Also, it’s a perfect job for any actor because even though there’s the 12 previous shoes that you’re filling, you’re able creatively to make it your own. So, I think rather than feeling the pressure of that, I feel the excitement of that.

DEADLINE: Was the heritage of the show an advantage?

WHITTAKER: Well, no season of Doctor Who is like the previous in many ways and neither is a new Doctor, so coming at it with fresh eyes was helpful in so many ways because nobody knows the character before born into this new body. I just wanted to, I suppose, use my newness in myself to be able to bring that energy to the show. Then also, you know, there’s so many references. You’re never going to have a Doctor Who series without references to things that have gone before. So, I obviously have done enough research to know what I’m talking about.

DEADLINE: Clearly, you know the 10th Doctor, David Tennant, from your mutual work on Broadchurch. Did you discuss the role and the show with him or other of your Gallifreyan predecessors?

WHITTAKER: (Laughs) I’ve known David for years, but at first, I wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone because I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that I got the job. So, it was the only the weekend before it was officially announced that I was able to speak to, very briefly, Peter, Matt Smith and David.

DEADLINE: Did they have any words of Time Lord wisdom?

WHITTAKER: I think the thing that was the overriding message was that you are going to have the time of your life. Also, that this is like no other job, and it’s completely unique for every single person who plays the part.

DEADLINE: Speaking of playing the part, Chris, the two of you obviously worked together on Broadchurch and you have penned a number of Who episodes in the past. But what is it like working with Jodie on Doctor Who?

CHIBNALL: Actually Dominic, that was the brilliant thing about it, really. Having known Jodie and worked with her previously, I know that she is limitless as a performer and is incredibly funny and full of energy, which something that many people haven’t had a chance to see. Often, and some of this is my fault, she’s been crying in shows for years on British television.

So, now, I think what’s been brilliant is knowing how amazing she is as an actress, is to try and give her as much variety, and as much range, and as many challenges as possible to reveal her range and skills. Because the part of the Doctor can go anywhere and should go anywhere. So, in terms of us working together again, that’s been the joy of it on a show that, I think we can all agree, is pretty much the polar opposite of Broadchurch.

DEADLINE: Jodie, not just in terms of gender but generationally, you are a different Doctor than say Peter was. In that context, do you approach this with a clean slate point of view or as a continuation of the greater narrative that Doctor Who has built up over the decades?

WHITTAKER: It’s not so much of a clean slate because you take what’s gone before, and you honor it. But to make it your own season, and for me, to make it my own Doctor, I want to take those elements that’ve gone before in a new direction without losing any of the rich history of show.

DEADLINE: How do you mean?

WHITTAKER: Well, the way we’ve been operating is that if you’ve been a fan of this show for the last 20 years or 50 years, then this will absolutely carry on your passion, and engagement, and excitement. But if you’re brand new to it, that’s OK too. You don’t need to have an encyclopedic knowledge to come into this with fresh eyes, and that’s of any age or gender. I think that’s what’s been exciting for me, because I didn’t come at this as a Whovian, and this is a show that’s inclusive rather exclusive and that’s great.

The official trailer is above and video of the Doctor Who panel is below. So far the BBC is only saying that Doctor Who will return in Autumn 2018.

There was, of course, far more news from San Diego Comic Con which I will return to next week.

Ecuador Might Be Preparing To Turn Julian Assange Over To Authorities–Will This Lead To Prosecution By The US?

Glenn Greenwald reports at The Intercept that Ecuador is preparing to turn Julian Assange over to UK authorities. He writes:

A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry and the President’s office, unauthorized to speak publicly, has confirmed to the Intercept that Moreno is close to finalizing, if he has not already finalized, an agreement to hand over Assange to the UK within the next several weeks. The withdrawal of asylum and physical ejection of Assange could come as early as this week. On Friday, RT reported that Ecuador was preparing to enter into such an agreement…

The central oddity of Assange’s case – that he has been effectively imprisoned for eight years despite never having been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime – is virtually certain to be prolonged once Ecuador hands him over to the U.K. Even under the best-case scenario, it appears highly likely that Assange will continue to be imprisoned by British authorities.

The only known criminal proceeding Assange currently faces is a pending 2012 arrest warrant for “failure to surrender” – basically a minor bail violation charge that arose when he obtained asylum from Ecuador rather than complying with bail conditions by returning to court for a hearing on his attempt to resist extradition to Sweden.

That charge carries a prison term of three months and a fine, though it is possible that the time Assange has already spent in prison in the UK could be counted against that sentence. In 2010, Assange was imprisoned in Wandsworth Prison, kept in isolation, for 10 days until he was released on bail; he was then under house arrest for 550 days at the home of a supporter…

THE FAR MORE IMPORTANT question that will determine Assange’s future is what the U.S. Government intends to do. The Obama administration was eager to prosecute Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, but ultimately concluded that there was no way to do so without either also prosecuting newspapers such as the New York Times and the Guardian which published the same documents, or create precedents that would enable the criminal prosecution of media outlets in the future.

Indeed, it is technically a crime under U.S. law for anyone – including a media outlet – to publish certain types of classified information. Under U.S. law, for instance, it was a felony for the Washington Post’s David Ignatius to report on the contents of telephone calls, intercepted by the NSA, between then National Security Adviser nominee Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, even though such reporting was clearly in the public interest since it proved Flynn lied when he denied such contacts…

But the U.S. Justice Department has never wanted to indict and prosecute anyone for the crime of publishing such material, contenting themselves instead to prosecuting the government sources who leak it. Their reluctance has been due to two reasons: first, media outlets would argue that any attempts to criminalize the mere publication of classified or stolen documents is barred by the press freedom guarantee of the First Amendment, a proposition the DOJ has never wanted to test; second, no DOJ has wanted as part of its legacy the creation of a precedent that allows the U.S. Government to criminally prosecute journalists and media outlets for reporting classified documents.

But the Trump administration has made clear that they have no such concerns. Quite the contrary: last April, Trump’s then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, now his Secretary of State, delivered a deranged, rambling, highly threatening broadside against WikiLeaks. Without citing any evidence, Pompeo decreed that WikiLeaks is “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” and thus declared: “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.”..

But there seems little question that, as Sessions surely knows, large numbers of U.S. journalists – along with many, perhaps most, Democrats – would actually support the Trump DOJ in prosecuting Assange for publishing documents. After all, the DNC sued WikiLeaks in April for publishing documents – a serious, obvious threat to press freedom – and few objected.

And it was Democratic Senators such as Dianne Feinstein who, during the Obama years, were urging the prosecution of WikiLeaks, with the support of numerous GOP Senators. There is no doubt that, after 2016, support among both journalists and Democrats for imprisoning Assange for publishing documents would be higher than ever.

Greenwald added on Twitter: “It should take only the tiniest amount of rationality to understand the dangers to journalists from having the DOJ prosecute Assange for publishing classified or stolen documents. From the Pentagon Papers to the Snowden reporting to daily leaks, media outlets do that every day.”

Kevin Drum does not think there would be  much support for prosecution among journalists or Democrats:

I don’t have any independent knowledge of what will happen to Assange next, or whether he will indeed eventually be extradited to the United States. But I will say this. If the case brought against him is a fairly ordinary one of publishing classified material, I expect, contra Greenwald, that virtually no Democrats and absolutely no journalists will support the government’s case.¹ There would, unfortunately, probably be a few Democratic politicians who would cheer his prosecution, but even there I think (or hope, anyway) that their numbers would be small. If this case goes forward, I suppose it will be a good test of whose level of cynicism is currently best calibrated to the current mood of the American public.

¹The exceptions are likely to be nutballs like Breitbart or folks like that. Even Fox News would probably defend him against a straight-up publishing charge.

I agree that serious journalists will not support prosecution, but am not so sure about the Democrats. Again, as Greenwald pointed out, the DNC has already sued WikiLeaks for publishing documents obtained by others. Again, as Greenwald points out, this is a serious, obvious treat to press freedom.

SciFi Weekend: The Handmaid’s Tale Controversial Second Season Finale; Discovery Shows The Enterprise Bridge; Emmy Nominations For Genre Shows; Doctor Who Teaser; HBO Picks Up New Show From Joss Whedon; Sweetbitter Renewed; Downton Abbey Movie Announced

The second season finale of The Handmaid’s Tale was quite controversial. I had mixed feelings when I saw June/Offred decide not to flee to Canada. It was frustrating, and unexpected, that she did not take advantage of this opportunity, but I was also concerned while watching the minutes leading up to this that we might be seeing a replay of the first season finale–June on the verge of escaping and then being dragged back again. At very least I am glad that they wound up doing something different.

The question is whether the surprise ending is believable with what we know about June. We would expect anyone to want to escape that country if possible. Last season, when given the opportunity to try to escape, June attempted to do so.  However, some things are different. She saw her first child, and had to face the question of why she did not try harder to remain with her. She even has information about her daughter, giving her a chance at finding her again. While fighting the system in Gilead appears to be too dangerous to risk, seeing that the Marthas have united to rebel does give more hope.

It might be argued that she was attempting to escape when she tried to get the car earlier in the season, however we don’t really know that her plan was to try to escape to Canada. She might have planned to try to free her first daughter first. Plus at that time she was pregnant, and escaping Gilead with her soon to be born daughter would be motivation to try to escape. At the end of the second season she had the opportunity to both send her second daughter to safety and remain behind to fight.

Ultimately whether I accept the conclusion of the second season as a realistic choice will depend upon what we learn was in June’s head in the time and what she winds up doing. After two bleak seasons, I hope that the third season does show further rebellion. Of course with this show there is no guarantee of success. There is the danger that June winds up being captured and in an even worse situation, or even that the entire series ultimately ends with the execution of the characters in Gilead who we care about. Hopefully we will get a more optimistic ending than that.

There are also questions about several other characters. Will Emily actually make it to Canada and, if so, what does she do there. How far will Serena go in opposing the system? Will Aunt Lydia survive her wounds? I bet she will be back. What happens to the relationship between Nick and Commander Waterford now that it is clearer that Nick is involved with the resistance? There must be a limit to how useful Nick’s knowledge of Waterford’s secrets are against a guy cruel enough to have his own wife’s finger cut off for reading the Bible. What will Commander Lawrence do now that we know where his sympathies actually lie? Will the authorities realize that the Marthas were rebelling, and what action will they take? It will be far easier to have a mass execution of Marthas than of handmaidens (as they threatened at the start of the season).

We have some hints as to the answers in this interview executive producer Bruce Miller had with TV Guide:

Did you know from the beginning that Offred was not going to escape at the end of the season? And did you get push back from anyone else about whether or not she should escape or stay?Bruce Miller: There was incredible amount of push back from me and from everybody else. All we want is for her to get out. So even though storywise you want to do one thing, emotionally all you want is the other answer. So I guess we all wanted her to get out personally. But yeah, I mean, I knew from the middle of Season 1 that this would happen. So because of that, we were working toward this. I mean, once we started to feel the kind of deep vein of regret that Offred was feeling, or June was feeling at the prospect of leaving Hannah behind and how it was tearing her apart, we felt like [that] after she saw her. And after she kinda was faced with the idea of, “I am going to be able to get one child to safety, and now I just have to decide what to do myself.” I don’t think it’s a choice about whether you’re gonna stay behind to try to rescue your child, I think it’s a needto. I wouldn’t be able to leave one of my children behind… When we got to it, it felt very natural to the character. It is an impossible choice but we are faced with those all the time, so it is interesting to see what she does.

Have we seen the last of Emily and baby Nicole or is there more story to tell for those two characters?
Miller: We have not seen the last of Emily and Nicole. I don’t know that we’re gonna see Nicole going to her first prom very soon, or Emily for that matter, but we have not seen the last of them. We’ll follow them on their journey after they leave Offred in the tunnel, in the finale, we will be following them… I think that Nicole is quite a popular young girl. There’s lots of people who want her including a whole country of Gilead if she happens to get out… It’s a huge, huge puzzle piece of our world. It’s June’s child, and just as much as Hannah has been a huge part of our show Nicole’s going to be a huge part of our show whether it’s in influence or whether it’s in corporeal reality with someone holding her in their arms. She is the force to be reckoned with. She is the next generation that they’re all doing all of this for.

Will Bradley Whitford’s character be coming back in Season 3, and what are we gonna learn about him and why he helped Emily escape?
Miller:
 Yes, Bradley’s coming back for Season 3. He was exactly the kind of character we wanted to start building in Season 2. We were hoping his schedule would work out that he could come back for Season 3. I think we’re gonna learn a ton about him. I mean, I think the fact is he’s our Oppenheimer character. The man who designed an atomic bomb and then saw what it could do. I mean, he’s a designer of Gilead, and now he’s seen what it can do. So he is a mass of contradictions and dangers, so you never know what he’s willing to do, what he’s not willing to do. He’s been protecting himself for a very long time. And his adventure to keep himself alive certainly is not always an adventure that’s going to keep the people around him alive. But now that June has crossed paths with him, she’s going to cross paths with him a lot more in Season 3.

What you can tell us about Aunt Lydia and her future? We don’t see her actually die but it looks really bad at the end of the season.
Miller: Aunt Lydia doesn’t die. I don’t think Aunt Lydia can die. I don’t think there are forces in the world strong enough to kill Aunt Lydia. And by extension the incredibly strong, fabulous Ann Dowd, I think is with us for a long, long time as well. Aunt Lydia doesn’t die, she’s transformed by this event. The fact that one of her girls who — [she thinks] that there’s a love between her and her girls — has literally stabbed her in the back. I think that that alters your workplace feelings on a day-to-day basis. You don’t wanna turn your back. So I think that in some ways there’s a lot of possible effects. But I think in her case, it makes her double down that she feels like she just wasn’t strong enough in her discipline. So she, I think, has decided it’s time to get tough.

It was exciting to see Rita take a decisive action in the finale. What can we expect from her character moving forward?
Miller: Amanda Brugel, has really done a remarkable job with Rita. The fact that she’s both incredibly strong and invisible in the house is just, it’s a miracle of acting that she really has made her both a powerful force and you just completely forget that she exists. And I mean, and that’s supposed to be mirroring the way the Waterfords and the people in Gilead just let her fade into the woodwork, on purpose, because that’s the role that she’s supposed to play. But it’s great that she uses it strategically, and so everybody forgets about her, and then all of a sudden she has this freedom to build this network with all the other Marthas. They trade things back and forth, information and cinnamon and cheese and all sorts of stuff. And so they have a life going on there and a resistance network. You know it’s used for other things, black-market things, gossip, but now she’s turning it and using it as a resistance network.

I think she’s gonna have to do some very deft dancing to get around her comeuppance for her complicity in this, and I don’t know whether she will, but she is our representative of this group of women who have been pushed into invisible domestic roles like so many women in real society, in our society. She is, but she is not invisible, and she’s not domestic. She is a woman in full, and you get to see kind of the power that brings to bear. And I think, in [Season 3], we’re going to see some of the results of her coming out of her shell and becoming a little more visible. But I think the key for me is that she is a very smart survivor, and that’s what she’s going to continue to be.

We saw Nick, too, take a stand against Fred (Joseph Fiennes) in the finale to help Offred escape. What are the consequences for that choice are going to look like for him next year?
Miller: Nick did take a stand and impulsively, which is not his best — not a Crayola crayon he does do very often. He’s not an impulsive guy in general. And I thought is was such a kind of a measure of the closeness of his relationship with Fred and how much he was willing to risk… But yes, there will be repercussions for Nick. The interesting thing about Nick and Fred is that power dynamic between the two men and the two positions that they hold. One is kind of outwardly a leader of Gilead, and the other, Nick, is quite a powerful person behind the scenes because he’s a spy, and because he has dirt on people, and because he knows all the good and bad things people are doing, going to Jezebel’s and all those things. So I don’t think it’s a hammer that the commander can bring down so easily on Nick, or would want to…

Is there a happy ending to this story? Is that in any way the end goal or is everything always going to be terrible?
Miller: I think there is a happy ending, and I don’t think everything’s always going to be terrible… I believe in June, and I believe that if The Handmaid’s Tale is the story we’ve decided to tell from this imaginary place of Gilead, if June’s story is the story we tell, we’ve told it because it’s a story of hope. I do feel like every episode where it ends and Offred is alive, June is alive, it’s a huge victory and a story worth telling. To see how someone in this world doesn’t just survive, but in their own way, find ways to live, find ways to actually have a life, have intimacy. She sees her daughter, which she never thought would happen. So all of these things are huge victories for me.

But in terms of an ending, I think this is a story of a woman getting out of bondage. So I think in the end that’s the story, whether she is able to get out herself or whether she’s able to get one or more of her children out, or reunite with her husband. Those are all details, but I think the story is bending, I hope, because it exists, it’s bending towards a happy ending because this account of what happened exists means that somehow some way, June got that account out. That to me sets a story of kind of the triumph of the human spirit and hope.

Miller had more to say about why June stayed in this interview with Deadline:

DEADLINE: I often like to start these at the end, so why does June stay in Gilead at the end of the finale?

MILLER: Because she’s a mother. She has one child who’s going off to safety and one child that’s still here so she stays for her daughter Hannah. Whether she’s going to help her daughter or whether she’s going to try her hardest to injure Gilead, it really comes from two things. One is her mom saying you’re stronger than you think, which is something she realized about herself throughout the season. The other is her daughter saying why didn’t you try harder?

When she finally sees Hannah, Hannah says why didn’t you try harder to find me?

And she’s going to try harder and I think that after having a season where all these things that were seemingly impossible have come to pass I think she’s willing to take a chance. She’s not so willing to leave her eldest daughter behind.

Elisabeth Moss also supported her character’s decision in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter:

“Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Moss explained her take on the season finale and the game-changing decision for June to stick around in Gilead, saying there are two primary reasons for the development.

“There’s really a couple answers to this, and they are equally important,” she says when asked why June’s decision feels like the right way to end season two. “Hannah is the first one. It’s as simple as that. She cannot leave her daughter there. She doesn’t know if she can get back in if she leaves. What can she do from the outside? She doesn’t know. But here’s what she does know. She just discovered that there’s a legitimate and strong underground network of Marthas working for the resistance. The wives led by Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) just rebelled against the men and government of Gilead. They are starting to resist. And she just saw a commander (Lawrence, played by Bradley Whitford) help his handmaid and her dear friend Emily escape. A commander. How deep does this underground network of resistance go? She knows now she isn’t alone. She doesn’t want to leave Hannah, but when she sees Emily and the commander, she realizes she can get her baby Holly out and stay to try to do the same for Hannah. And she doesn’t have a lot of time to make that decision. She does the riskier thing, which is stay, but she literally cannot leave Hannah in that place.”

(For what it’s worth, Moss weighs in on why June told Emily to refer to Holly as Nicole, the name Serena gave the baby: “It’s a show of love for Serena and a thank you for what Serena did in letting June get her out. It’s June’s baby, but it’s June’s way of acknowledging Serena’s true love for that child.”)

In terms of why June’s decision to stay was the right way for season two to end, Moss says, “She is staying to fight to save all the children of Gilead. It’s bigger than her now. It’s bigger than her and Holly and Hannah. It’s all about the sons and especially daughters of Gilead, and fighting for their lives. Seeing the Martha network and the commander have opened her eyes. She is no longer alone. She has an army, and she’s going to fight back.”

“I don’t want to fight from the outside,” she adds. “I think it would kill June. To feel helpless like that. There are people doing the work that needs to be done in other countries, particularly Canada of course, that we show legislatively and trying to find their families and fighting Gilead in that way. There are very few people who can fight from the inside, and you have to have both. There are very few people who are as smart and experienced with Gilead as June is, who are as connected to a high ranking commander such as Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) or Lawrence, who know the ins and out, who have someone connected like Nick (Max Minghella), who knows that there’s a network of Marthas. She has very particular qualities that make her the one who should lead the resistance. Being in Canada, trying to change things from the outside, would just be extremely frustrating for her. And there’s probably no one who gives less fucks about what she has to do to get her daughter Hannah out than June does.”

The final moment of the season sees June pulling her handmaid hood over her head, more iconically cloaked in Gilead than ever before. And yet, Moss agrees that it signals an end for June’s life as “Offred,” even if it also means the birth of someone new.

“It’s not the June that was captured and brought to Gilead,” she says. “It’s not the June in the flashbacks. It’s a new June. She has become stronger, smarter, braver. She has learned a lot. She has experienced indescribable physical and emotional pain. She has changed forever, and not necessarily for the better, but in a way that she needs to have changed to be able to lead the resistance. She has hardened. She’s gotten very tough. She’s maybe colder. But that’s what she needs to be. She will never lose her humanity, and she will never lose the capacity to love as a mother, but that mother’s love can be the fiercest thing you’ve ever seen.”

Promotional pictures for season two of Star Trek: Discovery are showing the inside of the Enterprise.  The above picture is of Burnham walking onto the bridge of the Enterprise. Sonequa Martin-Green is quoted as saying,  “…we’re really going to be digging into family. A lot of questions are going to be raised; some are going to be answered.” Will that include showing Spock? There has also been a picture released of a Saurian, an alien species first seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Star Trek: Discovery, with two nominations, is just one of several genre shows to receive Emmy nominations. Discovery’s nominations are in the categories of  Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup (Series, limited series, movie or special) and Outstanding Sound Editing For A Comedy or Drama (One Hour).

Other Emmy nominations of note include Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black),  for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Jesse Plemons (Black Mirror: USS Callister) for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie, and multiple nominations for Westworld, Game of ThronesThe Handmaid’s Tale, and The Americans. The full list is available here.

The official teaser for Doctor Who series 11 was released during the BBC’s coverage of the World Cup Final. We got a look at Jodie Whitaker as the Doctor, the Doctor’s new companions, and perhaps a timey wimy way to replenish a pizza box.  From Entertainment Today’s cover story on Doctor Who:

The choice of Whittaker to play the lead role on Doctor Who represents a massive gamble on the part of new showrunner Chris Chibnall — who’d previously cast Whittaker as a grieving mother on his cop drama Broadchurch — and the BBC, which successfully revived the sci-fi series in 2005 following a lengthy hiatus. More than 18 million Doctor Who DVDs have shipped, 12 million action figures have been sold in the 13 years since its relaunch, and in 2013 a 50th-anniversary episode was screened in 94 countries. In the U.S., the show has become the flagship series for BBC America, which will premiere the new season this fall, simulcasting the first episode so it screens at the same time as in the U.K. There is a lot riding on Whittaker’s ability to make audiences around the world fall in love with a female Doctor, as the actress is well aware.

“There’s no rules, and it’s liberating,” she says. “But it’s equally terrifying.”

EW spent two days on the set of Doctor Who for this week’s cover story, hanging out with Whittaker and the trio of actors who are playing the Doctor’s new companions: Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, and Tosin Cole. Your writer also spoke with Chibnall who explained why he had made the decision to make the Thirteenth Doctor female once Whittaker’s predecessor, Peter Capaldi, decided to leave the series.

“I just felt the time was right,” said Chibnall. “I think if the show hadn’t done it, we would have been behind the world, and Doctor Who has got to be out front leading the world, and being a great example of all the amazing things that are in the world. So, it wasn’t even a question in my mind.”

Above is a cross over episode I’d love to see (via Doctor Who Today).

HBO has picked up a new series from Joss Whedon. TV Line reports:

The Whedonverse is expanding to HBO.

The premium cabler on Friday gave a series order to Joss Whedon‘s The Nevers, which is described as an “epic science-fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.”

Whedon — who previously toyed with creating a “Victorian female Batman” for the stalled comic book series Twist— will write, direct and executive-produce the HBO drama, as well as serve as showrunner. His previous live-action TV forays include, of course, Buffy the Vampire SlayerAngel and Firefly, as well as Dollhouse and the co-creation of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (where his brother Jed serves as co-showrunner).

Totally non-genre (unless you consider the abundance of shows about someone moving to the big city or restaurant shows a genre), but I was pleasantly surprised to find that STARZ has renewed Sweetbitter for a new season. I won’t say it is must see, but at times shows with short seasons come in handy, sort of as a long movie. The first season is six thirty minute episodes, making it easy to watch in one or two sittings. It was the inclusion of Caitlin Fitzgerald in the cast which caught my attention.

In the historical television genre, a Downton Abbey movie is now official.

Establishment Democrats Taking Wrong Lessons From Indictments Of Russian Agents

The announcement of the indictment of twelve Russian agents by Robert Mueller yesterday changes little with regards to what was already known, but establishment Democrats are taking all the wrong lessons, and making claims which they never would have made if not for the perceived political benefits. Finding ways to justify the fact that Hillary Clinton was unable to beat a candidate as dreadful as Donald Trump has become top priority.

Establishment Democrats seem oblivious to the fact that an indictment is not proof. No evidence accompanied the indictments and, as it is unlikely that the Russians will ever appear in court, it is possible that no evidence of these accusations will ever be presented. This provides no further proof than the retracted (but still repeated) claim of seventeen intelligence agencies agreeing that Russia hacked the DNC.

I have remained an agnostic as to whether the email was released by a hack or by a leak, and question if we will ever know for certain considering how the DNC refused to allow the FBI to investigate their servers. My personal opinion has been that a hack was the more likely explanation, but this is not definite. While I personally have never taken the Seth Rich theory seriously, there is nothing new here to disprove the view of those who do believe this.

For the sake of further discussion here, I will assume that the claims in Mueller’s indictment are true, again noting that this is not proven. Assuming that the accusations are true, establishment Democrats are still naively living in a pre-Gary Powers world, ignoring the realities of the situation.

Francis Gary Powers was an American spy who was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960 while engaging in espionage. The United States claimed that he was studying weather patterns for NASA, but it was ultimately made clear that he was a spy. The United States was forced to admit that it had been conducting such spy  missions over the Soviet Union for several years, ending any pretense that the United States did not engage in such actions. It was no longer possible to see the United States as purely the victim of Russian espionage, but Democrats have suddenly returned to this mindset.

Such espionage is commonplace, and is rather benign compared to the practice of influencing elections in other countries–along with the outright overthrowing of foreign governments. Despite a long history of the United States meddling in the elections in other countries, establishment Democrats act as if the hack of email from the DNC and Hillary Clinton is somehow a unique attack on the United States, with many even comparing it to an act of war. Russia has meddled in American politics for decades, just as the United States has meddled in Russia, and both have meddled in many other countries. Russia did not suddenly attack the United States for the first time to attempt to stop Hillary Clinton–although that might be understandable considering Clinton’s history of belligerence towards Russia, and her propensity to support war.

While establishment Democrats have increasingly been following the neocon line on Russia, believing claims from the same people who sold the country on going to war over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, avoiding unnecessary war should be a high priority. Instead many Democrats opposed the recent talks with North Korea, and are now using this as an argument to cancel the talks between Trump and Putin.

There are valid reasons to question these talks, but in a time of escalating tensions with a nuclear power, there is far more compelling reason to continue with summits, including potential talks on nuclear weapons. Trump’s plan to meet with Putin alone is of concern, I think it is far more likely that if Trump has any secretive goals it is more to promote a future Trump Tower Moscow than to engage in any electoral conspiracies. To date there is no evidence of any real collusion occurring, even if the Trump Tower meeting did show a willingness to obtain information from Russia if it existed. While Mueller may or may not present evidence of this in the future, there certainly has been no evidence while establishment Democrats have been trying to pass this off as fact.

While I do not condone the hacking of any Americans by the Russian government, if this was foreign meddling in an election, it was probably the most benign meddling in the history of election meddling. The released email provided the American people with truthful and accurate information which exposed corruption and dishonesty by top politicians in this country.

It certainly makes no sense for Clinton apologists to use the hacked email as an excuse for Clinton losing. If Clinton and the Democratic Party lost because of the American people finding out the truth about their corruption, the blame for the loss falls on the politicians exposed, not those who exposed them. To argue that the email posted by Wikileaks caused Clinton to lose only means that I was right (and Clinton supporters wrong) during all those months I was writing that Clinton should not be the Democratic nominee.

The fact remains that, while Mueller has shown evidence of money laundering and other financial crimes, along with crimes by some Russians, there has been no evidence of any actions which altered the election results. There is no evidence that the voting systems were hacked or that a single vote was changed, despite erroneous reports from Clinton supporters on MSNBC. The evidence obtained in the Congressional hearings showed that Russian ads and other activities on social media were a minuscule amount of traffic,  unlikely to affect the vote.

The actual threat to American democracy comes from the Democratic and Republican Parties. This includes attempt at disenfranchisement of voters by Republicans, and the efforts exposed by the Democratic Party to rig the 2016 nomination and keep out progressive viewpoints. I find the actions by the Democrats especially offensive when the Democratic establishment simultaneously works to restrict the ability of third parties to run, and for those with different viewpoints to effectively run within the Democratic Party. Instead of supporting democratic values and allowing for different viewpoints, many Democrats totally reject opposing views, holding a false belief that differences in opinion with them are based upon falling for Russian propaganda.

To the degree that Russia might be engaging in activities to meddle in our elections, the proper responses are clear. We need to enhance election security, including maintaining a paper trail. If the DNC and other Democrats fell for the hacking attempts described in the indictment, further education is needed to limit this risk in the future.

There are also wrong ways to react. This includes arguing against diplomacy and increasing the risk of war, along with the McCarthyism and support for censorship of opposing viewpoints coming from some Democrats.