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.

SciFi Weekend: Westworld Season Two Finale; The Expanse Season Finale; 12 Monkeys; Oprah’s Cameo On The Handmaid’s Tale; The Orville & Discovery Among Saturn Award Winners; Further Rumors On Patrick Stewart Returning To Star Trek; Jonathan Frakes On Star Trek and The Orville

Westworld concluded the second season by answering many of the questions raised during the season, and opening up a whole new set of questions for season three. One meta question about the series going into the season was whether the producers could surprise fans with twists after the major twists of the first season were predicted on line. I give them credit for pulling it off this year. While it was apparent that something was up with Delores not being seen in the most recent timeline, I don’t think many realized that she was in a host version of Charlotte Hale’s body. It would be interesting to watch Charlotte’s scenes again knowing that she could have been Delores in some.

We know Delores left the park in Charlotte’s body, but we later saw both Charlotte and Delores, raising the question of whose mind is in Charlotte’s body at that point. We know that Delores took the minds of some other hosts with her, but not which ones. It is like the mystery of the Final Five Cylons on Battlestar Galactica. Which of the apparently dead characters will return this way? Will she reconstruct Maeve? When Delores left the park, it was obvious that Stubb realized she was a host, and most likely that he was a host constructed to protect the other hosts. This leaves open the question of how many other hosts there are impersonating humans. While some apparently dead characters will return, I suspect we will never see those who went to the virtual reality heaven again, but nothing can be ruled out entirely.

One of the most interesting questions was raised in the final post-credit scene. I assume that William and Emily were both humans when William first killed Emily. Apparently at some time in the future, perhaps third season or perhaps long beyond then, there will be a host version of Emily doing a fidelity test on a host who has William’s mind inside, reliving the events of William in the park. As on Battlestar Galactica, all of this happened before and will happen again.

The producers did clear up many of the questions raised in the finale in various interviews, while making clear that other topics are being saved for next season. Following are some excerpts from various interviews:

Deadline

Wait a second, isn’t Dolores in Charlotte? Why are they standing together in the end?

JOY: What Dolores has done is that she’s smuggled herself out of the park while impersonating Hale. She has put herself back into her body, and yet Hale is still there. The question is where is Hale now? And that’s a question we’ll be visiting next season.

As Charlotte buzzes away from the island, in a bag she carries several pearls from The Forge.

JOY: In those pearls are a handful of hosts that she is smuggling out of the park. Which hosts they are, we’ll be exploring.

We see the Man in Black digging in his arm, and he’s not in a lot of pain. Does that make him a host? We see that there’s actually a back-up of him that exists.

JOY: This season we’ve been seeing him in a lot of pain and as he digs into his arm, he suffers from madness. He himself doesn’t know if he’s a host or not. We’ve basically had two time lines this season in the classic film noir structure. We’ve seen him playing the game and figuring his footsteps to the Valley Beyond, but he’s become confused on his side of reality, questioning his nature. If you immerse yourself in the game for too long, do you lose the sense of what is real and not real? He struggles with this and it leads to the moment where he kills his daughter Emily thinking she might be a host. He was in fact mistaken, and he’s digging into his own skin for answers and doesn’t find any wires by the time Dolores arrives. By the end of this time line, he’s being shipped out into the real world. He did kill his own daughter, he’s in the prison of his own skin, locked in his own confusion and guilt.

The chapter that occurs after the credits [editor’s note: Where the Man in Black arrives in an apartment that looks a lot like the one that housed android James Delos being interrogated by daughter Emily as though she is the human, and he the robot] is a little piece of what to come in the future. It gives full closure of the timelines by validating what happened in the park as the Man in Black leaves.

And Bernard?

JOY: He’s leaving his home in the end to be in the real world. Dolores is being totally upfront with him. That they escaped the park, and even if they’re working as foes, it will take both of them to survive. The real world is what we’re investigating next season.

Entertainment Weekly

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:  Do you know who each of those balls represent in Dolores’ purse? Or is your cast on edge about which characters Dolores found worthy of survival?
JONATHAN NOLAN: We’ve had some interesting conversations. It’s a large ensemble cast and sadly we’re saying goodbye to some people at the end of this season. But as always with this show, who remains and who doesn’t is something we’re having a lot of fun with. There’s going to be a bit of a wait for a third season but we want to surprise and hopefully delight people with the way things progress…

When we see Dolores walking with Charlotte out of the room at the end on the mainland, does that mean there are now two Doloreses played by different actors?
Ehhh, not really. The question of who’s who and what we’re looking at is something we’re excited to play with. We’re excited to withhold a little from the audience but … it’s complicated…

Is it safe to assume — and perhaps it’s not — that Zahn McClarnon’s character, the Ghost Nation leader Akecheta, and others who went through the portal to the virtual Eden are not going to continue on?
I think that’s on the safer end of things to presume. But there’s a big story we’re telling here so … yeah.

I know you’ve drafted the broad strokes of your multi-year plan, can you say if next season largely take place outside the park?
Yes. We’re very excited about where the third season goes. It’s been a long build-up to get outside the park. And we’re incredibly excited about what that looks like and sounds like and what exactly our hosts discover out there…

Your Marvel-like post credits sequence with William and his daughter that brought us back to the horrifying James Delos fidelity apartment. My read was that Dolores printed out a version of the Man in Black and his daughter using the park’s secret guest data to leave them entombed in The Forge to do the fidelity test for all eternity and that scene takes place many years later. But that it doesn’t mean the Man in Black was a host previously or that he’s not still alive in the real world like we saw with him in the tent. Is that more or less how we should be interpreting this?
I’d agree with a lot of that. They do explicitly say they’re not in the system. And we do see the ruins of it. So that does suggest in that scene we are further in the future. We’d always said with this story we wanted to consider the beginning, middle and the end the of the emergence of a new form of life on Earth and we managed to cover a lot of those bases in this season.

Based on that final scene, should we assume there will be a time jump for season 3?
Not necessarily. We just love the ability to play in perceptual terms with the hosts being immortal. There is a subtle shift in this season, when you started seeing more and more backstory of the Man in Black, it should raise suspicions, and it has for a lot of people but, um … returning to the last question, your take it on it, which, as usual, is astute, is we’re watching a series of events play out: We see Emily’s dead body, we see the Man in Black in extremis — but not quite dead yet — but we also understand we’ve explored Delos’ greatest mistake, the one unalterable moment, the cornerstone decision he makes in his life, and we’re seeing that play out with the Man in Black. We’ve seen how it is that, using The Forge, that you’d be drawn back to these key moments and you’d run them again and again…

The Wrap:

TheWrap: Where exactly did Dolores send the Hosts who went into the Sublime when she changed the coordinates?

Joy: I think what she’s done is she fulfilled their wish. They wanted to escape to a digital space where they could be truly free and create their own world, untarnished by human interference. And in changing the coordinates and kind of locking in and stowing them away, Dolores has finally found a way to accept their choice and give them what they so desired.

TheWrap: After the guest data in the Forge is erased, Hale/Dolores leaves with five control units in a purse. Who is in them? Maeve? Armistice? And can “Halores” remake them then?

Joy: There is Host data in the actual hosts who did not “sublime” — so their CPUs are still intact. So, if they didn’t sublime, those pearls still contain their information. In each of those little balls in the purse is a Host, so there is a handful of them — but not an infinite amount of them. There are five. One Host per pearl.

TheWrap: When Halores left the beach, it seemed like Stubbs knew it was Dolores — or at least that it wasn’t Hale. Is that safe to assume?

Joy: Yes! It is safe to assume. And there is a step further that you can assume too. And we don’t say it explicitly, but if you are left wondering with all [Stubbs’] talk, his knowing talk about, “I’ve been at the park a very long time,” and Ford designed him with certain core drives, and he’s gonna stick to the role he’s been programmed with; it’s a little acknowledgement of just why he might have his suspicions about what’s going on with Hale, and then lets her pass.

And doesn’t it make sense if you are Ford and designing a park and you have a whole master plan about helping robots that you would keep one Host hiding in plain sight as a fail-safe? Maybe the Host who’s in charge of quality assurance? And by the way, that was totally meant to be subtle [laughs]…

TheWrap: So, because we do know that Emily died in the current timeline we’re in, is it fair to assume whoever is down there with this iteration of the Man in Black is similar to Dolores training Bernard? That has to be a Host or some other something if this is in the future and Emily died. Yes?

Joy: Oh yes, the Katja Herbers in the future talking to the Man in Black is now a Host version of Katja Herbers.

More on the finale in the Behind the Scenes video above.

The Expanse season three was by far the best season yet, making me very happy that Amazon is keeping the series alive. I am also glad that they did move at a quicker pace and conclude Abaddon’s Gate. If they had ended a season mid-book again, it would have been really frustrating if the series was not renewed.

Showrunner Naren Shankar discussed the season finale and plans for season four with Entertainment Weekly:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start right at the very end: What is the meaning of that last shot where the Roci goes through the Ring, and as Holden passes through it, there is a burst of energy. What’s going on there, and what are you setting up for season 4?
NAREN SHANKAR:
 When Holden was in that vision with Miller, he learns the beings that built the Rings, they’re gone. So what killed them? Because he had a vision of these things, he had a vision of something destroying the Rings and shutting them down. And Miller says, “I kinda wanna know too.” And so when the Roci goes to the Ring at the end, it comes to kind of an ominous little harbinger of things to come. That there is something inside that Ring space, in places between the Ring gates, that’s gonna come into play at some point as the series goes on.

We’ll talk more about what you have in store for season 4 in a bit, but let’s get into what happened this season. First off, you really sped through book 3, Abaddon’s Gate, doing the whole thing in seven episodes — much faster than the first two books. Why the accelerated pace for what is, in my opinion, one of the best books in the series?
Book 3 was a challenging thing to adapt. What was tricky about Abaddon’s Gate was that it starts with an entirely new cast of characters. It kind of builds up to getting them through the Ring. It’s more philosophical than intellectual. The space where they go into, it’s sort of the most… I don’t want to use this term disparagingly at all, but sort of science-fiction-y thing we have done in the run of the show. Which tends to be sort of more like science-realistic, or at least tries to achieve that. So for a lot of reasons, we felt like we had 13 episode seasons, we were gonna finish off Caliban’s War mid-season. We took the approach that we compressed it and we launched Anna, who was the character, really kind of the focus character in Abaddon’s Gate, early in the season, which we did because she is not actually in the second book at all…

One of the most interesting things you did on the show was your treatment of Ashford. He’s a pretty detestable character in the book, but you made him much more layered here and turned him into a guy who, while on the wrong side of things, does think what he’s doing is right and is admirable in the way he is willing to sacrifice himself for that. How did that character evolve for you?
Part of it was when we got this point in the narrative, it was about Fred and Dawes and their dueling agendas. But when we got to the Behemoth, it would be kind of weird to have Fred and Dawes on this ship. And so, it led us to this idea of their lieutenants. So Drummer was a logical one to take it for Fred Johnson, and then we were like, “Who’s the guy who worked for Dawes?” Then that was the starting point for Ashford, because he doesn’t have really that backstory in the book. And we asked ourselves, what would a guy who worked for Dawes have done before?

And so we crafted that character and built a backstory around him. And then, as we understood what he was going to do, we had the opportunity to reach out to David Strathairn. He was older than we thought initially the character was going to be, but that actually allowed us to give more layers and more depth to it. And so what you saw in the final product was kind of the aggregation of all of those different things. I think that it’s one of my favorite things in season 3, honestly. He just gives a terrific performance, all over.

Let’s talk about season 4. What can you say about where the story goes next?
One of the things that seems pretty clear, and we set it up at the end of the episode 13 with Holden’s thing, it’s going to be another blood-soaked gold rush. That’s about to happen, because you’ve got an entire species and several societies that have defined themselves on the fact that the solar system is all they’ve got, that those resources are what they have. But suddenly that all changes. It’s like the discovery of the New World — suddenly there’s land, there’s resources, there’s the potential of making incredible fortunes right there. What’s going to happen? Well, readers of the book know that these are things that that destabilize societies, and that’s what you are going to see the beginnings of in season 4.

The fourth book, Cibola Burn, takes place pretty much all on the planet Ilus, or in orbit of that planet. Will that be the same deal here? Is that going to be the battleground and the space version of expanding west?
[Book authors] Ty and Daniel often refer to the story of Ilus and Cibola Burn as kind of a classic Western in many ways. The book Cibola takes place entirely on Ilus. We are there for one complete novel. We are going to tell that story in season 4, sure, but we’re not leaving Earth and Mars and the Belt behind. They’re part of the story, and both of fans of the books and fans of the show are going to see something really interesting and new in season 4…

Finally, how does the show change now being on Amazon as opposed to Syfy?
There are some things that are amazing that we don’t have to worry about: restrictions on nudity, restrictions on language, and restrictions on length to some extent. It’s like we don’t have to jam the episodes into 43-minute boxes if they’re going to spill over into a 50-minute box. There were times in season 3 where I wished that I had been able to put another four or five minutes into certain shows, it would have been great. And we certainly would have done it, and that’s the beauty of being on another platform like this, is that if the material demands it, you can make the story a little bit longer to accommodate it.

We never wrote it going, “Oh, God, it’s going to be on basic cable so we’ve got to tone this down.” I think we did some pretty drastic things when we needed to. None of that’s going to change, and I hope that as we get into it more, we’re going to find more and more opportunities to really make the platform work for us, because it’s a great way to watch the show. When you can stream this thing in 4K and it’s seamless and there are no commercial breaks — we don’t even go to blacks — it’s a different experience when you watch. It’s incredibly engaging, and every time I show it to people that way, they go, “That’s a completely different experience than watching it on basic cable.” So we’re really excited to be on Amazon.

This week set of three episodes of 12 Monkeys was darker than the previous three as expected. While characters might not actually be gone in a time travel series such as this, it appears to have been the conclusions of the stories for Deacon, Hannah and Emma. The twist with Hannah was unexpected until late in the episode, but in retrospect makes perfect sense. Showrunner Terry Matalas told  TVLine that this was planned from the start: “From the moment we mentioned Marion Woods, I knew. In fact, on Brooke’s first day, I told her, right after she was cast. It was something that was always planned. And if you go back and watch the series, you can see many hints of that throughout.”

Like last week, the episode also ended with a family drink thanks to time travel.

There were other twists. We found that Cole is the living anomaly in the timeline, and the weapon mentioned in the previous episodes was designed to wipe him out of time. Yet another major twist had Cassandra be the one to release the virus, with the alternative being even worse should they not have time travel available to fight the threat against time itself. The danger is accelerating as Titan is completed and the sky is turning red over New York. The episoded ended with the message, To Be Concluded.

During last week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, June was briefly free, and turned on a car radio to hear this message from Radio Free America:

And now, this news. The American Government in Anchorage today received promises of economic aid from India and China. In the United Kingdom, additional sanctions on Gilead were announced, as well as plans to raise the cap on American refugees relocating from Canada. Now, a tune to remind everyone who’s listening, American patriot or Gilead traitor; we are still here. Stars and stripes forever, baby.

The message was read by Oprah Winfrey. Showrunner Bruce Miller explained how this cameo came about:

“We’d heard Oprah was a fan of the show, and had a story idea, and thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if… So we asked and she said yes, and it was a lovely, easy process,” showrunner Bruce Miller says. “The radio segment she recorded was inspired by the free radio of the Allies from World War II.  It was an absolute honor to have Oprah featured on the show, and especially thrilling as she was the one who presented us with the Emmy last year.”

The Orville has won the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction TV Series. The full list of awards is here. Awards for best television series in various categories went to:

Best Science Fiction TV SeriesThe Orville
Best Horror TV SeriesThe Walking Dead
Best Action/Thriller TV Series Better Call Saul
Best Fantasy TV SeriesOutlander
Best Presentation on Television:
  Twin Peaks
Best Animated TV Series:  Star Wars Rebels
Best Superhero Adaptation Television Series:  The Flash
Best New Media TV Series:  
Star Trek: Discovery
Best New Media Superhero Series:  Marvel’s The Punisher

Star Trek: Discovery won another Saturn Award with Sonequa Martin-Green winning as Best Actress on Television. Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) won for Best Actor on Television.

Blade Runner 2049 received the award for Best Science Fiction Film. Black Panther won the award for Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture

The rumors continue that Patrick Stewart might be reprising his role as Jean-Luc Picard . While it is not clear how reliable this is, The Mirror makes it sound like they are close to a deal:

Sir Patrick, 77, is “close to securing a deal” to return as Captain Jean-Luc Picard for a reboot of the Generation series.

The star is keen to reprise his most ­famous part – and deals are close to ­being struck, says a TV source…

The show’s co-creator Alex Kurtzman has a five-year contract to forge new adventures for the small screen. And his team has spoken to Sir Patrick about returning as Picard to helm the Enterprise for run or even longer.

An LA source said: “Patrick is ­looking pretty good to get back on board the Enterprise. There are some aspects of the deal to be finalised, but there is a verbal commitment from all parties.”

He said: “There are animated series also in the works, and Patrick could easily lend his voice to them.

“An announcement will be made in the next few weeks and the show should be out next year.”

If it comes down to one or the other, I hope it is a live action reboot of The Next Generation as opposed to having Stewart work on an animated series. It would also be great to see Star Trek finally move forward again, with the last two series and recent movies all taking place at earlier times. As other former Star Trek stars have not been mentioned, I wonder if the plan is to secure Stewart first, or if this would be done with a new crew under Picard.

TrekMovie.com has posted an interview with Jonathan Frakes in which he discussed both Star Trek and directing The Orville. He had this to say about type-casting:

And I don’t know if I knew subconsciously or consciously that there’d be this typecasting. As Leonard Nimoy famously said, “It’s better to be typecast than not to be cast at all.” But there was a certain thing that happened after the show that you can see evidence of from The Original Series, from our series, Voyager, DS9, Enterprise. The exceptions were Bakula, and Patrick, and Bill and Colm, and Rene and Kate, maybe, to a certain point. Jeri Ryan. More of a handful people were not painted with the Star Trek brush, right? I don’t know what you’d call that in your world, but there certainly is … It was a double-edged sword.

SciFi Weekend: Timeless Cancelled; 12 Monkeys; Supergirl Season Finale; More Star Trek Shows Planned; Westworld Finale Tonight; Humans; The Handmaid’s Tale; Luke Cage; Cloak and Dagger; Man In The High Castle Renewed

As often happens with bad news, NBC released the official announcement on Friday that they are not going to renew Timeless. There is talk about a two hour movie to conclude the series, as Netflix recently did with Sense8.

Although this was mentioned as a possibility, I wonder if it will actually be completed. This would require reassembling the cast after they are released from their contracts. It made sense for Netflix to conclude Sense8 as their back library of shows is a selling point for subscribers, and a completed series might be watched by more people in the future. A made for television movie on NBC coming out in the future is of far less value, unless they have plans to try to make money from Timeless from DVD/Blu-ray sales and/or streaming sales as a complete set in the future.

Fortunately the cast appears interested and might be willing to work around such a movie even if they have moved on to other shows. A conclusion is especially desirable considering how the second season ended on a cliff hanger. So far there does not appear to be interest from others in saving the series, as has happened recently with The Expanse (Amazon Prime) and Lucifer (Netflix).

Reactions from cast and crew here and here.

Another time travel series will be ending in a couple of weeks, but fortunately it is ending strongly with a planned conclusion. 12 Monkeys released three more episodes on Friday which were a lot of fun. All three worked together as a quest for a weapon, while each was an independent story. The first, Legacy, gave background on both the origins of Titan and on the Jones family. Other highlights include Jennifer noticing many things which were not from the correct time which others missed, despite losing her primary abilities.

The second, or fifth episode of the season, After, effectively utilized a common trope of time travel shows with a time loop which included Cassie watching another version of herself. Jennifer had another key line this episode in an almost meta reference in which she referred to the weapon as the “mystery maguffin.” From a viewer’s perspective, that is exactly what it is.

The third episode, Die Glocke, was the obligatory Nazi episode for any time travel show, with killing Hitler being just a side aspect of the story. The episode both represented going to Nazi occupied France as descending into Hell, while also including several fun scenes, including Jones talking her way into the mansion. Cassie called it right in saying, “You’ve got some balls on you, Jones!” Sure it made no sense later in the episode that Jennifer would have the music from Pink ready to be performed, but seeing her sing this to the Nazis was too good a scene to be concerned about the reality of it. I’m also willing to suspend disbelief and just assume that Cassie wears that dominatrix outfit under her clothes. What could be better than seeing Amanda Schull mowing down Nazis dressed in her distraction dominatrix gear?

Once again Jennifer turned out to have the most important insights. Obtaining the “mystery maguffin” required them to interfere with the efforts of the French resistance to kill Hitler when visiting the mansion. As she pointed out, “You want to save Hitler? That’s the opposite of what you do with a time machine.” Finally Jennifer got her chance. Yes, realistically the time to kill Hitler was before he took power and established Nazi Germany. There was the danger that killing Hitler in 1940 could have led to Himmler taking control and being more successful in the war. However, for the fun aspect of the story, blowing up Hitler was the right decision.

The episode also redeemed Deacon, who had his own great moments (“bucket list” and how he may be bad but he ain’t no Nazi.) This set up the scene late in the episode in which this “family” could have a drink and celebrate together. “We may not have all the answers we seek, but tonight, we have each other. And that, in this moment, is enough.”

At various points during the series various members of Team Splinter were at odds with each other. This might be a final moment of happiness for these people, with things getting darker from here. As Cassie realized, success would mean that Cassie and Cole would not be together. The only way in which they have the upper hand going into the second half of the season is that both Katarina and Deacon are on borrowed time, leading to a plan in which Deacon brings Katarina Jones back to Titan. Next we have to see if they find a way to get back to 1491, along with what Hannah has been up to.

The season finale of Supergirl set up multiple changes for next season.  J’onn has left Alex in charge of the DEO, but it appears he will be around for different types of stories. Winn is going into the future with the Legion of Superheroes, explaining his previously announced reduced role. Presumably he could come back from the future at some point, possibly with other members of the Legion. Braniac 5 is remaining as his “distant relative” was saved from the blight and has created a virus which kills AI’s in the future. The most significant change is that Chris Wood is not returning, with Mon-El going back to the future. The producers discussed the changes with TV Line:

TVLINE | Let’s start by talking about Winn, who will return next season in a recurring capacity. In your eyes, what made joining the Legion the right next step for him?
QUELLER | We were so excited when that idea came up in the writers’ room, because it seemed so in-character with Winn. We asked what Winn’s dream would be, and that just met it perfectly.
ROVNER | We’ve been talking about this ever since the episode where Winn’s mom came back, when he was contemplating his destiny and what his impact would be on the world. We wanted to give him a fitting way to dramatize what we saw for Winn’s future.
QUELLER | He’s really fulfilling his full potential. Just imagine all that he could do in the future with his mind.

TVLINE | We may be losing Winn as a full-time member of the team, but on the plus side, we’re getting more Brainy. What excites you about bringing him into the fold and telling his stories?
QUELLER | Everything excites us. We love Brainy, and we love Jesse Rath. He’s just a magical actor. The character is delightful and brings fresh new eyes to Earth. Everything is brand new to him, which is just great to be around.

TVLINE | With Mon-El gone, is there any chance you’ll be exploring the romantic link between Brainiac-5 and Supergirl from the comics?
ROVNER | We did that a little bit when he first arrived. I think he’ll always have affection for Supergirl, but you’ll have to stay tuned…

TVLINE | And J’onn? I’m excited to see where this new journey takes him.
ROVNER | We thought it was important for his character to take in the teachings his father was trying to impart on him. Our Worldkiller story took us off-world a lot, but what’s great about this show is that we get to tell stories about what’s happening in the world and use National City to reflect that. We want to explore J’onn being on the streets among the people so we can continue to tell those stories.
QUELLER | We’re looking to tell much more grounded stories, like we have in seasons past, that reflect the climate we’re all living in in 2018.

TVLINE I imagine that James outing himself as Guardian will also affect his future at CatCo…?
QUELLER | You’ll have to wait and see, but it’s very cool and it takes twists and turns. James has great stuff coming up.

They also discussed what the final scene is leading into for next season:  “For fans of the comics, I think they might recognize that the story we want to tell is inspired by the iconic DC Comics’ Red Son, which told an alternate origin story for Superman,” Rovner tells TVLine, to which Queller adds, “What happened if — as a baby — Superman landed in Russia and became a hero there instead of in America. It’s an homage to that.”

Last week’s news about a change in showrunner for Star Trek: Discovery has been followed up with news of additional Star Trek series under consideration. This includes a possible explanation for Patrick Stewart’s recent remarks. Variety reports:

Variety has learned that the studio behind “Star Trek: Discovery” has signed Alex Kurtzman to a new five-year overall deal that will see him supervise the expansion of CBS’ “Star Trek” franchise for television, developing new series, mini-series and other content opportunities, including animation.

To that end, sources say there are currently multiple shows set within the “Star Trek” universe already in development.

The potential new shows are said to include:

  • A series set at Starfleet Academy from creators Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz. The duo currently serve as co-showrunners on the Hulu-Marvel series “Runaways” and are best known for creating shows like “Gossip Girl” and the CW’s reboot of Dynasty.
  • A limited series whose plot details are being kept under wraps.
  • A limited series based around the “Wrath of Khan” story. Khan’s full name is Khan Noonien Singh. He was famously portrayed by Ricardo Montalbán in both the original series episode “Space Seed” and again in the film “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan.” Benedict Cumberbatch then played the character in the 2013 film “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
  • An animated series whose plot details are being kept under wraps.

The Hollywood Reporter also notes the possibility of “another Star Trek series, featuring Patrick Stewart reprising his role as Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Capt. Jean-Luc Picard.” I hope they don’t go stretch themselves too thin with too much Star Trek on at once, but this could be possible with different series running at different times of year. Plus a limited series might also work out well.

Tonight we have the second season finale of Westworld. While there are many questions, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy say that, unlike on Lost, there will be real answers:

“In Lost, they really believed in the mystery box and not looking too much inside the mystery box. It was some kind of idea generator that you didn’t need to dissect and open up. And that’s absolutely fascinating and an engaging way to tell a story”, Joy said. “But for us, you know, I think we are interested in dismantling the mystery box, opening it up, looking at what it is, putting it together like it’s some kind of Lego, seeing how it works and really questioning and exposing that.”

“The questions that we tee up, we do try to address”, she said. “We have an answer for all of them.”

Humans has premiered in the United States, while the sixth episode has aired in the U.K. While I’ve been downloading the U.K. episodes, I won’t say anything to spoil the series for those watching on the U.S. schedule. Needless to say following the set up in the season premiere, there is a lot which can go bad over the course of the season. Humans creators Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley discussed the latest episode with Digital Spy, which I advise U.S. viewers against reading at this point. I do like it when it works out that I can watch Westworld and Humans concurrently, seeing each handle a related topic in such different ways.

 

There are also many ways in which things go bad on The Handmaid’s TaleTV Line discussed the events of last week’s episode with producer/writer Yahlin Chang:

TVLINE | The handmaids in this show are ritually raped on a regular basis, yet I was ashamed when I realized how normalized it had become to watch The Ceremony — and I only realized that because of how much more disturbing it was when June fought back instead of going limp. At the same time, the show has had some criticism for showing too much of the violence against Gilead’s women. The Ceremony in this episode is brutal; talk to me about why we see it play out from start to finish.
I hear that concern. God, there are two things. One is that I felt like that is what would happen. What guides us in creating stories is being true to these characters and true to the situation that they find themselves in, and what would actually happen… The whole system that Gilead is built on is systematic rape and on the idea that the handmaid’s body does not belong to her, it belongs to the wife and the commander. It’s their body, so if they want to get the baby out sooner, they can do whatever they want to get the baby out sooner. I absolutely believe that they would. Why wouldn’t they do that?

TVLINE | It’s interesting to me that June calls out to Serena, not Fred, to stop it. 
They weren’t expecting Offred to fight back, and it shocks them… The place that they’re in is that Serena can’t stop it because if she stops it, it would be like admitting that all of the ceremonies were rape, and there would be such cognitive dissonance, it would explode everything.

In other genre news, season two of Luke Cage was released. I’m not too far into it but it looks like a typical Netflix Marvel series, starting slow but showing a lot of potential. Cloak and Dagger, staring Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt on Freeform has been the surprise of the spring/summer season. The show concentrates more on the two main characters dealing with finding they have powers as opposed to fighting super-villains.

Amazon has announced the renewal of The Man In The High Castle for a fourth season. Season three will be released at some point later this year.

SciFi Weekend: The Big Bang Theory Wedding; Anson Mount on Star Trek Discovery; George Kirk Is Still Dead; The Expanse Cancelled By Syfy And Other Renewal/Cancellation News; 12 Monkeys; Bafta Awards

The wedding of Amy and Sheldon occurred on The Big Bang Theory last Thursday. TV Line discussed the episode with Steve Holland:

TVLINE | You mentioned when we spoke last week that Meemaw’s “cameo” was cut for time. Was there anything else you had to lose?
Usually our scripts come in at about 40, 45 pages. This one was about 65 pages. [Laughs] We spent the week [of production] paring it back. There were some jokes here and there that we lost, but I think the episode is stronger for it. We knew we weren’t going to skimp on the vows. We knew we weren’t going to skimp on the wedding. Some of those cuts were painful, but anything that wasn’t servicing [the central story] fell by the wayside.

TVLINE | What was the most painful cut?
Probably the Meemaw phone call. It was a lovely moment. That was a hard one. But it was 35 seconds in a script that was [already] five or six minutes long.

TVLINE | How and when did it come up with the idea to have Mark Hamill be the officiant?
When we first started talking about the wedding, it had come up that maybe one of Sheldon’s friends could get him a surprise officiant. And Mark was the first name on the list, so we reached out to him to see if he’d be interested. We didn’t have a script at the time, so [he] really had to take a leap of faith and trusted that we were going to do right by him… He was the nicest human being you could ever imagine.

TVLINE | Will we see much of Sheldon and Amy’s honeymoon when we pick back up next season?
I don’t know. We have some overall conceptual thoughts about next season, but we haven’t nailed down any of the specifics. But it’s certainly possible. It’s something we have talked about as an option.

More on the wedding last week.

Another cut scene with a tribute to Stephen Hawking was released on Twitter. I really think they should have made an expanded episode for the wedding.

More on the wedding last week.

BleedingCool.com has a guide for for those interested in seeing every moment possible of coverage of next week’s wedding of Prince Henry of Wales and Meghan Markle of Suits. Television coverage starts at 4 am on BBC America, with BBC America devoting more time for coverage than the BBC.

StarTrekMovie.com shows how Anson Mount is turned into Captain Pike for season two of Star Trek:Discovery.

Last week I quoted Jennifer Morrison refer to George Kirk’s “supposed death” in the 2009 Star Trek movie. She later clarified that she was just joking and wrote on Instagram, “I have no idea what they are planning for the next Star Trek. I’ve never talked to anyone involved with the project. I’m excited to watch and see how it turns out just as much as all the other fans.” So he might have never died, he might have died and is coming back, or there will be some timey wimey stuff going on.

Den of Geek summarizes what else is known about Star Trek 4.

We received a lot of news about television renewals and cancellations this week. From a science fiction perspective, the biggest cancellation is of The Expanse. There is talk of trying to get another network to pick it up but Ars Technica discussed why this might be difficult, as well as why it had problems at Syfy. At least there are the novels to find out what happens next.

The one show which so far has been successful in finding a new home was Brooklyn Nine-Nine. After talk of it being picked up by Netflix of Hulu, NBC wound up taking it.

Fox has cancelled The Last Man On Earth, with talk of Hulu possibly picking it up. Otherwise we will never know what is going on with those people who were underground.

Lucifer was cancelled with a huge cliffhanger, causing Fox to once again frustrate genre fans.

Timeless received a reprieve after being cancelled last season and remains on the bubble. Eric Kripke says it could go either way.  NBC has renewed The Blacklist.

The other major bubble show is Agents of SHIELD with no word yet from ABC. (Update: SHIELD has been renewed for a thirteen episode season). It came as no surprise that ABC officially cancelled The Inhumans. It was pretty much assumed that it would not be returning.

The CW Network has renewed The 100 and iZombie. They also announced new series including reboots of Charmed and Roswell.

Syfy has released the above trailer for season 4 of 12 Monkeys, which returns June 15.  All eleven episodes will be shown over four week. Three episodes will air on each Friday for the first three weeks of the season. The two-part season finale will be on Friday, July 6.

The Bafta TV Awards were presented today. Winners include Peakey Blinders for Drama Series and The Handmaid’s Tale for International. The full list of winners can be found here.

As regular readings might guess from the scarcity of the usual comments on the week’s shows, I remain seriously behind following last weekend. Hopefully I can get caught up for some of the season finales coming up imminently.

SciFi Weekend: Late and Abbreviated Wedding Edition Including Star Trek News, Renewals for Westworld & The Handmaid’s Tale, And How To Find Out If Thanos Killed You

There have been reports for a while that Star Trek 4 will include Chris Hemsworth reprising his role as the father of Captain Kirk, despite being killed in the first J. J. Abrams Star Trek movie. Jennifer Morrison might have given away how that can happen while at a panel where she was primarily speaking about her role on Once Upon A Time. From ComicBook.com:

However, her moderator was Star Trek: Voyager star Garrett Wang and Wang began by referencing Morrison’s role as Winona Kirk, the mother of James T. Kirk, in the opening scene of 2009’s Star Trek movie.

Wang said, “As an actor, I think it is incredibly difficult to play the role of a mother who just gave birth to James Tiberius Kirk, knowing that your husband is 36 seconds away from death, basically…”
And that’s when Morrison interrupted and corrected Wang’s statement, saying “Supposed death,” and then smiling to add, “Just saying.”

A reunion between James Kirk and his father is not the only Star Trek related reunion lately. Star Trek: Discovery has begun filming season two, with Jonathan Frakes directing the second episode. He was joined on the set by Star Trek: The Next Generation co-star and eventual on-screen wife, Marina Sirtis.

Two excellent genre series are currently showing their second season. Not surprisingly both  Westworld and The Handmaid’s Tale have also been renewed for a third season.

This week is both a late and abbreviated version of SciFi Weekend. This has been posted continuously every week for over ten years and I was not going to entirely skip a week, but it was also complicated this week as I did not have much time to either watch any of the past week’s shows or read very much on line. That does not mean I did not think of genre. I wore the Star Trek cuff links in the picture above for my daughter’s wedding while my nephew, who also officiated the wedding, wore the Yoda cuff links. The groom wore ones with Darth Vader. There was also a Welcome Reception the night before the wedding which occurred on Star Wars Day (May the Fourth…) and this was reflected at the event. Finally, my speech at the wedding included brief references to Tolkien, Wakunda, Star Wars, and I quoted the great Jewish philosopher Leonard Nimoy in wishing that the newlyweds Live Long and Prosper.

There is another big wedding to come this week. TV Line spoke with, Steve Holland, the showrunner for The Big Bang Theory about Sheldon and Amy’s upcoming wedding.

Finally, while I won’t give any specifics or numbers, I don’t think it is a real spoiler to say that there were many deaths in Avengers: Infinity War. There is a web site to tell you whether you lived or died entitled Did Thanos Kill Me?

Distorted Right Wing Attacks On Michelle Wolf–What She Really Said (Including Full Transcript)

Donald Trump has a long history of insulting anyone who displeases him, including the handicapped, immigrants, Muslims, and gold star families. He has quite frequently attacked the appearance of women. However, Trump cannot take it when he is the target of mere jokes. For the second straight year he was unwilling to attend the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. Conservatives who have often defended Trump’s attacks on others, responded by attacking Michelle Wolf. Frequently the attacks were not for her actual jokes but were based upon distorting what she actually said.

A satiric roast at a dinner such as this would be expected to be far harder on its targets than would be expected in normal political discourse. Comedians are expected to push the boundaries, cross lines, and make people feel uncomfortable. Jokes about Trump are naturally going to include lines about prostitutes and grabby pussy, because this is what Donald Trump, not Michele Wolf, brought to Washington.

Wolf’s actual jokes were far less offensive than many of the things we hear from Trump and his allies. As Wolf’s actual act was tamer than they are, the right attacked by distorting what she actually said. It was reminiscent of past attacks from the right on others such as David Letterman.

The main line of the attacks was to falsely claim that Wolf attacked Sarah Sanders’ looks. This falsehood was often spread by taking a line out of context, making it appear she was joking about Sanders’ eye as opposed to joking about her lying. Her full joke regarding this was, “I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. She burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.” Even quoted out of context, “smoky eye” is hardly a terrible attack.

Wolf did briefly mention Mitch McConnell’s neck and Christ Christie’s weight, but I haven’t seen complaints about these, and these are common laugh lines for the late night comics. The only woman whose looks were mocked by Wolf were her own, when she referred to her own frizzy hair and small tits.

Wolf was interviewed by NPR and defended what she said:

I think people have a lot of preconceived notions about Sarah’s looks and I think a lot of what’s happening is they’re projecting onto this joke. … I think it’s clear that the joke wasn’t about Sarah’s looks, but I don’t think — to me it’s so obvious that I don’t even really need to defend it. I think if you listen to the joke you’ll understand that it’s about the fact that she lies and if it’s taken another way I think you should go back and listen to it again. …

If there [are] two people that I actually made fun of their looks on Saturday it was Mitch McConnell and Chris Christie and no one is jumping to their defense. I made fun of Mitch McConnell’s neck and I did a small jab at Chris Christie’s weight and no one is jumping to their defense.

Late night comedians did come to her defense, including Stephen Colbert reliving his old conservative character:

“She is filthy and she is mean — which is what we love about her. Because those are wonderful qualities for comedians, and terrible qualities for free-world leaders.” — SETH MEYERS, comparing Michelle Wolf with President Trump

“Michelle should have had the decency not to comment on women’s appearances in any way, shape or form. She’s a comedian, for God’s sake, not the president.” — TREVOR NOAH

“This is the correspondents’ dinner, celebrating the freedom of speech; you can’t just say whatever you want!” — STEPHEN COLBERT

“I am so proud, right down to the breastbone, that the press is defending her despite the fact that her boss joked about throwing reporters in jail. That’s the kind of comedy the press likes!” — STEPHEN COLBERT, on Sarah Huckabee Sanders

The best defense of much of the criticism I’ve heard about the speech is to hear what she actually said. The video is above, and full transcript follows:

(more…)

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery Season 2; Two Star Trek Movies Planned; The Return of Westworld, A Handmaid’s Tale, and The 100

Star Trek: Discovery season two has gone into production and CBS has released the video below with some glimpses, including brief views involving the Enterprise. Unfortunately we do not see very much. There is a picture of the uniforms, with some updating.  There is no good view of the bridge and only a quick glimpse of Anson Mount as Captain Pike.

It also appears that Paramount is proceeding with two Star Trek movies. One would be the Quentin Tarantino movie, rumored to be based upon either an episode of the original show or Star Trek The Next Generation.  This would not take place in the Kelvin timeline from the J.J. Abrams’ movies.

The other movie would be a continuation in the Kelvin timeline as a follow up in the J.J. Abrams series. This reportedly would involve Captain Kirk meeting his father, again played by Chris Helmsworth. As George Kirk was killed in the first Abrams movie, it is not known if this will involve time travel. I’m hoping that Kirk prevents Nero from killing his father, and then repairs the entire time line. The movie will be directed by S.J. Clarkson, making her the first female to direct a Star Trek movie. Clarkson has worked on television series including Orange Is The New Black, Dexter, and Jessica Jones.

I only have time for an abbreviated version of SciFi Weekend today, as will likely also be the case next week. Three genre series did return which I will briefly note, and will probably discuss all three series in more depth later in the season.

Westworld is back with the story again being told in more than one timeline.  Much of the episode appears to be taking place just after the events of the first season finale. As would be expected in the season premiere, there were many questions raised. I’ll just mention a few thoughts today, but there was far more worthy of discussion in the episode.

It appears that Delos has been harvesting the DNA of its guests, along with all the other information they record. It looks like something Mark Zuckerberg might have come up with. Are clones next? As opposed to the movie, in which the robots were more clearly the villains, the first season often had us rooting for the hosts. I wonder if, even after all the killings, the show will remain ambiguous as to who to support.

In a scene taking place two weeks after the massacre of the first season finale, we see dead hosts floating in water and Bernard saying, “I killed them. All of them.” He did not definitely say who he killed. He is most likely referring to the dead hosts, but could he be talking about the guests? Presumably much of the season will deal with how we get to that scene.

Maeve is still searching for her daughter. I can’t help but wonder what will happen, assuming she does find her. Will the daughter know her, or see any connection between them? As Maeve has not played that role for a year, will the daughter have a new mother?

Hulu released two episodes of A Handmaid’s Tale. The first deals with Offred, showing what happened after she was taken away in the truck in the first season finale. Her story progressed from there, with the eventual revelation of where she is  playing well into the changes in society.

The second episode also spent a lot of time with Alexis Bledel’s character Emily. This included both her backstory as a college professor and her life after being exiled to the Colonies. They are now beyond the book, but the first two episodes showed that this world provides a lot of material to continue with. However, considering how bleak it is, I hope that rather than continuing this for several seasons, they offer some hopeful signs for change in this society.

The fifth season premiere of The 100 primarily dealt with how Clarke spent the last six years, leading up to the point seen in last year’s season finale. We saw a little with the group in space. The most surprising portion came at the end with Octavia in the bunker. That story will be told in greater detail next week. TV Guide did speak with Jason Rothenberg about this:

“Obviously we saved that for the end as a big holy sh– moment to tee you up for the story we’re telling in [Episode 2],” Rothenberg tells TV Guide. “It was really important to me for that environment, for that fighting pit that we see in [the premiere], to feel believable and to tell a story in the next episode that explains how we got there.”

Next week’s episode will be focused entirely on how Octavia went from winning the Conclave into becoming this Mad Max monarch, and while Rothenberg doesn’t want to give too much away about that journey, he does reveal that Octavia’s intentions were never anything but to keep her people safe. “We realize ultimately that Octavia needs to find ways to keep her kru, her new people, Wonkru, together. And she kind of forges this clan in her own image, in a sense,” he teases.

What is The 100 if not a tale of people doing terrible things with good intentions? But as the show has reminded us time and time again, good intentions don’t always mean these actions are just. And after six years of peace, discovering this culture of violence that Octavia has created in the bunker will come as a huge shock to Bellamy and Clarke when they eventually reunite.

“It will be mind-blowing, to say the least, because it’s not at all what they expect. Bellamy will definitely understand some of it based on his knowledge of his sister and what they read together as children and things of that nature,” the showrunner says. “But certainly, they have no idea what to expect when they open that bunker. They don’t know if anybody is going to be alive, let alone strong. And so it could have felt like opening the doors of a concentration camp where everyone was wasting away and barely hanging out, but instead there’s a powerful fighting force down there.”

While Bellamy and Clarke will be understandably horrified to learn of the fighting pit, the fierce warriors Octavia has cultivated in the bunker will prove to be quite useful now that there’s another war on-hand. But whether that justifies what Octavia did to create these warriors will be the question that plagues both Octavia’s friends and family, but also the fans this season.

“It’s fairly remarkable that she was able to keep that, to create that, to forge that steel in the fire of what they lived through down there,” Rothenberg says. “So ultimately that’s all due to Octavia. And the question for people will be, ‘Do we like her or do we hate her or fear her?’ But I think ultimately, we have to respect that she did it, she made it happen. And they will too.”

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery Season 2; Rebooting Gotham; Steven Moffat on Dracula And Other Doctor Who Related News; Mark Hamill On The Big Bang Theory; The Spy

Production on Star Trek: Discovery season 2 started in Toronto on April 16. TrekMovie.com has an excellent rundown of what is known about the season so far. This includes some new cast members, which indicates that we will see two additional star ships (including The Enterprise as was shown at the end of season one, and Section 31):

Anson Mount – Captain Christopher Pike of the USS Enterprise, he’ll be in at least the first two episodes of the season.

Alan Van Sprang – Leland is the head of Section 31, introduced in a bonus scene that was originally attached to the end of the season one finale. Based on what Van Sprang said at WonderCon, he’s expected to recur throughout the season.

Tig Notaro – Chief Engineer Denise Reno of the USS Hiawatha, guest staring in an unknown number of episodes.

They also have come comments on the theme of the second season:

Theme of season two: Science vs Faith

The showrunners have said a few times now, on After Trek, and then at WonderCon, that theme of season two is “science versus faith.” Aaron Harberts explains:

What is the role of serendipity versus science? Is there a story about faith to be told? Leaps of faith. We are dealing with space. We are dealing with things that can’t be explained and you have a character like Michael Burnham who believes there is an explanation for everything. And it doesn’t just mean religion. It means patterns in our lives. It means connections you can’t explain.

Harberts also talked about how the tone of the show will change in season two:

[Season one] was an interesting season because it was set against the backdrop of war. One of things we are looking forward to in season two is a tone that we can now be in a more exploratory phase and a more diplomatic phase – maybe a bit more of a Trekian chapter

Last week I, and multiple other sites, repeated a story based upon apparently incorrect information from a Discovery staffer claiming that the differences between the Enterprise in the season one finale and the original show were due to legal reasons. CBS has subsequently issued a statement stating that the changes were done for creative and not legal reasons:

CBS TV Studios does, in fact, have the right to use the U.S.S. Enterprise ship design from the past TV series, and are not legally required to make changes. The changes in the ship design were creative ones, made to utilize 2018’s VFX technology.

The art that was used in the 2019 calendar is ‘concept art,’ which was completed long before the VFX process is completed.

Last week I also noted that Star Trek: Discovery was nominated for a Peabody Award. While they did not win, other shows which I have previously discussed in SciFi Weekend were among the winners– The Handmaid’s Tale, Better Call Saul, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The full list of winners is available here.

Gotham will be drastically changed after the fourth season finale according to a report at ComicBook.com:

The Season 4 finale, which follows the ever-popular Batman: No Man’s Land story from the comics, will alter the entire reality of the series. Everything we know about Gotham will change, and an entirely different Batman prequel series will rise up in its place.

According to executive producer Danny Cannon, “A Dark Knight: No Man’s Land” will change the fabric of Gotham‘s DNA, and serve as a reboot of the show’s story.

During an exclusive interview with ComicBook.com, Cannon mentioned that the finale would bring a “cataclysmic event” to Gotham. Knowing that “No Man’s Land was the title of the Season 4 finale, this wasn’t much of a surprise, but we asked him to elaborate.

“Like I said, the catastrophic event, the cataclysmic event that happens in the last three episodes not only will change Gotham,” Cannon continued, “it not only combines so many characters that you don’t think will cooperate with each other, but it changes the face of Gotham forever, so that season five, it’s almost a reboot and a different show.”

“Our characters have reached a maturity now, our characters are so well defined and that’s why I think as writers, that’s right about the point when you want to change people’s perception of them,” Cannon clarified. “The [term] ‘reboot’ means, just when you thought you knew people, something else will happen, and just when you thought your Season 5 would be like Season 4, Season 5 is completely different. New characters and old characters that have changed. It’s a complete [departure], and the city has changed too, new characters on a new landscape.”

Steven Moffat has revealed minimal information about plans for a reinvention of Dracula:

While speaking to Graham Norton on his BBC Radio 2 show, Moffat had a few words to say about his new adaptation. He confirmed that he and Gatiss will tackle the project “in a Sherlock-y way” though there will be one important difference between them: Dracula won’t be brought into the modern day.

“But not in exactly the same way. We’re not modernizing it or anything, but we are doing a version of Dracula.”

In other news related to the Doctor Who/Sherlock universes, Entertainment Weekly reports that David Tennant was considering the staring role on Hannibal:

“I met [Hannibal executive producer] Bryan Fuller a couple of times, and we talked about it,” says Tennant. “But I think they quite wisely chose Mads Mikkelsen, I think he was a perfect choice for it, and I think he did things with that character that I wouldn’t have managed, so I think the right man got the job.”

Considering how well he played the villain on Jessica Jones, I’m sure that Tennant could have also done an excellent job as Hannibal.

Sort of tying in Sherlock with Star Trek news, Benedict Cumberbatch revealed that he spilled secrets about filming Star Trek Into Darkness with Stephen Hawking.

Season eleven of The Big Bang Theory will conclude with the wedding of Amy and Sheldon. Guests include Laurie Metcalf as Sheldon’s mother and Courtney Henggeler reprising her role as his twin sister Missy. Jerry O’Connell has been cast as George, Jr. Besides bringing older versions of the cast of Young Sheldon, Wil Wheaton will be present. The most exciting addition to the guest list is Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker). There is no word as to what his role will be on the episode.

Noah Emmerich of The Americans will continue to be a spy even after his current show is off the air. He will be staring in a limited run series on Netflix entitled, The Spy:

Written and directed by Gideon Raff, creator of the Israeli drama Prisoners of Waron which Showtime’s Homeland was based, The Spy tells the story of legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen (Baron Cohen). Eli Cohen lived in Damascus undercover in the beginning of the ’60s, spying for Israel. He managed to embed himself into Syrian high society and rise through the ranks of their politics until he was uncovered by the Syrian regime, sentenced to death and publicly hanged.

Emmerich will play Dan Peleg, a charming, rumpled and brilliant Mossad trainer. He is wise, wary and stubborn, and has a tendency to blur the boundaries between the personal and professional. He has conflicted feelings about Eli (Baron Cohen), and is tormented by a mistake he made in the past.

I’m still hoping for a Stan and Oleg spin-off of The Americans.

SciFi Weekly: The X-Files Finale; Agents of SHIELD And The MCU; Star Trek Discovery Season Two Plans; The Ninth Doctor; What They Wear Under Those Cloaks On The Handmaid’s Tale

There are so many reviews already out there about how bad My Struggle IV was that I won’t spend much time piling on here. It is especially disappointing that this is not only the season finale of The X-Files, but it might also be the series finale. I gave them the benefit of the doubt after watching My Struggle III, hoping that essentially retconning last season’s finale would give them the opportunity to end this season in a better way. While they got rid of the alien invasion, the episode was not the season or series conclusion which fans were hoping for. At least there were some worthwhile stand alone episodes during the season.

For the benefit of those who gave up watching but have passing curiosity as to how it all ended, the episode centered around William, who was previously described as the son of Scully and Mulder. The episode ended with Scully telling Mulder, “William was an experiment. He was an idea, born in a laboratory. I carried him. I bore him. But I was never a mother to him. William wasn’t…”  This led to Mulder asking, “What am I now if I’m not a father?”

Then the big shocker to end the season: “You are a father!” Scully grabbed Mulder’s hand and put it on her abdomen.  “That’s impossible…”  “I know, it’s more than impossible,” Scully responded.

Chris Carter had this to say about the pregnancy in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter:

Given the twist about William’s paternity this year, can you confirm this is biologically Mulder and Scully’s kid that she is carrying?
I will confirm it is their child. But I will also confirm Scully has alien DNA.

Syfy Wire interviewed Chris Carter about the episode:

Did it feel different this year bringing the season to a close?

Chris Carter: No. I don’t think we’re at the ending as much as a new beginning. Or, it’s not a conclusion for me. It’s maybe one of the biggest cliff-hangers we’ve ever had. Certainly, with the carnage and the revelations. We did six last time, and 10 this time. Even though it took a year of my life to do it, it happens much faster. So, the arc is much quicker, and that struck me again.

When did the concept of the four-part “My Struggle” episodes come to you? Obviously, you had your Season 10 pick up, but did you know then that you wanted to tell this particular through line in four pieces?

Yeah, I had four stories to tell. They were the characters that were most central to the mythology being Mulder, Scully, the Cigarette Smoking Man, and Mulder and Scully’s son, William. Those are the stories I wanted to tell, so I’m glad everyone stuck with it.

Gillian had a very specific announcement this year saying that she was retiring from the character. Did that affect the tail end of the season?

No, it’s what I wanted to do always. I wanted to reveal William’s immortality. I wanted to bring Mulder and Scully back together in the most emotional way. So, I had all those cards to play.

Some showrunners have an idea of a last image that they want to end with. Was Mulder and Scully hugging on that dock with the knowledge that she’s pregnant set, or did that come from telling that story this season?

It was in my head and I couldn’t wait to shoot it. But that’s not the last image. (Laughs)

True. It was indeed William in the water alive. But was it Mulder and Scully or William you were moving towards the whole season?

You know, I’m so invested in these characters. I’ve lived so much of my life with them, and it’s a moment we’ve seen twice. We’ve seen it at the end of the second movie, and we’ve seen it now at the end of the finale. The revelation about the first child was a different situation. I really feel like emotionally they are connected in a way that we haven’t ever quite seen.

The X-Files has always been very subtle about portraying the romantic relationship between Mulder and Scully. But you let the writers lean into it this season with some really poignant moments. Why was it important to show that now?

I think that there was some part of us that heard the fans. There was another part of us that saw them both getting older and thinking about the future, and thinking about retirement and old age, and what their lives might be together. So, I think that these are poignant moments for two characters who have known each other for 25 years…

What was the wrap shot for the season?

I think the final shots that I shot were with some of the additional stuff that I had to do with Mitch for that action sequence. The sequence on the dock with Mulder and Scully was the second to last night. We tried to put it on the last night, but we were unable to do that.

Speaking of Skinner, we’re very well trained by you that unless you say someone’s dead, they aren’t dead. So, we see part of Skinner’s body. Do you want to say if he’s dead or not?

Well, you see him lying under the car. But you did see him fall before the car hit him, so while he’s motionless it certainly begs many questions…

I’ve got a nerdy question: In “My Struggle part II”, we get Scully’s vision of the end of times. And it showed CSM in a very different physical state. And then we see in this season that he looks fine. Are we supposed to assume his regenerated appearance is a result of his involvement with the various alien projects?

CSM’s had access to science that no one else has access to, and if he is a part of William’s immortality, what’s to say that he doesn’t hold the key to that in his cells? And when he went off the end of that pier, what does that suggest?

I’m going to assume until I see his dead body that he could be coming back at any point.  So let’s shift to the fact that Kersh closed the X-Files again. Are we supposed to take that at face value?

My feeling is that The X-Files has been closed before. They closed it in Season 1 actually, long ago. So, it’s not the first time. Practically, those files still sit down there in those drawers. And someone is going to investigate them. And if that’s Mulder and Scully, they’ll do it with the same passion they’ve always done it with. But the fact is that those files sit down in those drawers to be investigated.

David posed to me once that The X-Files should live on with a show about William. With Gillian retired from Scully, is that more of a credible direction for you to ponder as a spin-off?

No, I guess you could take that approach. I hadn’t really considered it. I like Miles Robbins (William). I think he’s interesting, I think the character of William is interesting, but that’s a different kind of show. That would really be starting from scratch. It’s more of a superhero show. That might be an undertaking, but I’m too tired to think about it right now.

Additional interviews with Chris Carter are available on TVLine and Entertainment Weekly.

The showrunners for Agents of SHIELD were asked how Avengers Infinity War would affect the show at WonderCon. While there was nothing very specific, they did discuss how the movies have changed what they do on the show (beyond the obvious first season response to the first Avengers movie). From Deadline:

“If you watched the trailer, a lot of sh*t goes down!” exclaimed Whedon. “These are the kinds of questions we can do everything but answer.”

However, he did provide us with something to chew on. “The movies blaze a path,” he continued. “When Doctor Strange came out it introduced us to magic which gave us Ghost Rider; when [Guardians of the Galaxy] came out, we were introduced to space. We are waiting for that movie to come out so it can open a new playground for us.”

TrekMovie.com listed what was learned about Star Trek: Discovery season 2 at WonderCon. Here’s some excerpts:

Regarding being in the Prime Timeline:

Aaron Harberts: The idea was to always be in the Prime Timeline. Obviously, there are questions and concerns and things that are different. Our technology is a little different. We have a ship that runs very differently. We are our own show in a lot of ways. Season two is really exciting for us. This is our opportunity to really show how Discovery fits into this Prime Timeline. We are firmly committed to that.

Regarding the dark tone of the first season:

Gretchen J. Berg: We are aware it is a different era and a different format for the show. I don’t think we are gunning for shock value. Everything always comes out of character and story. If it feels like something that would happen in that world and in that context, we go in that direction. It is not a group that leads with wanting to shock people or horrify people.

Aaron Harberts: [Season one] was an interesting season because it was set against the backdrop of war. One of things we are looking forward to in season two is a tone that we can now be in a more exploratory phase and a more diplomatic phase – maybe a bit more of a Trekian chapter…But, everything for us is really driven by character.

About the USS Enterprise seen at the end of the season:

Tamara Deverell: For the Enterprise, we based it initially off of The Original Series. We were really drawing a lot of our materials from that. And then we particularly went to more of the Star Trek movies, which is a little bit fatter, a little bit bigger. Overall, I think we expanded the length of it to be within the world of our Discovery, which is bigger, so we did cheat it as a larger ship.

Jason Zimmerman: It starts with them giving us designs to work with and then there is a lot of back and forth between VFX and [Tamra’s] department to make sure that we get everything right. There were a lot of conversations and more emails than I could remember about how the design would evolve and sort of match our universe, and that is how we sort of arrived where we are

About the uniforms:

Gretchen J. Berg: Well, we are in the same timeline. This is the prime universe and we are pretty close to when TOS happens.

Aaron Harberts: Well, we bump up against the Enterprise at the end of our [season one] finale, and we know what kind of uniforms they wear. So, we will leave it at that.

Regarding Saru:

Aaron Harberts: You will learn more about Saru this season. We had to lay some pipe early in episode 2 [of season one]. What are those threat ganglia. What do they do? What do they represent in the Terran Empire and a lot of that stuff will fold back in when we are back on the air.

ScreenRant has a clue as to what might be coming in the second season. They report on a deleted scene in which Section 31 recruiting is recruiting Mirror Georgiou.

Steven Moffat has released portions of an early version of the script for The Day of the Doctor, the fiftieth anniversary episode, in which Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor appears. Radio Times has some excerpts.

Eccleston recently told The Guardian that he was blacklisted by the BBC after he left Doctor Who:

“What happened around Doctor Who almost destroyed my career,” he says. “I gave them a hit show and I left with dignity and then they put me on a blacklist. I was carrying my own insecurities as it was something I had never done before and then I was abandoned, vilified in the tabloid press and blacklisted. I was told by my agent at the time: ‘The BBC regime is against you. You’re going to have to get out of the country and wait for regime change.’ So I went away to America and I kept on working because that’s what my parents instilled in me. My dad always said to me: ‘I don’t care what you do – sweeping the floor or whatever you’re doing – just do the best job you can.’ I know it’s cliched and northern and all that bollocks, but it applies.”

He described tensions on the show before he left with Radio Times:

“My relationship with my three immediate superiors – the showrunner, the producer and co-producer – broke down irreparably during the first block of filming and it never recovered,” Eccleston says in the latest issue of Radio Times.

“They lost trust in me, and I lost faith and trust and belief in them,” he continues.

Eccleston starred in the sci-fi series when it first rebooted in 2005 with Russell T Davies as showrunner.

Describing the situation as “very” stressful, Eccleston claims that he felt out of place playing a lighter role, and believes it may have contributed to on-set difficulties.

“Some of my anger about the situation came from my own insecurity,” he says. “They employed somebody [as the Doctor] who was not a natural light comedian.”

He adds, “Billie [Piper], who we know was and is brilliant, was very, very nervous and very, very inexperienced. So, you had that, and then you had me. Very, very experienced, possibly the most experienced on it, but out of my comfort zone.”

In the interview, Eccleston goes on to reveal why he’s only elected to speak on the subject in recent months, with the Salford-born actor suggesting he’d made an agreement not to “damage” the reputation of the series.

“When I left, I gave my word to [then-showrunner] Russell T Davies that I wouldn’t do anything to damage the show,” he says. “But they did things to damage me. I didn’t criticise anybody.”

Asked if Davies was aware of the issues, Eccleston says, “If you’re the showrunner, you know everything. That’s your job,” adding that he “never will have” a working relationship with the screenwriter again.

We finally got an answer as to what the cast of The Handmaid’s Tale wear under those cloaks:

Keeping in mind that the show is being filmed up in Canada where it can get quite cold in some regions it’s not too much of a surprise that some of the women have said that they either wear granny panties that cover nearly their entire abdomen or resort to wearing multiple layers of long johns to stave off the chill. Some of them even manage to tape heating packs to their bodies to keep warm as the cloaks don’t do much for warmth in the colder climate in which they film

There are also clues as to what happened to Offred after the cliff hanger ending of season one here.

SciFi Weekend: Stephen Hawking, Scientist & Genre Star; The 100; Martin Freeman on Sherlock; Alexis Bledel on A Handmaid’s Tale; Double Renewal For Eric McCormack–Will & Grace & Travelers; The Americans; Nathan Fillian To Reprise Firefly Role; Saturn Award Nominees

Stephen Hawking died last week leading to recognition not only from the scientific community, tributes from many in actors due to his many appearances on genre television. He was the only historical figure to play himself on Star Trek. In the video above from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Hawking played cards with  Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Data in the holodeck. Syfy Wire has several tributes to Hawking from the cast of multiple versions of Star Trek. More at TrekMovie.com.

Sheldon Cooper met Stephen Hawking on The Big Bang Theory in the clip above. TV Line has tributes from the cast of The Big Bang Theory. IO9 has additional television cameos.

The 100 ended last season with major changes, and a quick glance of the future. An extended trailer for the the fifth season has been released, showing a new enemy to contend with. The 100 returns on April 24.

It has been a huge question as to whether Sherlock would return considering how the careers of both stars have taken off. It does not sound encouraging that Martin Freeman will want to return after he said that it wasn’t fun anymore in a recent interview:

In a new interview in The Telegraph, the Black Panther actor was asked if there were any talks about a fifth season of the BBC fan favorite.

“Not massively,” the Dr. Watson actor said. “Um… I think after series four [it] felt like a pause. I think we felt we’d done it for a bit now. And part of it, speaking for myself is [due to] the reception of it.”

Martin, the article explained, was referring to 2017’s fourth season which seemed to struggle to continue building on fans’ expectations of previous outings.

“To be absolutely honest, it [was] kind of impossible,” he explained. “Sherlock became the animal that it became immediately. Whereas even with [the U.K. version of] The Office, it was a slow burn. But Sherlock was frankly notably high quality from the outset. And when you start [that high] it’s pretty hard to maintain that.

“Being in that show, it is a mini-Beatles thing,” he concluded. “People’s expectations, some of it’s not fun anymore. It’s not a thing to be enjoyed, it’s a thing of: ‘You better f—ing do this, otherwise, you’re a c—.’ That’s not fun anymore.”

The Handmaid’s Tale returns to Hulu on April 25. Entertainment Weekly interviewed Alexis Bledel:

This season, we get to learn a lot about Emily’s life from Before. Was her backstory something you’d thought about before this episode?
Yes, I loved filming Emily’s flashbacks. [Executive producer] Bruce Miller and I had talked about what her pre-Gilead life might have been like even before I started working on the first season. I think much of her worldview is informed by her previous life as a professor of cellular biology. Life in the Colonies is a last stop. Emily does not have a great deal of hope for a future there; she knows her days are numbered.

Marisa Tomei costars with you in the second episode. What was that like?
It was amazing to work with her; she’s someone whose work I admire. We had these incredibly dark, dramatic moments to play out that she brought so much depth to.

I keep thinking/wondering what’s worse: life as a Handmaid or living in the Colonies?
Being forced to exist in either Gilead or the Colonies threatens to destroy a person’s soul in different ways. Handmaids are forced to follow an extremely limiting set of rules to comply with the mandates of the Gileadean regime, including the horrific monthly ceremony. Anyone in Gilead would be terrified to be sent to the Colonies. Everything from the soil the unwomen turn over to the water they use to wash is toxic in the Colonies, so a person’s health begins to rapidly deteriorate as soon as they get there. They know they will die there, all the while forced to do hard labor without decent food to eat or clean living conditions.

We are going to be seeing more of Eric McCormack on television next year. NBC has renewed the Will & Grace revival for a second season, and is extending it to eighteen episodes. Fewer people might be aware that Eric McCormack also stars in an excellent Canadian science fiction series called Travelers. The first two seasons were broadcast on Showcase and later shown on Netflix–although once I discovered this show I wound up downloading episodes rather than waiting for it to be available on Netflix.

Travelers has been renewed for a third season, and McCormack will be directing the first episode. However, instead of airing first on Showcase, the show will be shown exclusively on Netflix. I wonder if this was a case of Netflix saving the show if Showcase was not going to continue it, or (I suspect more likely) Netflix has business reasons and the power to take it over.

Travelers is technically a time travel show but the series takes place entirely in the present, with people from the future taking over the consciousness of people at the moments they were to have died. The characters must deal with not only their mission to save the earth , but also must deal with the personal lives of the bodies they take over. I won’t give specifics for those who have not seen it, but the second season ended with major changes for everyone, making fans eager to see a third season.

The Americans returns for its sixth and final season on March 28. FX has released the above official trailer.

Earlier in the week I had this post regarding a social credit system in China which sounds like something out of Black Mirror. It is also reminiscent of Majority Rule, an episode of The Orville.

Storing the contents of one’s brain provided for a fascinating story on Altered Carbon. A company is claiming that they can store the contents of your brain, but there is a huge catch.

Nathan Fillian is going play himself on an upcoming episode of American Housewife, and will be suiting up as Captain Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly.

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