Tonight we take a deep dive in to Episode 08 “Broken Pieces” And this one is most certainly broken in all the right ways! Join us for some positivity! in Part 1 of
The Make it So Aftershow!
Tonight our second part of the aftershow the the Prediction Smackdown!
We will go over past predictions see which ones made it and see which ones we got to smack down with the hammer of doom! Check out our positive prediction segment as we make some guesses on what is to come in the 2 part final!
So if you haven’t gotten the general hint yet, I do love me some Star Trek. It doesn’t matter what era, what producer, what visual aesthetic, I don’t think I’ve analyzed any other franchise quite as closely, or as frequently as Star Trek. My father raised me on episodes from the Original Series, to Deep Space Nine, and I am a proud owner of all 13 films, and own the complete series of each show, except the Animated Series. And yes, this includes both seasons of the new Star Trek: Discovery.
While I will admit that Discovery has work to do in its series, I am very much enjoying it, and am eagerly awaiting its third season. I tend to roll my eyes at the appropriately named fandom menace in its views of the show, and find myself disagreeing with a lot of other fans when they complain about certain… well, rather trivial things. I understand that Discovery or even Picard isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea, and is likely challenging a to of viewers of Star Trek, but I very much applaud them for challenging the average Trek viewer in their shows, and I find it absolutely dumbfounding that so many say that this show doesn’t feel like Star Trek when it is absolutely full of moments that scream elements of this universe.
Well, I’m highlighting the best moments of the show so far. Yeah we’re still enjoying Picard for a few more weeks, but we have a lot to look forward to in Season 3 of Discovery if you ask me, and to help build a little anticipation for it, here’s what I believe are the ten absolute best moments of the show so far.
A quick note, I won’t be including moments from the Short Treks series in this list, and it’s fairly safe to say that I will be talking spoilers here, so if you haven’t seen this show yet, you might wanna look away.
10. Burnham and Spock Play Chess (Project Daedalus)
One of the more gutsy moves of the show’s second season was bringing in Spock, and showcasing the strained relationship that both he and Michael share with one another as estranged foster siblings. This is a move that could have backfired so easily, and yet, I cannot help but feel like they executed it with precision and care that really makes both of these characters stand out in so many ways. I’m not saying their relationship was absolutely flawless (there were a few moments, I thought were not properly earned), but I saw these two, and I saw a very believable relationship between the two, and I think it really came to life in this scene here.
The chess match between the two is a true highlight of character tension and drama between these two, and not only does it perfectly highlight the years of frustration and bitterness the two have held to one another all this time, but it really showcases the acting chops of Ethan Peck, who absolutely owns the role in this show. It is true that no one will ever truly replace Nimoy, but to say that Peck did a disservice to the role is absolute bonkers. Not only does he pull off the emotionless stoic persona of the character remarkably well, be he also brings to life a new side of the character that I can totally see in a younger side of Spock, and he works so well with the role. Their entire game, and exchange of dialogue leave me on the edge of my seat every time from start to finish.
9. Lorca Reveals the Spore Drive (Context Is for Kings)
One of the biggest areas of controversy when it comes to Discovery is its use of the ship’s spore drive, with many saying it feels too advanced for the time period, unscientific, or even straight up ripping off some concept from an unfinished video game (a lawsuit that is full of nonsense I might add). I have yet to hear a single complaint about the spore drive that I sympathize with, and the way that Gabriel Lorca shows it to us is actually really intriguing. When we first see Lorca, we are introduced to a battle-scarred war torn man who many thought he was hiding something. And granted he was, but if you ask me, he played his part really well, especially since this scene is as good as it is. This is a scene in which Michael Burnham is still a convict, and doubting not only herself, but Lorca’s intentions. And the way he wins her over to show her just what the Discovery is doing is just… really good.
Not only is it visually appealing in how he demonstrates the idea and concept of the Spore Drive, but how he tells her that they aren’t creating a weapon, but a new propulsion system just feels very Starfleet. Now granted, it can be said that he does end up weaponizing the spore drive, and again, that big secret of him not exactly being who he says he is factors heavily into how he behaves and how he acts, but still, you take away everything that is happening in that moment, stick this in a typical episode of TNG or TOS even, and this would fit right in. And his assurance of Michael Burnham also feels right at home in more ways than one, but if I go too far here, I’ll be digging into major spoilers. All that needs to be said is that our first glimpse into just what the spore drive is meant to be? It’s all Star Trek.
8. The Klingons and Kelpiens Join the Fight Against Control (Such Sweet Sorrow Pt. II)
The season two finale of Discovery is full of awesome moments, but I don’t think there’s one moment that sends chills down my neck quite as much in this episode as the moment when the Kelpiens and Klingons join in the fight against Control, joining the battle alongside the Discovery and the Enterprise. While it is heartwarming to see Saru’s sister, Siranna, and the rest of the Kelpiens fly into this battle, especially since they’re flying Ba’ul fighters; ships belonging to a race that persecuted them for hundreds of years, as it shows that the two races have likely reached a truce or understanding of one another, it’s really the Klingons who steal the show here.
When the Klingon cleave ship decloaks and just rams into two of Control’s ships, I tend to lose it. Seriously, I really hope we haven’t seen the last of the cleave ships. Those things are awesome. Why wouldn’t the Klingons fly what are essentially giant bat’leths in space? And it’s just awesome to see how the Klingon Empire, despite remaining on hostile terms with the Federation, will recognize that cooperation in light of a bigger threat is what matters. There’s not much more to say here. It’s just a really badass moment of the finale of season two. Nothing more, nothing less.
7. The Universal Translator Malfunctions (An Obol for Charon)
It’s moments like this that baffle me when I hear people say that this show feels creatively bland or unoriginal. “An Obol for Charon” was already one of my personal favorite episodes of Discovery so far (if not my all-time favorite so far), but moments like this feel so unappreciated. Star Trek has always danced around the language barrier by using the universal translator. And while we’ve had episodes that wonderfully dissect how understanding communication is important (such as TNG’s “Darmok”), we’d never seen the Universal Translator go haywire, until now.
After a mysterious sphere sends a mysterious transmission to the Discovery, we get one of the funniest, and one of the most clever malfunctions I’ve ever seen in all Star Trek, as people begin speaking different languages all over the ship. It’s a near perfect representation of how I feel this kind of thing would play out, making Pike straight up compare it to the Tower of Babel, fantastic wordplay. And it’s just a fantastic concept put in motion.
The Mirror Universe Arc of the debut season was another point on controversy for some, but was another thing I absolutely loved about the debut season. I can’t say that any other mirror universe episode of Star Trek really intrigues me as much as “Despite Yourself” did. And it is absolutely full of awesome moments, particularly when Ensign Tilly is forced out of her comfort bubble to impersonate her mirror counterpart as Captain of the ISS Discovery. The pep talk that Michael Burnham gives her in how she doesn’t have to be afraid of her role is really kinda heartwarming, especially considering the fact that Michael Burnham has been helping her train for command this season.
And when she’s actually in the command chair? She demands respect as any mirror universe captain would. Some of her lines Are disturbingly fantastic as I would expect them to be. She plays the part remarkably well, and it makes me think that one day, she’ll be just as good a captain… just not nearly as evil. For her first time in a backwards universe? She really pulls it off.
5. Saru Reunites with Siranna (The Sound of Thunder)
Saru has a pretty major development arc in the second season of the show, and it’s arguably one of the best arcs of the season. We’ll talk a bit about how it starts later on, but it results in a conclusion that is absolutely jaw-dropping, as we see him wrestle with a newfound truth about his people, and his oath to uphold Starfleet principles, including the Prime Directive. The reason this is such a big deal is because his people, the Kelpiens fall under the Prime Directive, and Saru’s status with Starfleet is little more than a special exception.
But when the circumstances come into play where he is once more put back in touch with his people, the scene in which he is reunited with his sister Siranna is exceptionally well done. Siranna’s reaction not only to seeing him again, but meeting Michael Burnham is absolutely fantastic. Her reactions to everything she is hearing, such as the principles of the universal translator, to the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of life forms in the galaxy is absolutely fantastic. Even the moment she compares her own hand to that of Burnham to see the similarities and differences. And the way she simply asks at the end of this scene if humans drink tea? It’s the perfect bit of Star Trek in an exceptional scene.
4. Reno’s Advice to Dr. Culber (Through the Valley of the Shadows)
One of the absolute best additions of the second season was the character Jett Reno, portrayed magnificently by stand-up comedian, Tig Notaro. Whenever this character was onscreen, you knew there was some comedy coming your way, but while Tig’s dry delivery and snark attitude was good for a well-earned laugh most of the time, she proved that she was just as capable of giving us a very heartfelt scene, like this one here, in which she confronts Dr. Hugh Culber, who if you follow the series, likely know that he was killed, and brought back to life, and found himself in a bit of an identity crisis this season, which led to him separating himself from his partner in Paul Stamets.
The talk that both she and Culber have is impossible not to smile at as she brings a bit of that snark dry delivery to the table (she even references some of her own stand-up material in this conversation!), before recollecting on her own previous message. Not only do I greatly applaud this scene for fleshing out the personal lives of two characters who are a member of the LGBTQ community, but I can’t help but feel like wanting to get a little emotional when Reno describes her deceased partner, and just how much she obviously meant to her. You can tell that her experiences greatly impact Dr. Culber. Her parting words to him are as blunt and to the point as you can imagine, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is a scene that can make you laugh, make you cry, and for all the right reasons.
3. Burnham Gives Georgiou’s Telescope to Saru (Choose Your Pain)
Season one’s best moment undoubtedly comes in the form of some absolutely phenomenal character development between both Michael Burnham, and Commander Saru, who for a good chunk of the season are at odds with each other over the events of the pilot episodes. As Michael Burnham is responsible for the death of their former captain, Philippa Georgiou, Saru sees her as a threat to the crew of Discovery, and resents her for a lot of very valid reasons. When he’s forced to take command of Discovery during this episode when Captain Lorca goes missing, he finds himself doubting himself since he never got the chance to learn how to take such a role, and had hoped to learn from Georgiou as Burnham did. This conflict results in some absolutely stellar conflicts between the two in this episode (Doug Jones is quickly becoming one of the best actors of the franchise if we’re being honest with each other), but it also results in the moment that shows that the two are ready to move forward together, and rekindle their friendship.
When the two have a heart-to-heart in the last act, and Saru finallly admits how he holds Burnham in envy over the fact that he never got the chance to serve as First Officer to Georgiou, Burnham really steps up as his friend, and assures him that everything he did in his time as acting Captain would have made Georgious proud. The discussion they have is enough to get me smiling, but it’s the very end of this scene that gets to me, in which Burnham gives Saru the telescope that Georgiou had left to Burnham in her last will and testament. This little gesture I believe is what truly puts them both on the road to healing in their relationship as fellow Starfleet Officers, and friends. And Saru’s last order as acting Captain, for her to go and save the Tardigrade (long story)? Just as heartwarming.
2. Saru’s Vahar’ai (An Obol for Charon)
There’s a reason I said “Obol for Charon” was among my favorite episodes of the show, and this moment is one of the big reasons why. This moment was so powerful that I actually ranked this episode number four in a list concerning Star Trek’s saddest episodes out there. And yeah, when it was happening, I was fighting tears, because I straight up though we were going to lose Saru, who is arguably one of the best, if not the best character in Discovery right now. Throughout the episode, Saru is fighting a terminal illness, unique to Kelpiens , called Vahar’ai; a disease which lets a Kelpien know that they are ready to die. And towards the end of the episode, when Saru’s weakened body is on the verge of shutdown, he asks Burnham to kill him.
Now I said in the last entry here that both he and Burnham have some incredible development together throughout the run of these two seasons, and it’s this moment where that development shines in full glory when they truly realize just how much the two mean to each other. Seeing Burnham struggle to find the strength to do what Saru asks, really feels real and is an emotional curveball that I tear up at every single time. But thank God she hesitates because it’s this hesitation that gives Saru a major revelation about the true nature of Vahar’ai. And it’s this moment that sets in motion his inner struggle with the knowledge of this truth of Vahar’ai, and his dedication to the Prime Directive in the episodes ahead. Seeing his disturbing realization that everything he thought about life was nothing more than a lie is something straight out of Plato’s Cave allegory, and sets in motion some fantastic developments down the road ahead. But regardless, it’s this moment that really stands out in it all.
1. Captain Pike Seals His Fate (Through the Valley of the Shadows)
I could probably fill this list with moments in how awesome Captain Pike is in the second season of Discovery, but if I had to choose one moment, it would easily be this one, and I don’t think there’s much room for argument in it. So long story short, the Discovery is in need of a time crystal to power a specific suit that can travel through time and space, and Pike visits some Klingon Monks in isolation who guard these crystals. Not only does this set in motion some really fun time concepts for this scene alone, but it of course reveals the eventual fate that Captain Pike will face in life. If you’ve seen the TOS episode, “The Menagerie”, you’d know that eventually, Pike will end up in an accident that will forever change his life, and cripple him. Before this episode, it always felt like such a poor send off to a character who was originally meant to be what Captain Kirk was of TOS. Here? Pike finally gets some well needed and well deserved vindication for the events to come.
Upon touching the crystal, he is of course taken to the moment in his life where he will be forever crippled and changed. He comes face to face with his forever crippled form, housed in a wheelchair, unable to even speak, and Pike’s reaction to it all is powerful in and of itself, but it’s the moments that follow that really cement this moment at the number one spot. The monk who guides him informs him that it is very much possible for him to walk away from this fate, but that if he takes the crystal, it will eventually happen. Pike has a choice here to save himself, and you can tell that for a moment, he contemplates it. The thing is, he knows that if he walks away, he will likely doom everything around him to extinction, and it’s this self-sacrifice that he willingly makes as he takes the crystal that makes me shout at CBS to give him a damn show already. And how he carries this bit of information throughout the rest of the show is just as impactful. This willful notion of him accepting what will eventually happen to him I truly believe puts him along the same level of Picard as a Starfleet Captain, and I will defend that claim to the grave. It turns what originally was a senseless tragedy into a very meaningful triumph, and it will likely be very tough to top in my eyes as far as Discovery’s best moments in the show are concerned.
We’ll just have to wait until Season 3.
And there you have it. The ten moments I feel are the best of Star Trek: Discovery so far. There were a lot I really wish I could have talked about, but these are well earned if you ask me. You’re free to let me know about moments I maybe missed that you yourself enjoyed down below, and as always, thanks for reading.
(Editors note I noticed the name tags oops! Sorry Travis!) ~Justin
“On The Real Supergeeks Podcast this week we discussed, among other things, what out top three binges would be if we got stuck in quarantine.My first would be any JRPG.” They last for 100s of hours and take you from fetch quest errands to killing God.
I’m so happy my optimism in this series is paying off.
Three episodes in, and the future is looking bright in this final season of The Clone Wars. In a nutshell, I’m beginning to care about each character more and more, and the stories being told are getting better, or at least this one is. I’m still unsure if this final season will be the usual mini-arcs that the show is known for, or if it will be one big long arc. We shall see in the coming weeks. Regardless, everything going on right now? Thumbs up.
This episode picks up pretty much immediately where the previous episode left off, where we see Tech of the Bad Batch working fast in order to properly disconnect Echo from the Techno Union machine he’s hooked into. If you remember, Echo has been cybernetically changed, and it made me make a lot of dumb Star Trek jokes in the previous review. I’ll try to lay off those here. We pick up immediately right after this happens, we’re in some fun Clone War action and the “Advanced” Battle Droids of the Techno Union are making Imperial Stormtroopers look like crack shots (I always have to chuckle when the battle droids are standing like ten feet away from our heroes, guns blazing, and STILL missing.
When they are successful in disconnecting Echo, Echo gives the absolute best line of the entire episode. “Rex… I got a big headache.” Dammit, this line should give me tears, because despite not having seen this character since Season 3, it very much brings back the old jabber the clones would often give through the entire show, and it fits so damn well here. 10/10 on that line.
What also gets a 10/10 is that watching this, I began to realize just how much I was starting to like all these characters, particularly the Bad Batch. Admittedly when they first came onscreen, I wasn’t entirely sure I would care that much for them, but they are genuinely becoming pretty god characters, and I do hope they aren’t just dropped after this arc. There was actually a moment here in the episode where I had to ask myself if Wrecker was about to die, and I was actually hoping he wouldn’t die. That only tells me that I am really starting to like these characters.
Our heroes escape the Techno Union, and Wat Tambor survives an explosion that likely should have killed him (but he can’t die until Episode III so count your blessings I guess), and we get a sequence that genuinely made me uncomfortable to watch. There’s just something about a sequence in which our heroes balance on a pipe, miles in the sky, that makes me shiver. Maybe I have a slight fear of heights when watching these. I don’t know what it is, but I was once again convinced someone was going to die.
This might ironically lead me to one of my bigger criticisms of the episode… they probably should have had someone die. I don’t know, this might feel pretty trivial in the long run, but I mean, it really feels like this sequence was needlessly tense. I feel that the scene would have been far stronger if they showed us a little mortality here. Show us that the Bad Batch aren’t exactly immortal. The fact that everyone gets out of this jam just kinda took me out of it. Just barely. I don’t know if we will see the Bad Batch killed off in this final season or if they’re just a one and done team, but I feel that if maybe Wrecker, or Crosshair was lost here, it would have made me care even more for the surviving members of the Bad Batch.
Admittedly though, their leap of faith in their escape is pretty cool.
The heroes go to the village of the Natives who appeared in the last episode, and they get angry that Anakin and the clones have broken their word and that the war is coming to their village, and this is where my only other major criticism comes into play. Rex makes a bit of a speech about how yes, they unfortunately did bring the war to their village, but makes the excuse of what they did to Echo as a reason they had to? I don’t know, the speech he gives just doesn’t really fit the situation if you ask me. But I admit I do have to hold off on more Borg jokes with this speech with all the “turning him into a machine” and “robbed him of humanity” statements he makes.
Rex successfully convinces the natives to join them in their fight against the Separatists, and admittedly, this battle is pretty cool. It’s very much a well executed David and Goliath battle as we see the natives and this group of clones fight of this droid attack force, complete with two big walkers, some badassery from the Bad Batch, and some absolutely charming banter from Echo to Anakin which very much brings me back to the good old days of the show.
The way the episode ends isn’t anything special, after the awesome battle, the natives thank the Jedi, and say the Jedi will always be welcome, and then we get some more dialogue from Rex and Echo, and how Echo tells him that it’ll be just like old times. And Echo seems skeptical as he repeats the phrase in a very unsure manner.
DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN!!!!!!
Is Echo the equivalent of a sleeper agent? Is he perhaps still connected to the Techno Union in some way? Tambor said that the clones ruined years of research when they abducted him and destroyed his work, yes, but it’s not unlike this show to pull a potential fast one on us. I can’t help but feel that Echo might know more than we’re being led to believe here. That or he’s going to go through a whole lot of PTSD here, and won’t exactly get the happy ending we hope he gets.
Well I mean, we definitely don’t see him in Star Wars: Rebels, so yeah, I’m not expecting good old Echo to last much longer, sadly. Here’s hoping his final story arc here really delivers. I have no doubts it will.
Three episodes in, and this show is flying high in my eyes! Again, I’m not sure if this ends this particular arc, or if there’s more to come, or if the entire season will be one long arc, but regardless of what happens here, I absolutely have no doubt that this will be well worth the journey. While this episode isn’t perfect, it’s definitely the strongest of the three out right now, and I wanna see more of it right the fuck now. It hasn’t blown me away yet, but I have no doubts it will. Keep it coming, Clone Wars!
Previously on The Clone Wars, Clone trooper, Rex and Cody teamed up with a band of clones that operated a bit outside the book, known as the Bad Batch; a group of defective clones with desirable mutations. Realizing the droid army was more easily adapting to Clone Army tactics and better repelling them, Rex and the Bad Batch were dispatched to try and figure out how the Droid Army is doing this, and Rex makes a disturbing discovery when he detects a signal coming from off world that gives off the indication that his friend Echo, a clone thought to be dead, may actually be alive.
“And now, the continuation…”
“A Distant Echo” picks up directly where we left off last week pretty much, which is the formula of The Clone Wars. Much like the final season of Star Trek: Enterprise, Clone Wars tells its story in the form of several mini-arcs, but unlike Enterprise, Clone Wars knows what it is, and knows how to execute narratives and story in this manner that keeps my attention. Sideburn Enterprise. Last week, I called the episode, “The Bad Batch” kinda safe and nothing extraordinary, which wasn’t a bad thing, it was a good episode to get back into the feel of the series, and it did its job well. And in week two, I’m happy to say that the series has not disappointed in keeping my attention.
The episode starts off with Anakin getting briefed by Rex and Hunter (the commanding clone of the Bad Batch) the signal they found, and that it’s originating on Skako Minor. Rex also voices his suspicions that Echo is alive, which sets up the conflict of the story that Rex may be letting his personal feelings on the matter hinder his judgement. More on this later. Anakin sneaks off with Rex to make a secret phone call to Padmé, and I really need to talk about this.
If you recall last week’s review of the new Clone Wars episode, you’ll remember how I said I did not care for the prequel Star Wars movies. I care even less for how they handle their characters, and of those characters, the relationship between Anakin and Padmé was among the worst handled of the trilogy. Long story short, I don’t care about their relationship, they didn’t feel like a genuine couple a lot of the time, and I thought it ended hilariously bad. And if you can’t tell where this is going, The Clone Wars is the exact opposite. I cannot tell you how many times the relationship between Anakin and Padmé sucked me in when watching this show. Not only is it better handled, it fees genuine. Anakin and Padmé walk a very fine line between expressing their feelings for one another, and secrecy, and it can result in some genuinely shocking moments throughout the series.
It’s no different here as we see Anakin sneak off to give Padmé a secret call. It not only results in a touching moment between them, but again, it feels much more natural here than in the prequels.In Revenge of the Sith, they do little more than stand around and shower each other with bland romantic dialogue. I’m not saying they don’t have their good moments (the reaction Anakin gives to Padmé being pregnant is a true highlight), but The show just does a better job of making me care about these two as a romantic couple. They feel far more natural, far more passionate, and far more aware of the risks they have in their relationship. Despite this, they do a not so good job of hiding it, as seen here, Obi-wan kinda callls Anakin out for his sneaky call, and honestly, this might be one of the best aspects too since… without spoiling too much about this show, Obi-wan can actually kinda relate to what Anakin might be going through.
So Anakin and Rex go to Skako Minor to investigate this signal, and we almost immediately run into action with the natives of the planet who kidnap Anakin, and take him to their village, where they have a “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” moment. One thing I do appreciate about Star Wars is that they do get pretty creative with the language barriers, and it’s no different here. In fact, it isn’t until Tech (the clone tech geek of the Bad Batch) comes in and manages to translate everything that we realize that the natives don’t want the war brought to their world. It makes for a nice bit of world building that honestly isn’t used enough in Star Wars.
Admittedly, while I like this episode, this is kinda where it gets a little off for me, mainly because after we leave the village, and Anakin and the troops are back on the trail of the signal, we get a bit more of the conflict amongst the clones that was present in the previous episode. While it can make sense in the light that Rex is letting his personal feelings hinder his decision-making a bit in regards to the possibility that Echo is alive, I can’t help but feel like it just retreads ground that was’ even already seen as far as character conflict is concerned. I just wasn’t as interested in it this time around.
But I was happy to see Wat Tambor of the Separatists brought back. I do have a soft spot for the Techno Union Leader, his mechanical way of talking, and what he brings to the Confederacy in terms of battle droids. And seeing him set a fun trap for our heroes does lead to the first bit of Jedi action in this final season of the show.
As they fight through the droids and continue to trace the signal, we get to a lift which Rex uses to go up to a room. Wat Tambor taunts him, we see him open a capsule and low and behold, who is there but the crippled, cybernetic body of Echo? And my goodness, I didn’t think it was possible but they totally brought the Borg into Star Wars.
I’ll lay off the Star Trek jokes now, I promise.
The reveal of Echo isn’t anything spectacular or anything, and the episode ends shortly afterward, but this hook definitely has my attention. Echo oaks like he’s been through hell and back, and while I admittedly don’t think this episode would have interested me back in the day had I seen the unfinished footage of it beforehand, it just goes to show how great this show can execute a concept. When it comes to Star Wars, I tend to say if a character dies, they should stay dead. Boba Fett, Palpatine, Darth Vader, they need to stay dead now. Especially Palpatine. STAY DEAD. (That goes for clones too.) The Clone Wars is like the antithesis of this belief, because the characters they tend to bring back result in some of the best stories of the show. Darth Maul was a character I never saw coming back, but I’m very happy they did bring him back, because the relationship between he and Obi-wan gets REALLY damn good. No spoilers there. I have no doubt either that they will do something interesting with Echo in the next episode as well. We shall see this weekend!
“A Distant Echo” is a definite step up from last week. While again, probably not going to crack any personal favorite episode lists, it definitely feels like the crew of this show have not skipped a beat as they finally give some proper closure to this show that has been waited on for the longest time. The relationships are proving to be as immersive as ever, the voice acting once again is on point, and the action is just as fun as it should be. We didn’t really get any awesome dark side Anakin moments (yet), but two weeks into this twelve episode season, I am really liking what is being brought forward. I don’t know if next episode will be the conclusion of this particular arc, or if there’s another episode yet to come, but I’m curious where this will go, and what will become of both Rex and Echo here.
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So I just watched Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution, and is it too early to flash this gif?
So I get that in the SuperGeeks world, I might be one of the few Pokénerds in the crowd, but I think this is still relevant enough to talk about. But before I go on, I should probably describe a bit about my love of the franchise. Arguably, I was much more into Pokémon as a child growing up. Yes, we all had that one thing we enjoyed as a kid. Being born in 1990, I was the prime target for the late 1990’s Pokémon fever that struck the United States. I remember just how big Pokémon was back in the ate 90’s. It was life itself. I was a huge collector of the trading cards, I watched the anime like it was crack, and I played plenty of Pokémon Yellow before the game cartridge itself was damaged. Good times, man.
And yes, with this epidemic of Pokémon in the States, I was one of many who went to theaters and saw the very first Pokémon movie in theaters. I remember this time with fond memories. I remember the Burger King toys they had for this movie, I remember the trading promo cards for the movie, I remember the card that came with the then very new DVD that I still own, and I remember my dad taking me and friends to go see this in theater.
And I honestly feel like I owe him an apology.
As much as I enjoy my memories of Pokémon growing up, and as much as I will admit that I still check out the franchise from time to time, I am not above saying that I am well aware that Pokémon is not very good when you analyze it for long, and I am not above saying that as an adult, I will not heckle it. The anime in particular has aged spectacularly in that “Wow, how did I ever like this?” kind of fashion. Granted, I actually own quite a few seasons of this show, and quite a few movies (Don’t you judge me!), but on the off-chance they are actually being watched, I find myself poking fun at it every single time, and I’m kinda accepting that the only real reason I still have these is that eventually, I’d like to be a happy father, and I’m 100% certain my children will find it as charming as I did growing up.
And since I intend to be a good father, I intend to keep this remake off their radar, because regardless of my stance of the film, whether or not I hold it in good regards as a nice bit of nostalgia, Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is about as good as an average Disney Live-Action remake.
Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is the CG-remake of the movie with the same name, and I am 100% convinced that had I seen this as my eight or nine-year-old self, I would think it’s just as bad as I do now. I just wouldn’t be able to fully comprehend just how much of a weird place Pokémon seems to be in right now. I don’t wanna sound like that one guy who is blinded by the nostalgia goggles over their eyes, but this just doesn’t do it for me. I had a pretty low bar watching this, and by the time the credits rolled, all I was asking myself was “Why did I watch this?”
So, inevitably, I’m going to be comparing a lot of this movie to the old, and some might say that this hinders my ability to fully comprehend the film as an adaptation, but the movie pretty much is a scene-for-scene remake of the entire film. It doesn’t do a lot different, and it does far too much in far too similar a fashion. If you’re gonna do this, I say the floodgates for comparisons are open and I’m going to enjoy swimming in it. Let’s just dive on in, shall we?
So before I rip this film a new one, I will go ahead and list off things I actually liked about the film. For one thing, I actually appreciate how the movie opens up. The movie opens up in a jungle where we see a small expedition coming upon some ruins which house carvings of the Pokémon, Mew, one of the rarest Pokémon in existence. The scene mainly serves to provide some exposition and setup for how they stumble upon a Mew fossil, and how they intend to use that fossil to clone Mew, but it’s a scene that was completely cut from the theatrical release of the film, so it was nice to see them include it here, especially since I believe it was a sequence that was originally included for Japanese audiences back in the day.
Another thing I can appreciate is the visuals. Why lie? Some of the animation in this remake is spot on. While admittedly, some of the character models are pretty weird, I will say that little details are actually really well done. The fabric of the clothes, blades of grass, shadows in the daylight, wrinkles in the clothes, the water looks fan-fuckin-tactic in this movie. Seriously, that water looks amazing! I just wanna go for a nice big swim in that water! 10/10 on that water! Even the Pokémon models are pretty stand-out for the right reasons with details and realism you wouldn’t normally see in the hand-drawn animated film being easy to spot and appreciate, from fur to scales.
I can also very much appreciate the battles and action in this same aspect. They do take full advantage of the CG here, and do their best to make these aspects look as good as they can with the new technology that arguably was not there for them back in 1999 when originally making this. I applaud some of these visual effects that they incorporate into this film, because it does look very good.
Okay, so it’s got the look. But what about the feel? The essence? Well, I mean I already flashed my MST3K response up above so I guess that answer is pretty clear.
By the time the familiar plot begins to lay itself out, I couldn’t help but notice something strange, and it’s a problem that plagues most Disney remakes of today. Despite having the longer runtime, it seems to want to rush through some of the scenes that it really shouldn’t rush. The opening sequences of this movie feel like they are so rushed as far as introducing Mewtwo, and who he is. Mewtwo in the original is far more questioning about who he is, and why he was created. It isn’t until he realizes that the scientists who created him care little about him that he decides to kill everyone in the lab… yeah that happens. Little moments such as him learning to clench his fists, or thoughts about him not alllowing himself to be just a simple experiment to be tested and studied are completely glossed over. It wasn’t anything masterful by any means in the original, but it was far more impacting.
Even when Giovanni arrives at the scene, he’s not nearly as manipulative as he was in the original. In the original, he earns Mewtwo’s trust (as short lived as it is in the runtime) by telling him that he and Mewtwo can control the fate of the world together. He makes awesome metaphors to how a wildfire destroys everything it touches, similar to how Mewtwo’s powers do, and that he can help Mewtwo better control those powers. Here… Giovanni barely touches this manipulation. He just kinda comes across as this black and white bad-guy who is somehow even more one-dimensional than his anime counterpart. The sequence of Mewtwo facing test after test doesn’t hit as hard when you don’t hear Mewtwo’s thoughts on him discovering just what he’s capable of. I mean sure, in the original, it was just a couple lines, but it delivers the point home that Mewtwo is still learning to control his power, and it better lands here. The same can be said for when he realizes that Giovanni sees him as nothing more than a tool for Giovanni’s own agenda; a moment that was so pivotal, it was shown to us twice in the animated media beforehand. I hate to say it, but so much of Mewtwo’s inner psyche and his inner thoughts on his existence, and the vendetta he develops with humans is completely gone. I just don’t care about it here. As silly as the original movie is, the goals and thoughts of Mewtwo are far better.
Man… all this over a Pokémon movie that’s 20 years old…
This of course brings us to our main protagonists of the story, and yes… it was nice to see Misty and Brock by Ash’s side again, even if their new voice actors leave a lot to be desired (one thing 4Kids didn’t mess up). But it’s around this point in the movie that I noticed one very strange thing that proceeded to bug me throughout the entirety of the film… the dialogue. So much of this film’s dialogue is absolutely terrible. And that’s not me watching a kid’s movie with an adult mindset, that’s me comparing the two movies dialogue together. The original is far more charming. And no, this isn’t nostalgia talking. The dialogue of this movie just sucks. For comparison, here’s a moment that happens towards the beginning when Ash Ketchum, in his weak and hungry state, is challenged to a Pokémon battle by a trainer. Ash happily accepts the challenge. And here’s how it plays out in each adaptation. First, the original:
MISTY: Ash, you just said you were too weak to work!
ASH: That’s right, I am too weak to work, but a Pokémon battle isn’t work!
BROCK: That’s progress. At least his mouth is working.
And here’s this same sequence in the remake:
MISTY: What happened to the guy who couldn’t move a muscle?
ASH: I can have a Pokémon battle before breakfast! Maybe two!
BROCK: You’re forgetting one thing… you’re battling before lunch.
Look, even if you’re not a Pokémon fan, I think you know what the more charming exchange is. And this movie is absolutely FULL of these changes. None of which is better than the original. Whether it’s taking out a little comedy in the chemistry of the characters like the example up above, or making Mewtwo not as intimidating, or making Team Rocket look like an even bigger joke than they do in the original, none of the dialogue changes work in this movie for the better! They messed it up! Granted, I’m not saying it should have been the exact same, but I mean would it have been too much to at least try and make it somewhat good? The fact that I could remember the sequence up above BY MEMORY (no, I did not watch the original movie prior to watching this) only goes to show what is the stronger batch of writing!
Another example? In this same area of the film, when Team Rocket is spying on our main heroes, watching them eat lunch, well here’s the original, by memory:
MEOWTH: I’m starving.
JESSIE: (takes out a frying pan) I can cook something!
MEOWTH: Thanks, but the last time you cooked, you wiped out eight of my nine lives.
And now for the remake:
MEOWTH: Am I hungry!
JESSIE: (takes out frying pan) I’ve got a frying pan!
MEOWTH: But without something to fry, it’s little more than a round anvil made out of iron!
Fuck this dialogue. And fuck Team Rocket in this film, they’re terrible. Granted, they never had a standout role in these movies, and were always on the back burner, but even in the original film here, they did FAR more than simply stand around and deliver weak comic relief. They actually helped piece together the mystery of Mewtwo’s creation in the original film to the audience, by showing us some decently executed exposition in the original. It’s been heavily watered down here.
I’ll once more give seriously props to the animation of this film, especially the water. Holy shit does it look good. I especially like how the characters actually look wet when the water clings to their clothes. Credit where credit is due, the visuals succeed with flying colors, and it’s almost enough to distract me from the terrible substance of this film.
As happens in the original, Mewtwo Sends out challlenges to a group of trainers to come face him, but creates a storm to challenge those trainers, so that only those who cross the sea in the storm and make it to his arena are deemed worthy to face him. And I was very tickled to see that they kept a certain highlight of the film. In the original, you can see a trainer flying across on a Fearow to Mewtwo’s island. Yet when we get to the island, that trainer is nowhere to be seen. And it’s heavily implied that this trainer died in the crossing.
Well, they not only keep this trainer in the cut here, they add another trainer as well! And none of these two trainers appear at the island. So not one, but TWO trainers get killed trying to get to Mewtwo’s island. I find this absolutely charming. Does that sound maniacal of me? Shut up!
Ash and his pals get to the island, and here’s something that I found odd. They kept a small section of Mew’s filler scenes of the original. Yet elongated it. Why? I have no idea, but there’s a section where Mew is being amused by a windmill in the original movie and it makes for a small bit of cute. And somehow, it’s just not as good in the remake. How do you mess that up?
See what I mean? Why elongate the newer one?
Bla bla bla, Mewtwo appears, we get more replaced dialogue that isn’t as good as the original, long story short, Mewtwo hates humans since he sees them as dangerous and he hates the Pokémon who would willingly work with them. And it was around this point where I was actually starting to look at the runtime of the movie. It felt slower. The original had its moments where it dragged, but not like this. It was still relatively quick to the action, and could keep my interest. Here, I can’t help but wonder if the energy is gone. And I think I know why…
It’s the music score. It’s terrible.
The music of the original was nothing spectacular by any means, but it’s not present much of the film here. There are way too many instances in this film where I was asking myself “Is it just me, or is this movie unusually quiet?” The original had a score that played when it was appropriate, and it gave the film more presence. Without the music score here, it feels like there are just one too many awkward pauses in dialogue between character or whatnot. There isn’t even any background noise for a good chunk of it. It really hinders my ability to enjoy this movie. The overall tone, atmosphere, and enjoyability of the movie is just not as good because the music takes such a backseat. This really hits the rest of the movie. And for any of you other people wondering if they still play the “Brother, My Brother” song by Blessid Union of Souls in this remake, no they don’t. Which is a pity because that actually kinda fit that movie. I guess it’s pretty sad when a 90’s throwaway single by a band no one knows about is one of the takeaways of your childhood movies.
As in the original, Mewtwo challenges the trainers to a battle, they lose spectacularly, leading Mewtwo to take their Pokémon, and create clones of them for his new world. Not only does this sequence feel not nearly as exhilarating as the original, but it results in more bad dialogue. Mewtwo isn’t nearly as intimidating here as he was in the original for one thing, and we get terrible lines from Misty like “Are you stealing our Pokémon?!” Where’s my pillow? I need to let out a loud groan into it.
Mew eventually shows up which leads to a standoff between the army of the trainer’s Pokémon, and Mewtwo’s clone army. Mew lets out that little “mew mew mew” speech about how powers don’t determine the true strength of Pokémon, but that true strength comes at the heart, which Mewtwo misinterprets, and the iconic powerless battle starts. This is where Blessid Union of Souls would start playing.
And it’s ironically here where I would say that Blessid Union of Souls would benefit the film, because without it, and with the quiet musical score paired with the sequences of Pokémon battling makes for a very weird sequence, and it feels far longer than it should feel. It also feels far more tame than I remember it feeling. I don’t know, it just has far more impact and far more brutality in what it shows in the original. Even the watered down morals that the film has about fighting being bad and whatnot have more impact. The morals of this movie were never strong to begin with, but the fact that they take such a nosedive here really says something.
If you’ve seen the movie, you know what happens. Ash tries to stop the battle, he runs in between Mew and Mewtwo like a moron, get hit by the combined strength of their attacks, and dies. A pivotal moment of the series, as this was the first time we’d seen something like this. It’s a landmark childhood moment to be sure. How is he brought back? Well, the Pokémon are moved by Pikachu’s sadness for his death, and they share in Pikachu’s sadness, crying him back to life pretty much. The thing is that the original explains this a bit better since they establish that long ago, a catastrophe resulted in the near extinction of all life on the planet, and that the tears of surviving Pokémon were the only reason life was able to survive again. As stupid as it is, they explained why Ash survived after the Pokémon brought him back to life. Here… no such explanation exists, so I’m left with the assumption that Pokémon just have magic tears or something.
The one thing you probably couldn’t mess up in the film, and you messed it up. Good job movie.
Even Mewtwo’s epiphany about the situation after Ash’s sacrifice feels watered down. It feels like he comes to the conclusion that all life is precious on his own, rather than having been influenced by Ash’s sacrifice. He barely pays the fact that Ash just killed himself any attention whatsoever.
I need to wrap this up so we all know how it pays out by now. Hopefully anyway. Mewtwo takes the clones and leaves, erasing the memory of everyone on the island, he sends them back to where they came from, the storm disappears, Ash sees Mew briefly, and the journey continues.
Holy shit was this a chore.
Look, even without my nostalgia goggles, this just isn’t very good from so many different angles. If you want to talk about a movie that no one asked for, this is it. If anything, this remake just makes me appreciate the flawed mess that is the original that much more! It’s not perfect, and you probably had to be there to enjoy it as I did, but I mean even to the kids of today who are getting into it I would say that the original movie is worth their time much more. The biggest problem with Evolution is that it has little to no heart. It might look and even sound Ike the movie it’s based on, but the essence that made is a true gem of my childhood is completely absent. And that might sound like bias, but I mean, there’s a reason most Disney remakes get this kind of criticism. They lack what made the original so special, and it’s no different here.
I don’t doubt that there was genuine intent to try and make this special, and it might just be the dub that suffers these problems (I have no idea if the Japanese version of this film differs), but from what I was shown, this just doesn’t have what made the original that special to so many of us Pokéfans.