SciFi Weekend: The Magicians and Counterpart Season Finales; Star Trek Movie Scripts; CW Arrowverse Renewals

Last week featured the season finales of two excellent shows, The Magicians and Counterpart. While I rarely watch fantasy as opposed to science fiction, I found The Magicians to be an excellent show from the start, and the past third season was the strongest yet. The third season does depend upon knowledge of earlier events, and I would recommend that those who have not watched start at the beginning. The sections on both of these shows will have major spoilers beyond the introductory paragraphs recommending both shows.

The second season of The Magicians (finale reviewed here) ended with magic being turned off, leading into a season-long quest to find the keys which would allow magic to be turned on again. My (minor) disappointment in the finale comes from seeing that they technically succeed, but there is no time to enjoy the success. Instead the finale leads into what is presumably the plan for next season. Magic is back, but under the control of the Library. Brakebills is again teaching magic, but is being severely rationed. The memories of  Quentin, Julia, Eliot, Margo, Kady, Josh, and Penny 23 were wiped as part of a deal which left them alive. Julia temporarily had goddess powers, but had to give them up. Alice is a prisoner of the Library as punishment for breaking their deal.  Eliot is under the control of the Monster, has found Quentin, and wants to play.

Entertainment Weekly discussed the finale, and what comes next, with showrunners Sera Gamble and John McNamara:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The theme of sacrifice was really big in the finale. Why did you decide to focus on that in the finale?
JOHN MCNAMARA: I think that theme is very much in all three of Lev Grossman’s books. It felt like we had reached a point in season 3 where sacrifice is, in a way, unavoidable because the situation is so dire and so enormous and involved a lot of well-meaning but flawed people, as happens in life, and that sacrifice really is one of the key ways in which you make changes to the world in the real world. We always start with, “What would happen in the real world without magic? What if this show was just a drama about college kids? What if these college kids were in an extremely high-stakes situation? Now let’s layer in fantasy as a kind of metaphor for depression, or conflict, or fascism, and then tell the story through that lens.” As Rod Sterling discovered with The Twilight Zone, you can say a lot of serious things about the world but keep it really entertaining if it’s through the lens of fantasy.

With this finale, what did you want to say about the world? 
JOHN MCNAMARA: It’s weird. [Laughs]
SERA GAMBLE: Well, we always had in mind that they would heroically succeed in their epic quest this season, but that they would also lose. Part of the point of telling the story about these particular young magicians is that they have just a little bit of power at their fingertips as they try to move through a world that is so much bigger and more powerful than they are. That’s how it feels to be stepping out in the real and adult world. Sometimes it feels like you have just enough strength to make a little bit of change or to do a little something for yourself and the people around you, and sometimes it feels completely f—ing futile. The tension between those two, I think, is actually part of what defines feeling like an adult. That’s something that tends to organically enter into their stories. When they have a victory, especially when that opens up a door into more life, there’s usually a sh—y part to it, and this was finale was no exception.

At what point did you guys come up with the idea that the season would end with their minds/personalities being wiped?
MCNAMARA: Pretty early on we had this idea of magical witness protection. Although I don’t think we were totally sure of where and when and how we’d use it, but I just know it was an idea we all liked. Once we sort of figured out it would be the coda for the season finale, it felt like it was the right plan. Structurally, you get a satisfying, successful ending to the quest, which I, as an audience, would really want, and then you just get all these ripples, tsunamis of complications that result from that. “Be careful what you wish for” is one of the most common themes of fairy tales, and here we are: Be careful what you wish for, magic is back, and you have no idea who you are.

The biggest twist of the finale was that this monster has taken over Eliot’s body. How did you land on Eliot being the one it takes over?
GAMBLE: We know that the actor who plays Eliot is amazing. When you’re fortunate enough to produce a TV show for a few seasons, hopefully you’re learning lessons along the way about things that work. One lesson we learned in season 1 is that if you have a great actor, really think about that. We learned that when we cast Mackenzie Astin to play Richard. We had it in mind that we would kill Richard when Reynard entered the story and we would have to cast Reynard, but very quickly when we started seeing the dailies of Mackenzie, we realized we were never going to be able to top him. It was hard to imagine someone doing more with the role. At the risk of patting ourselves on our backs, we were right. That was really the inspiration. We talked about that in the room, about how it just meant so much more to us when we were watching Reynard on the screen. There was just this little extra wistful feeling of unfairness that came from the fact that he was inside of the body of this character who was so good and was really being violated.

The stakes are so much higher with this monster being inside of Eliot, someone they care so much about. It really changes their whole approach. It’s not as simple of a question as, “How do we kill this f—er if this f—er is in fact killable?” There’s also the equally important question: “How do we save Eliot, if he can still be saved?”

One of the late-season twists was the Penny from our timeline being replaced by a Penny from another timeline. What went into deciding to introduce this new Penny instead of coming up with a way for our Penny to be resurrected?
GAMBLE: We didn’t want to do the same thing we always did. We assumed that the audience would expect us to save Penny. Of all the characters, I have to double-check the statistics here, but I’m pretty sure we’ve had him near death as much or more than anybody else. We’ve saved him from certain doom several times over the last few years. To be completed honest, when we entered the season we were like, “He’s got the super cancer and we’re gonna have to find a way to fix that [in a way] that feels fresh and feels different.” Because we ask these questions in the writers’ room, one of the questions we asked was, “What if we just don’t save him this time?” Of course, first there’s silence and fear and your stomach drops because you can’t kill Penny; Arjun Gupta is a series regular and we like Penny!
MCNAMRA: And Arjun!
GAMBLE: And both are important to the story. But the beautiful thing about working on a show like Magicians is that you can ask that question and very weird answers will start to present themselves, and very soon we started to realize that the best thing we could do for the character of Penny would be to kill him, and that was a way that we could end the season with something that, we like to think, nobody would ever see coming, which is that a completely different Penny is now walking around with our crew. Someone from a different timeline who has, for the past couple of years, been living an utterly different life than the Penny that we knew…

Looking ahead, what can you tease about what you have planned for season 4? 
MCNAMARA: Most of the cases of the new identities of our characters, their professions, are not what you think they are or what they look like. It looked like one thing, but in about half of the cases, it’s something completely different. We’ve only shown you a sliver of who or what they are, and that sliver is misleading.

Counterpart is part Fringe and part John le Carré  as there is now a new Cold War between two versions of the earth which split apart. There are differences in each. In one there are no iPhones and in the other Prince is still alive, with an attempt to smuggle over his most recent album to our earth. The more significant differences are between different versions of characters from each earth, with some having taken paths which are quite different from their counterpart. The series was picked up for two season, and the season finale leaves mid-story off after key events to be continued in the second season as opposed to being a finale of an arc as on The Magicians. Major spoilers to follow.

For most of the season the show was primarily about the the two Howard Silks (J.K. Simmons), with Simmons doing an excellent job of playing two different characters. The series showed added depth when it devoted an episode to secondary characters. Rather than feeling cheated that the main character wasn’t present, as often occurs when series give the main character a break in this way, the conflict between the two earths was better defined by giving Clare’s backstory and more fully developing other characters.

Over the course of the season each Howard, while having some degree of contempt for the other, wound up becoming more like their counterpart in some ways–which is hardly surprising considering that they are versions of the same person. The season became more compelling when each was in the other’s earth, and the season ended with each trapped, and having to make new alliances. The diplomatic crisis after the attack leads to a look at the control of each side, raising the question of whether the same Management is in control of both sides, or whether both evolved in a similar manner.

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed showrunner Justin Marks:

Howard Alpha kills Pope. How does that change him?

It’s a very big moment for Howard. In a lot of ways, the whole season has been about the areas of overlap between Howard Alpha and Howard Prime. Pope taught Howard Prime everything he knows about the spy trade. And he was blind to the truth about Pope early on in the season. There’s something fitting to the fact that Howard Alpha, in killing Pope — albeit in self-defense — was able to do what Howard Prime couldn’t ever bring himself to do, which is acknowledge that Pope has been manipulating him and that he’s the enemy.

Emily Prime warned Howard Prime about Pope — even giving him the news about his rendition order coming from Pope, and it still didn’t sway Howard Prime.

Yes. And you have to consider the source when it comes to Emily Prime because Howard Prime seems to have such a difficulty forgiving her for past transgressions. When it comes to the relationship between Emily Prime and Pope, there’s no love lost there. So, for her to be the siren warning him, it’s hard for Howard to believe someone like that.

The two Howards are slowly moving closer to the core characteristics of the other. Howard Alpha is becoming more hard-boiled and Howard Prime is showing more vulnerability than he ever has. Is that the whole character arc for them at this point?

Yes. It’s the question that we have always wanted to do: explore this question of which Howard is the true Howard. The answer is it’s a combination of the two and where the center is, is a question that the series wants to figure out by the end of its run. We don’t ever want to place a pin on that map firmly as we go through. At the beginning of the series, the two Howards are very different. One has more empathy, while the other has a little more of a brutal honesty with himself and with the world around him. As the season goes on and they begin to inhabit each other’s lives, they begin to cave in the direction of their other, whether it’s conscious or unconscious. And as they do that, the question is, where do they meet? Do they meet closer to Howard? Or do they meet closer to Howard Prime? So far, it’s unknown. We always saw this show as this Darwinian battle, and Pope even calls it that; it’s between two versions of the same self when it comes to the survival of the fittest. In some ways it’s two sides of the same soul that are fighting to occupy the same real estate and where they land is an anyone’s guests at the end of the first season, except to say that they’re closer together…

Would the old Howard Prime have made the deal with the assassin Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco) when he first crossed over?

No, not at all. And would Baldwin have made the deal with him?

Being in our world has profoundly changed her as well, especially since she witnessed her doppelganger being killed. She now wants this storybook life. But can she truly find that? Just who is the real Baldwin?

When it comes to Baldwin and her counterpart Nadia, she saw in Nadia someone who clearly at the beginning of that second episode, had a somewhat of a contempt for her other and we play with it a lot in these characters. There’s an extent to which they covet what the other has, or what the other has done or has endured or not endured. The reveal is that both of them suffered that same trauma and Baldwin questions why her other was able to overcome that trauma of watching their father die and essentially being complicit in the act by not trying to save him. How is it that Nadia was able to do what she did and then the reveal that Baldwin had turned her pain outward to the world as a killer. She wears her scar on the outside of her clothes, so to speak. Nadia had turned her pain inward toward herself and Baldwin realizes at that moment that you are born back against your own trauma; that there is no escape from it. And if there is no escape from it, then isn’t it likely that she can possibly fight against that and erase it and create a new identity for herself. That’s what she’s doing: She’s going to try to build a new identity and that’s what she tries to do, to mixed success, in the first season.

When Clare meets Peter in the hospital after the intentional car accident, she realizes he has cast his lot with her, that the accident was his way of setting up an alibi for them, so in a way she owns him now. As a result, putting Peter in charge of the Indigo investigation is like the fox guarding the hen house.

Yes. Clare becomes what she needs to be in order to survive. If she needs to be Baldwin’s lover. she’ll be Baldwin’s lover; if she needs to be Quayle’s wife, then that’s what she’ll be. She is at a bit of a crossroads when it comes to the birth of this child. A child born of two worlds is a very complicated thing that she probably did not see coming when it came to stretching her loyalties. Quayle is the father of her child and he is the reason she is still alive because it’s her mission to handle him, to run him, to siphon intelligence from him. So she is just as much a victim in this marriage as he is. They’re both victims of this pretentious idea of a marriage where they were both using each other for their own separate needs. For Quayle it was ambition, and for Clare, it was this man who is well connected, who she was going to steal intelligence from. Moving forward, both of them have a lot to learn when it comes to finding a truth. But they are moving toward each other in a strange way. And the power dynamic continually shifts as it does in every marriage.

Let’s talk about what is probably the most unusual conference call in the history of TV between the two worlds.The very unusual tech involved is virtually identical. Are the members of management on both worlds the same people?

That is something that is potentially being suggested. The answer is a lot more complex and it’s an answer that our second season really wraps its arms around: Who is management? What is their history? What is the history of the crossing and the history of the Office of Interchange? How did it really form in the first place and why? And how it developed over the decades. We understand why Indigo is driven toward some sense of revenge against our world. What we haven’t yet seen a lot of is how Indigo also came about and what its connection with management is. At the end of the first season, we wanted to introduce the idea of management in a way that wasn’t what we would otherwise expect because in the second season management is a kind of character of their own.

The show is a metaphor for the Cold War, and the crossing is very similar to Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin in the early 1960s, especially when the infiltrator dies in the no man’s land in between. Is the crossing your modern version of the Checkpoint Charlie scenario?

Yes. The whole season, allegorically speaking, I would call Berlin 1961, right as the wall was about to go up. That’s the story of the first season, where there’s clearly a Cold War brewing in every respect, but the wall hasn’t quite officially been drawn. The second season is the Cold War after the Berlin Wall has been formed and how people start to draw battle lines and how they escalate the spy game in light of the fact that diplomatically we are more hostile toward each other.

More in an interview with The New York Times:

This is a show which would benefit from freeze-framing, especially when it comes to the Crossing. Or even with the zany Management set-up in the finale.

I really hope people do freeze-frame. I want to invite people to watch it on that level of detail. I wanted the show to feel like a Robert Altman version of science fiction more than Fritz Lang. Altman left all these windows open where you could see Lyle Lovett wandering around in the bushes back there, and you’re like, “What is he doing and why is he doing that?” It feels like the frame is alive more than just its four borders. One of my favorite things to look at in freeze-frame are all the Interface documents, all that code. That’s the kind of stuff we really live for, because the weirder, the more out there, the more zany the concept is, the more rigid the execution has to be.

For the Crossing, everyone wanted to turn the lights up and let it be seen. I said, “No, let’s pull out all of these lights, and make it really dark, and leave people craving more detail.” If you freeze-frame it, look at the dead center of the Crossing the details on the walls speak to the origins of the Crossing. Management, we had so much fun with that. We found the two strangest, most brilliant actors to play the respective Operators on either side in the finale. What kind of governing body protects the Crossing between two parallel worlds? The second season focuses in large part on the history and origins of Management…

The reveal that Claire Prime had taken this deep cover assignment to impersonate Claire Alpha was a major shock, not least of which to her husband, Peter Quayle, which continues that theme of men underestimating women.

I don’t think there’s anyone less qualified to have the job that he has than Peter Quayle. The person whose job it is to look for people who’ve infiltrated the organization doesn’t realize the woman he’s been sleeping with [is a mole]. There is a black comedy here, in Peter Quayle’s character, because Quayle — this philandering, underqualified, good-looking young guy — is a manifestation of privilege. We get to turn that inside out. And in the satirical manner of the last episode, Peter Quayle gets everything he ever wanted at the worst possible time.

I want to fill in Mira, the woman who trained Claire at the Indigo school for sleeper agents, because their ideology is a very important story for us in Season 2.

What about Emily Alpha? She figured out all the intrigue before anyone else did, and then spent the season in a coma. But now she’s starting to wake up.

There is always a temptation when you have that wife in a coma to idealize her, which is a little misogynistic, too. The only way we could convince Olivia Williams to do this show was to pitch her the two-season plan of who both Emilys are, and that the woman in the coma is in fact much more complex than any other character. Both Emilys, those are job descriptions that are typically reserved for the George Smileys of the world, the James Bonds of the world. [During filming] Olivia was walking through one scene with another male character, whose position is actually underneath her in the hierarchy of the show, but even then, the background actors look at the male she’s walking with and sort of nod, “Yes, sir” to him, not realizing that she’s the one who’s actually in charge in that scene. The clichés that abound, they speak to a certain gender norm that we didn’t want the show to reflect.

There are also interviews with J.K. Simmons here and with Harry Lloyd (Peter Quayle) here.

It is not certain if there will be (or even should be) further movies in the current Star Trek series. There has been talk recently about a script from Quentin Tarantino, which might provide a change. Zachary Quinto revealed on Entertainment Tonight Canada that there are actually a few scripts under consideration. From Dark Horizons:

Right now the future of the films are uncertain. The current cast contracts reportedly ended with the underperforming “Star Trek Beyond” in 2016, though several have expressed a desire to return including Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto.

Speaking with Entertainment Tonight Canada this week, Quinto offered an update on what’s going on with the films at the moment and revealed there’s up to three scripts in the works for the film:

“First of all, I think there’s a couple of scripts. Because there was a script being written before Quentin Tarantino came up with his idea for a potential film. And so I think they are kind of developing more than one. So I don’t know what is going to happen. Quentin is off doing another movie.

So, I feel like we are in a state of anticipation. All of us are really excited about the idea of working with Quentin on a Trek film, but I know Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, who wrote the last film, are writing a script and there are another set of writers writing a script. So I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Before the Tarantino reports, there was talk for a fourth film effectively closing out this alternate timeline “Star Trek” and would do so by bringing back Chris Hemsworth’s dead George Kirk from the 2009 film – the destruction of his ship the U.S.S. Kelvin being the incident that caused the alternate timeline.

I wouldn’t mind if the alternate timeline was dropped for future movies.

The CW Network has announced the renewal of most of their shows, including the entire Arrowverse:

ArrowThe FlashSupergirlDC’s Legends Of Tomorrow and Black Lightning have all be renewed, as well as Supernatural, which is currently the network’s longest running series with Season 14 on the horizon.

Non-genre shows that have also been given another season include Jane The VirginCrazy Ex-GirlfriendRiverdale and Dynasty.

In a statement, CW president Mark Pedowitz said: “As The CW expands to a six-night, Sunday through Friday schedule next season, we are proud to have such a deep bench of great returning series for 2018-19.

It is noted that iZombie and The 100 are missing from the list. They might be waiting until iZombie completes its current season which is now airing. The 100 has not started its season yet so the lack of an announced renewal is not surprising.

Hopefully it is not a sign that Amazon is moving away from quality shows. They have announced the cancellation of Mozart In The Jungle after four season.

Killing Eve begins tonight on BBC America. It sounds like it might fill in the gap on the television schedule for spy shows with The Americans soon coming to an end and Counterpart being done for the season.

SciFi Weekend: The Magicians Musical Episode; Black Mirror Renewed; Timeless Returns; Michelle Gomez on Returning To Doctor Who; The Expanse; Agents of SHIELD; Gotham; Lost In Space; Jessica Jones; Altered Carbon; Episode of Black-ish Too Controversial For ABC

Last season The Magicians went into battle with a musical number from Les Miserables (video here). This season they topped that in an episode with four muscical numbers, which also revealed where Josh has been.  The most talked about musical scene was Under Pressure where the entire cast was involved but my favorite was Kady (Jade Tailor) singing All I Need Is the Boy (adapted from All I Need Is the Girl from Gypsy). While most of the cast members have no experience singing, Jade Tailor does have experience with burlesque.

I have not been able to find a stand alone video of Jade Tailor’s song. Video of the entire cast singing Under Pressure follows:

The producers discussed All That Josh with Entertainment Weekly:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In approaching the episode with so many musical numbers, where do you start — with the songs or the story? 
JOHN MCNAMARA: God, I wish it was that linear. [Laughs]
SERA GAMBLE: John, I remember you talking about the David Bowie song, like, the previous season. Am I remembering this right, that you kind of had this image in your head of everybody singing that song long before we got to this episode?
MCNAMARA: Yeah, I think the music was first. Initially, I think it was a much looser, even lighter, less menacing plot. At first, the design was almost going to be like a singing contest where there are high stakes to be lost. That didn’t really hold water, it just didn’t seem to work. [We realized] it had to sit in the serialized narrative of the show, it had to be about the quest, it had to be about something and someone you really cared about, and it had to also serve several ongoing threads that had nothing to do with this musical pocket universe. That just took a lot of trial and error. This was one of those episodes — you have one every season — where the normal episode will take anywhere from three days to two weeks to break the story, get all the beats on the board, and my recollection is this took six weeks. It stopped the [writers’] room. It literally stopped all forward momentum. Fortunately, we’d been on schedule with our other scripts and we kind of planned out. This was the knot to untangle at the end of the second third of the season. All hands were on deck. I give a lot of credit (or blame, depending) to my two co-writers Jay Gard and Alex Raiman. This was their debut professional script.

For me, one of the breakthroughs — which fortunately happened while I was out of the room, so it wasn’t my idea, but I immediately approved it — was the idea that it was a universe where there were dangerous consequences if you didn’t behave exactly the way the leader, Todd/the demon, wanted you to behave. That was a really important breakthrough, I think, for all the writers because it gave it a lot of bottom. It wasn’t just going to be like jazz hands.

When I got to this episode, I was surprised that it became about the group uniting. How did you land on taking it in that specific direction, where it’s about Josh feeling left out? 
MCNAMARA: Part of it was just an accident. We realized we hadn’t had Josh in a bunch of episodes. He sort of got bumped out of a block of episodes through no fault of his own, just that we have a lot of characters and a lot of plot, and that in a way felt fortuitous, that you could then make the show about what happened to Josh.
GAMBLE: Whether or not the episode we’re working on happens to have half a dozen musical numbers in it, we are always playing within the structure of a classic fairy-tale quest this season. Quentin especially is very, very cognizant of how these epic quests work and how each step of the quest challenges the quester in a different way. From the beginning in this case, the quest has been a group effort, and when Eliot is given the quest in the first episode, he’s both encouraged and warned by the fact that everybody is part of one whole, and that means that these different keys, as you try to get them, will challenge you in different ways. If they’re a team and they forgot Josh, that’s a problem for the quest. So that was really one of the first things that we could sink our teeth into. Unlike John, I really don’t have a brain for musical theater. There are a lot of hilariously ardent musical theater fans in The Magicians writers’ room, as you can tell, starting with John, and I am not one of them. I am sort of the grumpy person in the corner who’s drinking coffee and saying, “Explain to me how this would work if no one was singing.”

You had “Under Pressure” in the back of you head for a while, but how did you pick the other three songs for the episode?
MCNAMARA: We knew the opening number would have to reintroduce Josh in a big way. It would have to be a big, inexplicably well-choreographed number that tells you why he’s so happy to be here, how integrated he is into this universe. The dance tells you something nonverbally about the world and the character: He is the center of this whole little universe. He’s the lead singer, he’s the lead dancer, and Todd is kind of his enabler, and we later learn why. That to me felt like we needed something big and upbeat and party-ish. We listened to a lot of songs, I can’t remember the titles of all of them. Some of them were insanely expensive and popular, and the song “Wham Bam” I thought was really catchy and a lot of fun. I thought it was like a really good introduction. It then gave Alice, Quentin, and Kady something to stare incomprehensibly at.

Another [type of musical number] that I’m very fond of is cabaret, where most of the musical numbers take place on a stage, so that you’re seeing a character perform for an audience that isn’t the audience in the theater, it’s the audience of the Kit Kat Klub, and character and milieu are revealed through a little more of a sideways way in. On the surface, it’s not as revealing of character, but if you do it right, it’s very revealing of character. So that informed the decision to have Kady sing her song. All I knew about that song early on was I wanted it to be a Sondheim song, because I love his work and I think it’s really intelligent and it always has layers to it, and I knew that it had to be a torch song because I had an instinct early on that we do a kind of classic Mata Hari move wherein she would do something outrageous to distract all of these creatures, and mollify and entertain them while our heroes were off doing something nefarious upstairs with Josh. I thought the [“All I Need Is the Boy”] lyrics were just as good if not better than “All I Need Is the Girl,” which has pretty good lyrics. I thought that’s the perfect torch song and definitely for our really hardcore musical theater aficionados, who may number in single digits, it’s kind of a treat to hear what is kind of, for 99% of the world, a brand new Stephen Sondheim lyric and, in my opinion, does not disappoint when you want cleverness, emotion, and a not-sentimental emotion and depth from Sondheim.

Then I came to discover with Sera, Jay, and Alex was now we have to explain why it is Kady would choose to sing this song and do a striptease. Then we thought, well, her mom, who we met in season 1 and was a bit of free spirit, might have had a year where she decided to be a stripper and maybe she did this burlesque number and Kady remembers it and recreates the dress. Without necessarily intending to, suddenly the song and the number and the moment and even the suspense it creates all illuminates Kady’s character to a greater degree.

“Car Wash” was just that we wanted something fun for Josh to use to distract, but also to slowly reveal to him how empty and repetitive this life has become and how false it is. I thought disco was a pretty good route to get to the death of the soul. If you’re just doing disco for months and months and months, you’re going to see the emptiness of it. As I said, “Under Pressure” was always in the back of my head before there was anything like a story as something that all eight characters could sing as we intercut between their various worlds and their various problems. None of us started out knowing how or why. That was just always on the board as the big number. In a weird way, the only one that we planned ahead of time was “Under Pressure.” Everything else was kind of trial and error, and selected to either illuminate character or move the story forward.O

Inside the Magicians (video above) has more on the episode, including a very brief look at Jade Tailor singing All I Need Is the Boy.

Black Mirror was officially renewed for a fifth season. There is no word yet as to how many episodes

Timeless returns tonight. Spoiler TV has a preview of the episode here.

In an interview with Doctor Who Magazine, Michelle Gomez says she might return to face Jodie Whittaker’s version of the Doctor. She had this to say about the character:

I think it’s going to be really hard to shake this one off. Missy has made quite a big impression on me, and hopefully on the fans as well. She was such a great fit. Even though, for now, she has been laid to rest. I don’t think she’s ever going to be that far away. I loved playing this character so much, and it was really hard to see her go. But I think that in many different shapes and forms, she will be back. I can’t really say much more than that. I have never had this response to anything else that I’ve done, and I’m really grateful for that.

While her character appeared to be killed and left unable to regenerate, the Master has a long tradition of returning from apparent death. Plus time travel would allow for seeing her at a different point in her time line.

Syfy has released the above trailer for The Expanse season three, which returns April 11.

There were big moments last week for the 100th episode of Agents of SHIELD (discussed and spoiled here), and on Gotham. Although it was during a drug induced hallucination caused by Poison Ivy, Bruce Wayne had a vision of his future, with might be the only view of Batman we are likely to see on the show:

The Librarians has been cancelled by TNT, with there some talk of trying to have it picked up elsewhere.

Netflix will be releasing another remake of Lost in Space on April 13, and released the following trailer:

Jessica Jones is out on Netflix now. I have a four more episodes to go, but so far it has been excellent, showing more about Jessica’s backstory. While the series is slow moving, I haven’t minded. I would much rather spend time with Jessica, Patsy, and the rest of this cast than in the far less interesting world created in Iron Fist.

Altered Carbon is another show highly worth binging which came out recently on Netflix. It also starts out a little slow, but once I got to the second half it was hard to stop until the end.  While it has not been renewed for a second season, I would not be surprised if it returns after the success of the first season. They have the options of adapting the sequels to the novel, or writing new stories set in the universe created.  Joel Kinnaman, star of the current season, will be staring in Hanna on Amazon, and may or may not be available to return for a future season. However, somewhat analogous to Doctor Who, this series has a built-in way to cast a new lead. In this case, as occurred in the novels, Takeshi Kovacs could receive a new sleeve and have his consciousness placed in a new body, played by a different actor. If desired, they could continue this series with a different lead actor every year.

Black-ish has often dealt with political matters, but the episode originally scheduled for February 27 was not shown due to “creative differences.” Variety has some information on the episode:

Shot in November and directed by Barris, “Please, Baby, Please” features Anthony Anderson’s patriarch Dre caring for his infant son on the night of an intense thunderstorm that keeps the whole household awake. Dre attempts to read the baby a bedtime story, but abandons that plan when the baby continues to cry. He instead improvises a bedtime story that, over the course of the episode, conveys many of Dre’s concerns about the current state of the country.

The episode covers multiple political and social issues. In one scene, Dre and oldest son Junior (Marcus Scribner) argue over the rights of athletes to kneel during the performance of the national anthem at football games.

SciFi Weekend: The X-Files Does Black Mirror; Drone Hosts on Westworld; The Magicians Renewed; Star Trek News; Jessica Jones; Wayward Pines

The X-Files had another unique episode this week with Rm9sbG93ZXJz , which decodes to “Followers” in Base64. The episode has more of the feel of an episode of Black Mirror, and would better take place in the near future than present, but no less plausible than many other episodes of The X-Files.  The story was made to feel more plausible by starting with a true story about a Twitter bot which started out emulating a teenage girl but turned violent and racist after learning to “be human” from interacting with alt-right trolls.

Mulder and Scully were the only customers at a sushi restaurant run entirely by robots. The scene, and much of the episode, were made more surreal with the absense of both other people and of dialogue. Scully ignored a friend request from the restaurant which she received on her phone. Mulder’s dinner was messed up and he decided not to leave a tip due to this and the lack of human service. The restaurant retaliated by refusing to give Mulder his credit card back and refusing to open the door, forcing Mulder to pry it open.

Unfortunately for Mulder and Scully, the AI which controlled the restaurant also seemed to control every other smart device in the world. Scully had problems with a reckless, driverless car. Mulder also had problems when his car wouldn’t play the song he requested, and ultimately returned him to the restaurant.

Problems for Scully and Mulder continued at their homes. Beyond the tech issues, there was another surprise in the episode when Mulder saw Scully’s home and asked, “Why’s your house so much nicer than mine?” Is this really the first time he was there?

As they continued to be attacked by tech, they figured out that “they are tracking us on our phones… they know everything.” They got rid of their phones and keys. Scully got rid of her step tracker and her vibrator, or  “personal massager.”

Ultimately a robot held out Mulder’s phone in front of him and another text came through asking one last time if Mulder would like to leave a tip. While a timer was counting down, Mulder gave in and hit the 10% button. Fortunately the AI was satisfied with a tip which most humans these days would see as stingy. The robot thanked him and explained, “We learn from you.” Mulder responded, “We have to learn to be better teachers.” Mulder and Scully had their next meal at a more conventional human-run diner.

SyFy Wire interviewed Kristen Cloke and Shannon Hamblin, the writers of the episode:

“Rm9sbG93ZXJz” is such a unique episode with virtually no dialogue. Was that always the plan, to write something without dialogue? Or did you start with the story idea and it felt organic to not have any dialogue?

Shannon Hamblin: It was always no dialogue. Conceptually, I think that’s what Glen was looking to do: tell the story without it.

KC: When we did Space: Above and Beyond, they had done an episode that had virtually no dialogue. It was one of the first shows to do it. [Glen] always wanted to do it again. He was excited, as a director, to tell a story visually. I think it created a great show, especially for me. I’m kind of a wordy person, so it was a good challenge.

How did David and Gillian react to an episode with virtually no dialogue?

KC: They were happy about it — they didn’t have to memorize any lines!

SH: Yeah!

KC: I think it was challenging for everybody. The restaurant was [empty], your mouth is empty of dialogue, everybody wants to fill the proverbial space. Everybody had to fight against their instincts to do that, which was kind of interesting.

SH: And how that moved into no music in certain spots, and no sound. Except for the song, “Teach Your Children.” I think it also adds to that isolated feeling that the obsession with technology and your cell phone and all that stuff [gives you]. You feel like you are engaged all the time, but maybe you’re even more alienated by not really engaging.

KC: I think that’s a good point. A lot of being on your technology is spent there, filling space. We all want to fill the space, and that’s why phones have taken over our lives. They are really great space-fillers.

SH: If you are sitting at a restaurant alone, you can just look at your phone: “Oh, look how busy and cool you are!”

…One of my favorite parts of this episode is when the robot vacuum finds Scully’s vibrator under the bed, and then how that carries throughout the show. Did you have any trouble getting the vibrator storyline past Chris Carter or standards and practices?

KC: When we were in preproduction and were working on props, we had certain vibrators that were “cleared.” Prime-time vibrators, I guess! And we do call it the “personal massager” in the script. High-level stuff. But that was motivated by an article that said something about the fact that the personal massagers at, I think it was Brookstone, were collecting your personal data. So all the technology talks to each other, and it is all technology that has been reported, at one time or another, to be collecting your personal data. It all knows about you. So you’ve got spies in your bedroom, spies in your cleaning closet…

SH: Spies in your vagina. Literally! [Laughs]

Plus, it will be a huge plus for all the ‘shippers out there.

KC: Good! Because if you are upsetting the ‘shippers, it’s bad. Believe me; I’ve been there! It’s not good.

Which brings me to a slightly fannish question: Who is Scott? His name appeared on Scully’s smart fridge, saying she had a dinner date with him, and I know that ‘shippers online were freaking out.

KC: Scott is the guy who programmed the display on the refrigerator! He is a really, really talented guy. All of the visual props you see, like in the Whipz car and on the refrigerator, were all programmed by him and the incredible props team they have. All those guys did such a great job, so they should get dinner with Scully! He made all of us look good.

This isn’t the first time The X-Files has featured machines with a mind of their own. Did you go back and watch any of the other episodes? Did you keep in mind how technology has changed in the last 25 years?

SH: I didn’t go back and check the episodes. I think technology has changed so much over the past… even five years. Just thinking about people who don’t know what an answering machine is. Even with the car being automated… I’m working on something right now and GM is talking about their cars being automated. Everything is happening and is so different in technology that I didn’t think it was touching on anything that had been explored before in previous episodes. Did you go back and watch?

KC: No, I didn’t. I was on The X-Files 20 years ago, so I remember. When [the fans] had something to say about you, they had to say it on a message board. So the technology has changed a lot. I think it was completely appropriate to do an episode that deals with technology, and I think one of the interesting things, whenever I see clips of the show, if they are talking on a phone, they are usually talking on a landline. They weren’t even really using cell phones when the show first started. That alone is just so different. It would be appropriate that Mulder and Scully could get into what is now, appropriately, called the Black Mirror, I guess.

The Superbowl commercial for Westworld included a quick glimpse of Bernard with something we haven’t seen before behind him. Entertainment Weekly discussed this with showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy:

As you’ll recall, last season Bernard’s detective work uncovered mysteries about the park’s past, and a major reveal about his own identity. As Nolan explains below (mild tease-y spoilers), in season 2 Bernard discovers there was a lot more about the park and its mysterious corporate owners Delos that was kept from him. The white robot is called a “drone host.” And there’s apparently more than one of them.

“The drone hosts relate to the corporation’s secret project which is hidden in plain sight in this park,” Nolan says. “As we talked about in the pilot, the park is one thing for the guests, and it’s another thing for its shareholders and management — something completely different. We’ve used the Google analogy — for consumers, it’s for search and email, yet for the company, it’s for advertising. There is an agenda here that Delos has undertaken for a very long time. As Bernard is making his way through the wreckage of the fallout from the first season, he’s discovering things about the park that even he doesn’t know and coming upon creatures like the drone host.”

The Magicians has been having an excellent third season, along with receiving an increasing amount of favorable critical reviews (such as here). Therefore it comes as no surprise that it has been officially renewed by Syfy for a fourth season. Variety notes that the show “has been Syfy’s top performing scripted original among on a Live+3 basis in adults 18-49 for the past three years.”

A musical episode of The Magicians will be airing on March 7. More on the episode here.

Many people were upset when Star Trek: Discovery killed off half of a gay couple. This was followed by statements from the producers that Culber would return. His return later in the season was only in the mycelial network, suggesting he was really dead. In an interview at Emmys.com, Wilson Cruz did say he will be returning:

Your character, Dr. Hugh Culber, appears to have a beautiful connection with your on-screen partner, played by Anthony Rapp.

It’s not an accident. I’ve known Anthony for 20 years. I did his last three weeks on Broadway. And as fellow openly gay actors, we’ve talked through the years about what that experience is. We’ve supported and rooted for each other.

When we came to this, I think we both felt like it was a really special opportunity in that we’ve had all of this history and compassion and respect for each other’s talent. So I think we both decided, without even saying it, that we were gonna use our real love for each other to draw on to tell the story.

The process for creating a relationship is different for everyone on TV. And sometimes you talk it through and create a history with each other. But there was this unspoken thing with Anthony and we didn’t have to do any of that. We just showed up on set and decided we loved each other and took it from there. And it was really easy!

Without giving spoilers, what did you think of your character’s twist?

Aaron and Gretchen explained what was gonna happen and told me I was part of the story for next season. This is a longer, epic love story and this is just a part of that that we have to do in order to tell it. I know what that story is and as an actor, I’m really excited about it. But even as a viewer, I think that’s gonna be fun to watch!

How did fans react?

We’re letting people know I’ll be back because there’s this “bury your gays” trope that’s out there. People are concerned about the way that LGBTQ characters, especially those of color and women, continue to be killed off in a very random and dismissive way.

We wanted to make sure that people stayed engaged with the show because this isn’t that. They should just know there’s a bigger plan. It’s gonna pay off and it’s a great story to tell.

Love has a way of telling its own story

In other Star Trek news, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves spoke at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco. TrekMovie.com quoted some of his statements regarding Discovery. His responses were not unexpected. He said that CBS placed Discovery on CBS All Access as opposed to other possible outlets to help the new streaming service in light of the built in fan base. He discussed the more serialized nature of the series, which would not have been utilized for a show on the main network.

David Ogden Stiers died last week. He is best known for playing Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on M*A*S*H but has also had genre roles, including on Star Trek: The Next Generation. StarTrek.com posted this tribute to him:

StarTrek.com is saddened to report the passing of actor David Ogden Stiers, who succumbed to bladder cancer on Saturday at the age of 75. According to his agent, he died peacefully at home in Oregon. The Emmy-nominated Stiers was best known for his role as Major Winchester on M*A*S*H, provided voices for such films as Beauty and the Beast and Lilo & Stitch, co-starred on the TV iteration of The Dead Zone, and made his mark in the Star Trek universe with his role as Dr. Timicin in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Half a Life.”

Stiers touched Trek fans as Dr. Timicin, a scientist who must undergo the Resolution, a ritual suicide, in order to save the people on his planet, Kaelon II. However, his plans were thrown for a loop — at least for a while — when he met and fell for Lwaxana Troi. The episode remains well-regarded for its powerful story, rare focus on two guest stars, unusually serious Lwaxana arc and the strong performances by Stiers and Majel Barrett-Roddenberry.

StarTrek.com interviewed Stiers in April 2017, when the mostly retired actor agreed to a chat timed to the release of the film, Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time, which also featured Walter Koenig. During the conversation, he addressed the fact that Dr. Timicin, in the course of a single episode, experienced a full arc. “They really let it focus on the two of us, which was very unusual,” Stiers said. “I just watched a clip of it this morning. I had forgotten how beautifully written the arguments are. The whole moral dilemma was beautifully presented. I’m not jumping up and down, but I really like the idea that I live in a state with dignity legislation and physician assisted suicide, should it ever come to that. That seems to me to be an intelligent and mature middle ground. You don’t use it if you don’t want to, but it’s there if you are in need, for whatever reason, of a legitimate reason for ending your life.”

Please join StarTrek.com in offering our condolences to Stiers’ family, friends, colleagues and fans.

Jessica Jones season two will be released on March 8. Comicbook.com has a spoiler free review.

When Wayward Pines did not return in 2017 after appearing the previous two seasons, Fox left it open as to whether the show would return. While they did not officially cancel the show when it did not return, Fox is now saying that it is “unlikely” to be back. I have read the three novels by Blake Crouch which the series is based upon and hope to some day find time to catch the two seasons of the show.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery Season Finale; Sex Ed On The Magicians; Roswell; Constantine on Legends of Tomorrow; Black Panther

Star Trek: Discovery had the best first season for a Star Trek sequel/prequel series, but the season finale, Will You Take My Hand, was somewhat of a disappointment. Some aspects of the episode did work, but it was an overly simple and unrealistic ending for a season-long arc. While many individual episodes of other Star Trek series have relied on similarly simplistic endings, I had hoped for more with Discovery. On the other hand, Star Trek does have  a history of disappointing conclusions of arcs, such as with the finale of Deep Space Nine.  I wonder if the loss of Bryan Fuller resulted in setting up the season long story line, but if he left before the ending was totally fleshed out.

Last week they set up the ruse that Georgiou was the Prime Georgiou, despite it being unrealistic that the crew of the Discovery would be fooled. This was immediately abandoned this episode when Mirror Georgiou did not act like a Federation officer. It was also unnecessary for the plan initiated in the finale for her to have tried to fool anyone.

While weakly plotted, the scenes on  Qo’noS had multiple treats for fans, including a fourth role for Clint Howard going back to The Corbomite Maneuver. There were Orions, and we learned more about the Klingon penis in a season which previously showed Klingon breasts. (If everything, including the penis, is duplicated in Klingons, shouldn’t they have four breasts?) By the time they revealed that the package was really a bomb and the plan was to destroy or cause major destruction to  Qo’noS, I assume that most viewers had already caught on.

While a rather simplistic conclusion for the Klingon war, this provide the opportunity for Burhnam to raise the issue of sticking to Star Fleet principles, and give her reason to mutiny for a second time. The parallels to the start of the season were obvious. Besides returning to the theme from the start of the season, this season was unique in both starting and ending without the main ship’s captain being present.

Burnham came up with a solution preferable to mutiny, but I don’t see how she sold Star Fleet on her plan and returned before Georgiou had time to set off the bomb. Although it was established that L’Rell’s main goal was Klingon unification, there was hardly good reason to be so certain that L’Rell wouldn’t have tried to accomplish this by leading the Klingons to victory after taking over. It is also questionable that Klingons would have believed she could blow up the planet and very likely would have decided to attack her first and think about matters later (if at all).

Even if L’Rell could get the Klingons in the room to give her the power, I also found it unrealistic that Klingon ships on the verge of attacking earth would have turned around. It would have been more realistic that the Klingons would have abandoned the war if, instead of being on the verge of victory, they were engaged in a space version of trench warfare from World War I with no victory in sight for either side. Having the Klingons be so dominant at this stage of the war also makes it less believable that the Federation seemed so dominant again by the time of the original show. Perhaps the resurgence of the Federation will be dealt with over the next few years on Discovery.

With the war over, there was time for a family reunion and an awards ceremony. Many questions already remained open. How will they deal with the spore drive, which now seems fully functional, but which needs to be forgotten within the next ten years? What is the meaning of the spore which landed on Tilly? Georgiou, L’Rell, and Tyler are all around in this universe, providing possibilities for a return. The Prime Lorca and perhaps the Mirror Burnham could also turn out to be alive.

After leaving the awards ceremony, the next question raised was the identity of the new captain. While the captain would be picked up on Vulcan, this may or may not mean that the person will be a Vulcan.

Then came the big surprise. The Discovery encountered another ship. The call letters began NCC17…

By then most fans probably knew what was coming next. They certainly could not tease this and then show the NCC1776, The USS Independence Day, or some other starship. It was NCC 1701, the original USS Enterprise, the flagship of Star Fleet, currently under the command of Captain Pike.

The episode then went into a new rendition of the original Star Trek end credits music, and we will have to wait until next season to see what happens with the Enterprise. This is the type of a cliff hanger I prefer for a series which will not return for months. Conclude the main story arc of the season, and then tease something from the upcoming season, as opposed to leaving the main arc unfinished.

For all but purists, the ship we saw did look like the Enterprise, regardless if there were slight changes. Matters will be more difficult if they show the interior, or the uniforms, considering how much Discovery has been updated. It would be an easy matter to recast Captain Pike, and most of the crew are unknown to us with one notable exception–Spock. While it would be amazing if Zachary Quinto were to play Spock, I doubt this is likely.

There are other difficulties. If Spock and Burnham interact, it would be a little more difficult to believe that Spock never mentioned his half-sister. There would be an even greater contradiction if Sarek and Spock see each other considering that, as established in Journey to Babel, the two were estranged for eighteen years. Of course it is possible that the two could avoid any contact with each other as they are estranged, or Spock could be elsewhere.

TVLine  discussed the episode with  Discovery executive producers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts

TVLINE | Let’s start at the end, with the Enterprise reveal. What kind of storytelling avenues does that open up for you in Season 2?
AARON HARBERTS
 | I think one of the biggest things it’s going to allow us to do is start to develop how Discovery fits into canon. One of the big things that’s been polarizing for fans is, “We’ve never heard about Discovery! How does it fit? She’s related to Spock?” All those things. And what it’ll allow us to do is hit that straight-on. We see it as an exciting opportunity to say, “This is exactly how Discovery fits into the timeline. This is exactly how we can reconcile the choices we have made.” Because at this period in time, the Discovery and the Enterprise are the crown jewels in the fleet, so they should be face-to-face.

TVLINE | So does that mean Christopher Pike is a full-fledged character next season? Because we don’t know a lot about him, outside of “The Cage” and “The Menagerie.”
GRETCHEN J. BERG | Yeah, we can’t talk about specifics too much, but I think that because we are in canon, we look at things we know, and things we don’t know… and then there are the things we don’t know about the things we know! And there, often, you’ll find great opportunities for storytelling. But it is intriguing. It’s one of the fun things about playing within this box that is the timeline where we are.

HARBERTS | If there ever were to be a captain from canon that one could explore… Christopher Pike would certainly be that one.

TVLINE | So I guess you can’t tell us if we’ll see a ten-years-younger Spock next season, then?
BERG | [Laughs] No, we can’t!

HARBERTS | I can tell you: All you have to do is look at Michael Burnham and Sarek, and the look they exchange at the end of the show, and ask yourself what that could be about.

TVLINE | Maybe it’s safe to ask you about this: How great did it feel to lay down the old-school theme song over the closing credits?
HARBERTS | That was [executive producer] Akiva Goldsman’s idea. He is a huge Trek fan, and from the very beginning of his involvement in the show, he’s always been the guy who’s like, “And then the Discovery and the Enterprise will meet up!” And we’re like, “OK, Akiva, yes, yes…” [Laughs] It was his ultimate fanboy geekgasm… and it was a great idea. And then it was his idea to do the old theme at the end of the episode. I was at the scoring session, watching [composer] Jeff Russo lay that down. Tons of people were there, and you could have just heard a pin drop, and then there were smiles on everyone’s faces. It was very cool.

TVLINE | Oh, so that was totally re-recorded? That wasn’t just the original theme replayed?
HARBERTS
 | Oh yes, that was re-recorded. We had a vocalist come in. They had a bongo player in an isolation booth to play the bongo part. [Laughs] It was legit…

TVLINE | There’s always a chance she could run into Tyler and Georgiou again, right? It’s a big universe, but not that big.
HARBERTS | Oh yeah. One of our goals was: We wanted to create a universe, and play in that universe. And it’s only fun if you’ve got a cast of characters who can continue to come and go…

TVLINE | You did leave us hanging on who the next captain of the Discovery will be. What kind of personality type are you looking for to fill that spot?
BERG | Well, I don’t think we could bring back a Lorca [type] again, just because he was a captain perfect for wartime. I think the crew would be suspicious of that again. [Laughs] Discussing who’s next in that chair is a big topic in the writers’ room, and we certainly have landed somewhere… but I think we’d like you to stick around and watch and find out who it is, and why.

ET Online also interviewed them:

ET: Why did you want to introduce the USS Enterprise now on Star Trek: Discovery?

Gretchen J. Berg: From the beginning, it was something that we knew that folks who are fans of Star Trek know the Enterprise is out there and it was kind of the elephant in the room. We knew eventually that we would want to address that and deal with it. Even though it’s a giant, giant universe, it’s something that’s on everybody’s minds. So we were glad to be able to take the whole season to get to know our crew because the storytelling is going to be told from the point of view from Michael Burnham and Discovery. Let everybody get to know our characters and our show and what we were doing before we brought in the Enterprise. We knew it would be exciting and provocative, for sure.

Aaron Harberts: We also knew that we couldn’t hold off on this because there are so many questions about Burnham in regards to the notion of Sarek and Spock’s family, which is not to say that we’re introducing Spock at the moment. We don’t want to spoil anything. But it’s certainly time to get the audience understanding that we fully intend to respect the original series and respect where Discoveryfalls in that. To do that, we have to show the Enterprise and at least have these ships cross paths.

What is your intention with establishing the Enterprise in this way? What are you comfortable saying with regards to its place in season two?

Berg: Usually, we like to say sit back and enjoy the ride because it’s one of those things… You know, as a writer, you work on something and work on something, and you’re always like, but wait! We’re working on it and we’re going to show it to you and you’ll see. We’re certainly acknowledging that they exist in the same time. But always, always, always, the story on Discovery will be told from the point of view of Disco and our Disco crew. I think it’s fair to expect something, but we probably couldn’t go too much into detail about what it is.

Harberts: More than anything, it is about what new stories does this provide for our crew, for Michael Burnham, for Saru, for Tilly. Our main interest is Discovery. However, if the presence of the Enterprise can show us new things about our crew, the better.

It’s notable that it’s Captain Pike who sent the distress signal for the Enterprise. Is he a character we could meet in season two, along with Enterprise crew members?

Harberts: The thing to consider about Captain Pike is, from an audience and writer’s point of view, there is something very exciting about a key character from [Star Trek: The Original Series] who’s only been explored in two episodes of the original series — three if you consider how [the rejected pilot for the original series] “The Cage” works into the puzzle in TOS. When we think about the idea of Captain Pike, it opens up some large possibilities. We will never say never to exploring him a little bit more…

Are you suggesting that the nine-month period in Prime during which Michael and crew were stuck in Mirror Universe won’t be revisited?

Harberts: To be honest, Episode 14 [“The War Without, the War Within”] was all about what had happened. With the destruction that was wrought by the Klingons and the Federation during those nine months, we tried to paint the picture of that. I think what’s exciting about moving into season two is we’ve got a fresh new palette. We’ve put the war behind us and we’re excited to move on into some things that Trek fans have been longing for, which is more exploration, more diplomacy, more planets, more away missions. We’re focused on serving up some new stuff.

What does this mean for the future of Jason Isaacs, whose Mirror Lorca was killed but the whereabouts of Prime Lorca are still unclear, or Michelle Yeoh, whose Mirror Philippa is still roaming the galaxy?

Berg: If they’re out there, the possibilities are endless. Never say never. That’s the great thing about this universe: there are so many more different ways to go. I can’t confirm or deny anything, but…

Harberts: If we find Prime Lorca, I sort of want to find him making artisan sourdough bread in a bakery in San Francisco. That’s how that storyline could start and we’d just build from there. (Laughter.)

Because it seems the Mirror Universe isn’t a destination you’ll go back to anytime soon, what about Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber’s future? Wilson Cruz told us recently that their story isn’t over.

Berg: Wilson’s correct. We have just begun to tell the love story between Culber and Stamets, so I would just say hold tight.

Harberts: Stamets has got a lot to process that he hasn’t had time to process yet, in terms of not being in charge of the spore drive and having lost Culber. We’ve got to take Stamets on a journey as well and then we’ll see. But Culber is a character who is part of this Star Trek world, no doubt.

You’re already knee-deep on season two planning. What are you looking to achieve thematically and creatively?

Harberts: Chapter 1 of this novel was war, and right now, we’re thinking about Chapter 2. One of the themes we continue kicking around is the conflict between science and spirituality, and that’s something that we’re very interested, particularly after you finish a war. How do you rebuild yourself? What’s required for that? What we’re most excited to do is to continue thematic exploration and philosophical exploration and debate, and these characters are perfectly primed to carry storylines like that. That’s one thing that we’re thinking about. We have a few things up our sleeve, but we’d be lying if we knew everything, because that’s the fun of it is as well. You go into it, you see what’s working and you see what’s interesting, and you build from there.

Berg: The joy is in the journey for us as well in creating it.

This week’s episode of The Magicians was significant for introducing Poppy Kline, played by Felicia Day, but regular Summer Bishil (Margo) certainly held her own. Margo wound up in an undesired marriage to young Fomar, and turned to her version of sex ed to attempt to turn him off to the idea. While she pulled out a thick volume which contained female anatomy, her suggestion of the presence of teeth provided the title for the episode.

As usual, The Magicians did an excellent job of combining such amusement with advancing the plot. While Fumar was knocked out (later to be told he did great), Eliot and Margo found a massive field of the Fairy Queen’s mushrooms, which turned out to be fairy incubators to grow a fairy army. It will be interesting to see what happens now that Margo has taken hostages.

More also happened in this episode, including a look at depression with Felicia Day’s story. Inside The Magicians video below:

The CW Network rivals Syfy in the number of genre shows. They have announced that they will be expanding their programming to six nights a week, adding Sunday. This should increase the chance of their bubble shows returning and provides room for new shows. Next season this includes remakes of Charmed and Roswell.  Jeanine Mason (Grey’s Anatomy) has been cast a the lead for the Roswell reboot.

The highlight of the past week on CW was an appearance by Constantine on Legends of Tomorrow. It has been confirmed that Constantine will return later in March.

The biggest genre news of the week was the record smashing opening weekend of Black Panther.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; The Magicians Get Timey Wimey; The X-Files On The Horrors Of War; Nudity On Altered Carbon; Star Wars

The War Without, the War Within is largely a table-setting episode of Star Trek: Discovery to transition from the Mirror Universe episodes to the season finale. While the season is supposedly about the Klingon War, we seemed to have missed a lot of key developments, with these covered by quick explanations of what happened over the past nine months

We learned that the war has gone badly with the Klingons dominating the war after Discovery failed to deliver the information regarding detection of cloaked Klingon ships to Starfleet. As we know that this ability is not present in future series, the question remains as to whether the information is never received from Discovery, or if the Klingons subsequently find away around this.

The ISS Discovery was apparently destroyed by the Klingons, so we will probably never see stories about Captain Killy in the Prime Universe. They suggested that Prime Lorca could not have survived, immediately making me suspicious that he will turn up in the future. Similarly have been led to assume that Mirror Burnham has died, but cannot be certain. I also suspect that the writers might have left this open even if they do not have plans for either character to show up at present.

Admiral Cornwell and Sarek took control of Discovery early in the episode. While I was not surprised to see Sarek being used for mild melds in the Mirror Universe, where ethics are loose, I have missed feelings about him doing involuntary mind melds in the Prime Universe. However, these are desperate times, and we later are led to believe that Sarek and Cornwell were going along with a plan which stretches usual Starfleet ethics.

When they learned what had gone on, Sarek did have an entirely logical explanation for nobody suspecting being suspicious about Locra’s origin: “That Lorca was an imposter from an alternative universe was not the most obvious conclusion.”

Making information on the Mirror Universe classified helps explain how Kirk and Spock were unaware of what was going on when they appeared in the Mirror Universe.

There was also advancement on the Ash Tyler storyline, and I continue to suspect that he will be significant in what happens with the Klingons. He apparently is no longer really Ash or Voq, but is more Ash with Voq’s memories. However, is it really safe to trust what  L’Rell said, considering that she created him to be a sleeper agent in the first place? If  L’Rell is still up to something, hopefully the “Fitbit” placed on him will be enough to contain him.

Tilly has a traditional Starfleet argument for trusting Tyler: “What we do now, the way that we treat him, is what he will become.” I’m just wary that this is the wrong attitude during a war which is not going well. Burnham is more wary, considering both her underlying distrust of the Klingons who killed her parents, along with having had Ash just recently try to strangle her. Saying “things got complicated” was a real understatement, sounding more like a Facebook status than a full description of the complexities of their relationship.

The one thing even more dangerous than trusting Ash Tyler would be to trust Mirror Georgiou. It appears that, having conquered the Klingons, she knows things about the Klingons which those in the Prime Universe do not know–and has a plan which the crew of Discovery might not go along with. It is disturbing that Starfleet is not able to come up with their own leaders who can win the war but, as Sarek argued, “Starfleet tactics have failed us.”

It did seem strange that  Burnham and Saru weren’t briefed about the plan to pretend that Mirror Georgiou was the Prime Georgiou. At very least they should have been told so that they did not give things away, but the scene was probably written this way to be more dramatic for the viewers. Considering that the transporter officer saw her come aboard, and everyone else just came from the Mirror Universe were everyone had a double, I wonder whether the crew of the Discovery will remain fooled about this for long.

The spore drive, which appeared to be out of commission for a while, is now a factor again with Stamets finding a way to grow spores quickly. Apparently they are to emerge in the caverns within Qo’noS as part of their final plan. Presumably, regardless of what their actual plan is, the outcome will lead to the Cold War situation with the Klingons we saw on the original show as opposed to serious damage long term damage to either side.

The Magicians had a real timey wimey episode last week, with Quenton and Elliot going back in time and living another life. While the time travel element was different, this reminds me to some degree of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, The Inner Light, in which Captain Picard had another entire life. Penny’s situation is a bit better, but for now he is still dead.  TV Guide interviewed executive producers John McNamara and Sera Gamble the episode:

Give it to me straight, does this mean Quentin has grandchildren running around Fillory?John McNamara: Hmmm…
Sera Gamble: It might mean that, yeah.
McNamara: He’s got to be very careful who he marries.

Let’s talk about that Quentin/Elliot hook up! Why did you guys decide to have those two share a night together amidst all the puzzling?
Gamble: It felt true about their relationship… What would these two people do if they were together every single day of their lives in one location, and frankly they’ve hooked up before. It just didn’t seem that weird to us that they might get drunk one night and one of them would make a pass at the other.
McNamara: The last time they hooked up, it was a Margo sandwich.
Gamble: Yeah, last time it was a threesome.
McNamara: But there was the reference in dialogue, I believe, in that episode or the next episode, where Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) says to Quentin because she walked in on the threesome, “The last time I saw you Elliot’s dick was in your mouth.” So that’s on record. It didn’t come out of nowhere.
Gamble: We say this a lot when we’re talking about the show, but the job of the writer is often just to sit around and talk about what they did when they were in their 20s, and occasionally getting drunk and sleeping with a friend is a fairly normal part of being in your 20s, especially in a situation when you are very intensely hanging out with them to the exclusive of almost everyone else for a long period of time. That’s the causes and conditions for a hook up.

How does the knowledge that he had a wife and a kid and a whole life affect Quentin moving forward?
Gamble:
 They do remember it, there are references later in the season. There’s a scene I’m thinking of, I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s a really beautiful scene that Quentin has late in the season. It’s maybe my favorite scene of the whole season, where he sits down with someone he loves and he talks about what he has experienced on the quest. A huge part of what has changed him in his own mind is that he experienced a whole lifetime trying to solve the mosaic with Elliot, and he talks really specifically about how that changed him and how it changed his outlook on the quest and on his entire life.

How dead is Penny right now? Like he’s dead, but he’s still kind of around? How much hope can we have that he’ll be able to get back to the land of the living?
Gamble: He’s going to try!
McNamara: Whatever you think is going to happen, it’s not going to happen.
Gamble: I have to say, Penny this season though — John speaks the truth. Of any storyline we’ve ever done on this show, Penny this season is the one that has surprised me the most. Right around the time we decided we were going to burn his body, we really felt like we were walking on a tightrope without a net in a super exhilarating way. The pitches from the writers about where to take this character next were so exciting and unusual. And Arjun came to play, and in episodes to come I think you’ll see him doing his best work of the series, and that’s saying a lot because he’s always great.

The X-Files looked at Skinner’s past and the horrors of war. While not one of the top episodes of all time, it was a solid story. This  also provided an explanation for Skinner helping Mulder and Scully,  as they “taught me not to hide, but have the guts to shine a light into the darkest corners.” The finals scene also played into the general paranoia of the series.

Assignment X interviewed Mitch Pileggi about returning to the role:

ASSIGNMENT X: Were you surprised when X-FILES came back for a tenth season two years ago, or are you at this point, “Nothing about X-FILES surprises me”?

MITCH PILEGGI: Nothing surprises me. No, it was a pleasant surprise when it came back two years ago, and then to have it come back again this time, and even have more episodes, it was a treat.

AX: What was the point when you stopped being surprised at the longevity of X-FILES? I’m sure at the beginning, it was like, “This is still here?” Not because of quality, but just because it’s so hard for anything to endure the way X-FILES has.

PILEGGI: I came in late in the first season, so they had been going a little bit at that point. And when I came on, we didn’t really know what we had. David said he thought the show would last six episodes and be out. Here we are twenty-five years later. Not the case [laughs]. So with any show, it’s really difficult to anticipate or predict how it’s going to do or what it’s going to do. You think you’re on a show that’s going to last forever, they pull the plug on it after eight episodes. You don’t know. It’s so unpredictable that there’s no point in even trying to guess, but I think the second season, we were nominated and won the Golden Globe. If you put any weight into awards, that was fairly impressive and gave some indication that there was a pretty positive thing going on with this, with what we were doing…

AX: What is Skinner’s attitude at this point towards belief/non-belief/what he thinks is happening as far as the paranormal and/or extraterrestrial visitations?

PILEGGI: He’s definitely seen things, and he definitely has his own beliefs, and he’s seen things previously when he was in Vietnam. He had an out-of-body experience that he relates to Mulder, I think, in Season 2 or 3. So he’s had his past experiences, and that’s one of the things that draws him to Mulder and Scully. So there is definitely a belief system set up within him to accept it.

AX: But does Skinner believe less than Mulder does, or is he just more pragmatic about fighting the system?

PILEGGI: I think he’s definitely pragmatic in everything he does. But he does have faith in what Mulder and Scully are searching for, so that’s why he’s become their champion within the FBI.

AX: Who has a more secure secrecy system, the X-FILES production company, or the government?

PILEGGI: Well, I’ll tell you what – we’ve been able to keep secrets pretty good this time around, so THE X-FILES right now, I think we’ve probably got it down where leaks are not prevalent. Our government is what it is.

AX: Did you at any point do research for the character into the FBI, or Area 51, or …?

PILEGGI: I grew up around the military, I grew up around the government. My dad worked for them, and eventually I did, too, before I started acting. So I had a pretty good taste of the procedure and behavior.

Gamespot discussed the frequent use of nudity on the new Netflix series Altered Carbon with showrunner Laeta Kalogridis:

“Our worst instincts as human beings have to do with our carelessness with natural resources, and when the body itself becomes just one more of those resources, how will we treat it? Will we treat it with such indifference and with such depersonalization that it becomes more like a very fancy car than a repository of the self?” Kalogridis continued. “And that, I think, is one reason that the nudity itself is not gratuitous; it’s meant to reinforce to you, as a viewer, that the advent of this technology fundamentally and substantially changes people’s relationships with their idea of their own body.”

In other words, in a world in which bodies are interchangeable, what does nudity even matter? It’s not really “you” being seen naked–it’s just your sleeve. Depending how wealthy you are, it might not even be the one you were born in–or even a real human body, since synthetic sleeves are also a thing.

As Kalogridis pointed out, Altered Carbon‘s nudity is “equal opportunity”–the show features a comparable number of naked male bodies as female. She emphasized that the whole thing only works because so many of the actors were onboard to strip down.

Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will be writing and producing a new series of Star Wars movies. Does this mean there will be nudity and dragons?  (Probably not.) From the announcement:

“David and Dan are some of the best storytellers working today,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “Their command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push Star Wars in ways I find incredibly exciting.”

“In the summer of 1977 we traveled to a galaxy far, far away, and we’ve been dreaming of it ever since,” Benioff and Weiss said in a joint statement. “We are honored by the opportunity, a little terrified by the responsibility, and so excited to get started as soon as the final season of Game of Thrones is complete.”

No release dates have been set for the new films, and there have (thankfully) been no sightings of White Walkers around Lucasfilm.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; Counterpart; The Gifted; The Magicians

I like how Star Trek: Discovery is rapidly providing payoff to the mysteries of this season rather than dragging them out too long. The Wolf Inside provided answers to two big questions, while showing more of the Mirror universe.

The big event of the episode centered around  the rebel camp where Firewolf, the rebel leader, had been hiding. (This briefly sounds more like Star Wars than Star Trek). Burnham’s logic for going to the planet didn’t make all that much sense but I’ll forgive it as 1) we’ve often seen that Burnham does not make the greatest decisions, even if she means well, and 2) it did a lot to propel the story. This led to a great scene for fans, seeing other Star Trek aliens, including Voq as Firewolf and seeing Sarek with the obligatory Vulcan goatee. I loved seeing the goatee enough to overlook the problem that this conflicts with the idea of a goatee representing an evil Mirror version.

This leaves open a lot for a possible novelization regarding Sarek as there are questions which I suspect are beyond the narrative on Discovery. Sarek must have learned a lot of interesting things about the two universes which he kept quiet about. I also wonder about the family dynamics. When we first learned in Despite Yourself of how xenophobic the Empire is, I questioned Spock’s position as seen on Mirror, Mirror. I rationalized that as being a rare exception, with Spock being half-human. I also suspect they are emphasizing the xenophobia more in the current incarnation of the Mirror universe as a reflection of our current politics. Spock’s position becomes even more complicated with Sarek and Spock being on opposite sides–not that the two were all that close in our universe. Presumably there was not a relationship between Sarek and Burnham in the Mirror universe, unless this is something being left unmentioned until a later date.

Meeting mirror Voq provided the trigger to finally reactive Voq in Tyler’s body, answering the question of how long until he was exposed now that Discovery finally revealed his identity. It turns out that the Tribble on Lorca’s desk did not play a part as many had predicted.

This also set up the solution to another dilemma. Somehow Burnham and Saru were able to easily communicate with holograms but she could not transmit the data she found back to the Discovery. While the problem is therefore questionable, it was a great solution to place the data on Tyler’s body before beaming it into space. Having Tyler/Voq in custody also raises questions should Tyler’s identity resurface as that part of the duo is innocent.

There were other good moments in the episode, such as Burnham’s interaction with Mirror Saru and Stamets meeting Stamets. Of course I did not believe that Stamets was dead for even a moment.

Ultimately the episode concluded with the answer to another question, confirming as I predicted that the Emperor would turn out to be Georgio. I still hope that, considering how Discovery frequently throws in references to past Star Trek shows, that them also mention a previous Empress Sato.

The huge question remaining is what Lorca is up to, including whether he is the Mirror version and intentionally brought the Discovery to the Mirror universe as part of a bigger plan following his attempt to assassinate Mirror Georgio. With the show appearing to be moving in this direction, Lorca’s decision to get Burnham on board Discovery does seem to fit into the dynamics of the Mirror universe power struggle.

Syfy Wire interviewed Shazad Latif about playing both Ash Tyler and Voq. Here is a portion:

This has been a huge few episodes for you. What is it like to play a character who’s so conflicted?

It’s one of the greatest gifts, and scariest gifts at the same time, that you can get as an actor. Just so much going on, double the amount of things that would normally go on with just one person. Getting to explore that, doubly, at the end of the day is stressful and scary, but very beautiful and very rewarding, as someone who likes to express themselves. It’s just crazy.

Ash has been through a lot, but I loved the decision to portray a character who believed he was experiencing, and was experiencing in many ways, PTSD.

It was always there. You think it’s because he’s been through this war stuff or this torture, and it’s not. He’s been in this crazy war zone, it’s just this trauma that you’ve never seen before. It’s this crazy alien operation.

Me and Sonequa, we always wanted to push it. Because you meet Tyler and he’s this guy who’s going through this trauma and we’ve seen that story many times. It’s amazing to explore, but we wanted to see him … With him and Michael Burnham, she’s always very strong. She’s the strong one and she’s the one looking after him, and he’s weak around her and he’s vulnerable around her, in the bedroom, in the hallway.

I wanted to make sure that that was clear because, to show a man’s vulnerability and weakness and show that you can still be a man and vice versa, that Sonequa is a very strong female character — it was very important to us in the scenes that we played that and we showed that. It’s nice to play the inner turmoil and suffering and weakness of the man as well, rather than being this classic sort of rogue action hero. There’s more to it than that.

Because when you first see him, he is playing that, we’re playing that sort of archetype. He’s this guy coming from the ship, he’s getting his job and “Aha! He’s a classic American hero,” but really he’s crumbling, and it’s very beautiful to watch.

There was a lot of fan speculation about Ash’s true identity. Was that hard to keep quiet about? You were doing publicity with so much of the cast towards the beginning of the show. People were like, “Wait til you see him,” but we had seen you but we didn’t know it yet.

It was my idea. I’ve been keeping it for a year now. It’s harder than any acting … That’s the hardest acting I’ve ever done; I did it terribly. I actually chose the pseudonym for the actor who played Voq in the beginning.

On the credits, it’s Javid Iqbal who played Voq, and we created a fake IMDb page, but that was my father’s name, who passed away about six years ago. I was asked to choose a pseudonym, so it was a shout out to him. He was a big movie lover, changed the film reels in the cinema when he was young. I just wanted to shout out to him. We kept that a secret for a long time.

It’s nice to have the buzz, still keeping a secret. You know people are going to find out, whether they find out in the first episode or the last episode.

The characters always find out secrets about the show and stuff like that, but it’s more about how you tell the story and execute. How it’s executed is more interesting. Even if you have figured it out, you still tune in to go, “Am I right or am I wrong? Or how have they done it?” Really, just to see the acting, to see the way they’ve cut the story…

Can you tell us anything about what’s coming for Ash/Voq?

It’s all coming to a head. This four-way love triangle in three bodies, basically. It’s L’Rell and Sonequa and Tyler. That’s gotta come to a head. The solving of the Culber case, all this kinda stuff. Some people don’t know, how are people gonna react to it? It’s a culmination of everything, and it’s going to be very exciting to watch.

One theme of the Mirror episodes of Star Trek: Discovery is to see how different versions of the same person turned out in a vastly different environment. There is another show starting with a similar theme. Counterpart (trailer above) is sort of a combination of a John le Carré novel and Fringe’s alternate universe stories. The Starz series premieres this month, but they have been offering the pilot for free since December. J.K. Simmons stars as a low level employee of some sort of spy agency, but we learn in the pilot that he has a double in the other universe who is far more important. From reviews coming from those who have seen episodes beyond the pilot, there are many characters whose lives were dramatically different due to a single change after the two universes diverged due to a Cold War experiment which went wrong.

The Gifted concluded its first season. While certainly not ground breaking like Legion, it was an entertaining X-Men spin-off. Unlike Inhumans, the show did have some success and will be back for a second season. The show did a good job of progressing over the season, initially centering around one family, and growing to develop a far more complex world. The Frost triplets made matters much more complicated with next season likely to feature a three-way conflict with different mutant camps and humans. The conflict between The Frost triplets and the original Mutant Underground somewhat parallels that of Charles Xavier and Magneto. It is made more complicated with members of the Mutant Underground joining the Frost triplets, including one member of the original family, creating divided loyalties.

The Magicians has started the second season with two strong episodes. I especially liked all the genre references–and how they were used to overcome surveillance. I didn’t notice in the first episode, but they stopped editing out the f-bombs in the second episode for the first run of the show as they had done previously.

Vox spoke with Lev Grossman, who wrote the novels the series is based upon, about seeing his stories being remixed:

Constance Grady

You’re someone who does a lot of remixing in your storytelling and is now watching your own stories get remixed. What’s it like having been on both sides of the process?

Lev Grossman

Well, the kind of remixing I did, The Magicians, and the kind of remixing it’s undergone on TV are not exactly the same kind of remixing. They’re not perfectly analogous.

I would say that I do very much think of The Magicians as a remixing kind of book. I was very conscious of that when I was writing it. In fact, I found it really energizing to imagine myself taking other people’s work, C.S. Lewis’s or J.K. Rowling’s, and — I don’t know if remix is actually the word I’d use, but recasting it, retelling it, in a way that was both an homage and a kind of critique at the same time.

I was conscious that I was doing something that gets done a lot in fanfiction. And then there’s a longer tradition of it; I also had in mind Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard, or Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, high-culture works that take another story and remix it, retell it, reimagine it. I was very aware of all that stuff.

I was aware I was doing something that legally was kind of a gray area right now in the culture that we write in, which was interesting. But I found it just incredibly energizing.

There’s a book called The Anxiety of Influence by Harold Bloom. He has this theory that the way in which artists and creators come into their own is through this act of remixing, which he sees as quite an aggressive act. I think he describes it almost in terms of an Oedipal struggle.

 I thought that was very true. I realized that through this kind of imaginary exchange, which was both aggressive and loving at the same time, that was how I was figuring out who I was as a writer. Which is paradoxical! Because we often think of working with someone else’s material as unoriginal and derivative, but at the same it was through taking control of someone else’s work that I came to understand what my own voice was.

Since then, I’ve seen The Magicians remixed in different ways. I’ve seen it be an influence on other books, I’ve seen fanfiction based on it, and of course there’s the TV show based on it. I’d love to able to say it was a completely joyful and unproblematic process watching The Magicians be adapted — and it was joyful and exciting and thrilling. But it definitely took some getting used to.

I realized that when you write novels, you have a lot of control over what’s going on. It’s not a collaborative art form. It’s one of those art forms where you get to do it all. You write all the dialogue; you point the camera where you want to; you dress the set; you do the costumes. So really, it’s a one-person act.

And when it came to collaborating, to passing this story that I’d written on to other creators, it was definitely unnerving. It provoked a lot of feelings. It was exciting and thrilling and stimulating, but it was also a real gut-check feeling where I had to tell myself, “It’s time to let go, and to let other people find different kinds of meanings in this story, which you’re used to thinking of as your own.”

More on last week’s episode below:

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who (Twice Upon A Time, Jodie Whittaker, Matt Smith, and Shada); Star Trek Discovery (Captain Lorca, Ash Tyler, and Continuity); The Orville; The Arrowverse Crossover; Agents of SHIELD; The Magicians

The upcoming regeneration in the Christmas Episode of Doctor Who, Twice Upon A Time,  might be the most anticipated episode ever due to Jodie Whittaker becoming the first female lead. Typically regeneration scenes only involve the outgoing Doctor with little, if any, of the new Doctor seen until the subsequent episodes are aired. With the degree of interest in this regeneration it would be a mistake to not show at least a little of Jodie Whittaker in the Christmas episode. It does appear that she probably does have at least one significant scene as Radio Times reports that Chris Chibnall will be present for her appearance in the episode. From Radio Times:

“There is a little bit of like ‘I want to see Jodie now!’” episode director Rachel Talalay admitted on the Radio Free Skaro podcast.

“What I do hope is, for Christmas you don’t have your Christmas pudding and your brandy, and say ‘OK, let’s just get to the regeneration!’ I hope you can actually enjoy the story too.”

Still, Talalay wasn’t shy about discussing some aspects of the pivotal final scene, which she shot both Capaldi and Whittaker’s parts for on different days under the direction of current showrunner Steven Moffat and new boss Chris Chibnall.

“I knew I was going to shoot both parts of the regeneration, but I did say to Chris Chibnall if you want a different director to introduce Jodie, you should have a different director,” she recalled. “Because he’s creating a whole new world.

“[But] he too was absolutely lovely and said no, we’re absolutely delighted it’s going to be you, and no-one else. And so we sat down and talked about the Jodie portion of the regeneration, and it was wonderful.

She added: “The thing I would love to talk about, and look forward to talking about in the future is how I planned Peter’s portion of the regeneration versus how I planned and shot Jodie’s.

“Because as a director, that was a really satisfying, interesting, fun challenge, and I’m really pleased with both sides of it.”

Of course, the side Talalay COULD talk about was Capaldi’s, with the director revealing that the Scottish actor had played a big part in the planning of his final scene.

“When it came to the regeneration in the Christmas episode, Peter has a big scene about it, as one would expect,” she said.

“And he and I spent some time alone on the Tardis, which is his place to sit when he wants to be quiet. We just sat there, in that space, alone, talking through that whole scene. Talking through in his happy space.

“He had a hundred notes on his script. Again, I view myself as a guide. But he was deeply into it.”

And apparently the collaboration paid off handsomely, with Talalay full of praise for the Twelfth Doctor’s last stand.

“It’s absolutely a Peter Tour-de-force as you can imagine,” she said. “I was so lucky to get to do it.”

In other words, then, it seems like we’re in for a simultaneously sad, exciting, nostalgic and forward-thinking episode of Doctor Who that contrasts with itself just as much as it does with anything else on the telly.

Radio Times has some speculation about the episode here. I posted a video from the episode last week in which the first Doctor commented on changes to the TARDIS.

The first pictures of  Jody Whittaker and Bradley Walsh filming next season have been released. More pictures are here.

Last week I mentioned rumors that Matt Smith might appear in the Christmas special (although it is also possible he just visited the set to see Doctor Who history and/or the final episode by Stephen Moffat). Smith has also discussed the possiblity of returning to Doctor Who, and has had some advice for Jodie Whittaker. From Digital Spy:

The Eleventh Doctor revealed that he wanted to come back to the franchise a few years down the line, once the new Time Lord Jodie Whittaker had settled in, that is

“Why not?” Matt told MTV. “I’d come back. Yeah, if the timing was right.

“I think we’ve gotta give a few years to Miss Whittaker to get the TARDIS under her belt, as it were, and then yeah – one day.”

However, he then dashed our hopes just a little by teasing that it probably won’t be until he’s “old and grey”, but joked that that “isn’t far off”.

When pressed on any advice he had for the Thirteenth Doctor when she heads into the TARDIS, Matt added: “Yeah, I will tell Jodie what I told Peter [Capaldi] – listen to no-one.”

The Crown star has also spoken about the next series of Doctor Who, arguing that the show should be “bold and inventive”.

“I think Doctor Who is a bit like Shakespeare,” he told press, including Digital Spy. “It needs expression and it needs courage and bold ideas – and I think Chris [Chibnall, new showrunner] and his team will bring all that to theshow, so I just sit back as a fan and watch what happens.

He added: “I absolutely don’t see why [the Doctor] can’t be a girl.”

It would make sense to have a two Doctor or multi-Doctor episode bringing him back but I wonder about this being “a few years down the line” considering that most actors playing the Doctor only stick around a few years at most. He better not wait too long.

Shada is now becoming available in various formats and a trailer (video above) has been released. Radio Times spoke with Tom Baker about returning to Doctor Who:

“I think it was, you see, that probably it never left me,” Baker said in a new interview to commemorate the BBC Worldwide release of the newly-completed Shada (which combines original footage with new animation).

“I think it was, you see, that probably it never left me,” Baker said in a new interview to commemorate the BBC Worldwide release of the newly-completed Shada (which combines original footage with new animation).

“And that’s why I can never stay away from it, you know – it was a lovely time of my life.

“I loved doing Doctor Who because it was life to me,” he went on. “It’s an amazing thing to be in something that was more important – my real life was really rather drab compared to the life of Doctor Who when we were making it.”

“Sometimes, when it would get near 5 o’ clock, I used to dread the end of rehearsal. Because then, real life would impinge on me.

“Doctor Who for me was an asylum. When I was in Doctor Who in full flight, making silly suggestions and pulling funny faces to make the other actors laugh, then I was happy.

“But then of course came five o’clock – and like everyone at five o’ clock, they’re leaving work – another reality impinges. Life – I wasn’t very good at that.”

In other words, then, Baker was more than happy to return to the world of Who – and he even has a theory as to why his particular Doctor has stood the test of time (and space) to remain popular to this day.

“Well I suppose actually because I was the silliest!” he suggested. “I was the most alien, I think.

“When I got it, I felt this benevolent alien personality, which was part of me. I embraced it and it took me over.”

Den of Geek spoke with “Star Trek‘s Ash Tyler and Captain Gabriel Lorca, aka Shazad Latif and Jason Isaacs, about their Discovery characters, shared trauma, fan theories and more.” Here are some excerpts:

There are a lot of purist fans out there, how have you reacted to some of the negative feedback?

SL: When we make it I’m enjoying what we’re doing and the rest we don’t have any power over. It’s like a painting, if people don’t like it then they don’t like it. We can’t really do much about that.

JI: I thought it was just a sign of how unbelievably passionate and protective they were of this legacy, and before we were on the air they were reacting to a trailer or something. Micro-analysing every frame of it. Now that we’re on, I’m a bit disappointed that the dissent has died down. I liked when people were outraged by things, and mostly everyone’s loving it all over the world now. I seek out those people who are upset because they’re always more passionate, first in line to watch it and first to hit the internet afterwards. They’re probably more die hard fans that anybody else.

Every new series that came along was hated instinctually by everybody and slowly they were won over. I think we’ve won them over. Quickly, which is a bit of a shame…

Shazad, you’ve probably been asked this by everyone today, but are you a Klingon?

JI: I can’t believe you’re not asking me – there’s a fan theory that I’m a Romulan!

SL: That’s not the same thing. There are crazy fan theories which is, like you were saying, the power of Star Trek fandom, they’re great detectives and some things they get right and some they get wrong.

JI: I love it. The madder they are the better – superb!

How do you feel about that way of watching TV now, where it’s kind of a detective game?

SL: I don’t know why you’d want to know so much before, I get that it’s because they love it.

JI: Well it’s a mystery that they’re trying to guess. The big thing for me, not the theories because one of the great things about this Star Trekparticularly in our dark and troubled times, our credits run and the debate starts. The worst thing you can be is something where the credits run and people say “What shall we eat?”. It actually affects people and they’re thinking about it. Although it’s on Netflix it’s not bingeable so there’s a week to talk about things like there is with Game Of Thrones. The thing that bothers me – networks have asked me to live tweet shows I’ve been in before, and I want people to watch the telly not look down at their phones or iPads. Watch it and talk about it afterwards.

Is one of the reasons you signed on because of how prevalent those issues that Star Trek has always been about are right now?

SL: It wasn’t really that I was interested, I didn’t really get to choose. I had to take the job (laughs). I’m not in that position yet. But yeah that’s the whole point of Star Trek.

JI: Yeah you take good acting jobs that are interesting and challenging, and something you haven’t done before. But I’ve got two teenage girls and if they’re looking at the news and reading newspapers, they’re being told – unlike when we were growing up – that people in charge are childish or racist or homophobic or sexual predators. The world seems a very unsafe place and more and more divisive. There’s the rise of the right and so to get to do the job that we love but also be part of telling a story that sends a message of optimism. It says that maybe in the future, if we get it right, we won’t be judged by gender or the colour of our skin or our sexuality. Even species on our show. There’s an extra bonus for us that you’re putting something good out in the world when we’re getting pumped some very toxic stuff from powerful people.

Many of the complaints from purists center around how Star Trek: Discovery fits into canon. Syfy Wire looked at some of the issues.

I’ll just comment on a couple of other aspects, and I’ve also raised some of these points in more detail in my weekly reviews of the episodes.

Many of the differences come down to the look, and to a considerable degree I’d give them some leeway to take advantage of modern special effects even if this gives a more modern look than the original series which takes ten years later. Questions regarding uniforms and details of the ships could be handled with explanations such as type of ships or perhaps different services within Star Fleet. Realistically if you look at the changes from the original show to the movies, which were produced years later with a higher budget, there were also considerable differences.

The Klingons have been a problem since Star Trek: The Next Generation. While I’m not going to allow this to reduce my enjoyment of Discovery, I think that it might have been better to have them look like the Klingons of STTNG. This allows viewers to go with one of two explanations–either the genetic manipulation theory that the Klingons actually did change temporarily, or the obvious meta explanation that they have used more expensive makeup since TNG.

The bigger issue is the technology, primarily with the spore drive. I’ve mentioned a variety of possible explanations in the past including reasons that it could no longer be feasible to be used by Star Fleet, no longer allowed, or perhaps that the technology is lost. I’m not particularly concerned about finding that Spock never mentioned his half-sister since Star Trek V also showed him to have a brother we never knew about. Spock was never the most talkative character.

Executive producer Aaron Harberts had these comments regarding continuity quoted by Metro:

‘We have ten years until the original series comes into play. It is a challenge creatively because we have lots of choices, in terms of how do we reconcile this [Spore] drive? This surrogate daughter of Sarek? How do we reconcile these things the closer we get to the original series? ‘That’s going to be a big discussion that we have in season two. What’s so fun about the character of Michael, just because she hasn’t been spoken about, doesn’t mean she didn’t exist. A lot of the writers on our show are deeply involved in Star Trek, their knowledge is some of the finest around, they really do help us find areas where we can steer around things.

‘But the Spore drive? Who knows. It could be classified. There are many options. Some of the best ideas come from all over the place, not just in our writers room so I love hearing about the fan ideas and theories. We’ll have to see.’ After initially creating the show’s concept, Bryan Fuller departed the series, and the question surrounding his decision to make it a prequel is still a mystery to Aaron, who was too busy catching up on Star Trek canon to question it. ‘I’m glad that it is because it set up parameters for us. Let’s say we set it 100 years after Voyager, the canvas is so broad. To try to contemplate, you’re creating a whole new mythology really,’ Aaron says.

‘I think Bryan [Fuller] was interested in the original series and I think he was interested in the lead up to where the original series is. I think he was very interested in the Klingon federation conflict, but I don’t know definitively why he picked that.’

While I agree that it should be possible to reconcile the continuity questions Aaron discussed, I find it interesting that, instead of already having a specific plan in mind, they are leaving the explanation for the writers to come up with next season. This also means that it is probably pointless to spend too much time analyzing episodes for hints as to the ultimate explanation as the show’s writers have not yet decided how things will turn out. Fortunately they do have writers with a good knowledge of Star Trek canon, leaving me confident that, even if the explanations are not one hundred percent airtight, they will be no worse than what we have already experience in following Star Trek continuity.

The Orville was off last week for Thanksgiving and will soon be completing its first season. The final episode of the shortened season will air December 7. Here is the official synopsis of the episode, entitled  Mad Idolatry:

Ed and Kelly seriously reconsider getting back together. However, while Kelley is on a mission with Isaac and Gordon to investigate the origins of an uncharted star, they suddenly crash-land on a planet from another universe. Kelly then makes a decision with unforeseen long-term consequences for the planet, putting Ed in a difficult position in the all-new “Mad Idolatry” season finale episode of THE ORVILLE airing Thursday, Dec. 7 (9:01-10:00 PM ET) on FOX. (ORV-113) (TV-14 L, S, V).

The relationship between Ed and Kelly has dominated many of the episodes. While I think it has often been overdone, it will be interesting to see how things have changed now that they have both been working together, and Ed realizes that Kelly might have slept with Darulio due to pheromones she could not resist per Cupid’s Dagger.

TV Guide has eleven teases for next week’s Arrowverse crossover. Here are the first few:

1. Earth-X is full of baddies

As if being controlled by nazis wasn’t enough of a clue about how evil Earth-X is, this world is also home to some very sinister versions of the heroes we know and love. So far, we know the Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanagh), the Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) all have counterparts on Earth-X that are aligned with the regime.

2. Citizen Cold

Wentworth Miller has returned to the Arrow-verse, this time as the Earth-X version of himself: Citizen Cold. We can only assume he’s part of the Earth-X resistance movement, and it’s about time we got to see Miller kick some nazi butt.

3. Kara busts out those pipes again

You didn’t think the CW would just let Melissa Benoist’s amazing singing voice go to waste did you? Thanks to their little journey into musical theater last year, Barry decides to have Kara sing at his wedding, and we guarantee you’re not prepared for how awesome it is.

Stephen Amel discussed the Arrowverse crossover in an interview here.

Melissa Benoist discussed her role in an interview here.

Agents of SHIELD returns with a two-hour premier on December 1 but if you cannot wait that long, the first seventeen minutes have been released–video above. A trailer for season five can be seen here. We know from last season’s finale that the season involves going into space. Comicbook.com has some information on the aliens which will appear.

The Magicians returns on January 10. Trailer above showing them starting their quest to restore magic, after it was turned off in last season’s finale.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; The Orville; Doctor Who Reveals Jodie Whittaker’s Costume; Disney Plans And Genre; Mr. Robot; Felecia Day On The Magicians; Supergirl; Legends Of Tomorrow

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum was an episode of Star Trek: Discovery which hopefully satisfied those who complain that Discovery doesn’t feel like Star Trek to them. The bulk of the episode centered around an away mission which could have been on either TNG or the original show. Probably the most similar episode was the original series episode This Side of Paradise.

There are further references to Star Trek history with Ash Tyler using Vulcan pick up lines on Michael Burnham, with a variation of “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Tyler was so smooth that I was questioning if he was really a Klingon spy per the fan theory I have discussed in previous posts. Seeing the away team receive physical exams in sick bay with their internal organs showing on the screen also casts doubt about the theory. Presumably he was also examined when he first came aboard the Discovery after being a Klingon prisoner. Lorca would have been in a better position to refuse such a scan.

Saru wound up being in a position analogous to Burnham in the pilot in being the mutineer, even if under alien influence. We also learned that Saru is both fast and strong, unless the communicators are extremely flimsily built. If Saru is a member of the prey species, just imagine what the predictor species must have been like.

Stamets came out of the spore drive calling Tilly “Captain.” Was this momentary confusion on his part or was Stamets seeing into the future? We already know that Tilly aspires to be the Captain. Alternatively, was he seeing the Mirror universe where somehow a Mirror version of Tilly already is the captain aboard a version of the Discovery where advancement is based upon assassination?

The Klingon side story was also getting more interesting last week. L’Rell tried to free Admiral Cornwell and defect with the specific goal of getting to Discovery. Was this an attempt to join up with Ash Tyler if he really is Voq? She was certainly not telling the full truth when she referred to him as being gone. If Tyler is Voq then they would be revealing this on air at some point. A meeting between L’Rell and Tyler might reveal something. On the other hand, if Tyler is not Voq, he would not be all that happy to see L’Rell if he was truly her abused prisoner. Similarly, if the counter-theory that Voq replaced Lorca is true, there could also be some clue regarding that if L’Rell comes aboard. (It is curious that the Tribble has not been seen on Lorca’s desk anymore.)

Cornwell appears to be dead, which would make it impossible for her to take the command of the Discovery away from Lorca as she threatened. Of course it is not uncommon in genre for apparently dead characters to return. There is an interview with Jayne Brook, who played Admiral Cornwell here.

Tonight we have the midseason finale with some teases about the episode at Radio Times. Star Trek: Discovery is returning on January 7.  The official synopsis says, “In Chapter 2, while in unfamiliar territory, the U.S.S. Discovery crew is forced to get creative in their next efforts to survive opposing and unprecedented forces and return home.” I wonder whether this is intended for the opening of Chapter 2 or if the entire second half of the season will be a Voyager/Lost In Space scenario. Alternatively, instead of being elsewhere in space, could they be in the Mirror universe, which we do know will play a part in the series?

The bickering between Ed Mercer and Kelly Grayson over Kelly’s infidelity was a highly over-used attempt at humor in early episodes of The Orville. There was finally some degree of pay-off in Cupid’s Dagger. Darulio, the alien Kelly slept with, was aboard the Orville, and we now know that her infidelity could have been because of pheromones she could not resist. Will this knowledge change the relationship between Ed and Kelly in the future?

The Orville has had mixed success in combining humor with science fiction. Their most successful attempts have been when the humor wasn’t forced and they were not just throwing in jokes at times when it made no sense in the story. Their best successes have included a couple of episodes with Isaac trying to understand humans. The humor worked again on Cupid’s Dagger after Darulio’s pheromones caused Ed to fall in love with him, with Ed’s actions being both humorous and fitting into the plot of the story. There was a parallel story with Dr. Finn and Yaphit (who has also been a frequent source for comedy on the series). The fairly explicit sex scene between the two was unforgettable.

While it was karaoke, the episode did show an improvement in musical taste from Barry Manilow last week. Unfortunately we did not get to hear Bortis sing.

The BBC has released a picture showing how Jodie Whittaker will look as the 13th Doctor, along with some minor modifications to the exterior of the TARDIS. Elements of the outfit have been compared to previous Doctors as wall as to Mork on Mork and Mindy. While the stripes most likely come from Tom Baker’s scarf, they are also similar to a shirt worn by Wesley Crusher. I wonder if the change in color of the TARDIS is real or just a matter of the lighting in this picture.

Incoming companion Bradley Walsh has discussed how he obtained the role without having to audition with the Sunday Express.

Netflix has released the official trailer for season two of The Crown, staring Claire Foy and Matt Smith. Season 2 premieres December 8th, 2017.

There has been a tremendous amount of news about Disney recently which impacts genre. They probably intend to make money off of Star Wars forever, now announcing yet another trilogy. From the Star Wars web site:

For director Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was just the beginning of his journey in a galaxy far, far away.

Lucasfilm is excited to announce that Johnson will create a brand-new Star Wars trilogy, the first of which he is also set to write and direct, with longtime collaborator Ram Bergman onboard to produce. 

As writer-director of The Last Jedi, Johnson conceived and realized a powerful film of which Lucasfilm and Disney are immensely proud. In shepherding this new trilogy, which is separate from the episodic Skywalker saga, Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.

Disney is also moving ahead with their plans to start their own streaming service. They certainly have a far more impressive library than CBS, which is citing its library, along with new shows such as Star Trek:Discovery, in promoting CBS All Access. However one ramification is that new Marvel shows like the ones on Netflex such as Jessica Jones and Daredevil are more likely to appear on Disney’s own streaming service. If this is the case, I hope that Disney doesn’t decide to tone them down to fit in better with other shows on the service.

Disney has also been in talks to buy Fox. While the creation of such a huge studio has massive repercussions, one being discussed by genre fans is that this means that the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises will be under the same ownership as Disney’s other Marvel characters. This opens the way for cross-over movies between the Avengers and the X-Men, but also might mean that these franchises will receive less attention.

Mr. Robot has been mixed in its second and third season, but last week’s episode was one of the better ones. The episode include significant progress for the plot. More on the episode at Vulture.

Felecia Day has been cast in a key role on The Magicians season three.

We will be seeing the Legion of Superheroes later this season on Supergirl. Laurie Metcalf will also have a guest appearance later this season, playing Winn’s mother.

Damien Darhk has returned to life on Legends of Tomorrow. Screen Rant explained his rather convoluted time line.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; F-Bombs In Genre; Mr. Robot; Arrow; Batman In The Arrowverse; Gotham; Doctor Who; Will & Grace

With Choose Your Pain, Star Trek: Discovery revealed more about Captain Lorca, went where Star Trek has never gone before, and raised new questions. Controversies raised included two incidents on which to further question Lorca’s ethics.

We learned that Lorca had destroyed his previous ship and killed the entire crew to keep them from being captured and tortured by the Klingons, while he alone managed to survive. It may have sounded reasonable when explained by Lorca, but Star Trek fans know that Kirk or Picard would have found a way to save their crews, and would have risked death to achieve this. Lorca’s decision to leave Harry Mudd (played by Rainn Wilson) behind as a Klingon prisoner was also morally questionable, and not something Star Fleet captains we are accustomed to would have done.

While Lorca did leave Mudd behind, he did bring Ash Tyler after what seemed like too easy an escape. Was this just yet another example of a show’s protagonists having unrealistic success which has happened very frequently on television, or were they allowed to escape? There is considerable grounds to suspect that this was a trick with Ash Tyler being a Klingon spy. One popular fan theory that he is actually Voq is explained here. Of course if he is a Klingon spy, he is unlikely to get past Lorca’s pet tribble.

Discovery had the first f-bomb ever on Star Trek after Staments told Tilly of his idea to transfer Tardigrade DNA into his body. Tilly responded to the idea by saying, “You guys, this is so fucking cool.” She apologized for her language but Stamets replied, “No, Cadet. It is fucking cool.”

There was no softening of the word such as with changing it to “fraking” as on Battlestar Galactica. This sure goes beyond McCoy saying, “Damn it, Jim.” AV Club has posted a history of swearing on Star Trek.  Of course such language is common on pay cable, with basic cable being more mixed. Syfy has cut the frequent f-bombs from The Magicians in the initial showing, but later showed the first season again uncut. Presumably the second season will be released in an uncut form in the future. On the other hand, I noticed such language being left uncut on Mr. Robot last week.

After Trek also showed a sneak peak of tonight’s episode with Burnham and Tilly wearing Disco t-shirts. Is disco still alive, or (more likely) is this a shortened form for the name of their ship?Possibly the producers are hoping that fans refer to Star Trek: Discovery as Disco as opposed to the abbreviation STD. Last week’s episode also had a very rare (but not the first) scene of a Star Trek bathroom. Plus we learned that they have not yet learned a more modern, futuristic way to fight tooth decay than brushing, and the suspicions about Stamets and Dr. Culber were confirmed.

The DNA transfer done by Stamets might actually not be all that cool based upon what we saw in the mirror at the end of the episode. Does this mean that the spores connect not only throughout the universe, but also into the Mirror universe? If so, this could be yet another reason why the spore drive is not used (or mentioned) on subsequent series.

Besides the introduction to Harry Mudd and telling us more about Lorca, Stamets, and Culber, the episode also revealed more about  Saru, who does have difficulties assuming the role of Captain, even if all worked out in this episode. There was another nod to continuity in the list of decorated captains which came up: Robert April, Jonathan Archer, Matthew Decker, Christopher Pike, and Captain Georgiou.

Besides including f-bombs as I mentioned above, Mr. Robot was notable last week for Elliot getting the cairn terrier back. As for the even more meaningful aspects of the show, Sam Esmail was interviewed by The Guardian.  The article began:

When Mr Robot first aired, two years ago, it was hailed for its timeliness. A serial drama about a nefarious hacking group taking on corporate power felt right for the age of Anonymous and banking failure. Now, in 2017, the existing two seasons can look a little dated; why spend ages plotting to bring down the west when the US president can do it with a tweet?

While a lot has changed in two years, there is a sense of vindication for Mr Robot creator Sam Esmail. The ideas the 40-year-old wanted to explore in this drama – his first TV show, which he wrote, directed, produced and edited himself – are still playing out in reality.

“One thing I’ve noticed about the show is that it feels like a period piece of today,” Esmail says. “The world is so heavily influenced by technology and it has started to feel like it’s not on solid ground. The world has become unreliable, unknowable. Facts are vulnerable and things you have come to rely on are no longer there. It’s an overlap that I’m not going to be so bold as to say I predicted, but that was what I was thinking about when I constructed the character of [protagonist] Elliot [Alderson].”

Included among the unreliable and unknowable elements of Mr Robot are the following: whether Elliot is good or bad; whether he hacked the biggest corporation in the US under instruction from the Chinese government; whether he is living at his mother’s house or in prison; whether his father is alive and, if so, why he wants to kill him; and, finally, whether or not he is really friends with 80s sitcom puppet ALF.

Should we also worry about Flipper the dog after learning about the allegedly Russian run web page full of those puppie pictures?

Oliver Queen made a reference to Bruce Wayne on Arrow last week. Having Bruce Wayne exist in his world does not mean that he is also Batman, but it does raise the question. It is more likely that Batman exists on Supergirl’s earth. After all, if Batman existed in Oliver’s world, there would be no reason for him to spend so much time fighting Batman’s foes.

TV Guide has complied a list of other references to Batman in the CW Arrowverse.

Right now Fox has the television rights to Bruce Wayne, but they have only been able to show him as partially growing into becoming Batman. Gotham is also showing the origins of other Batman characters, sometimes changing the details. Gotham introduced Solomon Grundy last week. Screen Rant reviewed his back story and how Gotham is varying from the comics.

Getting back to Arrow, Entertainment Weekly has spoken with Stephen Amell about the big changes in last week’s episode:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Oliver actually gives up the mantle of being the Green Arrow. Game changer! Can you talk about how that might affect him moving forward? Does he still get the urge to go out there? 
STEPHEN AMELL: That’s been the cool thing about this season is that he can’t. You say him giving up the mantle is the game changer, but William is the game changer. The father-son dynamic can’t possibly can’t get any stronger than that. For all of the things that Oliver’s dad did wrong, and for all the things that we have since learned about him, Oliver still reveres him and holds him up to such a high standard, so that relationship is so important. I give it to Diggle; I don’t give it to him with a heavy heart, I give it to him with a full heart. I give it to him expecting him to be able to handle it. I like the idea that I give it to him because the city needs a Green Arrow, right? The Green Arrow can be more than one person. The Green Arrow is a symbol and his team is a symbol. The fact that we are pushing Star City in the right direction is something that is important to me because I don’t want the city to get destroyed every year, because then what’s the point of what we’re doing? We’re a team of vigilantes that are the definition of insanity, because we’re just doing things over and over again and hoping for a different result. Obviously I don’t know what’s going on with Diggle, but I give it up and there’s not a lot of angst.

It’s been a very strange time for me on the show, because we’re talking about going on four episodes now where I’m really out of the mix, and that’s been challenging for me, because I prep myself to work all the time, but we had — without getting into details — a story line last year where in the aftermath of Oliver being tortured by Chase — the big torture, making him reveal his animal instincts and that he enjoyed killing at one point — the producers and I had a lot of back and forth after that about how long that should affect him, because in one iteration, he just jumped right back on the horse. I was like, “Well, if we don’t follow the through line of that affecting him, then what was the point? What was the point of it happening if it doesn’t have consequences?” So I like that he’s given the mantle to Diggle and that’s been the show since then. That, to me, is really cool.

Realistically, do you see Oliver really never suiting up again?
No. Look, I remember one season of 24 when Jack Bauer had been taken prisoner, Jack was in China. They’re like, “Well, how long of this season is Jack going to be in China for?” and the producers were like, “He’s landing like six minutes after it starts. The show is the show.” Our show’s the show, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t surprise people. If he suits back up again, it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden it goes back to the status quo.

In Doctor Who news this week, Matt Lucus has hinted that he might not be done with Doctor Who after the Christmas episode.

Comic Book Resources has accumulated what we know, along with rumors, about upcoming changes on Doctor Who.

Doctor Who has won an Ally Award for LGBT inclusiveness. Pearl Mackie accepted the award and made this statement:

It’s lovely to be able to accept this Award on behalf of Doctor Who. I feel quite honoured to even have been invited, let alone for Doctor Who and the character of Bill.

It’s testament to how well she was received. I met a couple of young girls who were BAME, and talked to me about how watching Bill on Doctor Who enabled them to come out and feel comfortable with their own sexuality. For me, that’s a massive achievement.

The thing that I liked most about Bill was that she wasn’t grappling with her sexuality, she didn’t need to come out, it wasn’t an issue! It was always just about, I’m gay and happy and this is who I am, this is who I like and this is who I’m in love with.

Victoria, staring Jenna Coleman, concluded its second season on ITV last week, with a Christmas episode also announced. Presumably it will be combined with the other episodes into a nine episode series when it shows in the United States. Victoria will premiere on Masterpiece on PBS on January 14, 2018.

Will & Grace had an excellent episode last week dealing with gay conversion camps. A clip is above.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; The Orville; Black Mirror Does Star Trek; The Tick; The X-Files; The Punisher; The Magicians; Doctor Who; Gal Gadot On SNL

The third episode of Star Trek Discovery, Context Is For Kings, was like a new pilot, with last week more of a prequel. They finally introduced the Discovery and Captain Lorca. Do Discovery’s call letters, NC1031, mean that this ship falls under Section 31? While James Kirk and Benjamin Sisco have bent the rules at times, Lorca goes far beyond what we have ever seen on Star Trek before. Typically Star Fleet captains who behaved like him have turned out to be the villain, not heroes. Lorca also has that strange menagerie, including an apparently neutered Tribble, while ten years later Kirk will know nothing about them. Perhaps he uses the Tribble as a way to detect any Klingons who might attempt to infiltrate the Discovery.

Lorca claims to have permission from Star Fleet to do whatever it takes to find a way to beat the Klingons. This appears to have included orchestrating the rescue of Michael Burhnam from the shuttle, even if it meant allowing the shuttle pilot to die. Apparently he has enough clout to keep Burnham as part of his crew if he has her on board, but not enough to simply request that she be transferred from prison to his ship. Obviously it was more dramatic this way.

Burnham did appear beaten at the start of the episode. I had expected to see the standard troupe of having her rescue the shuttle, but that did not occur. She did return to her usual self over the course of the episode. Thanks to Burnham, we see why Star Fleet abandoned the ineffective breath detector as a security device. Once on the away team, she was the one to save the rest. Beyond the breath detector dying out as a security system, it makes sense that black alerts didn’t catch on. While dramatic to hear them announced, it would be quite hard to visualize the flashing lights of a black alert.

The first two episodes provided a familiar type of Star Fleet ship, with Burnham having a conventional relationship with her Captain, until the mutiny. Even granting that Burnham was wrong in her actions, she is now being unjustly blamed for the entire war, which the Klingons appeared determined to start regardless of what she did. Lorca, Burnham, and Saru have a relationship somewhat analogous to the Kirk, Spock, McCoy threesome from The Original Show, although with major differences. They apparently have forgotten about sun glasses in the future and it is far too early for Geordi La Forge’s visor, making it difficult for Lorca to go on away missions due to the injury to his eye. With Saru also not appearing to be well suited for away missions, this makes it plausible that Burnham might lead them instead of the  more senior officers which typically (and perhaps foolishly) led them in the other series.

Burnham’s relationship with Lorca is also different from the start with Lorca believing that Burnham is forced to be loyal to her because he is the one giving her a fresh start. On the other hand, it might become significant again that Burnham was willing to defy her captain when felt to be necessary. If Lorca does turn out to be the villain, Burnham might be called on to turn against her captain once again.

There have been some complaints that this does not feel like Star Trek, but we must consider that the series is unique in taking place during wartime. Consider how different everything felt on the episode Yesterday’s Enterprise. Deep Space Nine did not feel like conventional Star Trek, either before or during the Dominion War. If this is a Section 31 vessel, it might also seem different regardless of circumstances.

Being a Section 31 ship would help explain how we are seeing things which are not known on board the Enterprise ten years later. It is also possible that their research turns out to be dead ends, too dangerous to allow many to know about, or perhaps the Discovery is destroyed like its sister ship. It does appear that the writers have considered such continuity issues in various interviews.

Jason Isaacs has discussed some of the questions I raised above in interviews, and discussed other aspects of Captain Lorca. From TV Guide:

Why does Lorca have a room full of animals?
We’re losing this war and I’ve been given license to do whatever the hell is necessary to try and see if I can in any way shift the odds. And so I have in my private study area, anything I want including weapons, gasses, poisons, creatures… Anything that, if examined correctly, might give us an edge because we need something to turn the tide in the war. And that’s why someone like me has been given this ship and given license to go off and — not under the glare of anyone else’s spotlight — see if I can come up with a solution, any kind of creative solutions to this problem of imminent destruction.

So the tardigrade might be one, some of the Klingon weapons I’ve got might be it… The spores might be it. I just need something and I need it fast and I need people to help me, and hence, one of the reasons why I get Michael Burnham to be on my team. She is someone who’s prepared to break the rules… Someone who’s really smart strategically and someone who I think will ultimately be loyal to me since I’ve given her a second chance at life.

From Entertainment Weekly:

You still get the sense that Lorca will do anything, even if it’s off-book, to accomplish the ultimate goal against the Klingons — and possibly other agendas.

He just wants to win the war. This is 10 years before the series that people fell in love with Kirk and Spock, before the Federation directive comes out, before people are exploring peacefully. This is a time when the Federation might not be there tomorrow morning. All of the high-minded ideals will go out the window once everyone around them is incinerated and Lorca thinks he sees that modern man. He thinks he’s going to win this war by any means necessary and they’ve kind of given him license to do it, because they’re terrified and they’re right to be terrified. So he’s on this science ship, which is not the ideal vessel, got some possible breakthrough technology, but there’s a lot of work to be done there, and he’s got a bunch of explorers crewing this thing who are really not battle-hardened at all and he’s going to try and do whatever he has to do to tip the tide of the war. It’s not going to be easy. Certainly, he’s not going to get there by being nice…

At the end of the episode, Lorca has the creature from the USS Glenn — the one that was terrorizing Michael and company — secretly beamed aboard the Discovery into one of his secret rooms with other contraband objects and creatures. What is he doing with all those things that he’s, presumably, illegally accumulated?

He’s got a room, a study room in which he studies war because they’re at war. In different times, he might have books of poetry, he might have an easel in there. He’s an exercise man, so at one point in time he might have been doing interplanetary yoga. Right now, he needs to work out how to defeat enemies and he’s got forbidden material in there. He’s got weapons, he’s got poisons, he’s got creatures. He’s looking for an edge in a war with a superior opponent and he’ll take anything he can get, anywhere he can get it. Sometimes he takes risks to get it.

What is Lorca’s relationship with the women on the Discovery crew, because it seemed like there was something a little extra between the captain and Commander Landry, his head of security?

I think in this tradition of Star Trek captains and these alpha males who rise to the top, he’s got a taste for the good life and he’s got an eye for his female officers. I don’t know that that’s going to work with Burnham very well, frankly. She doesn’t look like she’s up for that kind of thing, but him and Landry certainly have a relationship that goes beyond, I would think, work. But that’s how I played my scenes with all the women on board, whether or not the writers were on board with that. By the way, that’s my tribute to Shatner. I always thought, as much as the original series was born out of the civil rights struggle and the birth of feminism, some of that was [infused with a feeling of] James Bond. It was clear Captain Kirk had his way with any member of the micro-skirted crew members he wanted, so that was my subtle tribute to him. I’m playing that, even if it’s inside my head. (Laughs.)

CBS has announced that they will present episodes through November 12 (instead of November 5 as previously announced), leaving only six episodes after the show resumes in 2018.

It was revealed at New York Comic con that Michelle Yeoh will be returning as Captain Georgiou. Presumably this will be as a flash-back, unless they find a way for her to return after being killed last week.

On rare occasions we have had two different Star Trek series on at once, but the current situation is unique in having two shows inspired by Star Trek but going in such different directions. While Discovery is darker and serialized, The Orville provides stand alone stories which are more similar to those from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The series appears to be moving more towards actual science fiction stories as opposed to parody, while still incorporating humor. The last episode was the most successful to date in incorporating humor while adding to the main story. Being directed by Jonathan Frakes helped make it feel like STTNG. Plus it introduced time travel to this universe.

The episode also benefited by the guest appearance of Charlize Theron. She turned out to be different from what she first seemed to be, but she had time for casual sex with Captain Mercer and to sit around sipping drinks. While the relationship between Mercer and his ex-wife has sometimes seemed to have been used excessively to attempt humor, it worked very well in this episode as Ed initially mistrusted Kelly’s suspicion of Pria as being based upon jealousy.

One thing I always found unrealistic about the Star Trek universe was the limited existence of mass entertainment and popular culture. The Orville has had multiple references to pop culture, although it appears to have ended around our time. Previous references have included Kermit the Frog, Friends, and reality TV. This episode started with a clip from Seinfeld, which propelled the B story line. Teaching Isaac about humor and practical jokes allowed them to use humor without it appearing out of place as in some of the earlier episodes. I could easily imagine a similar story line involving Data. Of course Seth MacFarlane did take it further, with Issac amputating Malloy’s leg as a practical joke. Fortunately the limb was easily regenerated.

The episode also did a good job of incorporating the B story line into the main story, both with Malloy’s leg falling from the ceiling and with Isaac using a reference to the Seinfeld clip to tip off Malloy as to what he was doing to help save the ship.

Besides the two versions of Star Trek discussed above, there was more information at New York Comic Con on the planned Star Trek based episode from the fourth season of Black Mirror:

Titled “USS Callister,” the 74-minute adventure stars Fargo‘s Jesse Plemmons and Cristin Milioti, Jimmi Simpson (Westworld), and Michaela Coel.

While critics were barred from reviewing it, by all accounts from those in attendance it’s one of the most cinematic of Black Mirror installments, thanks to its epic production values — from sprawling desert locations and scenes set on the deck of the titular starship to the out-of-this-world outfits and expensive computer effects.

“The idea came up in conversation, and it struck us. We hadn’t done a space epic before and we thought, how would that work in the Black Mirror universe?” Brooker told The Hollywood Reporter.  “What sort of tone would it have? We ended up in this strange place.”

Naturally, the show tackles themes befitting its signature paranoid style and contains more than a few twists (and reportedly a few lens flares too, in a nod to the J.J. Abrams-helmed reboot).

Rather than releasing all the episodes at once, Amazon released only part of The Tick, hoping that buzz from the first half of the series will increase viewership before the series is completed. They announced at New York Comic Con that the show will return in February and released the above trailer. The show does effectively combine humor with a superhero story.

The above trailer for The X-Files season 11, which will premiere in January 2018, was released at New York Comic Con. More information on the upcoming season here.

Chris Carter said in an interview that he might continue the series even longer, but Gillian Anderson has said that the eleventh season will be her last. There have been attempts at bringing in other cast members, but I am skeptical as to whether the show can survive without Mulder and Scully.

Netflix cancelled promotions for The Punisher at New York Comic Con and a planned Paris event following the recent shootings in Los Vegas. They are also delaying the premiere of the series.

The next season of The Magicians will deal with restoring magic. We got some hints as to what will occur at the New York Comic Con:

“Julia and Quentin almost circle back to who they were as kids,” John McNamara notes that their reunion more or less restores their BFF status. Aside from partying with a god, we get to see them revisit a lifelong friendship and get over past grievances.

Jason Ralph and Stella Maeve spoke enthusiastically about the unexpected nature of Quentin and Julia’s relationship, which started as the tired unrequited love trope but evolved into something much more interesting. Jason Ralph said during the panel, “It’s really gratifying to get back together.”

The quest to revive magic will also lead to some unlikely pairings for the cast. Sure, we get some expected combos like Eliot with Margo or Quentin with Julia, but Sera Gamble teased during The Magicians NYCC panel that we’ll see more scenes with Julia and Alice together in Season 3. Julia’s relationship to the strange new magic she discovered evolves over the season in unexpected ways, and perhaps it’ll take Alice to help her figure it out.

Alice herself will go through the “worst quarter-life crisis ever,” according to Taylor Dudley. Alice died, became a niffin, sort of died again, and when finally reunited with her Shade, she then had magic taken away completely. Alice will be in a weird emotional spot when the season kicks off, especially considering she’s being hunted by an enemy she made while a niffin.

This year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, Twice Upon A Time, will also be shown in movie theaters, along with special features. More information here.

Nerdist reports on how Peter Capaldi learned that a woman was to be cast as the thirteenth Doctor. Capaldi also discussed why he is leaving Doctor Who at New York Comic Con:

In a retrospective session at New York Comic-Con, Peter Capaldi said that playing the title role in British TV juggernaut Doctor Who brought many pleasures but proved all-consuming. After four years, he said he felt it was best to leave before it ever felt like a routine.

 “It fills up your life,” he said. “You don’t have a second where it’s not about Doctor Who. It’s a nice way to live.” And yet, he continued, “I really never wanted to get to a place where I knew how to do this because that’s not what being creative is. The actual amount of time we were spending on the show, I realized I was getting the hang of it. And that made me frightened.”

Asked by a fan whether he would consider returning for a special or in any small role down the road, he said, “I think it’s probably time for me to go.”

The Mirror has some changes they claim will be made to Doctor Who next season under Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker. The reliability of the report is unknown.

This week has marked the 40th anniversary of the introduction of K-9 on Doctor Who and the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Mirror universe on Star Trek.

Den of Geek talked to Karen Gillan about Nebula’s role in  Avengers: Infinity War.

Gal Gadot was guest host on Saturday Night Live last night and talked about playing Wonder Woman in the opening monologue (video above). She also had the skit below about Wonder Woman:

There was also far more news at New York Comic Con than I can get to today and I will present more of it next week.