World’s Worst Trekkie: The Omega Glory, The Ultimate Computer, Bread and Circuses, and Assignment: Earth

I know I usually tackle this show three episodes at a time, but with only four episodes left in Season 2, I thought it’d be best to lump them all together.

This is important because it means I have to adjust my very scientific ice cream based rating system. I will now be introducing a fourth flavor: mint chocolate chip. And while I know that many of you will be incorrectly thinking yum, mint chocolate chip is, in fact, the worst flavor–yes, even worse than strawberry–because mint is the devil’s food. There is no lower grade on this blog than mint chocolate chip.

“The Omega Glory”

Wow. Wow. I guess I know what’s winning the mint. “The Omega Glory” may very well be the worst Star Trek episode I’ve ever seen, which is saying something. I mean, it’s worse than the Nazi episode. The Nazi episode. It’s almost impressive, how awful this is. The fact that touch telepath Spock mind controls a woman from across the room simply by Intense Staring is the very least of this episode’s problems.

It doesn’t start so bad. The Enterprise discovers that nearly the entire crew of the U.S.S. Exeter were infected with some weird disease which essentially dehydrated them so badly that their bodies collapsed into crystals. Like, yikes. Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Red Shirt, also now infected, beam down to this planet where they’ll be safe so long as they don’t leave. Captain Tracy, sole survivor of the Exeter, pretends to be a good guy for a whole three minutes before vaporizing Red Shirt and holding our heroes hostage. Turns out, the people on Omega IV all live for centuries or longer, and Tracy wants to figure out this Fountain of Youth shit so he can leave the planet and live forever.

Tracy is a weirdly cartoonish bad guy, especially considering how he’s introduced as this legendary Starfleet captain. (It’s almost funny, just how few fucks this dude gives about his entire dead crew.) Of course, Immortality Seeker is a classic villain trope, but it feels bizarrely random here, like they picked it because it was classic, not because it actually makes sense for this character or this story. Still, the aliens are the real problem here: the Yangs (portrayed by white actors) and the Kohms (portrayed by Asian actors). The Kohms are peaceful and “civilized,” while the Yangs are the unreasonable “savages,” something that’s clearly presented as a surprise, like, isn’t it shocking how the brown people are the civilized ones? It’s definitely no accident that Sulu remains onboard for the majority of this racist ass episode.

It turns out that, somehow*, this planet mirrors Earth’s history to a ludicrous degree. Like, the Big Twist is that the Yangs are actually this planet’s equivalent of Yankees, complete with their own version of the U.S. Constitution, the Pledge of the Allegiance, and–I shit you not–a whole ass American flag. Meanwhile, the Kohms are communists, I guess, and unlike Earth (where a war was avoided), the Kohms defeated the Yangs way back when, pushing them out of civilization and taking over their lands. Which is why the Yangs dress, act, and speak the way they do–because they’re also supposed to represent the Native Americans in this world. It’s, whew. It’s real bad.

Honestly, there’s so much gross bullshit here that it’s hard to even know where to begin. Like, how this episode fully embraces several racist Native American stereotypes, or how Cloud William (the Yangs’ leader) speaks in what I guess is meant to be some kinda generic Native American accent? How the Kohms were secretly bad guys all along, kicking the freedom-loving Yangs out of their land, and how the poor white people were just trying to fight for their own home. How incredibly, ludicrously stupid these language parallels are, and how Spock refers to the Kohms as “Asiatics.” Like, dear God. I can’t even get into Kirk’s hypocritical treatment of the Prime Directive here, which is also garbage. I just . . . wow, there really is nothing good to say about this episode. It is appalling. My eyes are weeping blood.

*There are apparently explanations in some tie-in novels, but in the episode itself? Nope.

Chief Asshat: Gene Roddenberry, who actually wrote this shit

MVP: Scotty and Chekov, for having the good sense to not be in this episode

Grade: Mint Chocolate Chip

Line of the Episode:

(about the Vulcan neck pinch)
“Pity you can’t teach me that.”
“I have tried, Captain.”

“The Ultimate Computer”

We’ve already had a ton of supercomputers on TOS, so I may have facepalmed when I saw the name of this episode. Surprisingly, though, I enjoyed “The Ultimate Computer.” The Enterprise is ordered to install the M-5, a system so sophisticated that it only requires a skeleton crew, which very well may put Kirk out of a job. (And you know. Most everyone else on the Enterprise, but nobody really addresses them.) All the job anxiety stuff still feels pretty relevant now, TBH, and I love how the M-5 totally calls Kirk out for assigning himself and Bones to away missions when their presence is definitely not required. Not that this pattern will be changing anytime soon, alas.

For a while, things go great. Then the M-5, having difficulty distinguishing between a real threat and a false alarm, obliterates an empty freighter. That’s enough for Kirk to call the whole thing off; unfortunately, as he insists on saying this out loud, it’s no real surprise when the M-5 easily locks them out of control before killing a dude who gets in the way and then starts attacking Federation vessels for good measure. Bunches of people die. The M-5 is desperately trying to protect itself because its whole purpose is to keep people from dying in space; when Kirk points out the obvious logical inconsistency, the M-5 self-destructs–a logic bomb that works better than others, I think, because it’s actually written as the M-5’s decision, rather than an inability to compute some paradox it would totally be able to compute. Then Kirk saves the day by relying on human intuition, and everything ends happily . . . except for Dr. Richard Daystrum, that is, who created the M-5 and has a full breakdown.

Some things I enjoy: the M-5 was created with human engrams and is, for all intents and purposes, an AI, which is kind of neat. And Daystrum (who will be referenced in multiple other Trek shows), is played by William Marshall, AKA, Blacula. Marshall was a very, very tall man and had a rather nice voice, so I just like listening to him talk–usually to insult Kirk. He has a few moments here I enjoy: his whole “men no longer need die in space” monologue and when he’s trying to reason with the M-5. Also, I think we see a space station for possibly the first time? Oh, and when Kirk is feeling low, Spock tells him, “A starship also runs on loyalty to one man, and nothing can replace it or him.” Which is obviously Vulcan for, “Dude, I love you, and I’ll follow you anywhere.”

My only real problem here is that I’m not wild about how Daystrum’s motivation goes from “saving people” to “no one thought I was relevant and cool anymore, so I made this (ultimately terrible) thing.” It’s not that the latter motivation can’t work (or that Daystrum couldn’t feel both simultaneously), but the bitter childhood prodigy angle felt a bit forced to me, a bit too late in the game for my liking. I’m much more interested in Daystrum as this tragic figure who simply tried his best to help people and failed. Still, overall, this is a pretty solid episode.

Chief Asshat: Oh, Commodore Wesley, no doubt. He needles Kirk by calling him “Captain Dunsel,” essentially saying Kirk serves no useful purpose anymore, and then immediately assumes Kirk is responsible for the attack when it makes way more sense for it to be an M-5 malfunction.

MVP: William Marshall. Could listen to that man all day.

Grade: Chocolate

Line of the Episode:

“Please, Spock, do me a favor and don’t say it’s fascinating.”
“No, but it is . . . interesting.”

“Bread and Circuses”

“Bread and Circuses” makes a lot of Top 10 Worst TOS Episodes lists, and I get why: it’s pretty dumb, and it’s dumb in a lot of the same ways that “The Omega Glory” is. This is yet another world that’s basically just alternate Earth, only here we have 1960’s tech in a world where Rome never fell . . . which means we get gladiator fights on reality TV. Honestly, that part was great; I laughed out loud when they pulled back to reveal the Hollywood set. Unfortunately, it also means that we have to learn about Hodgkin’s Bullshit Law of Parallel Planet Development to explain budget problems, ethnocentrism, a criminal lack of imagination how these people could possibly speak English, amongst other nonsense. I guess that’s better than not explaining it at all?

Despite this, “Bread and Circuses” is considerably less offensive than “The Omega Glory” and far more fun to watch. For one, Kirk isn’t the guy engaging in (seemingly unending) fisticuffs! Bones and Spock get that honor this time, facing off against a pair of gladiators, and it’s delightful. Spock gets a new undercover beanie, too; this one is tan and, per usual, he loses it almost immediately. Let’s see . . . I immediately and correctly predicted Evil Roman Dude would stab Last Minute Redemptive Bad Guy in the back, so yay, me. And there’s a really interesting scene between Bones and Spock, where Bones tries to thank Spock for saving his life and ends up accusing him of being afraid to live. I don’t know if the whole scene works for me, exactly–I don’t think it has quite enough space to breathe–but it is, well, fascinating.

Of course, it’s not all fun fight scenes and antagonistic heart-to-hearts. I can forgive the bad guy, I guess, who doesn’t exactly have a firm grasp on the concept of “incentives.” (“Beam your whole crew down so that most of them can die, or else I’ll . . . kill only these two officers?”) The Prime Directive stuff here, too, is pretty ridiculous, and I’m not sure why we’re only clearly defining it now, anyway, at the very end of the second season.

But the worst bits are definitely these: A) it’s heavily implied that Kirk sleeps with the pretty sex slave who, while apparently “willing,” definitely cannot give actual consent, and B) our heroes save the day by . . . running away, leaving behind the last few survivors they actually came to rescue. They don’t defeat the bad guy or end slavery or any of that good jazz, but it’s okay, see, because it turns out that the rising rebellion of Sun worshippers are actually Son worshippers, which means we don’t have to feel bad for abandoning the planet because Christianity is coming to save everyone.

Chief Asshat: Kirk, no question

MVP: Scotty, who basically saves the day by interpreting Kirk’s orders as guidelines

Grade: Strawberry

Line of the Episode: Ooh, difficult. There’s Bones taking the time to yell at Spock, even as he’s poorly defending himself in the gladiator fight. There’s also Spock dryly agreeing with Kirk that the people shooting at them do, indeed, seem to mean it. But I think I have to go with Bones’s somewhat relatable anti-Prime Directive wish:

“Once, just once, I’d like to be able to land someplace and say, ‘Behold! I am the archangel Gabriel!”

“Assignment: Earth”

“Assignment: Earth” is the season finale of S2 and kind of an odd episode all around. For one thing, our heroes have intentionally time-traveled back to Earth 1968 for, I guess, historical research? Which is just not how time travel usually works in Trek. (It also remains unclear how they were gonna conduct said research, as Kirk and Spock make it seem like the initial plan was not to leave the ship, which seems . . . counterintuitive?) More importantly, however, our heroes are largely absent for half the episode and mostly just manage to fuck things up when they are around. (Spock insists they actually helped history play out as it was supposed to, but he’s just trying to save face. Kirk absolutely almost gets everyone killed.) Instead, the action mostly focuses on this mysterious dude, Gary Seven, and his pet cat, Isis, who have come to stop a missile launch that will doom everyone. The setup is so strange that the whole episode almost feels like a backdoor pilot, except did they even have backdoor pilots in the late 1960’s?

Apparently, yes. They did because that’s exactly what “Assignment: Earth” is, a backdoor pilot for a show that nobody picked up. It’s unfortunate, too, because although the pacing of this one is a bit off, I actually really enjoyed Gary Seven and Isis. Seven is sort of an understated character, but he has a dry sense of humor that appeals to me, and I had fun watching him deal with his delightfully snotty computer, the Beta 5, and communicate with his cat. (Isis has a human form too, of course, but we only briefly see it at the end of the episode.) All of Isis’s cat attacks are hilarious. Also in one scene, Seven clambers up to the missile to sabotage it, while Isis helpfully hangs out on his back. It’s fantastic. I’d have watched the holy hell out of this show.

Teri Garr is fun in this, too. She’s playing Roberta, the secretary who accidentally gets wrapped up in all these secret agent/time travel shenanigans, and she feels like the rare female character in TOS who, by God, actually gets to be funny. The new characters all click here; it’s mostly that the action, itself, isn’t terribly interesting, particularly in the second half. Plus, yeah, the characters you actually showed up for are kinda twiddling their thumbs a lot. Still, I had a decent time watching this episode.

Chief Asshat: I mean. Kirk doubting Seven totally makes sense, but it also nearly starts World War III, so . . .

MVP: The Gary Seven, Isis, and Beta 5 trio.

Grade: Vanilla

Line of the Episode: “That’s why some of my generation are kind of crazy and rebels, you know? We wonder if we’re gonna be alive when we’re thirty.”

World’s Worst Trekkie: Wolf in the Fold, The Trouble With Tribbles, and The Gamesters of Triskelion

Well. There are many fascinating things in this trio of episodes. Tribbles. Serial killers. Talking alien brains that orchestrate death matches. Prepare yourselves, my friends, for the road ahead is paved with hilarity, absurdity, misogyny, violence, unexpected historical references, and fantastic hair.

DISCLAIMER

There will be SPOILERS for these three episodes and probably also the Star Trek franchise in general. You’ve been warned.

“Wolf in the Fold”

Oh, wow. That was, yes. That was surely an episode.

At first, I assumed we were in for our standard ‘Starfleet officer is framed for murder’ story, but oh no, my friends. Oh no. Things take a turn for the WTF when it’s revealed that it’s not Scotty who’s murdering women but Jack the Ripper. JACK THE FUCKING RIPPER. Redjac is a non-corporeal alien entity who kills women because they’re more easily terrified than men. (According to Spock, that is, who you’ll remember is absolutely perfect 80% of the time and sucks so hard the other 20%.) Obviously, I was unprepared for this turn of events. Mek mentioned JtR early in the episode (cause murder, fog, etc.), but it was supposed to be a joke. Reader. It was not a joke. Kirk actually says things like “but everything we’ve uncovered points to Jack the Ripper,” which is just categorically untrue, BTW. It has literally been less than 20 seconds since JtR even became a possible suspect. Redjac is also played by John Fiedler, who notably voiced Piglet from Winnie the Pooh. Which means that “Evil Piglet is Jack the Ripper!” is now a real thing that I have said.

That’s obviously the most ludicrous thing that happens in the episode, but never fear: absurdity abounds in many forms today! Like how Scotty is only on this planet at all because Bones prescribed him a rehabilitative trip to the local belly dancer tavern, which is supposed to cure him of his “total resentment toward women,” an affliction he’s been suffering from ever since some woman caused an explosion that knocked Scotty into a bulkhead?

I . . . I can’t. I just can’t.

There’s also the “psycho-tricorder” (a device I’m relatively sure is never used again), Spock’s random ass theory of the “hypnotic screen,” the fact that Kirk seems way more concerned about making sure Scotty gets cleared of all charges than he is about any of the dead women (including one of his own officers, for Christ’s sake), and the fact that Kirk ultimately defeats Jack the Ripper by getting everyone on board high.

I can’t stress enough that this is all a real episode, a real episode that really aired.

It’s terrible. I wanna watch it twice.

Chief Asshat: I’m gonna have to go with all of them? Yeah, all of them.

MVP: Whoever’s responsible for Sybo’s hair and wardrobe because it’s incredibly rare for me to see women’s fashion on TOS and think, Hell yeah, I’d wear that.

Grade: Vanilla

Line of the Episode:
“I . . . I don’t remember.”
“Really, sir, that is hardly helpful.”

“The Trouble With Tribbles”

HOLY SHIT WE’VE REACHED THE TRIBBLE EPISODE!

I’ve never actually seen this episode in full before. I have seen the above GIF plenty of times–which is actually more morbid than you’d expect, considering how many of those cute cascading Tribbles are already dead–plus “Trials and Tribble-ations” a billion years ago.  But this is the first time I’m seeing the OG version, and folks, it’s delightful. There’s a reason this one’s a classic: the script is hilarious, and the actors land every damn line. (Well. Okay, I found Chekov’s “everything was invented in Russia” shtick a little forced today, but everything else.)

Some of my many favorite moments:  Scotty being able to endure any insult except an insult to the ship, Spock fooling absolutely nobody when he insists that he is immune to the charms of the tribble, Uhura archly reminding Kirk how often she gets short leave, Kirk putting his foot down due to the tragic loss of his chicken sandwich and coffee, and nobody wanting to take responsibility for beaming all the tribbles over to the Klingon’s engine room. (Which is hilarious, but also, holy shit, this is an act of WAR. Like, they basically just sentenced Cyrano Jones to 17 years of fuzzy labor for this kind of irresponsible shit.)

Short of quoting half the episode, I’m not sure how much I have to say. I do, of course, deeply relate to Scotty trying to pass up shore leave in order to stay inside and read, but I wish he’d also said something like, “Yeah I’ve had trouble relaxing on shore leave ever since that unfortunate time I was framed for multiple murders by Alien Jack the Ripper.” And the Klingons, once again, do not particularly act like the Klingons I’m familiar with, though I was kinda amused to see Klingon Trelane, or rather, the actor who played Trelane in “The Squire of Gothos” showing up in this episode as Koloth.

Chief Asshat: Oh, Baris, just for being a whiny little shit.

MVP: Kirk and Scotty. They both made me laugh a lot.

Grade: Chocolate

Line of the Episode: Oh, this is hard. “Extremely little, ensign” is a fantastic burn by Spock. I always enjoy some Bones and Spock banter, and of course, “You gave them to the Klingons?” is just fantastic. Still . . .

“My chicken sandwich and coffee . . . this is my chicken sandwich and coffee . . .”
“Fascinating.”
“I want these things off the ship. I don’t care if takes every man we’ve got. I want them off the ship.”

It’s all about Kirk’s delivery. It’s so incredulous/plaintive. It makes me think fondly of Janeway, who we all know would’ve burned every tribble alive if they got between her and her coffee.

“The Gamesters of Triskelion”

. . . can I have Jack the Ripper back?

Seriously. “Wolf in the Fold” is terrible, but like, drinking game terrible. It’s delightfully bad. There is no such delight to be found in “The Gamesters of Triskelion.” The script physically hurts me. There are discussions of freedom, slavery, love, and beauty, and every single line is the worst line. The fight scenes are terrible, too, which of course is totally normal, but as this is a classic “you must fight to the death for our amusement” episode, it’d be cool if I could at least say nice things about the death battles. Alas, there is very little to praise here. Like, okay, I did laugh when Galt says he’s been sent to welcome our heroes, and we immediately cut to Kirk being forcefully cuffed to the wall. That was funny. Also funny: the fashion. Kirk’s battle harness, for instance. Also, I wanna get a bald cap and cosplay Galt. His collar is so sparkly!

Otherwise, yeah. We get a weird amount of closeups and poorly acted monologues delivered to the sky. We get a lot of pointless filler scenes where Bones and Scotty argue with Spock, which is especially galling because it’s so goddamn obvious that Spock is correct. (There is, admittedly, a funny moment where Spock totally trolls these two as he leans in, all hush-hush, and brings up mutiny–but it’s too little, too late.) We get Kirk seducing an alien woman for the 87th time. (I initially thought of her as Sexy Oompa Loompa, which isn’t entirely fair, considering her green hair is fantastic, and her skin isn’t nearly orange enough. Mek mentioned that Lady Gaga could rock this look, which is absolutely correct–and yes, Google tells me the similarities have definitely been noted before.)

Alien Lady Gaga wants to leave on the Enterprise and learn about the stars, but isn’t allowed to despite her newfound freedom because, IDK, it’s more important that she stays here, being taught by the evolved, colorful brains who enslaved her in the first place? Bullshit, sir. You take this woman away from this terrible place. Also, Kirk wins everybody’s freedom far too easily, like, what the hell happened to the whole “to the death” part of the rules? And did I mention the scene where Lars the Thrall tries to sexually assault Uhura offscreen? Yeah, no, what the fuck was THAT shit, writers? Absofuckinglutely not.

In conclusion:

Chief Asshat: Lars, obviously, but Kirk kinda sucks here, too

MVP: Uhura, who’s had an immensely shitty day and deserves better

Grade: Strawberry

Line of the Episode:
“Your–your terms are unfair!”
“On the contrary, they’re extremely fair, since your alternative is death.”

“No One Wants To Play With The Clown Anymore.”

Two years ago, Mekaela, Lindsey, and I all went to see It in theaters; I reviewed it here. (TLDR, it’s a fairly creepy horror film that–with just a little more work–could’ve been an amazing horror film.) I, of course, am a giant Pennywise freak who fell in love with both the novel and the original miniseries as a teenager, so yeah, I was always going to see this latest adaptation on the big screen.

And while I can’t say I was expecting to love It, Chapter Two–a 2 hour, 50 minute horror movie has to work to earn that runtime–I figured I’d still probably enjoy it for the most part. Like, I was definitely expecting pacing problems and/or a few unnecessary changes from the book, but at the very least, I’d assumed I’d find it delightfully creepy.

What I did not expect, however, was to laugh my ass off at all the wrong scenes.

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“Our Big Foot’s Not Playing Games Anymore.”

Let me begin by telling you that Tom is a terrible person.

You may remember Tom, or you may not. I’ve mentioned him once or twice before on this blog. I used to think he was an okay sort of guy, maybe even a friend, despite the fact that he has all the absolute worst movie opinions. Recently, however, I’ve had to amend that statement. For Tom, you see, is the enemy, and I’ll tell you why: in a sudden, uncharacteristic, and unwanted fit of goodnatured-ness, I told Tom that I’d watch and review a movie for him, even that terrible Big Foot movie he was always talking about. He didn’t have to actually pick the Big Foot movie, mind you. He could have seen this as the charitable act of a co-worker and taken some small measure of mercy on me by picking literally anything else.

But of course, he did not do this. Instead, Tom bought Night of the Demon, had it gift-wrapped, and then sent it to my house. And last Friday, armed with neither nearly enough alcohol or sugar, Mekaela and I sat down and watched our early 80’s Big-Foot-Demon movie.

Damn you, Tom. Damn you to Hell.

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Coming Soon-Ish: The Snowman (AKA, The Only Movie You Ever Need to See)

First, some backstory.

Last night, my friend, my sister, and I all went to the movies. We were there to see Atomic Blonde, which I’ll probably review next week; however, the true highlight of the night ended up being this trailer for The Snowman, a movie I’d never heard of before and now will never forget.

So, we begin with a woman walking by herself when, suddenly, a snowball hits her. She looks around, confused. Abruptly, we cut away to scary music and Michael Fassbender very seriously narrating about a murdered woman. Now, maybe I was already feeling a bit snarky because my friend and I both basically had the same reaction to that particular cut: what, was she killed with a snowball? Are we calling him the Snowball Killer or what? But I’m a sucker for murder mysteries and serial killer thrillers and Michael Fassbender’s manly jawline–well, I used to be, anyway but he’s so rarely in anything I’m interested in these days–so I shake off the silly start and prepare to give the trailer a fair shake . . .

And then Michael Fassbender, still in Serious Narration Mode, says, “He calls himself the Snowman Killer,” and oh my God, I totally lost it.

People. I was crying, I laughed so hard, and every time I tried to get my giggles under control, they’d have another ominous shot of a fucking snowman. (I’m not joking. There are at least three such Ominous Shots.) The worst, by far, is when the trailer cuts away from Intense Michael Fassbender saying, “He’s been watching us the whole time” to a snowman, situated just outside some window, seemingly stalking his prey. Mind you, I’m reasonably sure that this movie is a) not a comedy, and b) not centered around an actual snowman killer, but whoever cut this trailer did it so bizarrely that I’m actually not 100% certain. Which is a weird thing to say about a thriller starring people like Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, James D’arcy, Jamie Clayton, Toby Jones, Chloe Sevigny, and–according to IMDb–Val Kilmer. (Is it wrong to just automatically assume Kilmer’s the bad guy? Or maybe he’s the weird dude living in a cabin in the middle of the wilderness who Knows Something Important and later gets killed for it?) My point is, these are primarily well-respected actors, like, Oscar-respected. What the hell are they doing in Frosty’s Revenge?

It should also be noted that, when not focusing on ominous snowmen (new band name), this trailer works hard to look as generic as possible, like, here we’ve got The Lead Female sexily undressing as bait, and oh look, our masculine hero is out in the middle of nowhere, angrily yelling at a villain who, presumably, isn’t actually there. (I also inappropriately giggled through the bit where Michael Fassbender screams in anguish as he tries to break into a burning building. It’s just so overwrought.) I’ll admit, however, that most of this went unnoticed the first time I watched this trailer, since I was too busy wiping the tears from my eyes and, you know, trying to breathe.

Finally? Our masculine hero’s name, apparently, is Harry Hole. I mean, come on. How am I supposed to take that seriously? (To be fair, perhaps “Hole” is pronounced differently, as I see this is set in Norway, or at least the book it’s based on is. Still. I’m saying the name “Harry Hole” is not helping me subdue any of my juvenile giggles.)

“We’re Bad Guys. It’s What We Do.”

So, Suicide Squad was out for about a week before I had the opportunity to see it, and the reviews in that week were . . . not kind. I’d heard from a few people directly who enjoyed the movie, but overall it was sounding like yet another DC live action fail.

The thing is I’m, like, contrary and opinionated and shit, so despite the poor press, I had to make my way to the theater to try it out myself.

ss cover2

Ultimately, it’s a bit of a hot mess. More than a bit, honestly; I want to edit the holy shit out of this movie. On the upside, it’s way more enjoyable than Man of Steel or BvS!

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So, The X-Files . . . I No Longer Believe

(I know. I’m sure everyone’s using that headline, or some variant of. I can’t make myself care. The X-Files sure didn’t.)

When I first heard that The X-Files was returning, my interest was rather low. It’s not because I didn’t like The X-Files when it was on; I did, although certainly I wasn’t the show’s most diehard fan: I came into the series late, caught up on most, but not all, of it and gave up entirely after Mulder left. There are definitely episodes I never saw and whole plot arcs I don’t remember all these years later.

Still, I remember the show with fondness and I wanted to be excited about its revival. I just struggled with it because The X-Files ran for nine seasons and got two movies, and I’m generally of the opinion that anything that had so much time to tell its story doesn’t really need a comeback/sequel/revitalization. I’m much more interested in spending that energy bringing back worthwhile shows that were cancelled before their time.

But like I said, I didn’t expect The X-Files to be bad. And considering this revival was only six episodes, well, I felt honor bound to check it out.

x

Oh, I’ve given up.

You guys, I know I’ve said this before, but I’m saying it again: it shouldn’t even be possible to be this disappointed in a show when your expectations were only lukewarm at best.

And yet. Here we are. (Disclaimer: SPOILERS ahead.)

Of Season Ten’s six episodes, I have liked precisely one of them, and even the episode I did like (“Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” obviously) didn’t work for me on every level. (Parts of it were hilarious, though. Especially anything to do with Scully, who is clearly the best.) And to be clear: it’s not like the other five episodes were flawed or problematic but still interesting. At best, I was bored. At worst, I actively despised them.

I already discussed how I felt about the first two episodes, especially the bullshit retconning in the premiere and how Mulder’s Big Revelation didn’t feel earned to me in the slightest. But “Home Again” failed for me pretty badly, too, by horribly rushing Scully’s mother’s death and poorly tying it into the crappy adoption storyline. Gillian Anderson gave a great performance and I appreciated some of the callbacks, but everything about this story felt weirdly abrupt and just kind of dumb, so I couldn’t even emotionally invest in it the way I wanted to. (Medical oddness or inaccuracies bugged me a bit, too, which I’m much less forgiving about when the material is this crappy.)

And yet, somehow, “Home Again” was actually my second favorite episode of this season. That’s how bad the tenth season was. “Babylon” might have been the very worst. (It’s hard to be sure, with “My Struggle” and “My Struggle II” also sucking so hard). The Muslim-as-terrorist storyline was just the same, expected bullshit that needed to go away, you know, a decade ago. The medical inaccuracies were actually even worse. (When will people learn about central monitoring? Honestly. If someone hooked up to a telemetry machine codes, medical professionals outside the room will notice, and for Christ’s sake, 99% of people I’ve seen code don’t just drop from 120 to O in a second anyway. Hollywood’s love of the easy-to-understand flatline has given people lousy expectations of what death looks like.) The nurse was just nuts. Tripping Balls Mulder went on way too long; more importantly, his whole plan was the most batshit, bullshit thing I may have ever seen.

Seriously, guys. It’s one thing to create some kind of experimental SF telepathy machine, hook your detective and the mostly-dead guy up to it, and throw some psychedelics in to broaden the detective’s horizons or whatever. That’s Fringe. I can deal with that. Mulder, on the other hand, literally just took shrooms in the patient’s presence. That . . . does not work. A character should have to do more than get high near a braindead patient in order to make psychic contact with him and, by extension, solve the mystery of the week. (It’s not even a monster of the week. Why isn’t “Babylon” about investigating the mysterious trumpet noises? That might have felt like an X-Files episode.) Except, of course, that Mulder didn’t even take the shrooms because he actually took a placebo and shitty writing the power of suggestion alone made him telepathically connect with Shiraz, all so that the show could poorly tie this total crap story to thematic shit about, like, faith or whatever? It’s so, so bad.

And then we have our finale “My Struggle II.” Le sigh.

I was initially surprised when I realized that the six-episode season wouldn’t be a continuing storyline because anything that short usually is. After “My Struggle,” of course, I was frankly relieved we were moving on to standalone episodes . . . but that also meant that this whole pandemic felt like it came out of nowhere, with Scully making ridiculously fast leaps that just seemed entirely out of character. The poorly named Agent Einstein is like, “Hey, maybe we slow our roll and talk about this semi-reasonably,” and the usually logical Scully is like, “There’s no time for reason!” and I’m like, “Sweet Jesus, WTF?”

The premise seemed weirdly anti-vaxxer, too, which I was pretty uncomfortable with. I guess there’s pro-vaccine stuff, too (as Scully saves everyone with a vaccine made from her–and say it with me now–ALIEN DNA), but that’s also kind of problematic since vaccines are preventative measures and can’t cure shit. Like, you know I don’t do science, and even I know this. And how quickly did Scully make up this magical antidote anyway? It seemed like I blinked, and Scully went from, “Oh, this is what I need to do!” to “I can save everyone now!” Like, she just ran around with what I’m convinced was merely a bag of normal saline and was like, “You’ll all be fine!” Except Mulder, of course, who was SUPER sick and could only be cured by their absent son, assuming they don’t all get blown up first. I’m finding myself super apathetic about such a fate.

Other things worth mentioning:

A: Why, in God’s name, wasn’t anyone wearing any form of PPE? We’ve got anthrax, we’ve got Totally Creepy Eye Disease, we’ve got probably every other form of illness and contagion imaginable, but you wouldn’t know it from the medical staff, who mostly couldn’t even bother with basic surgical masks, much less isolation gowns, respirators, bunny suits, etc. Of course, as the (stupidly sudden) plague increases in intensity, the hospital would surely start running out of equipment, but even in the beginning no one seems that concerned about basic safety for either themselves or their other patients. I take issue with this.

B. Mulder was apparently so non-essential to the plot that they just decided to have him needlessly confront the Cigarette Smoking Man, I guess, and then suddenly collapse? Yeah, okay.

C. Has anyone re-watched this episode to count how many times ALIEN DNA was said? I have a really bizarre urge to get a dog and name it Alien DNA now. “Aw, Alien DNA, did you have an accident? Alien DNA, stop eating my shoes!” Conversely, I suppose we could just have a mixed drinks competition. Give me your best cocktail recipe for Alien DNA: go!

On a similar note: we really don’t need to have someone say a variation on “I want to believe” in every single episode. We really really don’t.

CONCLUSIONS:

The tenth season was bad on a pretty embarrassing level. I don’t even care about that cliffhanger. I have -4000% interest in coming back for an eleventh season.

MVP:

Gillian Anderson, no question.

TENTATIVE SEASON GRADE:

D. And that’s taking “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” into account. I watch a lot of shows that semi-regularly frustrate me, but I haven’t disliked something this much since I watched a random episode of 2 Broke Girls.

MORAL:

Anything can be saved by shrooms, placebos, or alien DNA. Except maybe being blown up, but I suspect that Scully will simply throw her magical IV bag at the alien ship which will promptly liquify like the Wicked Witch of the West. Because that makes about as much as sense as anything else on this show.

“Mr. Cop, Can You Put Away Your Gun? Cause You’re Making Everybody Nervous.”

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. You know what this means.

ng2

So-Bad-It’s . . . no, it’s really just bad horror.

Your entry for this year’s Bloody Hearts is a spectacularly terrible film called House of Nine, a movie that’s so smalltime it doesn’t even have a proper Tomato Meter on Rotten Tomatoes. Although audiences, at least, apparently blessed it with a 36% approval rating, which, while not a good score, is probably about 35% higher than it should be. I would like to know who these people are and have a serious conversation with all of them.

Considering that seems unlikely, I guess I’ll just settle for some wordy analysis and snark.

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