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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the eighteenth episode of the third season of Enterprise, I genuinely did not expect this to be so horribly messed up. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

WELL. W E L L. THANKS FOR THAT MID-SEASON CLIFFHANGER WITH NO “To Be Continued…” ENDING. WHAT HAVE Y’ALL DONE TO ME.

The Plan

I’m realizing how much of this season is about this crew entering a previously unexplored area of space and then MAKING EIGHT TRILLION MISTAKES IN A ROW. Perhaps more so than any other season, this really feels like the show is depicting a ragtag crew learning how to do deep space exploration by doing it the hard way. Without the more intensive Starfleet and Federation rules that come later on, they’re constantly breaking new ground. But they’re doing so with their flaws on display! A lot of the time, Archer’s improvisation or boldness keeps them ahead of their foes, but I’d argue that what he does in “Azati Prime” is just downright foolish. I’d also say that’s a major factor in his decision to change his mind about Daniels. If he hadn’t screwed up so badly, would he have tried diplomacy?

Lemme back up a bit. Even from the start, I felt like these characters were flying by the seat of their pants. That’s not a bad thing! This whole seasons has largely been thrilling because of the great big unknown that surrounds them at every single turn. It makes for compelling storytelling. So when Travis and Tucker headed down to the planet where the weapon was being built, the tension was unbearable. It was hard NOT to assume the worst. They’d get captured. They’d never make it to the weapon to take scans. And even if they did, what if they couldn’t discern any weakness in it?

And by gods, that underwater sequence was INCREDIBLE. It beautifully portrayed the sense of awe and terror that those two men felt while staring upon the thing that had been built to guarantee their people’s demise. So when the scans of the Death Star – er, sorry, the Xindi weapon revealed a way to destroy it, and then we found out it would be a one-way trip, I was again floored by the awful plan that Archer had come up with. And make no mistake: it’s REALLY bad. Did no one think to scan again as they got closer to it to even see if it was there? Even if the defense perimeter prevented Enterprise from scanning on the planet, surely they all realized that if they destroyed the weapon, the Xindi would just build another one in a more secret location, right?

But Archer’s terrible plan had a separate motivation behind it: it was an act of penance for all the awful things he’d asked of others and himself since entering the Expanse. Y’all, THIS WAS THE THING I WAS WAITING FOR. I desperately needed to know if the show would address Archer’s shifting ethics, and LO AND BEHOLD, he was going to sacrifice himself to save humanity… for a few more months.

Daniels

It’s a spectacularly bad plan, so that’s why I love that Daniels LITERALLY PULLS ARCHER INTO THE FUTURE TO TELL HIM THIS. I had hoped that the sheer drama of this act was enough to get Archer to abandon this bad idea. Yet let us not forget the power of the certainty of misguided men! Despite being shown the eventual war between the builders of the Spheres and LITERALLY ALL OTHER SPECIES, Archer refuses to budge. Can we just all sit here and acknowledge how FOOLISH that is. Archer got handed the answer to the mystery of the spheres and he STILL DID NOT CARE. Gods grant me the overconfidence of white men, I swear.

Hearts & Minds

And so “Azati Prime” escalates. And escalates. AND ESCALATES. The second Archer leaves his ship on his one-man kamikaze mission, each horrible moment is followed immediately by another one. T’Pol had an emotional breakdown over the imminent death of her friend, which I need ALL PARTIES INVOLVED to apologize to me for since it’s one of the most gut-wrenching things in this whole show. Then T’Pol finds it difficult to be the captain because she’s distraught, and then Archer finds out that the weapon was MOVED and he’s too late, and then he’s captured, and then NOTHING GOES RIGHT AT ALL.

A funny little thing happens at this point, though, and I’m convinced that this is a huge turning point for season three. Archer changes his mind. Faced with his failure to destroy the weapon, he tries a tactic that honestly should have been attempted a long time ago: he talks. It is literally what T’Pol suggested earlier, isn’t it? (Though I admit I may be remembering this wrong.) Now, this is not an easy task, especially since Degra does not remember the events of “Stratagem.” I am also curious how Archer is going to justify killing those Xindi on that lunar base, but we’ll have to see. It’s a tall order. How do you convince these people not to kill you after everything that’s happened? Even more daunting is the challenge of convincing the Xindi that the sphere builders lied to them about humans. Why would any of the Xindi ever believe Archer?

It was astounding to watch Archer chip away at the certainty of the Xindi, first at Degra, then at the primates. He introduces doubt into their minds, which is a hell of a technique. He doesn’t need them to believe him 100%. He just needed them to question what they’d been told, even a little bit. It sure makes the reptilian look incredibly suspicious, doesn’t it?

I’m guessing that this doubt is what Archer is going to capitalize on, though it’s not like he has many options. Enterprise is… look, no words feel right in describing the devastation that was rained down upon that ship. WHAT IS WITH THIS SHOW AND VENTING CREW MEMBERS INTO SPACE. IT HURTS. NO MORE. But the ship is a sitting duck, and Archer is too far away to do much of anything. It’s a hell of a cliffhanger, and I still can’t believe we’re only three-quarters of the way through the season. If the writers are committing to this now, what the hell do they have planned for later?

The video for “Azati Prime” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

The day has come, friends. Paste Magazine has the HUGE reveal: Title! Cover! Release date! AN EXCERPT! This is a huge deal, and I’m so happy that I can finally talk about this. I’m going to be a published author! HOW IS THIS REAL.

Aside from finally being able to announce my debut, this serves as a chance for me to talk about the upcoming schedule for Mark Watches. If you check the Master Schedule, you’ll see I have updated everything through January. There’s no change until November, when my Star Trek journey will be replaced with my continued watch of Person of Interest. One thing I’ve been aching to tell y’all is that my deal with Tor Teen is for TWO books, and I have a deadline for Book #2 (currently still untitled) right before Anger Is a Gift  comes out. On top of that, I have other projects I cannot talk about yet that are in the pipeline, and it’s become very, very hard for me to maintain fifteen reviews/videos per week and write books at the same time.

So! We’ll finish off Person of Interest as a main feature, then switch over to Alias. I apologize for delaying Alias for a couple months, but this will allow me to work on my fiction and still pull off my annual Holiday Cards in November/December. I also plan on folding Jane the Virgin into regular features, too, most likely after I get a few of the shorter shows done!

Otherwise: Mark Watches isn’t going anywhere, and as long as y’all still support me, I am going to scream and cry on camera for all of you. Thank you for supporting me as long as you have, and I hope you’ll stick around. As a reminder, I post announcements in my newsletter and all exclusives/secrets are posted to my Patreon. (They found out about the announcement in the vaguest of terms earlier this week.)

Thank you!

Mark

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the eighth episode of the second season of Person of Interest, this is one of the strangest things this show has ever done, and I LOVED IT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest.

Trigger Warning: For brief mention of a miscarriage and discussion of trauma.

So remember earlier this week when I complimented this show’s willingness to have a sense of humor? Good lord, THIS WAS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED FROM PERSON OF INTEREST. And yet? It works. Weirdly, this works so well. It’s a chance for the writers to play with the nature of perpetrator and victim (AGAIN!) while allowing these characters (except Reese) to reflect on the possibility of romance.

It’s just so absurd. Not initially, of course, and I thought I was in for a tense ride as Daniel Drake sought to kill his wife Sabrina in order to guarantee a publishing buyout went through. That was a fucked up story, but in hindsight, there was no need for the Machine to spit out two numbers if only one of them was going to die. It’s possible, but now it feels like foreshadowing for the eventual reveal: that both Drakes were trying to assassinate the other one. So how do you choose who to protect if both of them are awful people? Should they even be protected, or should Reese and Finch just let this follow its natural course?

I’m glad they considered the collateral damage here, because honestly, that was my only concern. Both of these people seemed so consistently terrible, so it’s not like I felt a whole lot of sympathy for their predicament. It’s through this, though, that Person of Interest takes the story in a surreal direction. There’s a satirical element to this marriage, especially since it pokes so much fun at two rich, white, heterosexual people who should be happy, but have allowed miscommunication and frustration to build to an intolerable level. There’s still a serious edge to this, and I respect that amidst the humor, the writers give the Drakes a genuine reason for their ridiculous marital spat: Sabrina had a miscarriage and then believed that Daniel blamed her for it. So even if there’s a lot to laugh about here, trauma is at the root of their problems. They never truly dealt with it, and, in Sabrina’s words, she dove into work instead of processing it. WHEW, IT’S ME, Y’ALL. That’s literally what I did after my father died!!! I took like one whole day off and thought that was enough??? Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

Another spoiler alert: dealing with residual trauma by taking out a hit on your partner is a really bad idea. Perhaps epically bad. But my god, IT WAS SO FUN WATCHING THIS. Finch got to be the marriage counselor! Which was funny until we saw why he was so good at getting Sabrina and Daniel to talk, and THIS IS UNFAIR. I was glad that Finch didn’t use the Machine to get any more information on Grace and instead got to know her by being with her. But what we see here is early in their relationship, and there’s a tragedy hanging over it all: at some point, Harold “dies” and leaves Grace behind. After Nathan warns him about keeping too many secrets, and after Grace tells Harold that she will stick by him no matter what secrets he has, what the hell convinces him to abandon her???

I’M SCARED.

I also admit to being worried about Carter and Beecher, as well as Fusco and Rhonda. That’s mostly because NOTHING NICE HAPPENS TO PEOPLE. Oh, nice things happen in this episode, but y’all, one of the major threats of this show is that as people learn about the truth of the world, their loved ones are at risk. That means Rhonda and Beecher are now possible collateral damage, which HURTS ME TO SAY. I mean, I’m just trying to prepare myself, okay? It’s all I can do at this point.

The video for “‘Til Death” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the seventeenth episode of the third season of Enterprise, this was a bizarre one, and I’M UNCOMFORTABLE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Let this count as yet another example of one of those episodes where I spent most of the run time composing a review in my head that was meant to address something very specific, only to have it all ruined in the end. Y’all, I was truly lost during “Hatchery,” and the issues I had pointed out in “Stratagem” seemed even more glaringly bad in comparison. Archer has repeatedly broken the rules in this season, and yet, his refusal to abandon the Xindi insectoid hatchery was held up as the pinnacle of ethics. I couldn’t believe it! How could he possibly think that this was appropriate after all that he’d done?

That doesn’t mean that this episode vindicates what happens in “Stratagem.” I still believe that there’s a major oversight in the construction of that script. However, I now don’t have to write a giant rant about how the writers had no idea what they were doing with Archer here. OH, I WAS SO READY TO, Y’ALL. And it’s not because I disagreed with Archer’s plan! If you take out the part where he got sprayed in the face, and you write him as far less paranoid, there’s actually a point to be made here. Yes, you still have the contrast between his actions and his philosophy, but that’s easier to address. Lots of people hold beliefs that they don’t always support through their behavior. Humans are, unsurprisingly, quite complicated. Yet there was a logic to Archer’s initial theory, wasn’t there? If the Xindi believed that humanity was heartless and savage, wouldn’t it help disprove that if they did something that was undeniably kind? Would it help dispel what the Xindi believed of them?

It’s an idealistic theory, of course, and it relied on a whole lot of things going perfectly right, which made it seem even more impossible to the crew. It’s why Archer’s treatment of Reed in particular was so galling. How was he supposed to open up communications with the Xindi who were actively firing on them? Even if he had, how was he supposed to convey that Archer and the other humans were actually trying to help the hatchery, not harm it? They probably would have assumed the worst, right???

That’s a pivotal scene in this episode, because prior to that moment, it was still possible that Archer, while harsh, was actually on the right path. Sure, he seemed obsessive, but was he truly that far gone? OH GOD, I HAD NO IDEA JUST HOW FAR HE WAS GOING TO GO.

Seriously, though, that’s part of the allure of “Hatchery.” The writers introduce this concept, and then they commit to it. What would happen if Archer’s brain chemistry was quietly changed to make him feel a biological imperative to be the caretaker for these unborn insectoids? WELL, THIS IS WHAT WOULD HAPPEN! It’s such a slow burn, since Archer has been shown to be compassionate and kind, so it’s not like his initial decision is entirely out of the question. Where it goes, however, is wildly out of character for Archer, and each new scene with escalates things further. He relieves T’Pol of duty after she refuses an order in public, but it’s not even the tip of the iceberg. Plus, I understood why she was doing it! Archer seemed to be forgetting the entire mission that had been the basis for going to the Delphic Expanse, and wasting that much antimatter wasn’t going to help them leave the Expanse after they destroyed the Xindi weapon. (If they could even get there in the first place!)

Then Reed was relieved of duty, and then Archer turned into… good lord. That whole scene in the hatchery was too much. HE LET THEM CRAWL ON HIM, I WOULD LIKE TO NEVER SEE THAT AGAIN, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I would have started a mutiny based on that moment alone. Can we update the Starfleet rules to include that mutiny is allowed if one’s captain morphs into the caretake for a bunch of baby insectoids? THANKS.

So, I’m glad that I got an explanation for Archer’s behavior. It doesn’t assuage my concerns over “Stratagem,” but I got to write a much different review for this episode than I had been planning. Also: NOPE TO THOSE EGGS.

The video for “Hatchery” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the seventh episode of the second season of Person of Interest, HELP ME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest

Y’all, that was a breathless experience, one of the most horrifically intense episodes of this whole show, and I am in AWE.

Amy and Madison

So, there’s a specific thing you might hear brought up when folks like myself are talking about diversity and representation: we want normalcy. Now, that doesn’t mean that I want people of backgrounds that are not of the default to be written exactly as the default stock of characters are. I know I’ve written about that in regards to folks under the LGBT or queer banners. I don’t want our culture or our history or our lives sanitized so that we just seem like everyone else. The things that make us different from het folks should be celebrated, too! The same goes for my identity as a Latinx person. I don’t want the things that make that identity a part of who I am to be ignored. Instead, it’s about leveling the playing field in a different. It’s about giving stories that have very little to do with these identities to people who don’t normally get them. I want fairy tales and sci-fi jaunts and adventures and thrillers and horror flicks full of people who look like the rest of the world, and I don’t need them to come off like after-school specials either.

Amy and Madison are presented to us matter-of-factly. They are married. The first scene they’re in, they’re affectionate the entire time. There are no jokes about them being a couple, and they’re treated as some sort of special “case” because they’re the first lesbian couple on the show. Instead, they get treated as complex people thrown into a nightmare and – most important of all – worth saving. The writers don’t invoke the Bury Your Gays trope by killing one of them off, and yet they still get a story where the threat of death hangs over everything. It’s terrifying, upsetting, and in the end, Madison makes a devastating choice to maintain her ethical commitment to medicine, even though Amy could have died because of it. It’s a rich, detailed, and gut-wrenching story, and they get a happy ending.

Is it the pinnacle of representation? No, but it was fulfilling. I got to see an interracial lesbian relationship on primetime television from one of the major networks, and the main guest character was a non-white lesbian. It meant a lot.

EVERYTHING HURTS

Oh, this whole thing was one giant exercise in suspense, and there was SO MUCH HERE meant to ruin me specifically. I have ranted and screamed about thrillers for many years here on Mark Watches and LOOK HOW MUCH IS IN JUST ONE EPISODE. There’s a ticking clock! There’s the emotional pain of knowing that if you don’t make the right decision, someone you love dies! THERE’S ALASTAIR WESLEY, WHO IS SO EVIL THAT I WILL HATE HIM ON SIGHT!!! You know what else makes this episode unbearable? A formidable foe, and we get that in Wesley. This probably wouldn’t have been such a ridiculously difficult case if not for him. That moment where he called the sniper’s phone to demonstrate to John that he’d have to take out ALL of the operatives hidden in the park to save Amy was HORRIFYING.

So you’ve got Reese up against a timeline and hidden assassins and a very motivated leader of this operation, and it’s built for suspense. That’s not even addressing the nightmare in the hospital itself! With the brilliant return of Leon Tao, the show is able to stick Finch on the scene, where he must face his revulsion of hospitals while Leon does the job he’d normally do. Look, I’m a huge fan of Leon as a character, so I hope we see him again. He also brings an interesting dynamic to the episode, since he’s not normally the kind of person that Finch would trust to leave alone in his office. (At this point, I think he only trusts Reese, so there’s that.) But it’s Michael Emerson’s performance, alongside Sharon Leal’s, that truly makes this episode such a rewarding experience. THEY’RE BOTH SO GOOD, Y’ALL.

She Has a Plan

This was 100% too much before Carter started investigating the dead body with her card and an address on it, so yeah. Suffice to say, I was not prepared in the most literal and metaphorical of senses, and I NEED THIS SHOW TO CALM DOWN. LET ME LIVE. Carter’s inclusion into Snow’s plot is another brilliant move because it forces her to ask questions. She discovers that Snow is being controlled by a woman through use of a bomb attached to his torso. Controlled to do what, though? Kara Stanton has something awful planned, but none of the pieces make any sense to me. Is this a revenge plot of some sort for being left behind? That seems like an easy guess, but this is Person of Interest. We all know it’s gonna be more fucked up than that.

It puts Agent Carter on a precipice, though. If she continues to seek out more information, she’ll learn who Snow is. What Reese used to do with Stanton. And the Machine isn’t that far away either. This series stresses that knowledge isn’t just power; it’s a risk. The more you know, the more expendable you become. So does Carter willingly choose to know more???

The video for “Critical” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the sixteenth episode of the third season of Enterprise, I COULD NOT NOPE ENOUGH FOR THIS EPISODE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

I’ve watched a few really solid horror films in the past week (The Girl With All the Gifts, A Dark Song, and IT, if you’re curious!), and thus, I have been in a mood to be frightened by the things I’m watching. Plus, I love it when Star Trek plays with other genres, much like this episode does, so I was definitely biased in favor of “Doctor’s Orders” right from the start.

But if I put that aside, I still believe there are a couple phenomenal performances in this episode, and they’re paired with Roxann Dawson’s brilliant work as director. This was clearly a difficult story to pull off because it relied on just two actors – Jolene Blalock and John Billingsley – to carry the action with almost no input from the rest of the cast. That’s a feat in and of itself, but there’s so much here to accent that part of “Doctor’s Orders.” The premise is practically identical to that one episode of Voyager where Seven was kept alive in that radioactive nebula, and yet, I wouldn’t say these episodes are the same or that they dilute one another. Both of them can exist within the greater Trek universe, and both of them certainly entertained me.

While the Voyager episode was more about Seven’s first real experience with loneliness and isolation, I felt that “Doctor’s Orders” wasn’t as much of a character examination than a horrifying experience that toyed with the audience. Don’t get me wrong! It’s important that Phlox learns self-sufficiency, that he trusts himself and his abilities during a traumatic and frightening time. But I want to take my analysis in a different direction. See, it’s common within the horror genre to have a character seemingly “imagine” something, only to have the other characters unable to verify what they’ve seen. Within Star Trek as a whole, we usually get confirmation that the “thing” they’ve seen was real. The same goes for horror. It’s more common that some element of the supernatural or scary thing requires that it only be viewed by the main character. Given how strange the Expanse is, it was entirely believable that some sort of entity could evade the sensors and still terrorize Phlox.

But this doesn’t go in that direction. Since we see things from Phlox’s point of view, we assume (or at least I did) that there really was something on Enterprise that wasn’t appearing to T’Pol. It was only a matter of time before that was confirmed, right? So it was surprising to me that at the two-thirds mark of the episode, we discover definitively that Phlox is imagining everything. (Y’all, let’s just take a moment to acknowledge how hilarious it was that I realized this but did not realize that this should have included T’Pol. SHE LITERALLY SHOWED UP OUT OF NOWHERE AT A CONVENIENT TIME.) This isn’t a last minute twist to resolve the plot, though. Instead, the show lingers in this reality and makes it the actual conflict. It’s not about the validity of what Phlox sees, but what he does with these false visions of reality. Even if they aren’t real, how they affect him counts as VERY MUCH REAL. It’s such a fascinating choice, especially since we never really know if there was anything he experienced in his last two days that was real. Did the disturbance actually expand? Was it necessary for Phlox to engage the warp engines? I’d like to believe he really did save the crew from ten weeks in the disturbance. It fits with the general theme of Phlox’s characterization!

LET ME ALSO SCREAM ABOUT ROXANN DAWSON. Oh my god, the camera work in this episode was phenomenal. I love the way it swirled around Phlox whenever he was searching for the thing that had invaded Enterprise. There’s that incredible sequence where Phlox and T’Pol discussion isolation that’s framed with a wide shot that slowly closes in on the two of them, AND IT IS PERFECTION. So much of “Doctor’s Orders” works to exploit the anxieties of the audience. Is something behind Phlox? Will it appear at the edge of his vision? Because Dawson and the production crew hid the “thing” from being fully viewed for more than half the episode, that glimpse of the insectoid Xindi was a billion times scarier. It’s delayed gratification, especially since the audience wants so badly to know what it is that’s sneaking around Enterprise.

So yeah. I loved this episode, despite that it’s similar to another Trek adventure. BRAVO.

The video for “Doctor’s Orders” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the sixth episode of the second season of Person of Interest, Reese maintains a cover in the suburbs in order to protect a family. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest

This show keeps killing it, y’all, I’M SO HAPPY. I mean… well, I could use a lot more of Carter, but at least in this season, it’s Fusco who is used less this time around instead of Carter. As much as I adored the endless tension of watching Zoe and John pretend to be a married couple (which absolutely reminded me of The X-Files episode “Arcadia”), how cool would it have been if that was Carter? Look, I’m not complaining about getting two episodes in a row with Zoe in them, but it was a possibility, right???

Anyway, I’m also enamored with the recurring motif we’re seeing over the course of this show that teases Reese and Finch with possibility. The story of Graham Wyler is one that Reese and Finch can relate to, given that he once did things that he is not proud of. He left that life behind, but in the process, he stole an identity. He started a family. He got a job that had nothing to do with theft, and he also dodged responsibility. But unlike Finch and Reese, Graham found a way to find normalcy. So it was easy to see why the two of them were so willing to help Graham. He had what they didn’t, and they felt that after all those years, he deserved a family.

The reality is a little more complicated than that, of course, and Person of Interest‘s cast of writers consistently find ways to avoid extremes. Graham might be a good person, and he clearly means a lot to his family. But is it fair that by sheer luck, he refused to work a job that got his two partners arrested and thrown in jail for twelve years? Does that absolve him of all the crimes that he committed? Those are interesting questions to ask, and “The High Road” doesn’t ignore them! When his old partners find him and begin to terrorize him, it’s not easy for Graham to simply ignore them, especially when they LIGHT HIS CAR ON FIRE. Or steal his daughter’s jewelry and then threaten to murder his family if he doesn’t do one more job for them.

The truth is that I really do enjoy fiction that shines a lot on the grey spaces. While it might be more comfortable for the world to be split into a binary, for there to be categorically good people and bad people, Person of Interest is far more invested in the many shades of humanity. When faced with the choice of facing his own death or refusing to break into a safe again, Graham doesn’t see this as one of personal honor or pride. It’s about safety. Look, he’s not a fool! That man knew deep down that if he went with his old partners, they’d kill him once that safe was open. But the other path would have left his family open to constant harassment, fear, and intimidation.

So he chose to end it. BUT NOT EVEN THE WAY THAT I THOUGHT HE WOULD. I know I just wrote about complicity in regards to this show, but this is another way that the writers explored this theme. Graham chose to turn himself in, even though he could have just gone home. He chose honesty. Yes, it took him fifteen years to get there, and he was forced into the decision, and it’s important to acknowledge that. But in the end, Graham has something else that Finch and Reese don’t: the opportunity to be honest with someone else. Even Zoe is still in the dark as to what’s really going on, you know?

The truth exists in shadows within Person of Interest, and as we get new flashbacks, it’s clear that the audience barely has the frame of the whole portrait. Each new thing we learn about the Machine, about how it was programmed, and about how it destroyed lives, makes me want A BILLION MORE THINGS. There’s no mistaking that it became an intelligence anymore, especially we saw how it BASICALLY LED FINCH TO GRACE. Which is certainly a creepy way for a person to meet someone else, and I wonder how much of that we’re going to see within the show. I assume Grace never found out what Finch worked on, nor did she know how he came to know that she existed. Right??? And if the Machine can determine relationships between people, no matter how strange or convoluted, can it also measure a potential relationship? Is that why it pointed Finch in Grace’s direction???

The video for “The High Road” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the fifteenth episode of the third season of Enterprise, a lot happened, and a lot didn’t. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Enterprise.

Trigger Warning: For consent, torture.

I’m fascinated by a lot of this episode, even if I didn’t ultimately feel it was that entertaining. See, the main plot is left hanging while the two subplots escalate matters VERY, VERY FAR. It’s also a strange follow-up to “Stratagem,” since it does the one thing I asked for from that episode. On top of that, I finally feel like I don’t have to worry about continuity as much as I used to, since season three is the most serialized season thus far.

As you can see, lots to talk about. Let’s get into it!

Reed and Hayes

I feel like I saw a plot like this on something I watched in the last year or so. Right? or maybe this specific trope – where two headstrong men have a pissing contest that ends with them beating the shit out of each other – is so prevalent that it simply doesn’t feel new anymore. It provides closure, though, and I’m not sure it does much else. I never felt like Hayes was an antagonistic force, and while Reed’s position was kind of understandable, I generally saw Reed as the more difficult party. Hayes had never truly expressed any interest in taking over Reed’s job. Indeed, their end goals felt so different! Yet Reed’s paranoia and his own military past got in the way.

At least until Archer forces Reed to work with Hayes in training, and then the two men finally took out their frustrations on one another. Good lord, they both handed out a beating! Hopefully this is the end of this plot, though, since it doesn’t really interest me.

Love Triangles

So… this isn’t going to evolve into one of those, right? Because y’all. I know this show aired over a decade ago, but I feel like the entire universe exhausted their supply of antagonistic love triangles many, many years ago. Unless a love triangle ends with a triad or a poly relationship of some sort, WE DON’T WANT THESE ANYMORE. Now, I’m not sure if this counts because I have no idea if Amanda Cole will appear again. It’s entirely possible that she existed here to give Tucker a chance to pursue someone else while T’Pol experienced romantic jealousy for the first time. If so… that’s kind of a lousy reason to introduce a character like Amanda, right? She doesn’t exist to be a character in her own right; she’s there to push T’Pol and Tucker together. EW. TRIADS INSTEAD, PLEASE.

Like the Reed/Hayes plot, there are a lot of tropes attached to this story, too. However, there’s one spectacular scene here that felt exciting and refreshing. I am ENAMORED with the decision to have T’Pol tell Tucker what Sim said about him. First of all, it’s so perfectly in-character for T’Pol. Her blunt honesty works as a way to advance the plot, sure, but it didn’t feel like a bogus moment. That’s totally how she would react! But it’s also a disarming sequence because LITERALLY NO ONE EXPECTED IT. I certainly thought she’d keep it to herself because it was such a personal thing for Sim to reveal.

But the honesty is the first moment in this plot that felt real. That felt like the writers weren’t using miscommunication or passive-aggressiveness as a plot device. That felt like these characters ACTUALLY TRYING TO UNDERSTAND ONE ANOTHER. So I’m hoping that despite the uncomfortable scene in the mess hall, T’Pol and Tucker ditch the awkwardness and just be real with one another. It’s way more interesting.

Harbinger

The unnamed alien at the center of this episode never truly gives us anything. Oh, there’s enough here to make an educated guess, which Archer tries to do before this being disappears out of existence. I had mentioned before in earlier reviews of this show that I wasn’t sure if some of the ambiguous resolution to episodes was very fair or satisfying, given that I had no idea if there’d ever be a follow-up.

Yet by the time I got to the end of “Harbinger,” I did feel satisfied. Even if there’s no specific update, this alien was a harbinger of what is to come, a sign of how desperate the Xindi are to eliminate humans and any threats to the weapon they’re constructing. My take is that the pod the crew found in that anomaly was a trap right from the start, something interesting enough to pique the interest of the crew of Enterprise. They’d take it onboard, and the alien’s next step would be put into motion: they’d gain the ability to walk through solid matter, and they could destroy Enterprise. It’s all a guess, but it’s one I’m safe making based on what happened.

It was striking to me, though, that this episode was so explicit about the ethical concerns that Phlox had for his patient, while “Stratagem” utterly ignored them. Was it because Phlox did not view this alien as an enemy? And what does that say about Phlox’s code of ethics if he can suspend them just because he doesn’t like someone? I don’t see this as a flaw of his character as much as I see it as a flaw in the writing. Maybe the writers just forgot to address this in the last episode? It felt like the right addition here, for what it’s worth, and it is yet another example of Archer’s desperation in the Expanse. He’s the only character consistently willing to do shit like this! So… will this be all justified in the end? Or will it come back to bite him in the ass? WHO KNOWS.

The video for “Harbinger” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the fifth episode of the second season of Person of Interest, an investigative reporter risks her life to get closer to the identity of HR’s boss. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest.

I LOVE SO MUCH ABOUT THIS EPISODE, LET’S TALK ABOUT WHY.

Perpetrator or Victim

Still. STILL. This show is STILL finding new ways to twist our perception of who is a perpetrator or a victim within each of these cases. “Bury the Lede” provides us with something we’ve not seen: a perpetrator who is unknowingly leading someone to their death. At the center of this episode is Maxine Angelis, an investigative reporter who is rather ruthless in pursuing the truth. Well, even that is questioned by this script. What counts as the truth? Who is peddling it? Who benefits from the truth that’s being told?

And those are big questions for this show to ask, but it still plunges into the at-times bleak and harrowing world of HR and journalism. Given what we’d seen of HR in the past, it made sense that Maxine’s reporting had put her in the crosshairs of… well, someone. I never bought the theory that someone other than a member of HR was targeting her, but I also made the assumption that this was obvious. Her reporting style was over-the-top and cunning, so she’d made a ton of enemies over the years. Seriously, look how she treated one of the mayoral candidates! So we get the sense early on that Maxine is truly fearless, at least in the sense that she’s willing to expose the seedy underbelly of modern politics, well aware that she’s taking a risk in doing so.

But the tragic power of “Bury the Lede” is in the way it examines complicity. Maxine gets an anonymous tip about the real identity of the boss of HR, and unfortunately, her confirmation bias leads her to believe that the tip was real. After all, a guard at his property saw Christopher Zambrano arguing with Agent Donnelly of the FBI; another FBI confirmed that Zambrano was a suspect; Zambrano’s father was in the mob; and Zambrano himself was furious at the very suggestion that he was the head of HR. Thus, Maxine connected the dots – the ones that the real boss of HR wanted her to connect – and wrote a story naming him as the lead suspect. In doing so, however, she became complicit. She took the crosshairs off herself and placed them on Zambrano, and less than a day later, he was dead, killed by members of a cartel who despised HR.

It’s one hell of a twist, and I didn’t expect it because shows like this are all about saving the innocent. But this isn’t even the first time that Reese and Finch were too late! THIS SHOW DOESN’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT US AND MAKING US FEEL GOOD AT EVERY TURN. While that may be deeply uncomfortable, it’s also good storytelling. The show doesn’t ignore the fallout from Maxine’s actions, and it doesn’t exonerate her from her poor reporting. One of the things I love about this is that the solution to Maxine’s guilt isn’t wallowing or absolving her of responsibility because she simply didn’t know. It’s action. With Reese tailing her, she does what she can to prove that Zambrano was innocent and implicate the real members of HR in the process. SHE ACTIVELY WORKS TO REPAIR SOME OF THE DAMAGE SHE HAS DONE. That is better than feeling guilty or trying to dodge accountability, and I respect it a lot.

First Date

I’m also coming to admire that Person of Interest seems willing to toy with itself and its very serious nature. Look, this is an unnerving show by default because it addresses things like state surveillance and state violence openly and critically. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, but it’s certainly doing a lot more than most other fictional narratives are. That means that there are moments where this show is dark. Where I’m consumed by the existential dread of our own universe. Where this show isn’t escapist, but a bitter, horrifying mirror image of our world. So I love that there are moments where the writers take a step back and comment on the sheer absurdity of this arrangement. There’s a lot of humor and entertainment taken from the delicate nature of this case, namely in that this is the first time where John cannot intervene directly. Maxine has been trying to track down the truth of The Man in the Suit, so he can’t arouse her suspicion.

So Finch’s solution is to alter the algorithm on a dating website so that it serves up Reese’s profile, and IT IS 100% COMEDY GOLD. ALSO: FINCH TAKES IT SO SERIOUSLY, AND I LOVE THIS ABOUT HIM. He prepared study notes! The profile was very detailed and specific!!! BEAR FEATURED PROMINENTLY!!! Oh my god, please tell me there was intensely detailed fanfic written of Finch constructing Reese’s profile. Wait, there’s got to be fanfiction of Finch’s scene where he is LITERALLY in Reese’s closet. Like??? Closet full of weapons??? THE FIC IS WRITING ITSELF.

The Boss

Can I just state once more that I hate Simmons? Just unequivocally hate him? Cool. It helps distract me from the fact that the real head of HR was totally on screen right before I said, on video, that I didn’t think we’d met them. And that he quite literally threatened Maxine and said he was throwing her under the bus, yet I didn’t understand the full meaning of that. I’m glad Clarke Peters is on this show because he’s such an incredible talent, and HIS CHARACTER IS THE ACTUAL BOSS. So Donnelly was right in assuming that the head of HR was not in the NYPD. Except that not one person has suspected the real culprit!

Will Fusco find out the truth? I’m worried, y’all. Simmons and HR are pulling him away from Reese, Finch, and Carter, and with his son’s life on the line, it’s possible he may continue to sabotage these cases. I’M SCARED.

The video for “Bury the Lede” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the fourteenth episode of the third season of Enterprise, Archer and his crew come up with an elaborate means of getting information. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For consent, nonconsensual drugging, and talk of gaslighting/unreality.

I get the sense that Enterprise wants to be an edgy show. I don’t mean that to imply the show is trying to be shocking or upsetting for the sake of it, but that this season in particular is making an attempt to do something different than the other Trek outings. I don’t know that it’s all that different; both Deep Space Nine and Voyager attempted grittier stories with varying success, of course. In “Stratagem,” however, Archer and his crew go for straight-up manipulation as a solution, and I think we’re supposed to ask whether this is ethical or not?

Here’s the deal, though: placing that onus on the audience without any clue otherwise seems like a way for the writers to actually avoid any real commitment to exploring the unorthodox techniques we keep getting from Archer. That’s an undeniable part of season three, too! Ever since Enterprise got to The Expanse, Archer has bent the rules with a higher frequency. I think that’s a fascinating thing to examine through Archer’s eyes, but the script has to ask difficult question in order to count as an examination.

Look, we spend a good third of “Stratagem” wondering if the events onscreen are real. It’s not the first time that a significant amount of time passed in between episodes, and I even figured that something about this story was fake. There was just no way Enterprise would jump ahead three years, kill off the entire cast aside from Archer, and turn into a survival story for Degra and Archer. (Plus, that wouldn’t be that interesting.) Then, when it’s all revealed to be an elaborate creation of the crew meant to trick Degra into giving up information, I was impressed! It’s a lot of work to get one location out of a person.

So, did the writers want me to ask if it was ethical for this team to do this to Degra? I can’t be certain. When Phlox explains how he’ll literally wipe out weeks worth of memories from Degra’s mind, no one hesitates. No one talks about how messed up it is to constantly give someone sedatives without their consent. So is it ethically sound? Should you manipulate someone’s reality in such a way that technically qualifies the act as gaslighting? Because this man and his people were responsible for a massive terrorist attack on Earth, does that negate the moral implications of Archer and his crew’s actions?

Maybe, but it’s never mentioned. Not even once! Normally, Phlox is hesitant to do anything without a patient’s consent, but he gleefully speaks of that violation in regards to Degra. So why avoid this? If the intent was to make this series darker in this respect, then you can’t just say nothing about these sort of things. The script has to make it clear that there is some sort of conflict, some sense that what’s being done is wrong or complicated or even confusing. Instead, that onus is placed entirely on us, as I mentioned earlier. We’re the ones left to decide what the ramifications of this will be. And in a script devoid of any commentary on the behavior of its main characters, it’s incredibly easy to view this all as something positive. In the absence of an internal criticism, we default to acceptance. Our heroes did something good to attain a good thing. Who cares what that actually means?

The video for “Stratagem” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the fourth episode of the second season of Person of Interest, Reese and Finch find themselves protecting someone who may not be deserving of their protection. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest

So, in many other respects, this would probably be classified as a filler episode. For a show that became almost entirely serialized, “Triggerman” is almost unconnected to other narratives aside from a reference to “Bad Code” and the new “friend” that Elias has in Finch. It doesn’t really advance any of the characters forward, and its central conflict is resolved by the end of its runtime. So, filler episode, right?

If this is what constitutes a filler episode for Person of Interest, then sign me the fuck up. Because THIS WAS SO COMPELLING! Yet again, the writers were able to twist the question of who gets to be saved, who is deserving of protection, and who counts as a victim or a perpetrator. OR BOTH AT THE SAME TIME. The story of Riley Cavanaugh has obvious parallels to Reese, who also killed people based on the orders that he got from his superior officers. So what makes the two of them different? Why is the audience willing to accept Reese, but might hesitate when it comes to Riley?

“Triggerman” does interesting things with the concept of sympathy. In the opening scenes, the only likable character in this specific case is Annie, who viciously tears down mob boss George Massey in front of his son and triggerman. Riley sure isn’t sympathetic, especially not when he’s threatening to murder the owner of the restaurant. So it felt obvious that he was the perpetrator! As the episode progressed, the only reason I questioned this assumption was because I knew I was watching Person of Interest. This show constantly fucks with the audience’s perception.

Thus, what’s fascinating to me about all of this is that technically, they weren’t misleading us. While Riley’s story is ultimately complicated as hell, the audience was right in assuming that Riley was Massey’s triggerman, that he had killed plenty of people without hesitation. There is virtually nothing present in him to find sympathetic! It’s only until we learn that he has been taking care of the widow of another member of his gang that he feels like he’s not a remorseless demon. OF COURSE, EVEN THAT IS A NIGHTMARE. Because this episode’s big twist – that Riley himself killed Annie’s husband and then decided to take care of her – makes him out to be… what? Does that make him a “good” person? Does it redeem what he did before he decided that it was time for him to get out?

I’d argue that “Triggerman” instead merely says that Riley started to seek redemption. It is not a single act. It is not something that requires one little change, and then MAGIC! A person is redeemed! Instead, like we see with Reese, it’s something a person must work toward for the rest of their life. In Riley’s case, this was like the first or second chapter, the beginning of a longer story that he might have been ablet o finish had he not left a path of destruction behind him. Riley’s life caught up to his current one, that much is unmistakable. Was it “good” of him to protect Annie, to give her a chance to have a new life? Perhaps. But Riley doesn’t get saved in the end. There’s a repetitive motif across this episode as Finch urges Reese to choose one of the two targets to save. Why? Because one of them is worth saving. Reese, however, believes they both are, but even in the end, he listens to Riley and chooses to save Annie, leaving Riley exposed. It’s not Reese’s fault, of course, and the show isn’t blaming Reese for that choice.

In the end, this is a tragedy. And if the show was going to give us a tragic conclusion, it fits this character and their story. Maybe Riley really was on his way up, and maybe he really was prepared to redeem himself. But by keeping that crucial secret about Annie’s husband from her, he couldn’t truly begin to find redemption.

The video for “Triggerman” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the thirteenth episode of the third season of Enterprise, the crew is offered help from a surprising source. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

So this was good! I certainly didn’t expect to see Shran or the Andorians this far into space, so their surprise appearance kept me on my toes. That’s sort of the point for “Proving Ground,” and given the richly complicated past that Archer has with the Andorians, the audience is meant to question everything we see. Have the Andorians arrived to help, or is there an ulterior motive to their actions?

I’m digging this Xindi plotline because it allows for such complicated stories. We’ve seen how Archer has changed since the beginning of the show, but Shran’s character development is a whole lot of fun, too. But then there’s Talas’s growing friendship with Reed, which… that was real, right? IT HAS TO BE. And that’s fascinating to me, given that there could be a real alliance between the Andorians and the humans. (Though now I can’t remember what happened when the Andorians appeared on The Original Series, so maybe it’s not possible.) This episode comes after a script where someone else tried to relate to Archer, yet both Shran and Talas come to actually do so, even if they’re plotting to double cross Enterprise the whole time.

Again, that’s a significant reason why this episode came off as tense as it did. The opening scene doesn’t clue the audience in to the intentions of the Andorians; all we know is that they’re looking for Enterprise and it’s been quite a challenge. Whatever they want must be important enough that they’d suffer through weeks upon weeks of fruitless searching in order to find these people. Once they do rendezvous with Enterprise, I kept questioning whether or not the Andorians were being sincere. At times, it seemed that way! Sure, there was a natural suspicion on either side, and “Proving Ground” demonstrated that. Both Reed and Talas kept an eye on one another. The same went for Archer and Shran.

However, in hindsight, I’m very intrigued by the gestures of trust exhibited by Shran and Archer. How much of that was necessary for Shran to succeed in his endgame, and how much of it was genuine? See, if it weren’t for that final scene, I think it would be much easier to argue that Shran was just a shrewd and pragmatic leader. Sure, he briefly tried to make a point to his superior that perhaps betraying a possible ally wasn’t a good idea, but it’s not like he stuck with it too much. Yet the final scene of “Proving Ground” is evidence that Shran wants to help. He transmitted those scans of the Xindi weapon prototype via secretive means. He didn’t want his superiors to know he’d done anything to help the humans. So why does he do it? Why supply Archer and Starfleet with that information?

There’s got to be a growing respect there. Shran has to see something in Archer that he values. Or perhaps he wanted to repay the debt of that betrayal! But I suspect that this is hardly the last time we’ll see Shran or the Andorians. They’re too important at this point!

I also wanted to comment on the Xindi council sequences, since that’s another aspect I’m enjoying about this season’s arc. I’m glad we get to see this side of things. First of all, it’s clear that the Xindi still barely tolerate the presence of one another. I’m curious if something might be able to pull these species apart. That would be an easy thing to exploit, right? These people don’t trust one another at all! Degra just failed in a huge way, too, so I am just as curious about the fallout from this. Will they continue to trust him? Is the weapon program delayed at all?

I am eager for the next chapter of this saga!

The video for “Proving Ground” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the third episode of the second season of Person of Interest, Reese gets himself hired as the bodyguard of the daughter of a prominent Brazilian politician. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest

Trigger Warning: For discussion of trauma / PTSD

This isn’t one of the stronger number-of-the-week cases, but I still had a great time watching this episode. HERE’S WHY.

  • First: BEAR. Bear is my everything. Bear is not just here for comedic effect. BEAR IS LITERALLY HERE FOR CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. In just one episode, Finch is given a story that has more development than some characters get IN AN ENTIRE SEASON, and it’s all because of a dog.
  • I’M NOT EMOTIONAL, YOU ARE.
  • But that development, I suspect, is linked to Finch’s mental and emotional state. In “Masquerade,” we get the rare example of a show actually exploring how a traumatic event affects a person. Look, a lot of truly fucked up shit happens on Person of Interest, so you’d expect these characters to just roll with the punches, but we’ve seen how certain cases triggered emotions or flashbacks in these characters, though mostly Reese. Here, however, Finch is trying to return to a “normal” routine, and I believe that Bear helps him with that. There’s a reason animals are often used in conjunction with therapy!
  • Yet Finch’s PTSD manifests in “Masquerade” once he tries to leave his office without Reese. I say that because it’s only alongside Reese that Finch is able to do it at the end of the episode. That’s important. He feels safe with Reese, and it makes sense that he does. Reese has repeatedly proven that he’ll protect Finch no matter the cost.
  • Now, I wouldn’t really know exactly what Finch went through here. It looked like a panic attack to me, but that’s about the only familiarity I witnessed. Maybe it was a bit of agoraphobia? Regardless, I appreciate that this show doesn’t say that people experience traumatic events and then are just totally fine the next day. Some people are! A lot of us aren’t.
  • BEAR. BEAR.
  • FINCH USED A TISSUE TO PLAY FETCH BUT THEN GRADUATED TO A BARE HAND BY THE END OF THE EPISODE.
  • PLEASE PROTECT BEAR AT ALL COSTS.
  • Initially, it was a little hard to like Sofia. Yeah, I have a thing about people who treat their employees – no matter what form that employment takes – like shit. It’s a difficult hurdle for me to get over, so perhaps that’s why I felt only so-so about this episode’s number. It’s not a bad story! It’s got some great twists in it, especially since we rightfully assume that Sofia’s father’s political career is probably the reason she’s being targeted.
  • Aside from her rudeness, though (which I eventually got over), I think this script suffers from balance. There’s so much time spent building up Sofia’s behavior, her secret boyfriend, and not getting to who she actually is that when we get there, it felt like too little, too late. She has an incredible scene with Reese about loneliness that’s the key to understanding who she is, but it comes over the half-hour mark. (I think?) That chance for Reese and Sofia to bond is powerful, and I wanted to see more of it! It made her a deeply interesting character, and I feel like the title of this episode meant that this was supposed to be about the masks we wear to make it through our lives.
  • Thankfully, there’s SO MUCH ELSE going on here. Alicia Corwin had something implanted in her arm! WHAT IS THAT THING??? Why are the Feds so worried about whatever it is?
  • Seriously, this show juggles multiple serialized plots SO WELL. On top of the creepy men trying to sabotage the NYPD, we’ve also got Fusco warning Carter that maybe she shouldn’t be too interested in the details of the Corwin case. And I get why: this stuff is scary as hell. But this is Carter we’re talking about. She’s too tenacious to ignore something of this magnitude. Fusco prefers keeping things safe and non-risky.
  • MARK SNOW.
  • I WASN’T READY.
  • STANTON IS HOLDING HIM HOSTAGE.
  • AND MAKING HIM TRACK DOWN INFORMATION ON SOMETHING
  • BY STRAPPING A BOMB TO HIS TORSO
  • OH MY GOD.
  • John is gonna lose it when he realizes she’s still alive.

PLEASE GIVE ME A KARA STANTON EPISODE SOON.

The video for “Masquerade” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the twelfth episode of the third season of Enterprise, the ship is taken over by religious terrorists. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For talk of terrorism, religious extremism.

It’s hard watching something like “Chosen Realm” because I grew up knowing far too many people who viewed their religious faith like D’Jamat does. It’s even more disturbing to know that this kind of extremism seems to be having another resurgence in the world. For a moment there, it felt like we were finally starting to move beyond it, but NOPE.

In my case, though, I experienced D’Jamat’s mentality in my mother and in the people in the Church that I came to know before I fell out of religion. Indeed, it’s one of the major reasons that I came to be so disaffected by religion. I couldn’t deal with the absolutes, the all-or-nothing mentality, the extreme views toward all people who were not like them. I’m curious if any of you can relate to this, but I literally heard my mother speak of others as “the enemy” before. To her and the more fundamentalist Christians I knew, there really was a culture war unfolding, and they were on the front lines. It was some “constant vigilance” bullshit, y’all, and anytime someone deviated from their puritanical nonsense, they were the new target. I watched family members get ostracized. I watched total strangers on the receiving end of very public verbal lashings. Hell, it’s a major factor in why I was kicked out of my home: I wasn’t good enough.

So D’Jamat, more than anything else, just made me angry. I realize there’s another obvious lens through which I could view his characterization – this episode aired a couple years after 9/11 – but it felt deeply personal to me. There was no room for error in D’Jamat’s eyes, and he manipulated his way through the world by exploiting that absolutism. God, it’s so eerie to examine just how manipulative he is, y’all. He uses people’s fears against them, like he does with Yarrick. He “empowers” people by making them feel as if they’re part of something larger. And when he is faced with information that directly contradicts who he is and what he teaches, he destroys it. He demonizes it. Often, that’s a person, and he did that with the Enterprise crew, who helped the Triannon people without asking for anything in return. Yet they’re still heretics and enemies, and he doesn’t flinch after killing one of them. His shitty consolation? He “had” to kill one of his own. GOD, HE HAD SO MANY SHITTY CONSOLATIONS THROUGHOUT THIS EPISODE. I hate people like that! Oh, he had to take over the ship. It’s all so hard for him! Look at all the sacrifices he’s making!

SHUT UP. SHUT UP.

There’s a mostly-unexplored subplot with Indava and Yarrick, who are both tiring of D’Jamat’s extremism, but the script focuses on Yarrick more so than Indava, who I feel had way more potential to be interesting. She was considering getting an abortion because she didn’t want to bring a child into D’Jamat’s war! THERE IS A STORY. Except it’s hinted at in one scene, discussed in another, and then dropped for the remainder of the episode. What if she’d asked for asylum? What if she had been the one to defect first to help Archer? UGH, SO MUCH POTENTIAL. None of it used!

The ending to “Chosen Realm” is haunting, but it’s also jarring because we’re given no closure whatsoever. What happens to these characters? Does Archer leave them on the surface of their gutted, bombed-out planet? Does D’Jamat give up his holy war? Remember, D’Jamat had his ship blown up, so it’s not like they have any means of going anywhere. I get the point of that final image, and it’s certainly powerful, but what happens after that? Why is it not important to show even the tiniest bit of it?

Anyway, this was a decent episode with a few setbacks. I HATE D’JAMAT.

The video for “Chosen Realm” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the second episode of the second season of Person of Interest, Finch copes with the focused intensity of Root while Reese goes to Texas with Carter to find the source of Root. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of kidnapping, murder of a child, torture, nonconsensual drugging.

HOW IS THIS SHOW REAL. THIS IS SO GOOD.

The Root Cause

I keep falling for this, don’t I? Yes, I did theorize that it was possible that young Hanna Frey wasn’t actually Root, but I never once thought to look to her friend. And what a heartbreaking way to explore where Root came from! At the heart of this is a brilliant young girl who simply wasn’t believed. What Mrs. Russell did is awful and horrific, and it set in motion a terrible set of events. What if she’d just believed Sam? Maybe Hanna would still be alive, and maybe Sam wouldn’t have turned into… well, I’ll get to Root, because I have thoughts.

This also exists as absolute proof that the Machine can reason and act independent of what it was programmed to do. Reese asked it for information, and it provided exactly what he needed to find Finch and Root. That means this is the first case which isn’t from the list of irrelevant numbers. THAT IS A HUGE DEAL, Y’ALL. In the process, Carter and Reese are able to provide closure to a Texas town that’s been haunted by the disappearance of a young girl. That seems important, too, given what Root discusses with Finch in terms of the “goodness” of the Machine. Yes, the Machine gave Reese information he needed, but there’s a net “good” that was accomplished here, right?

Let’s also definitively state: Reese and Carter working a case in the field is INCREDIBLE. This is what I want to see more of, as well as all the quiet building of the friendship between Carter and Fusco. I love Carter setting the ground rules and then coming back to the hotel to a crossbow on the bed. Or Carter arriving to meet Reese and realizing he threw someone through the glass of the front doors. I love that both of their abilities are used in this case in a way that compliments each other, and IT’S SO SATISFYING TO WATCH. Can this be every episode? PLEASE?

Bad Code

I admit that I’m surprised how bleak Root’s outlook is. Not because it’s out-of-character or anything for her, but because… didn’t this air on CBS??? They’re not exactly known for being this subversive, and Root’s philosophy feels close to a sort of nihilism. I wouldn’t say she’s all the way there because she does care quite deeply for one thing: freeing the Machine. Yet that leads her to a violent obsession with this AI, one that means she’ll take out anyone and anything that stands in her way.

She is an antagonist who is enrapturing to watch on the screen. Amy Acker does an incredible job portraying Root with a sort of wide-eyed enthusiasm, which stands in stark contrast to the horrifying things she does.

And make no mistake: they’re horrifying. It’s not easy to watch her slice open Finch’s hand like she did in the premiere or drug him like she does before they head to the train station. She tortures Denton Weeks for information… which I feel decidedly less terrible about? I agree with Root that Weeks is “bad code,” a human wired so badly that he does gross things. After Finch saved his life, Weeks was going to execute him! But there’s a bit of poetic justice here, too, the sort that we saw in Mrs. Russell’s story. Again, did not expect this from a show on CBS, but Weeks was responsible for signing off on torture being used by the US government. I don’t feel all that bad about him being on the receiving end of something he authorized the military to do. I DON’T! Part of Root’s modus operandi is getting revenge in increasingly relevant ways. She sent those copies of Flowers For Algernon to Mrs. Russell as a way to remind her of her complicity in the death of Hanna Frey. Look what she did to Mr. Russell! She implicated him in Hanna’s murder while also sending drug men after him to kill him.

It’s her thing. Which makes me wonder… will she track down the Machine after the clues Weeks gave her? When will she be “ready”? What does that even mean?

I CAN’T WAIT TO WATCH MORE.

The video for “Bad Code” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the eleventh episode of the third season of Enterprise, Daniels reappears and assigns Archer a demanding case: to stop three time-traveling Xindi. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For kidnapping, nonconsensual drugging.

You know, this kind of falls apart once you think back on it? Well, maybe not completely apart. It’s a full circle of a narrative that’s largely closed, and there’s no reset button hit either. I had fun watching this, though, and the experience of seeing Archer and T’Pol in 2004 was incredible. But the story is… there? It happens? I don’t know why it does? Like… wait, does this mean that the Xindi are now part of the Temporal Cold War? Or was Daniels’s involvement merely an exception to that war, a chance for his organization to get involved in the bizarre timeline that’s currently unfolding for Archer and Enterprise?

I have no clue, and the complete lack of information here is stunning in hindsight, but WHO CARES WHEN T’POL GETS TO WEAR THAT LEATHER JACKET AND ARCHER HAS TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO DRIVE AND THERE IS AN HONEST-TO-GODS SEQUENCE IN WHICH THEY ORDER FOOD FROM A DRIVE-THRU. Why does that scene exist? What is the point of it? I seriously thought Loomis was trying to escape, but nope, it is there because T’Pol is vegetarian??? I DON’T KNOW.

Look, this is a ridiculous episode that Jeffrey Dean Morgan is APPARENTLY in, though I didn’t recognize him anywhere. He must have been one of the Xindi, yes? Either way, the basic idea is that three Xindi reptilians travel back to 2004 to harvest each of the human blood types so that they can add it to the bio-weapon. And on a basic level, I get the time travel aspect. If they can travel through time, why not use it to build part of this weapon so that humans can’t find them? Though now I see why T’Pol was so suspicious of all of this: if they have this ability, why not travel to an earlier time? Why choose a period in human history where it’s much, much harder to get what you need? Why not just kill everyone in 2004 instead of in 2154?

These questions aren’t answered, and “Carpenter Street” never seems willing to answer them. It’s certainly a flaw, but I wouldn’t say that this episode is worthless. Again: T’Pol in that jacket, looking like both The Matrix and Dana Scully. YOU’RE WELCOME. There’s some situational comedy that I appreciated, too! And in Loomis, played perfectly by Leland Orser, we get a truly despicable character we don’t really see in the Trek universe. In him, we get a snapshot of humanity that is revolting to someone like T’Pol. He’s selfish to the end, truly convinced that his need for money cancelled out the horrific things he did. He doesn’t even seem concerned that he’s violated people so viciously!!! And I don’t even think this is a case of someone going through cognitive dissonance; I’m certain that Loomis really didn’t think this through, nor did he care. Thus, he is never offered redemption by the story at all, despite that I expected that from the Trek universe. He doesn’t change, he doesn’t repent, he doesn’t apologize. He’s just scummy until the end, and it was strangely refreshing to have him be at the center of all of this?

Otherwise, I’m not really sure how this plays into the greater narrative for the Temporal Cold War or the Xindi weapon. Do the Xindi in the present timeline know that their efforts have failed? Will they try the same thing again? Does any of this matter? Who knows? THAT JACKET, Y’ALL.

The video for “Carpenter Street” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the first episode of the second season of Person of Interest, I had no idea what I was getting into. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest.

Trigger Warning: For Nazis/Nazism, nonconsensual drugging

The way that this premiere expands the world of Person of Interest is astounding to me. It’s so casual. Y’all, THIS IS PROBABLY NOT THE SHOW I THOUGHT I WAS WATCHING, GOOD GOD.

The Contingency

I was deeply satisfied with all three stories that intertwine in “The Contingency,” and if this is the taste I’m getting of season two, I’m ecstatic about what I’m gonna get. Numerous longstanding hints and clues and stories are given answers here, and – again – THIS IS JUST THE FIRST EPISODE OF THE SEASON. We learn what Finch’s contingency plan in case he’s incapacitated, and it turns out that Reese is that contingency. Finch didn’t want the Machine’s discarded numbers to go to waste, so he trusted it and the means by which the Machine communicates to his partner. And lord, there’s so much emotion imbued in these acts, as well as Reese’s desperation to get Finch back. It’s not even subtle, y’all. Reese is very outright about his desire to locate his friend, and it’s BEAUTIFUL. Look how far these characters have come in just one season!

“The Contingency” also does a fine job demonstrating how strange it is that Finch isn’t around. Reese is incredible here, but it’s still weird that Finch isn’t giving him guidance throughout the case. Plus, Reese is left to decode the message that the Machine gives him, which is also THE SECRET TO HOW FINCH GETS THE NUMBERS. NOW WE KNOW. It’s a bit tragic, of course, because Reese assumed that the Machine would give him a clue as to Finch’s whereabouts. Unfortunately, he’s just to continue rescuing people. And in this case? Reese has to rescue Leon Tao, who stole EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS from a bunch of white supremacists after learning who his employers were. My god, y’all, this episode isn’t even remotely sympathetic to the Nazis, and in this political climate, it was a welcome synchronicity. Leon is never criticized for bankrupting a bunch of white supremacists. Many of them have the shit kicked out of them. And then Carter nails one of them in the back with… whatever kind of weapon that is. POETIC. BEAUTIFUL. MAKE NAZI LIVES UNBEARABLE, Y’ALL.

If I have any criticism, it’s that we never really get a sense for who Leon is, and I doubt we’re going to see him again. I would have loved to know more about how he came to work for a secret Nazi company!

Root

I don’t even think Amy Acker got this terrifying as Illyria on Angel. Y’all, she is SO FRIGHTENING. The show draws parallels between her and Finch, and maybe even a little bit of Reese, given that both of them have rationalized murder more than a few times. Yet she’s still so wholly unlike anyone we’ve ever seen on the show. She seems to exist outside of humanity, which is likely why she feels some sort of kinship with Finch. How she ended up this way is a mystery, but she has long gotten exactly what she wanted, and damn the consequences.

Well, up until Finch stopped her in the middle of the last season. That act set her in motion, and it’s easy to see why she became obsessed with the person who was, for what was probably the first time in her life, steps ahead of her. And from there, she somehow found out about the machine. I’m guessing that’s because of Alicia; just how long was Root following her?

Yet as this episode progressed, I couldn’t figure out Root’s endgame. Surely she wasn’t interested in the Machine for material reasons. I feel like Root has everything she wants, and I’m also guessing that she enjoys the challenge. Wouldn’t the Machine make her job too easy? It’s so simple to utilize the information within it to pick targets or neutralize threats. My problem, though, was that I was thinking way too small. Understandable, though, because despite the twist at the end of season one, I really didn’t understand what the Machine was capable of. I felt like Root was the first person who didn’t either directly work on the Machine or currently control it who GOT it. There’s a philosophical angle here that surprised me. Listening to Root speak about the Machine sounds like someone reciting scripture. The “perfection” of the Machine is something Root adores. Why?

Because it’s alive.

Test Run

I tried to theorize what it meant that Reese appeared to be able to speak directly to the Machine at the end of season one. It seemed to suggest sentience on the part of the Machine, BUT I HAD NO IDEA. The best part of this premiere is the way in which the writers reveal that we’ve never truly understood the Machine. In the days after Finch first woke it up, he had to program it to respond to information and stimuli in very simplistic ways. Could it recognize his face? Could it find him in a crowd? In a private business? Could it adapt to get what it needed?

But there were two major developments here, one for both the Machine and Finch. The scene in Atlantic City was another test, yes, but not just for the Machine. It was able to use card counting and probability to help Finch amass a fortune in relatively little time, but Finch deliberately lost it all. It’s a key moment because it shows that even within the first couple years of the Machine’s existence, Finch was aware of the power this program could grant a person who misused it. And if he was able to resist the pull of the Machine in the beginning, then it makes a lot of sense that he’s so ethical about it in the present.

Yeah, guess who else is ethical? THE MACHINE. It saves Finch from being run over by a car, which is when Finch imparts an important lesson: the Machine is not to save Finch. It has to try to protect EVERYONE, or it will be flawed. Imperfect. This HAS to explain why it spit out Caroline Turing’s number and didn’t warn Finch. Sure, Root probably tricked it in some way, but even as events changed rapidly, it still directed Reese to Leon, not Root.

It is alive. IT’S AN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND IT IS ALIVE AND IT CAN THINK AND WHAT THE FUCK DID FINCH CREATE????

The video for “The Contingency” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the tenth episode of the third season of Enterprise, Archer makes a controversial and ethically complicated decision to save someone’s life. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Well, that was fucked up.

I’m noticing a pattern now that Enterprise has made it into the Expanse: Archer is more dedicated than ever toward completing his mission. That’s understandable, of course, because we’ve already seen what the Xindi are capable of just in terms of a test. If that was a test, then the “real” thing is going to be horrifically destructive. Thus, we know why Archer is willing to bend the rules more often than he was earlier in this show.

But “bending the rules” sounds so benign, so inconsequential, that it doesn’t quite touch how disturbing this entire episode is. Is this meant to be a turning point for Archer? Is he going to continue making decisions like this in the future? I don’t know. It’s possible. But I also didn’t think it possible prior to this episode that Archer would be capable of threatening to kill someone in order to save a member of his crew, YET HERE WE ARE. After Tucker is horribly injured while saving the ship from a possible breach of the warp core, Dr. Phlox presents Archer with an option he’d never needed to consider before: they could grow a fast-aging clone of Tucker. Well, technically, the larvae would produce a mimetic symbiote, but the end result was the same. They’d have a “copy” of Tucker who would experience a full lifespan in about 15 days. That way, Dr. Phlox could perform a transplant of the neural tissue that Tucker needed, and the Tucker symbiont would perish in two weeks.

I can see how Archer would view this as an uncomfortable but relatively easy transaction. If the surgery was painless, and if the symbiote was going to die anyway, would there be any actual harm caused? Wouldn’t they all be secure in knowing the ethical ramifications of this act? The problem, of course, is that within a day or so of making this decision and setting things in motion, it became painfully apparent that none of these people could have anticipated just how much this would affect them. From the viewpoint of the audience, this is nearly as surreal. We watch Phlox raise an actual child. We watch him bond with a young boy. We watch Hoshi and Phlox teach a younger version of Tucker to read.

And all the while, we are never allowed to forget who this Tucker is: Sim. NEVER. It is perhaps the most effective and chilling aspect of the script. At all times, I was aware of what was unfolding, how uncomfortable it was, how damning it felt. Sim constantly questioned his place within this world and his purpose. He vocalized his questions about his origins. And we watch as the crew orbits around Tucker, doing their best to try to make him feel at home, but always conscious of the fact that he’s not the real Tucker. It’s one of the central questions of “Similitude”: is this Tucker? He has Tucker’s body, all his memories, and behaves identical to the “real” Tucker. So does he count as a new person now, and does that even matter if his lifespan is only 15 days long?

I was reminded of “Tuvix” and “Dear Doctor” on Voyager, as well as that city of clones and Riker’s copy on The Next Generation, and all four of those episodes addressed identity much like this one did. It’s not repetitive, though, and out of them all, this might be the most patently surreal examination of identity and personhood. From one minute to the next, Tucker ages, and it makes this so much more uncomfortable. Plus, this is the same episode where the T’Pol/Tucker relationship, which has been teased pretty heavily this season, makes its first major step forward. Tucker’s symbiote’s reduced lifespan adds an urgency to everything, so it made sense to me that Sim would bring his concerns and feelings to T’Pol. If he only had a week or so left to live, why wait? Why avoid what he felt? I suspect that’s why T’Pol was willing to escalate things to a kiss. She knew that Sim would die shortly, and thus, she could explore this aspect of herself in a safe manner.

So I guess that is happening. It’s a significant development, but it’s also a small part of an emotionally overwhelming episode that consistently explores the ramifications of a single decision. And I respect that! It’s not an easy thing to to sit through, but that makes it all the more rewarding. Seriously, though, Archer’s getting kinda fucked up, isn’t he?

The video for “Similtude” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

Hello, friends! I love it when y’all choose a show for me that’s just so much fun to predict. I was definitely left with a lot to work with, so this should be properly embarrassing for me. OH WELL, I’M DOING IT.

So, just a quick re-hash of some rules in case you are one of the folks who is new around here and wants to know how these work. Please do not spoil me. Seems obvious, and while it’s been years since someone messed this up: this also means you shouldn’t tell me whether a prediction is right or wrong. Or quote it and respond with a GIF reaction. Or tally how many are correct or incorrect. Just let my wrongness (or eerie rightness) stand untouched so as to provide maximum embarrassment later on. TRUST ME, IT’S WORTH IT.

You are also allowed to participate if you are watching this for the first time! Don’t post fake predictions, though. The mods will know, and we’ll show you the door.

Okay, nothing to go over in terms of previous predictions, since this is my first one for Person of Interest, so HERE WE GO.

Season 2 Predictions

  1. Finch will not be rescued until the end of the second episode of season 2.
  2. Simmons will be shown turning on Fusco in the first episode since he saw Fusco helping Carter and Reese.
  3. Zoe Morgan will appear three times in season 2.
  4. Nathan Ingram will appear in flashbacks four times.
  5. We’ll find out what happened with Mark Snow and Kara Stanton.
  6. Agent Donnelly will begin to suspect that Joss Carter is working with Reese.
  7. HR will get both Fusco and Carter suspended at least once this season.
  8. We will learn more of Finch’s past with Ingram. Specifically: what happened after the government took ownership of The Machine.
  9. We will learn why Alicia believed that The Machine killed Nathan Ingram.
  10. Elias will get out of prison.
  11. Root will only be in two episodes of season 2.
  12. Simmons is killed by Fusco.
  13. Root is killed by Finch.
  14. We will find out where The Machine is being kept.
  15. Over the course of this season, the Machine will start to give more information than just a person’s social security number.
  16. Finch will gain full access to The Machine in the season finale.

I’m so excited for season two, y’all. SO EXCITED.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the ninth episode of the third season of Enterprise, this is a mess. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For extended discussion of slavery, racism, colonialism.

If you squint really, really hard at “North Star,” you can see the intent of this episode. You can probably guess where the ideas for this came from, both in the references to past Western-themed Star Trek scripts, as well as from actual history. It’s a bit of a thought experiment, too, a sort of “What if?” scenario about the evolution of humanity.

But it takes a complicated set of mental gymnastics to arrive there because this is one of the most egregious examples of metaphorical oppression that I’ve seen on Trek. There’s certainly a whole lot of it, even within Enterprise. Yet I’ll just go hard right at the start: this is absolutely one of the whitest episodes of Star Trek I’ve ever experienced. I mean that literally, too. Not one member of the guest cast is non-white, and for some unknown reason, Hoshi appears for like 15 seconds and Mayweather is just gone. For an episode about something that is intrinsically linked to race in America, it felt ridiculous that the only non-white main cast members disappeared.

That’s not to suggest that I needed the writers to give us an episode about race and focus on Hoshi and Mayweather. I’m not really certain their usage would have improved this story all that much because its construction is so deeply, deeply flawed. The premise itself isn’t even necessarily the problem; it’s what the writers decided to do once they decided they were going to make an episode about humans abducted for slavery. Basically: the show tries to have their cake and eat it, too. There’s the existence of slavery on this planet due to the Skagarans kidnapping a bunch of humans, only to then experience a reversal of fortunes when the humans overthrow their slavers and become… extremely bigoted assholes. So where does our sympathy lie? Should we feel terrible for the Skagarans, who are undeniably oppressed now in their own world, or should we feel for the humans, who were once enslaved by these people but now fear it happening again? This episode doesn’t seem to want to paint this a moral dilemma with no answer, however, and instead feels like its constantly preaching to the audience, especially once Archer starts talking about how humanity has “gotten beyond” things like prejudice and hatred. (Which they haven’t, and it’s mind-blowing to me that I’m now five shows into this canonical world and they’re still repeating this line.)

Look, one of the major issues I have is that this show invokes two actual struggles and phenomena within American history, but gives those oppression dynamics to white people. We’ve got the oppressed class on this planet who comprise the indigenous culture. It is impossible to divorce this metaphorical representation from the actual struggle between the colonizers of America and the indigenous nations and tribes who lived there. Indeed, by using a Western theme, it feels deliberate! Intentional! We’re supposed to think it’s a commentary on that, right? Even if we’re not, it’s simply too close to reality in terms of the laws and social terror that was wrought against Indigenous Americans. And who plays these characters?

White actors.

Then there’s the undeniable link to chattel slavery and the way slavery shaped the formation and continuation of my country. Humans were stolen from their land and forced to work for another peoples. It just so happens that the Skagarans only kidnapped white humans, which… that is so terrible. Seriously, no one thought this through? Or did they make the erroneous assumption that the Wild West was exclusively white? Oh, honey, tons of cowboys weren’t white. Lots were brown! A significant portion were black! It’s only the American revisionist history that’s taught us that the Old West was white, and it’s been bolstered by the whitewashing of the Old West in Hollywood films. But that’s not historically accurate at all! Yet this episode wants me to believe that the only humans taken by the Skagarans were white Americans?

Actually, they also want me to believe that a bunch of white people going around and talking about lynching and slavery is a totally cool look. And there’s also Archer telling ex-slaves and the descendants of slaves to “get over it” because…. IT HAPPENED A LONG TIME AGO. That’s an actual line uttered twice by a white dude in this episode! TOO ANOTHER WHITE MAN!

So who do I root for? How am I supposed to condemn people who were kidnapped and enslaved and had to fight back for their freedom? How am I supposed to then sympathize with humans who apparently have not evolved in any way in nearly three hundred years? Are you telling me clothing never changed on that planet? Food? Shelter? The humans didn’t try to adapt any of the technology that the Skagarans had? Where did all of that go? Why aren’t the humans using it?

This episode cares about its setting purely for the aesthetics, and it’s frustrating. There is no work done to unpack the hateful, painful history of slavery and post-slavery terrorism. Instead, it’s like the writers borrowed these concepts just to seem a bit edgy, but there’s no follow-through. It’s sloppy.

Suffice to say that I did not really like this episode. MEH.

The video for “North Star” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

September 2010

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