Why I Watched The Movie “Annihilation”…

This review contains spoilers!!!

Apparently, the one thing that can get me to watch something I really had no hard plans for viewing is…CURIOSITY. 

I guess I’m just a big nosy-ass, because when the opportunity came for me to stream this, I simply could not resist, even though it was 2AM, and I knew I had to get my ass up out the bed at 7:30. (Extreme curiosity is pretty much my go-to motivation for watching a lot of stuff.)

So,  I watched this, and I have to admit, despite my trepidation, I actually kinda liked it. For my definition, it is more of a horror movie, than a Scifi movie, not because horrible things happen in it, (they do), but because the haunting feeling of melancholy, and dread, from the book, was perfectly captured, so I can’t actually call the movie enjoyable, in that sense. Its a mood that sticks with you long after the movie is over.The best horror movies present as many questions as answers and that ‘s what the director, Alex Garland, does here.

In my last post, I remember asking if this movie was un-filmable, and yeah, it  is, because this movie is not the book, in the sense of the events happening as they do there. The movie, because of its nature, has to present a sequence of events that lead to other events, in a linear fashion. Garland does make a good effort at this by flipping back and forth in time. Unlike the book, we’re not privy to the narrator’s disturbed, and disturbing thoughts, and the director had to substitute with mood, instead.

On the other hand, the mood of the movie  is perfect. Jeff Vandermeer is one of the primary authors in the New Weird literary genre, along with China Mieville, and M. john Harrison,and it’s especially difficult to film and market such a genre, because so many of the stories are simply unfilmable. The purpose of New Weird is to upend stereotypes, and overturn tropes, and movies are kind of built on that type of shorthand. And even if you could film one of these weird novels, you’d have to change so much of it for the audience to understand it, that it would no longer be the book. I mean how do you film, for a mainstream audience, something like Perdido Street Station by Mieville, which involves love scenes with insect headed women? But Alex Garland seems to have captured the spirit and intent of the book, if not the exact details, because the ending is completely different, and if you’ve read the book, the events that happen at the Lighthouse are interpreted very differently. This movie is not for everyone. If you like understandable ,concrete endings, this is not for you.

The movie begins with Natalie Portman’s character, Lena, being interviewed about her escape from what the  characters call The Shimmer, and what the book calls Area X. In the books, the characters don’t have names. They’re known by their roles within the expedition team. Lena is The Biologist. Tessa Thompson as Josie, and Gina Rodriguez, as Anya, are the anthropologist, and paramedic. Ventress is the team leader and a psychologist. And there’s another scientist named Shepard.

The book’s subplot, of having the psychologist control the others with hypnotic suggestions, has been jettisoned, and Lena’s memories of her husband, who previously ventured into the Shimmer, are told in flashback. In the film, all the women have existential reasons for volunteering to go into The Shimmer, all of them are self destructive, and this motivation plays a large part in the theme of the movie. Lena is self destructive over her marriage, Ventress is suicidal because she has terminal cancer, Anya self harms, Shepard lost her daughter and is depressed, and Josie suffers from depression, as well. They are the kind of people who want to opt out of life, and The Shimmer preys on that to some extent.

No reason is given for what The Shimmer is really, or why it’s there, at least not in concrete, nailed down terms, in the first book, which is more concerned with thoughtful exploration. In the movie, it’s an alien life form, not-conscious, not intelligent, whose purpose is to simply change other life forms, merging, reflecting, and refracting them. The team encounter hybridized creatures, like a mutated bear which screams in the voice of the colleague it killed, (Shepherd), and an alligator with a mouth full of shark’s teeth.They also come across the bodies of hybridized and refracted humans, whose bodies have  merged with nearby buildings, or have become plant like statuary. The imagery is fascinating and terrifying.

The first hour of the movie is mostly spent exploring Area X and establishing Lena’s reasons for volunteering.  Thanks to the trailer, I was worried that the movie would be dumbed down, and be another vehicle to have women be chased and attacked by a monster, but that turned out not to be the case. The movie is smarter, and more emotional than that.

You’ll be happy to know these women are also pro-active, and kick some ass. There are no fainting damsels here. Lena has military experience and all the women are well armed. They end up in vulnerable situations because they have walked into the unknown, and have no idea what to expect, not because they’re waiting around to be attacked. The bear sequence takes up only a small part, in the middle of the film, and then its done. That’s not the movie’s focus. I do wish the director had been a woman though, because the relationships between these characters feel somewhat antiseptic. There’s deep emotion on an individual level, but not as they relate to each other. These are professionals doing a job, and I wanted just a little more emotion between them. (Not drama, which lazy writers often substitute, but emotional connection.)

In the book there’s a creature called The Crawler, which writes strange poetry on the walls of the lighthouse, and  kills one of the team members. I didn’t think it was possible but the end of this movie is stranger than the book, and that’s why I feel that the intent of the book was captured so well. We get a lot of answers during the film, and the conclusion appears satisfying, at first, but we’re also left with a big mystery at the end, too.

There are about fifty different words that mean “weird”, and the movie draws on all of them.The most disturbing part of the  movie wasn’t the mutated bear, although yes, that was terrifying. It was the scene where Anya, in a fit of extreme paranoia, takes the rest of the team hostage, and threatens to kill them, after she finds out Lena’s husband was on the previous expedition. She has very obviously gone insane, and  the  helplessness of the other characters is enough to have you sitting on the edge of your seat. I feel like this scene takes the place of the unreliable narrator scenes from the book.

I think the saddest, most unexpected, scene was Thompson’s anthropologist, who just wanders off to become part of the scenery. Literally! She just gives in to the whole thing, and seems entirely at peace with it. I identified more strongly with Lena, than I did with her, but I found that scene especially horrifying. If that were me, I don’t know that I could just give up like that, which is ironic, considering I suffered from my own bout of suicidal depression in my early twenties, where I would’ve been happy to give up. My reaction to that scene is probably informed by my recollections of that time. I think I identify more with Lena, especially now, because she never stops fighting what’s happening to her, all the way to the end.

A large clue to understanding one of the themes of the movie, and what The Shimmer is, is in Lena’s biology speech at the beginning of the movie, and her basic message is that all life came from one source, one cell, and what would happen if we devolved back to that one source. Early in the movie, one of the books she’s caught reading is The immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, about a black woman whose immortalized cancer cells are the foundation of cancer research in America. Lena also has conversations, with her husband, about how humans could never achieve immortality because we have a strong self destructive streak.

The return of Lena’s husband is told in flashback. It’s been nearly a year, when he simply walks into the house, and into her bedroom. He has no memories of how he got home, or where he’s been. He has a seizure and falls into a coma, and that’s when Lena discovers he’s not supposed to be back at all. The current expedition comes across videos left by the previous team, and that’s how they begin not only to understand that something is happening to them, but what happened to the last team, including Lena’s husband.

When the last of the team, Ventress and Lena, reach the lighthouse, Ventress gives herself over entirely to the alien Shimmer, and Lena discovers the body of her husband, and video footage of how he actually died. (He committed suicide.) Ventress’ death has the unintended side effect of releasing a kind of genetic doppelgänger of Lena, that tries to become her, and duplicates her every move. Realizing that the double is a version of her, with her genetic code, Lena tricks it into holding a phosphorus grenade, and escapes before it burns up, taking the lighthouse, and alien Shimmer, along with it. There are a lot of theories out there about what this scene means, with people speculating that she passed her suicidal, self destruction to the alien, and that this possibly makes her immortal, now. I don’t know about that, but at least she’s no longer suicidal, at the end.

She somehow manages to find her way back to the Southern Reach, and her husband, although she realizes it isn’t her husband at all, and he can’t seem to answer that question. For Lena, it ultimately doesn’t matter, because she was infected by the alien Shimmer before it destroyed itself, and she may not be as human as everyone thinks she is either. This is indicated by her and her “husband’s” shimmering eyes before the final credits. Is the alien dead? Are they still human, but changed? Not human at all? Is Lena immortal? And what does this mean for her, her “husband”, and the rest of humanity?

Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself if this movie is for you, if you trust my description of it. It’s definitely an acquired taste,and not for everyone. If you suffer from bouts of depression, this may actually trigger it, as one of the movie’s primary themes is depression and suicide, and it’s a cross between The Thing, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s much more thoughtful, and introspective in mood, because the answers aren’t simply handed to you, or over-explained. You have to pay close attention to what’s being said. The feeling of dread is vague, undefined, and quiet, and sneaks up on you as you begin to realize what it all means, punctuated by moments of terror.

Yeah, it’s definitely weird.

I don’t regret having watched it though.


Disco Lives!!!

Yes, I still listen to disco, and I’m abnormally obsessed with this particular video, which is a remix of the Migos’ Bad and Boujee. This is how the song should have been produced in the first place, with the instrumentals of  Earth Wind and Fire’s September.

I remember watching Soul Train. We used to spend weekends over at grandma’s, (who was only a block away from us, anyway) and this aired on Saturday afternoons. Our whole family ( which sometimes consisted of anywhere from ten to twenty people) used to congregate there at random intervals, and eat, gossip, play kickball, or touch football. Some of my family lived in the house, some just lived nearby, and others traveled in from further places, but that was the place of the meetup, and Soul Train was the one show everyone seemed to agree on. So , naturally whenever there was a family reunion, Which was usually when the dancing occurred, there had to be a Soul Train line.




I had forgotten about these fashions, and in some cases, I was too young to remember some of them. I love the women’s unisex fashions, who had entered the workplace in droves, after the Vietnam War took so many young men. There was also a tropic theme in the 70s, after America rediscovered Hawaii, for some reason. Hip Hop was just in its foundational stage, and poppin’ and lockin’ was just being invented, too.


I also want to give a shout-out to Janelle Monae , and her new Prince adjacent video, The Way You Make Me Feel. I love this retro 80’s thing, and there’s a really cute cameo from her bestie, Tessa Thompson. A lot of people  have one question, though: Are they a Couple? Especially since Bi-sexuals have heralded this video as being an anthem specifically for them, and I can see why.

Janelle says this song is from Prince’s vault, and you can see it’s heavily influenced by his style. She says the two of them were great friends in life, and that he wanted to pass his stylistic mantle on to her.


Movies I Loved (But Y’all Hated)

You are all wrong, btw!😝

Saying I loved these movies is a strong word.  But I definitely liked them, and watched them multiple times.In some cases I can’t  put my finger on why I liked them, and others, I know exactly why I’m compelled to watch them every time they air on TV. I still do not understand why so many of these films seem to feature Will Smith. Apparently, in my mind, the man can do no wrong, (except I really did hate Bagger Vance and Hitch, so go figure!)

And yeah, some of these reviews did determine this thing, where I’m completely disregarding the reviews of diverse movies by White critics, as being totally justified.


Suicide Squad:

Related image

This movie starred two of my favorite actors along with two of my favorite characters. Viola Davis was a totally cold, badass, Amanda Waller. I’ve been a fan of The Wall since her first run in Batman. She’s the only character who has ever told Batman, to his face, where he could step the fuck off, and although Batman sits in my personal pantheon, I totally ugly laughed when she did that. The Wall was a woman who feared no man, not even The Bat, and Viola perfectly captured that. I liked how she wasn’t just a straight up villain either. She was on the side of good most of the time but she’s also utterly ruthless, and smart as fuck. Like Nick Fury, she’s not evil, and I would classify her more as an adversary, or anti-hero.

Then there’s Will Smith. I will watch Will in anything, even if I know I might hate it. He has played far too many magical negroes for my taste, but he seems to have gotten that phase of his career out of his system, and is killing it in some interesting roles now (including a short cameo as Lucifer in A Winters Tale). I didn’t know shit about Deadshot, other than he was an adversary of Batman, but it’s Will Frickin’ Smith, so I don’t care that I don’t care.

I’ve been a Harley Quinn fan since her inception, (mostly the CN version) and I liked how she was portrayed here. The movie didn’t forget to add her tragic backstory, and if you’ve read the comic books, you know she eventually sets Joker aside, and has some healthier relationships. So I watched the movie with that in mind. And I just liked the zaniness of her character. She was fun! I also liked the relationship she was developing with Deadshot.

Then there’s Diablo. I knew nothing about Diablo before this movie, because I’m not a huge DC fan, really. Had never even heard of him. So when he turned into an Ancient Fire God, at the end of the movie, I nearly popped out of my bunny slippers! THAT SHIT WAS FUCKING AWESOME!!! (Whew! Let me calm down). I was totally not ready for that shit. Why didn’t anybody tell me? You know what, that’s okay because that would have spoiled the joyfulness of seeing it for myself.

I also liked seeing Killer Croc onscreen. He’s terrifying ,and insane, in the comic books, but he’s almost sympathetic in this movie. Almost. He’s still pretty terrifying, though. My favorite scene in the entire movie is when the meta-villains are sitting in that bar talking about their identities. I felt that scene added a great deal of depth to the characters.

I’m also one of five people who actually think the movie is funny, but that is mostly due to the presence of Will Smith, and Margot Robbie. Like most people I hated the villain. She was ridiculous, but the movie has a lot of great scenes, great music, and interesting characters, and I didn’t feel like my time was at all wasted by watching it. I wish there been more Slipknot, and Katana, though.

So yeah, there’s gonna be a sequel because this movie cleaned up at the box office, because audiences loved it, even though most of the (not so diverse) journalists critiquing it, hated it. I don’t know what movie they were watching, but I know what I’m gonna spend my money on next year.

I also heard Diablo is not dead and will be in the next movie. WHOOOOOOT!!!


I Am Legend/After Earth

Here are some more Will Smith movies. I have a longer review in order for After Earth, but I Am Legend is definitely a favorite of mine. I am starting to develop an interesting theory on why these critics hate these films, and it goes a little bit beyond disliking movies not centered around white people, and wanting to see such movies fail by giving them bad reviews.

White Racial Resentment and Implicit Bias are real things that have been studied extensively, that have made their way into every aspect of American life, and its ridiculous to think it wouldn’t have made its way into film journalism, or that journalists would be unaffected. (I consider most of White fandom to be an entire shitshow, and generally limit my fandom activities to Black spaces whenever possible. It’s about the only way I can retain any of the sanity I have left.)

But I consider I Am Legend to be one of Will Smith’s greatest performances, up there with Ali. At least right up until the last thirty minutes. Yes, the ending did indeed suck, but the ending was not enough to keep me from liking the first two thirds of the film. I was totally in my feels watching this movie, and I feel like Will killed it!

I’m going to have to go into greater detail about After Earth in a later post, about that movie is relevant to Black men, and the inadvertent dialogue it appears to be having with other films, like Moonlight.


The Village:

One of the reasons people hated After Earth, is the same reason that The Village was panned by critics. They were hating on the director, and not the movie itself. I found nothing in this movie that was worth the bad reviews this movie got. It was beautifully filmed, thoughtful, and melancholy. I liked the actors, and their performances were wonderful. I loved the characters and their relationships to each other, including a beautiful sister/sister relationship, and some beautiful scenes of love, unrequited.

It seemed like, at some point, people decided to turn on the director and hate everything he made, after a couple of his movies failed at the box office. I Iike M. Night, and wasn’t ready to write him off as a good director just for making a couple of awful films, after he made some really good ones, and I think this is one of the good ones. I watch The Village whenever I’m in a certain mood, and it has never failed to move me. Not only that, but I feel like there’s some type of dialogue happening between After Earth, and The Village, with their themes of father/child relationships, emotional suppression, and the philosophy of fear.


Alien Resurrection:


I’ve been a Winona Ryder fan since her role in Heathers, waaay back in the 80’s, so I’m always gonna fangirl over her, in even some of her worst roles (I’m talking about you, Dracula!) I was delighted to see she’d been cast in the Alien franchise, which has always been heavily woman -centered, from its inception, and I was hoping for some wonderful female to female moments between her and Ripley, and I got this beautiful mother/daughter dynamic, which echoed some of same themes in Aliens, where Ripley bonds with Newt.

There’s also Ron Perlman being an ass, while using grammatically correct English.

Call, the robot Wynnona plays in the movie, is one of my all-time favorite Aliens characters, right up there with Ripley, and Vasquez. I think my love for Call has a lot to do with my age at the time when I saw the movie. I have all kinds of thoughts about this movie, and Call and Ripley in particular, so I should probably review it, huh?


Alien Vs Predator:
Yeah, we talked about this in an earlier post, and if you haven’t been paying attention, there is a trend in the kind of movie I enjoy Vs the kind of movie critics hate. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of movies that I can agree are wonderful, but I’m still feeling suspicious about how some movies end up with really awful reviews, when I’ve not noticed a great qualitative difference between it and any other mediocre film it’s type. Sometimes though, the timing of a movie’s release is just bad, and people are rejecting it in the moment, only to embrace the movie many years later, as with Bladerunner.

And sometimes critics hate something, and they’re right about that, but then movies like that tend to be very obviously awful, too.


And as a special bonus round, cuz sometimes y’all know some stuff that I don’t:

Movies I Hated (But Y’all Loved!)😐

There are only a couple of these movies that I actively hate, so hate is maybe a stronger word, than I need. I should say I’m mostly indifferent  to them, (but the word “indifferent ” doesn’t look good in the sub-title). Also this list was initially a lot longer. It seems I’m apathetic to a lot of movies that other people really, really love.



I think I was one of five people that was unimpressed by this movie. I watched this when I was a teenager, and thought it was really cute, but beyond that my feeling was…meh. I liked Elliot, and the E.T. was kinda adorable, but ultimately this movie didn’t end up on any of  my favorites list. It may also have had something to do with the hyping of the film before and just after it’s release. I do remember feeling sick and damn tired of seeing the ads for it. And once again, it all comes down to timing, too. I probably wasn’t in the right mind frame, or right age to appreciate it. Released a couple of years earlier, I probably would’ve loved it.


Wonder Woman:

I don’t actually hate this movie. It’s a perfectly adequate action movie. I think part of the reason I wasn’t too ga-ga over it is probably because I’m a forty something year old Black woman, whose seen this kind of movie before. I saw it the first time when it was called Alien, and again when it was called Aliens, and again, when it was called Ghostbusters, and Mad Max Fury Road. I am well used to the idea of White women being non-sexualized badasses in movies. This ain’t new to me. Hell, Ripley is my patron saint, and sits in the cinematic pantheon. So maybe I’m just really tired, or the timing was off, or I wasn’t the audience for it.

But you know what? I’ve decided this movie just wasn’t for me, I guess. I respect that some people really, really loved it, so I’m not gonna talk too much shit about it, but really, I wasn’t feeling that. The movie was just alright. I was crazier over Mad Max. If I were a twenty year old White woman, I might be insane over this movie, and wtf, twenty year old White women still need representation too.


The Deer Hunter:

I just hated this depressing-assed movie,which wasnt as awful as Deliverance, but well within spitting distance. The characters are fine, the premise is great, but this is one of those movies that only ever needs to be watched one time, after which you cleanse yourself, and try to recover from the mood it caused. This movie along with

Casualties of War:

…are two of the most depressing and/or horrifying war movies ever made. I have one word of advice for anyone coming across this film, because it stars Michael J Fox, and they think it might be worth watching…


Please save yourself the abject misery of watching this film. Sitting through this movie was an act of sheer fucking endurance,and I will never get the hours of my life back, that I spent watching it. Other than the movie looking beautiful, there is nothing enjoyable about this film. I basically spent two hours watching Fox’s character wish-wash, back and forth, over whether or not to save the life of a young Vietnamese woman, who is never given a name, and had been kidnapped, and repeatedly raped and brutalized by his commanding officer, and the small squad of soldiers he commanded. The movie manages to make it all about his dilemma and guilt over ratting out his commanding officer, for war crimes, rather than the story of the young woman actually undergoing the ordeal over which he feels so conflicted. The most galling moment comes at the end of the movie when he is offered redemption for his difficult decision, by a young Asian American woman he saw on his bus route, whose face reminded him of that long ago victim.
This is exactly what we mean when we say White writers should no longer be allowed to tell other people’s stories. The story is very obviously about her, and her ordeal, but written from the point of view of the lone white man, with a conscience, who is deeply concerned about turning against his squad buddies, and reporting them to upper command.

I hated this movie.

Critics seemed to like it just fine.

Back to the Future:

For the record, I am a fan of Michael J. Fox, and don’t hate all his films, but this movie also misses me. Ive seen it about three times, and watched the two sequels when they came on TV. I thought they were really cute. I do not understand the foaming at the mouth level of glee I’ve seen from movie fans for it, though. It just doesn’t move me that much, even though something about it, I don’t know what, seemed to have thoroughly captured the imaginations of White male nerds. I say that because I’ve never heard, or even read, of a single PoC, woman (or man), who loves this movie like that.

To me, it’s just a fun, not too deep, Scifi movie, aimed at teenagers.


Point Break: 

Patrick Swayze was one of the sexiest men in Hollywood when he as at the height of his career. That said, this ain’t one of my favorites by him. (That would be Roadhouse.) I hated the characters in Point Blank, and thought the plot was deeply stupid, and not in a good way. Roadhouse was stupid too, but the plot was audaciously stupid, and everyone just ran with it, and I couldn’t help but give it two thumbs up. Also, I liked the main character, so that helped.



I remember the huge hype around this movie, but I didn’t go to see this in the theaters. I watched it on cable a few years later. I wasn’t really trying to see it either. It was just on TV. I watched it with my Mom, and we were both mostly bored, although the romance of Jack and Rose was really cute . I didn’t object to the romance and the prologue and stuff, and the movie was very pretty, but I didn’t find any of it especially compelling either. We were almost clinically fascinated by the disaster scenes, with me discussing the physics of it with her, but apparently the physics is not something you tell people that you enjoyed about this movie.



Yeah, this was another movie I absolutely hated. It has the distinction of being the only movie, starring Sigourney Weaver, that I’ve ever intensely disliked. Omg! This motherf… movie is gonna need a whole hate post about it, starting with Sam Worthington, his character, the plot, the aliens. I don’t normally do shitposts about movies. I like to stick with movies I loved, and why I loved them, so don’t hold your breath on that.

Ugh! Lemme stop thinking about it!



This movie was just alright. I liked the characters okay, and Sandra Bullock was a lot of fun in the role, but I wasn’t very excited by this movie. It did have the affect of making me like Keanu Reeves a little bit more than before,and it was thrilling, I guess, but I wasn’t greatly moved to laud it as the second coming of the action movie.


The Shape of Water (2017]

Image result for the shape of water gifs

I am a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro. I’ve seen every one of his films, and loved  all of them, with the exception of Crimson Peak, which wasn’t a bad movie , (merely unequal to his other films.)

Guillermo is the kind of director whose films all have meaning. Every image, every line of dialogue, even the costumes and color choices,  have  a  personal meaning for the director,  or propel  the narrative, or examine a character, and he always has something interesting to say, a point he wishes to make, a message to impart to his audience. He makes fantasies that parallel and contrast the real world.

In many of his films, he chronicles how the world of fantasy impacts the real world. In Hellboy 1 & 2, there’s a discussion of real world reactions to the existence of supernatural creatures, and what place someone like Hellboy can make for himself in it. Blade 2, despite all its fantastical elements, takes place entirely in the real world, with the same technology, music, and culture. The vampires in that world have adapted very well to human ingenuity, and in Pan’s Labyrinth, a young girl’s horrifying  real world life, under fascism, is juxtaposed against a fantasy world, in which she actually holds power, and importance, and agency.

Image result for the shape of water gifs

I’ve read many reviews of this film, and not  one of them has mentioned how the fantasy elements of this movie contrast, and impact, the real world, of the sixties Civil Rights environment, in which it takes place. This movie is rich with social commentary that I’m not seeing reflected in any of its reviews. Most of the reviewers focus on the romance between  Eliza and her Fishman paramour, or the set design, or the special effects,  never bothering to go deeper, into what the film actually means for Eliza’s character, or the villain’s motivations. No one has discussed the time period in which it takes place either, which I find frustrating, because the villain’s motivations arise precisely out of the Jim Crow era in which the movie takes place, and informs how Eliza and the Fishman are treated, and the decisions Eliza makes.

The movie sits smack in the middle of the Civil Rights movement, and  although it isn’t something explicitlyshown,  this is a statement, not just about what’s happening with the characters, but a message to us today. As in all his films, Guillermo is telling us something about ourselves right now.  Guillermo says that he chose that particular time period because it’s a direct reflection of what’s happening in the US today, from the re-emergent Cold War, to the various social rights movements like BLM, and the casual racism, sexism, and homophobia, which has reared its ugly head again.

Image result for the shape of water gifs

Just as in the sixties, there is a clash of ideologies, which is often brought about, and exacerbated by, emergent technologies. The internet has allowed marginalized groups to push-back against, and challenge, the narratives of White supremacy, in ways they couldn’t before. Social Media allows marginalized groups to organize, and protest with an immediacy that was once lacking, and online communities allow them to disseminate news and information in real time, as with NoDAPL. In the sixties, it was the handheld camera, that brought the Civil Rights movement, the Korean War, and  the Vietnam War right into people’s livingrooms. It was the Space Program that heated up the cold war between Russia and the United States.

Image result for the shape of water gifs

Michael Shannon, as Strickland, is the physical embodiment of “White male rage, and entitlement”, existing at a period in time in which his cultural supremacy is being called into question by external forces,  that his oppression helped to create. He doesn’t just take his rage out on the amphibian captive, on whom he liberally uses a cattle prod, (his captive does push back against his rage and violence) but takes his hatred and contempt out on both Eliza, and Octavia Spencer’s character, Zelda, questioning her, in a smugly racist tone, why she doesn’t have any siblings (because that’s not common for HER people), which forces Zelda to reveal the tragic loss of her mother when she was born. At the same meeting he loudly asks if Eliza can hear him.

He has the best kind of life there is, with a  loving wife and children, a brand new model car, and a house in the suburbs, yet seems to resent all of it, showing no affection towards his wife and children, even though they dote on him, and he appears to be in a rage at even his “happiest” moments.  This is a man who can’t even find joy in fucking his beautiful, blonde,  trophy wife. The only time we ever see Strickland smile, in the movie, is when he’s contemplating, or bringing harm,  to someone else. Strickland also  lives in a world that is beginning to change, and he can see a future in which he can no longer express his rage and fear at those he deems as less than himself. Just like today, those “people” are talking back to him, and need to be put back in their place of not questioning his supremacy, and again, like today’s form of bigot,  all he has at his disposal is violence. He leads a miserable and rage fueled life.

Image result for the shape of water gifs

Eliza’s neighbor, Giles, is an older gay man who loves musicals, dancing and key lime pie. One of the first musicals we see in the movie is The Little Colonel, starring Shirley Temple, and Bojangles, and is an example of the time period romanticized by the White people of the sixties, just as the early sixties are heavily romanticized today. At one point, Giles entreats Eliza to turn away from the images of civil rights rioting on his TV, to a happier image of  Bojangles,  smiling, and dancing, and happy. Directly after that scene, Eliza and Giles do a little tap dance, while sitting on the couch, and maybe this is Guillermo’s way of pointing out how oppressed people have always tried to maximize what little joy they can find, in the face of so much misery. Eliza and Giles are both single, they don’t own a fancy home or car. In society, she and Giles have nothing, and are nothing. Now contrast Eliza and Giles simple pleasures of pie, movies, and dancing,  with Strickland’s joyless existence.

Dancing is also Eliza’s escape. There’s a surreal daydream about her and the Amphibian dancing in a musical. Guillermo’s message here is about the power of imagination, and how the oppressed find power and happiness. This is something clearly expressed in his movie Pan’s Labyrinth, where the little girl, Ofelia, dreams of escaping her brutal existence, as a Queen of the Fairies,  through the use of her imagination. This is also a statement about Del Toro’s  personal life. He grew up poor and  escaped poverty  through film, through dreams


. Eliza wants to escape the circumstances of her life too, and at the end of the movie, she is more than happy to do so. (Although, I must point out, that though Eliza has managed to escape, and Strickland is gone, Giles, and Zelda are left behind to pick up the pieces.)

Image result for the shape of water gifs


There are several interactions between marginalized people that speak to the lack of unity of that time period. Giles is white and male, but every bit as powerless as Zelda, and Eliza, especially after people find out about his private life. Earlier, Giles is emphatic about not watching racial unpleasantness on his TV, but later, he attempts to defend a black couple who try to eat in the diner he frequents, but get kicked out by the counterman. Giles cares enough to come to their defense, but not in the moment, and we realize just how powerless he is afterwards, when he makes a pass at the waiter, and is kicked out of the diner was well.  Note that Giles is all alone when he does this. Guillermo quietly  illustrates how all these different  outsiders are trying to make it on their own. The message here is that unless  they all unite to stand against their oppressors they can accomplish nothing.

My biggest issue is the lone Black man in the movie, Zelda’s husband David. He is perhaps the weakest character in the movie. He is of no use to Zelda, (who speaks of him often and seems to love him), and he does not come to Zelda’s aid when Strickland bursts into their home and bullies them for Eliza’s whereabouts. He also does not aid in the Fishman’s escape from the lab, tries to talk Zelda out of getting involved, and is so cowed by his environment, that he rats her out to Strickland.

My overall impression is that David gave up fighting long ago, and  that he doesn’t really love Zelda, since he was not only  completely unwilling to fight for her but gave up Eliza as well. I have mixed feelings about this character, and I don’t think Del Toro thought him through very well, or took into account how this would look to any Black men watching this film, who would be infuriated at the depiction. On the one hand, it wasn’t necessary to have the only Black man, in the entire movie, be an example of  what the system of Jim Crow was meant to do, which is drain all the fighting spirit out of Black men, keeping them terrified, and submissive. On the other hand, if he were not those things, it would’ve become a very different type of movie. I feel he could have been eliminated from the plot altogether and the film would largely be left intact.

Strickland wants to destroy the Amphibian, a creature of the natural world that he often refers to as an abomination. He tortures and abuses the creature, to no purpose, but his own petty enmity. When the Fishman is slated for an autopsy table, Eliza teams up with Zelda, a German researcher, and Giles to thwart Strickland. In the end, they all come together to take down Strickland, and I feel like the message here was that only through the unity of  outsiders, can such an overwhelmingly oppressive force, like him, be overcome.

Image result for the shape of water gifs

In all of Guillermo’s films, you have a villain who attempts to destroy the natural world for vengeance, greed, entitlement, and/or short sightedness. In Blade 2, the natural order of the world is disrupted by a quest for power, and the  destruction of humanity is averted by the hero fighting with the very beings he’d made a profession of killing. In Hellboy, the villain wishes to disrupt the order of the world by calling down The Old Gods of Lovecraftian mythology, and in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, faded fairy nobility wants to avenge the destruction of the natural world by human greed. And in The Shape of Water, Strickland is destroyed by the the very sort of people he most hates and fears.

The message of the outsider being more noble, more self sacrificing, and more compassionate is woven throughout many of Guillermo’s films. Since Del Toro himself is a Mexican immigrant, he has always felt himself to be one of the outsiders, and most of his films are seen through such a lens, recognizing the power of those who stand outside the mainstream. All of Del Toro’s protagonists are pieces of himself. Unlike most fantasy film directors, he is willing to address social issues in his films, and reviewers need to give the man his proper respect for doing that, and acknowledge that in their reviews.



Quick question:What is Guillermo Del Toro’s fascination with Germans? Every one of his films has a German character in it. Can you spot them?

*Note: My second review of this movie will be a discussion of sex and disability.



Why I’m Not Watching The Movie Annihilation


I’m a big Jeff Vandermeer fan. I’ve read most of his books, all of which are pretty trippy. (The man has a serious fascination with mushrooms.) So I was  excited to hear they’d be filming his three part Southern Reach series, and while I had no particular objection to Alex Garland as the filmmaker, I had to stop and and ask myself, Is the book unfilmable?

If you haven’t read the book, the best description of it is that it’s an intellectual exercise in horror. Events happen in the book, but the book is not linear, in the sense that the actions you’re reading about have immediate consequences, or lead to other events. This is not helped by the unreliable narrator. Events occur, are occurring, but you have no idea what they mean, or if they did, in fact, actually occur.

In the first book of the Area X trilogy, called Annihilation, an all female team of researchers go on an expedition into what’s called Area X, an area of weird life forms, and bizarre transformations of the natural world, that may or may not be hostile, which grows larger every year. In the movie, this place is called The Shimmer, and it’s probably worth looking at just to see the alien life forms.

These women are the 12th such expedition into the area. Most of the other expeditions didn’t come back, and the individuals who have made it out, either die soon afterwards, or are less than helpful as to what happened.. The narrator is a woman who lost her husband in the previous expedition. He came back but lapsed into a coma.The first book chronicles her journey  into Area X, while still in mourning for her husband. Just to complicate issues, some of the members of the expedition have been tasked with observing the others, and some of them have been given hypnotic code words, to make them do, and say  things.

Image result for annihilation

I read the first book, and skipped the second and third, because those seemed less about Area X, than about the government organization that studies it, called The Southern Reach. A lot of the second book consists of the backbiting and infighting between the members of this organization.

I don’t know how well this movie is going to do at the box office. I don’t think its going to do exceptionally well, but I could be wrong. Like Nicole Kidman, Natalie Portman has never been a huge draw for filmgoers, although she’s a perfectly acceptable actress. There’s also the matter of this movie coming out on the tail end of the release of Black Panther. But then, I think any movie released in the wake of Black Panther is taking a rather bold stance. The creators of this movie must have realized this because they will be releasing the movie to Netflix UK sometime in March, from what I understand.

What I know of the plot of the movie doesn’t sound a whole lot like the book either. There’s a bunch of mutated animals, including a mutated bear, hunting the members of the expedition. This bear isn’t in the book, although a host of other odd creatures are, the most frightening of which is The Crawler.

Image result for movie annihilation the crawler

And then there is the matter of the whitewashing. Natalie Portman’s character is described as being Asian in the book, and a lot of people feel some type of way about that, to the point where Garland has had to makes some excuses for why he chose her. He claims he had not read the book before she was cast. What Portman’s excuse is, I have no idea. It was someone’s responsibility to let people know that the lead character was Asian. He also cast Jenifer Jason Leigh in another role supposedly meant for  a half Indian woman. As usual Hollywood continues to fuck up, when it comes to Asian representation.

Myriad reasons have been cited as to how this happened: The characters’ ethnicities are not explicitly stated until the second book; Garland began working on the adaptation before he was officially attached to the project and therefore before the second book was published. Etcetera. The bottom line seems to be ignorance, as Garland, Portman, and Leigh have all stated that they simply didn’t know. It’s not difficult to believe there was no malicious intent in the casting. But the statements still read like apologies that somehow lack the word “sorry,” and shuck responsibility for what happened onto a nonexistent second part


Image result for annihilation whitewashing

In the meantime, Non-Asian American fans are getting really, really, tired of only seeing the same 25 white actresses in everything. I have nothing against ScarJo, she’s an adequate actress, and she’s very pretty, (JLaw, on the other hand, can go kick rocks) but I really don’t want to see her ass in one more damn movie. I’m just  “tahd” of looking at her, and I’m about to feel the same way about Portman. I understand why Hollywood keeps casting the same people over and over, but still. Enough is enough.

In the book everyone dies, and this is an issue for me, because all the other women in the expedition are women of color. I love that they hired Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez for these roles, but I just don’t feel like sitting in the movie theater watching the only WoC in the entire movie get brutally mauled by a giant demon-bear. I feel tired just thinking about it. Apparently Hollywood’s idea of diversity now is to put WoC in a movie, and then brutally kill them (yeah, we’re looking at you Atomic Blonde!) I’d tell Hollywood to just cast some White women next time, but I’m pretty sure that they are also pretty tired of seeing themselves be brutally fridged,


I feel like making the movie about the women being hunted by a mutated animal is kind of dumbing it down, although a lot of critics claim its a very smart film. I just expected more than that because its not just the plot of the book that’s strange. The mood, the dialogue, all of feels uncanny. The book is full of long, quiet, contemplative moments, where the reader is basically sitting with the protagonists and hearing her thoughts. There’s also the added weirdness that she might very well be going insane, and doesn’t know it. It’s because of that, that her descriptions of what the other characters are doing, is suspect. (Perhaps if Terence Malick had been chosen as the director, I’d be more impressed. He seems to specialize in thoughtful voice-over  films.)

Despite my misgivings, I’m still intrigued though, but not intrigued enough to go to the movies and spend money on it. I think I’ll wait for this to come to cable.



Do You Remember Earth: The Final Conflict?


Image result for earth the final conflict

This show came across my dash, while I was scrolling through Amazon Prime, and I  had to say something about it. I did watch this show when it aired, and it wasn’t a bad show, but I had some trouble watching it now, as I’m spoiled from having too much of the good shit.

Earth The Final Conflict is a Gene Roddenberry show, (it says so right in its title), even though the show doesn’t seem very Roddenberry-ish in tone, and one of the only other shows he ever created besides Star Trek. I remember deciding to watch it, back in the day, because I thought it would be kinda Trekky, but it wasn’t. Its a very different type of show. than Trek.

It aired from 1997 to 2002 ,and you’d think people would remember this more, because it wasn’t actually awful, but maybe because it was so middle of the road, people don’t care. Hell, even I feel that way about it, and I watched it. I only remembered it because it was suggested to me as part of my viewing history on Amazon.


The show kinda reminded me a little bit of V, because aliens called the Jaridians,  visit Earth with the public intention of helping humanity, as they always  say. In this case though, the aliens really are ALIEN, and deeply enigmatic. I watched this show for about three years, and I still don’t know what the fuck the aliens wanted on Earth. But no matter what their intentions, you know there has to be a group of human beings in opposition to them, because they’re suspicious of the aliens, even though the aliens have provided food security, cured various diseases, and stopped war.

ETFC starred Gene Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett, and a handful of bland White people, along with PoC who had too much character, because that’s how TV did things in the 90’s. The show had an Asian actor as one of the leads, Von Flores, but his character was pretty  sketchy, and was in league with the aliens, so I don’t know if he counts as good representation according to today’s standards, and because I still can’t say whether or not the aliens were evil. The aliens are such a gray space that they might have actually been good, but its  the humans around them who were a bunch of duplicitous assholes, and maintaining the drama.

Related image

There was the token white, male, hero of the show, Kevin Kilner, playing a guy named Boone, who gets conscripted into working for the aliens, after his family is fridged. This actor was so lacking in character, and personality, that I don’t even remember his name, nor do I remember seeing him in any other shows after this. Not that he didn’t star in anything else, it’s just that I wouldn’t have noticed if he did.

There was also  the token Black guy named Richard Chevolleau, and he played some type of rebel hacker. I remember him because he had a weird accent.

But the standout characters were actually the aliens themselves. Someone put some real imagination into making them really alien, especially the leader, Da’an, played by a woman named Leni Parker. All the aliens were played by women, but played in such a way that they were meant to be non-binary, so the aliens did not behave as either males of females, in any stereotypical manner. They put some real thought into things like how to dress them, body language, speech and their actual voices. These aliens were so mysterious, that I didn’t even consider them stand-ins for some other race of human beings, which is a trap that shows like this frequently fall into.

I actually liked Da’an, because they seemed okay, and I liked the way they were portrayed. I remember when I watched the first episode, and heard Da’ans voice for the first time, and was deeply puzzled. It took a few episodes to get used to the depiction of the aliens, because there just wasn’t anything on TV like them. My brain kept wanting to read Da’an as female, but the show creators actually took things like that into account, and put some real effort into making sure Da’an didn’t conform to any gender roles.

Image result for earth the final conflict

I do  remember  mildly disliking most of the humans on the show. Except for the token Black guy, named Auger, and Von Flores, as they were the only two characters with actual personalities. Flores was sneaky and duplicitous, so he was hard to actually like, but at least you remembered him when the episode ended, and Chevolleau’s character had a sense of humor, something which no one else on the show displayed. Everyone on the show was always deeply grim and serious, even though the show didn’t look that way until the later seasons.


Later on, there was an alien- human hybrid added to the show because, of course, and some extra, more suspicious, aliens were added to the show, to contrast  Da’an. Basically, because the show was unclear  if Da’an was a villain,  they needed to clear that up by adding an actual villain,  which did not work, because, many years later, I’m still unsure if Da’an was a villain. So  that didn’t work either, and  there were some actual evil aliens added to the show, called the Atavus that the Jaridians were fighting.

I also got tired of the humans fighting colonization by aliens plot that was the primary plot of season one and two. I still hate this plot today. Once again, it’s always White people (the ultimate colonizers of everywhere on Earth) who get to decide, and fight for the future of humanity, and then there was the idea in the back of my mind,  that the aliens weren’t actually bad guys,  just the humans who worked for them were bad, and that these resistance fighters were blowing up buildings, and assassinating people, for nothing.

The rebels seemed to be resisting the idea of aliens making human beings behave better towards each other, and I remember being upset about them making the decision to kill other beings, for all humanity, without asking the rest of humanity if they wanted to be fought for. I remember disliking  the rebels deciding  that humans needed saving, because I’m not entirely sure the aliens were evil. I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords.

The show is also an interesting depiction of how humans might actually behave, if Earth were colonized by an advanced species, that weren’t obviously hostile. Because of their good behavior towards humans, some people would worship them, and some people  formed churches, in which Da’an is deified. Some other human beings would definitely be upset about the deification of the aliens, and want to break that shit up, I guess.

Image result for earth the final conflict aliens

I thought the special effects were pretty good, especially the flying ships, the depiction of the aliens, who were these semi-transparent creatures, that seemed to be made out of layers of energy, and the destructive blasters worn by their human assistants, called Skrills, which I think were living creatures of some kind. I remember being more curious about the living writstblasters than any other technology displayed on the show, and wondered what it was like to wear one, and if the aliens were monitoring their human companions through their bioware.


Anyway, the show is  worth a re-watch if you can get past the bland acting of the humans. The aliens are definitely worth watching, if only to try to figure out if they are actually evil, or not, and because they are an  interesting interpretation of non-binary, a-gendered beings. I didn’t watch the show through its entire run, so I can’t say what the outcome is, or whether or not the conflict was, indeed, final.


Star Trek Discovery: Review of Season One

Image result for star trek discovery

The Plot:

When we last discussed this show, the Discovery was stranded in the Mirror Universe, where our characters encountered their worst selves, and had to touch base with the darkest part of their natures to survive. many of them worried that they might not recover from the ordeal, and some didn’t. Ash  discovered he was the surgically altered Klingon Voq, and attacked  Michael.  Captain Lorca originated from the Mirrorverse, and more than likely, the original Gabriel Lorca is dead.

Image result for emperor philippa gif

Michael Burnham encounters a dark version of Philippa Gheorgiou, who is the Emperor of the Terran Empire. Captain Lorca, and the Burnham of that universe, became lovers, and betrayed her, teaming together to form a coup against her. When Dark/Philippa discovers that this Michael is not her adopted daughter, the two of them team up to defeat Lorca, and he is killed. The Discovery makes it back to its own universe, but the mushroom spores they used to travel there, are all destroyed, and they overshoot their mark, and land nine months in the future, where they find that the Klingons are winning the war.

Because of the death of their leader, the Klingon clans never united and are now contesting among themselves to see how many humans they can kill. Earth is about to be attacked, as well. Having kidnapped Philippa from the Mirrorverse, Michael enlists her aid in defeating the Klingons. Philippa’s solution is to destroy the Klingon homeworld, but Michael talks her out of the idea by giving the power to destroy the Klingons to L’Rel, who uses her new weapon to unite the Klingons, which brings about the end of the war.

Realizing he has no future in Starfleet, Ash Tyler accompanies L’Rel on her mission. Philippa is free to go her way,rather than remain a prisoner of Starfleet, and Michael is reinstated as a Commander on the Discovery, having been the architect of the end of the war, and she and Sarek reconcile.

In the last few minutes of the episode, the Discovery is on its way to pick up its new captain from a nearby starbase, when it receives a distress call from Captain Pike of the  USS Enterprise, the ship on which Spock is the First Officer.



Image result for star trek discovery gifs

One of the things I know I’m good at, is seeing the bigger picture, yet being a visual artist, is what taught me to pay attention to the tiny details that make up that picture. The ability to see the “macro” from a micro level is a mindset that not many people cultivate, but if the viewer is to understand this season, they will have to. Michael’s story and her future is all in the details.

There are a lot of plot details during the course of the season, so this show is much more complex than some previous series of Trek. Because it’s so complex, a lot of fans haven’t been able to grasp exactly what this season was about, and have had difficulty wondering what the writers are trying to do. A lot of fans have complained that the show isn’t very Trekky, but that’s the point.We haven’t got there yet.

Every character has an arc, and so does the crew and ship. but the overall point of all these arcs, appears to be getting to know Michael Burnham, not just through the things we see her do, and the situations she responds to,  but  through her relationships on Discovery, and how other characters respond to her. Through Michael we are also witnessing the origin story of this crew. By the end of the season, we are on our way to seeing the ideals of Starfleet reflected in Michael, the crew, and the  plot.

All of the plot points, and all of the characters, revolve around, and are informed by, the existence of Michael Burnham. We are watching a show chronicling the growth and maturity of a StarFleet officer, and its crew. We visited the Mirrorverse to learn what type of crew, what type of people, they are not, and cannot be, to contrast with who they should, and can be. The writers wanted to show us negatives before showing the positives.

The flavor is different from the other Trek shows, but then they all felt different, so this means little to me. The colors are brighter, the lighting is dimmer, the humor is a little different. There’s sex, nudity and a little cussing, but over the course of the season the show begins to lighten and there’s a little more humor between the characters.

The Bridge crew is very intriguing, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them next season, with stories being told about them, and narratives involving them, as we didn’t get to see or hear much from any of them. In fact, we know nothing about any of them beyond how they look, so I’m excited to get to know them. (Interesting Note: There’s not a single White man in the regular Bridge crew of the Discovery. Actually, the only White, straight man, in the entire speaking crew, was Lorca and he turned out to be evil. The present cast consists almost entirely of PoC, and mostly women. Make of that what you will.)



Michael Burnham

Related image

Michael is introduced to us as a rather reserved, and somewhat rude, Vulcan wannabe, in the premiere episodes, but during the course of the season we watch her become more human, discovering and dealing with the faults of her character. As the audience, we travel with her on her path to self discovery. Essentially, we are watching Star Trek: The Making of a Starfleet Officer, or The Fall and Rise of Michael Burnham.

We see her fall from grace in the first couple of episodes, as she mutinies against, and then presides over the death of, her Captain, a woman with whom she had established a mother/daughter relationship. Michael’s hubris begins a war with the Klingons, and she will have to live with the repercussions of this for the remainder of the season. This is why the very first minute of the first episode is a shot of Michael and Philippa together. Their relationship is going to be the center around which almost all of Michael’s decisions will revolve for the next 14 episodes, and the loss and betrayal of her mother figure, and commanding officer, will be the impetus behind many of Michael’s decisions later in the season, just as the death of her parents informs her decisions in the show’s premiere. I think,had that particular trauma been dealt with, by the Vulcans, Michael would not have made those decisions.

Image result for star trek discovery gifs

Everything that happens, for the rest of the season, can be traced back to Michael’s betrayal and mutiny of Philippa, and that can be traced back to unresolved trauma, after the deaths of Michael’s parents, at the hands of the Klingons.. The war she inadvertently started with the Klingons, killed her captain, and made it possible for Capt. Lorca to be present in the Prime universe, which puts him in  place to make certain decisions that affect her  development, and the lives of the Discovery crew. For Michael to become the person she will be, her old life needs to be destroyed, but she cannot move forward until she deals with all of its loose ends.

Her introduction to the crew of the Discovery is a bit rocky at first, but she eventually establishes herself as a reliable and intelligent officer, and even develops a positive relationship with her roommate, Silvia Tilly, that echoes her relationship with her late Captain, with Michael in the role of mentor. The first part of the season finds her making peace with Lt. Saru, her former Science Officer from the Shen Zhou, and developing a romantic relationship with Ash Tyler, a former prisoner of war.

By the middle of the season, Michael experiences another setback as she visits the Mirror Universe, and discovers the worst possible versions of the people she knew, including Phillipa, Capt. Lorca,  and Ash Tyler. Since coming on board the Discovery, Michael has had a  decision to make, about the kind of human she would like to become, and in the MirrorVerse, she is presented with the contrast, and the temptation, to be the worst kind of human she could be, which she roundly rejects. In every episode Michael gets a chance to redeem herself and reflect the ideals of StarFleet.

Image result for star trek discovery gifs/cast

Just because Michael knows what kind of person she wants to be, doesn’t mean she is done. She  must still deal with the emotional fallout of Philippa’s death, which is also tied into the emotional trauma of her parents death, that she has never dealt with either.  Given the choice between allowing the Mirrorverse version of Philippa to die, or saving her life, Michael saves her life, and takes her to the Prime universe. Michael’s, guilt and regret, at causing Prime-Phillipa’s death, informs her decision, and even though this version of Phillipa isn’t hers, Michael hopes to atone, by saving the soul of this less worthy version of her former mentor.

Michael  cannot do anything with her life, until all the issues in her past have been properly acknowledged and dealt with. We are really seeing an origin story for Michael Burnham.


Captain/Emperor:  Philippa Georghiou

Image result for emperor philippa gif

Philippa adopted Michael as a surrogate daughter by the time we saw her in the season premiere, and had done a lot of work to introduce Michael to her human side by that time. Michael’s attack on her,  and that betrayal, was really hard on her ,and the situation was never resolved between them because she died.

Later in the season, we meet the Mirrorverse version of Phiippa, who also had a mother/daughter relationship with the Mirrorverse version of Michael. That version of Philippa is also the autocratic, despotic, Emperor of the Terran Empire (So when Michelle Yeoh said we would see her character again, she really wasn’t lying.). Her version of Michael had also betrayed her, and she feels some type of way about that. When she discovers that the Michael she is talking to is not the one who betrayed her, she teams up with her to defeat her rival, Gabriel Lorca.

Related image

When her life is endangered, she makes it clear she wishes to go down with her ship , but Michael decides to save her life instead, and spirits her away to the Prime universe. The two of them have many feelings to work out between them. Mirroverse people claim not to love, considering it a weakness of character, but it is clear they have feelings for one another, and Philippa  has feelings for this version of Michael, whom she refers to as Not Her Daughter. Mirrorverse Philippa needs to reconcile with the “ghost” of her version of Michael, and Michael needs to finally lay Philippa’s ghost to rest through this version of her.

This Philippa’s presence will give Michael an opportunity to work out issues that she had with the Prime universe version. This is yet another opportunity for growth, to lay to rest the demons in her past, and move forward. To become the person she is meant to be. Because she was raised on Vulcan, Michael did not mature in the way that most humans did, and a lot of what we see is Michael experiencing these emotional life events for the first time. Through letting go of Philippe, she is dealing with the trauma of losing parental figures.

In a sense, Michael is still a teenager, albeit a teenager with a formidable intellect. She makes the kind of mistakes that only a human, who has not reached emotional maturity, would make. There’s nothing wrong with her intellect, but she is interacting with humans, and with issues that, had she been raised with humans, she would long ago have dealt with, like the deaths of her parents by the Klingons. Vulcans simply don’t handle emotions the way humans do, and Michael had been taught to act like a Vulcan by suppressing them, not working through them, which brings us to:


 Silvia Tilly


Image result for star trek discovery gifs/tilly

One of the first people Michael meets is one of the most important people on the ship for her, and that’s Lt. Silvia Tilly, Michael’s  irrepressibly bubbly roommate. It’s important that Michael meet Tilly first because Tilly will be her very first human “friend”, and that s important in the development of Michael’s personality. Tilly also turns out to be one of my all-time favorite characters in Star Trek, right next to Spock and Data,and a great embodiment of StarFleet ideals. Tilly is also one of the youngest members of the crew, and one of the greatest things is  watching her grow and mature, along side Michael.

When we first meet Tilly, she pulls one of those mean girl stunts towards Michael that immediately causes me to dislike her, but later she redeems herself by becoming  Michael’s biggest supporter and cheerleader. Michael develops a relationship with Tilly that has deep echoes of her relationship with Philippa, as a mentor and mentee, as she encourages Tilly to fulfill her dream of becoming a starship captain. Tilly’s acceptance is the first step in Michael’s long journey to find herself.

It is Tilly that gently encourages Michael to open herself up to her feelings. Later, she encourages Michael to pursue a relationship with Ash, and when that falls though, she is the one who puts forth the idea of closure, telling Michael she needs to speak to Ash and resolve the issue between them, when Michael would rather run from it. Every time Michael tries to ignore,  run away from, or suppress her emotions, it is  Tilly who encourages her to fully engage, and  experience  the human condition, and does so without judgement. In return Tilly receives Michael’s full trust before anyone else does. It is Michael’s relationship with Tilly that paves the way for her relationship with Ash.

Image result for star trek discovery gifs/tilly

Tilly experiences her own character arc as she becomes more confident in her ability to solve problems, and in the Mirrorverse, she gets an opportunity to sit in the Captain’s chair, encouraged by Michael’s words of support. In fact, Tilly’s time in the Mirrorverse results in a positive outcome for her. Getting in touch with her worst self allows her to channel that energy into the self confidence that will get her that captain’s chair. After her adventures in the Mirrorverse, we can see the seeds of the captain she will eventually become.

Michael’s affect on Tilly is especially evident after Ash Tyler is re-introduced back into the crew rotation, after his Klingon persona killed Hugh Culber. In any other environment, he would be a pariah, as Michael was when she first came onto the Discovery. But Tilly, in an act of reconciliation , decides to put Ash’s behavior in the past. She takes the initiative to welcome him back, and the rest of the bridge crew follow her example. This is an example of Tilly’s growing confidence in her leadership skills. Her compassion, her positive experience of befriending Michael, another social pariah, informs her decision here.


Lt. Commander/First Officer Saru

When Michael is brought on board the Discovery by Capt.  Lorca, Saru does experience a bit of panic. I didn’t really like this character very much, at first, mostly because he didn’t like Michael, but as the season moved on, I began to understand that he had his own traumas that he was dealing with, and  he feels those traumas are Michael’s fault.

Related image

Michael cost him his captain, a woman he respected, and had worked under for a long time, and he not only had to deal with that loss, but the loss of his position, ship and crew, and the knowledge of  Michael’s betrayal. He is understandably a bit wary of her, thinking her dangerous to him. I’ll wager, since Saru is the way he is, he probably had his entire career mapped out on  the Shen Zhou, and Michael derailed all that, so he definitely feels some type of way.

One of the first hurdles Michael has, is to get past Saru’s guard, reconcile with him, getting him to trust her once more. Over the first several episodes, she goes a long way towards getting him to trust her again, and one of the ways she does so is by acknowledging her mistakes, and bonding with him over the shared loss of Philippa. When Philippa died, she left remembrances to Michael, one of which was a family heirloom, a giant telescope. Michael gives the telescope to Saru instead, and this goes a long way towards mending fences between them.

In another episode, Saru gets possessed by alien spirits that cause him to turn on Michael and Ash during an away mission. This is a callback to Michael’s betrayal of Philippa because she believed she was doing so with the best of intentions , as  Saru believes that he is helping Ash and Michael, when he attacks them. This puts Saru in Michael’s footsteps for a short time He then has some understanding behind her thinking when she was on the Shen Zhou.

Related image


I  want to give a shout out to Doug Jones, who turned in an exemplary performance this season, given that he can show so little facial expression under all that makeup. He has to convey everything about the character through voice and body language, and does a wonderful job of this, reminding me of his work as Abe Sapien in Hellboy.

I was a little reluctant to cozy up to Saru, at first, but he’s become one of my favorite characters. We even get to see him give a rousing  speech, and be a total badass, in the Mirrorverse, when he becomes acting Captain, after Lorca’s demise.


Lt. Paul Stamets

Image result for star trek discovery gifs/culber

It is through working with Stamets that we get regular doses of Michael’s fierce intelligence, and her compassion. If the first two episodes are meant to introduce us to Michael’s weaknesses, than the next two introduce us to Michael’s strengths, and stoicism, as she works closely with Stamets to develop a new kind of engine, a kind of Sporedrive that works with mushroom spores to allow the ship to travel along a plant “neural network” that connects all things.

Stamets was not a very likable character at first, but redeemed himself when he stepped in to take the place of the creature that he was torturing to get the SporeDrive to work. He also nearly sacrifices his life. I feel like he did it as a form of atonement for the harm he initially caused, and also because he’s thoroughly dedicated to his work.

Related image

He and Michael don’t interact much, but he does exist, as an example to Michael, of self-sacrifice and  atonement. This is why I think Michael takes the attitude she does with Saru. Reconciling with Saru is one of the first steps on her journey to dealing with her past mistakes, and mature as a person, and I think Stamet’s self sacrifice may have been the inspiration for  at least part of that.

Michael isn’t just being affected by the world around her, she is also affecting the world, and people, in her orbit. I believe that it’s her act of compassion towards the creature they realized they were killing to run the SporeDrive, is the impetus behind Stamet’s decision to atone by taking the creature’s place, after Michael sets it free.

Being infected by the spores has the added benefit of mellowing Stamet’s personality because I wondered what it was that his lover, Dr. Hugh Culber, saw in him. He is goofier, and more funny when he’s possessed by the spores. As  we see  Stamets and Culber interact during the season we start to get some idea, not just of the deep love between them, but why they’re together.

Later, we are treated to a touching scene of the two of them, meeting after Culber’s death, inside the spore’s neural network. Many viewers were devastated about Culber’s death, but we have been assured by the writers (and the actor, Wilson Cruz) that this is not a Kill All Your Gays Trope, and that we will see Culber again in the future, and I’m inclined to trust all of them on this. After all, we got to see Philippa, again.


Voq/Ash Tyler

Related image

In the Harry Mudd episode, we learn that Michael has never been in love, and she begins a romantic relationship with Ash Tyler. Their relationship has all of the torrid passion that you expect in a first love situation. Michael is rather emotionally immature for a human, with her emotional development having been suppressed while being raised on Vulcan. There are a host of situations that are brand new to her, that most humans have already been through by the time they reach her age, so Michael falling in love with Ash, is another step forward in her emotional journey.

So is betrayal by one’s lover and  the breakup song. It turns out that Ash isn’t just a traumatized victim of the Klingons. He actually is the Klingon, Voq, who has been surgically altered to look like the dead human, Ash Tyler, with Tyler’s personality as an overlay. When Voq’s personality begins to reassert itself, after meeting his counterpart in the Mirroverse, he tries to kill Michael. Naturally Michael is having some serious trust issues after the Ash Tyler personality is restored. She breaks up with him because she realizes that neither of them are well enough, or mature enough, to have a healthy relationship or be good for each other, which is probably one of the most mature romantic decisions I’ve ever seen in any show. Most plots are predicated on the characters making really bad romantic decisions.

A lot of the things Michael goes through in the season are the kinds of events that most humans have already dealt with by the time they are Michael’s age, like love, trust, and the  betrayal of those things, against her, and by her. She must deal with the enormous fallout of her betrayal of Philippa, and in turn with being betrayed by others like Lorca and Ash.


Captain Gabriel Lorca

Image result for star trek discovery gifs/lorca

One of the primary themes of the season is trust and betrayal, with many episodes dealing with the the emotional fallout and events that occur when characters betray each other’s trust. In one episode Lorca betrays Harry Mudd, leaving him behind to be tortured by the Klingons after it is discovered that Harry is their spy. This is something that comes back to bite Lorca in the ass later, when Harry Mudd gets revenge by taking over his ship. Lorca also betrays Cornwell to the Klingons, in the episode where he refuses to look for her, after her capture by them, which he set up.

But most importantly Lorca betrays Starfleet and the Discovery, when it turns out that the real Captain Lorca is probably dead, and has been replaced by the Mirrorverse version, as the audience suspected. While in the Mirrorverse, there are a number of crosses, and double crosses, as Michael learns that the Mirrorverse version of Michael had also betrayed that world’s version of Philippa, and had teamed up with Lorca to dethrone her as the Emperor. It turns out that, in the Mirrorverse, Lorca started out as a kind of father figure and lover (Eww!) of that world’s version of Michael. The two of them planned to rule the Terran empire together.

We had wondered about the meaning of Lorca’s bond with Michael and why he was so protective of her. Not only was he in love with her, but knowing  Philippa’s greatest weakness was her love for Michael, he used her to gain access to the Imperial ship, to get close to Philippa. In the end Lorca dies when they both turn on him.

Now that Lorca is out of the way, we can see the bridge crew start to behave more like the Star Trek crews we’ve always known. The writers have stated that because of Lorca’s presence, the crew of the Discovery didn’t get to bond in the way they should have, and now that he is gone, they can show a level of teamwork that Lorca may have actively worked to suppress. It is the female members of the bridge crew who make the effort to welcome Ash, after his Voq personality has been destroyed. Contrast that with how they treated Michael when she first arrived.

More than anytihng else, its the regard and respect that starship crews show for one another that makes Trek, Trek,  and we get to see them really come together and start to act like a crew, ironically, enough, during their stint in the Mirrorverse. So the show isn’t just about the evolution of Michael its also about the parallel evolution of the various crew members, and the ship, in general.


Image result for star trek discovery gifs/sarek

Having grown up on Vulcan, Michael has only ever suppressed her emotions, instead of working through them. After her parent’s death by the Klingons, and then her own death, as a child, from Vulcan rebels (who hate humans), she has a lot to work through, including her feelings of betrayal from Sarek.

When Sarek is attacked and nearly killed by the same Vulcan rebels who killed her, when she was a child,  Michael has to save Sarek’s life, using the mindbond he established with her to bring her back to life. Through that  bond, Michael discovers Sarek’s deepest regret.  Sarek had an opportunity to gain her entry into the Vulcan Science Academy. he could only enter one of his children to the school, and he chose Spock over her.  In doing so, he derailed Michael’s life and career. This decision put Michael on the career track that would eventually land her on Philipa’s  ship, and Sarek feels that all that happened afterwards, Michael’s betrayal, the mutiny, and her conviction, are partially his fault. She and Sarek both have to come to terms with their feelings about what he did, and Michael needs to restructure her relationship to Sarek, before she can move forward.

We are essentially watching Michael take care of all the failures and remnants of her past. Watching her clean it all that up,, and begin to tie up loose ends, before embarking on whatever new phase in her life, which is something she cannot do, until all these issues have been acknowledged, and purged, and her relationships reconciled, including the one with her adoptive Father, and by the end of the season the two are on their way to doing so, with Sarek acknowledging her as the child of his heart, and Michael, with a better understanding of what type of person Sarek is.

Rather than the trusting and childlike relationship we saw at the beginning of the season, with Sarek admonishing Michael, like a child, to “Behave” before leaving her alone with Philippa,  the two are developing a  more equal and adult relationship, built on mutual respect, rather than obedience to his authority, a stage  most humans have undergone by her age.


Last Episode

Image result for star trek discovery gifs

Last episode saw the death of Lorca and the return of the Discovery to their own universe. But they miscalculate and jump forward in time by nine months, where they discover that the Klingons are winning the war, in a piecemeal fashion. The Klingons, because of the disappearance of Voq and the death of their leader at Michael’s hand,  never unified under one clan, so all 24 of the clans have been carving up the Federation in a contest to see who can take the most human lives, and have been indiscriminately killing all humans, with no honor. Admiral Cornwell is still alive, but reaching her breaking point, as the Klingons make a play for Earth.

Sarek and Michael go to Mirrorverse Phillipa to request her aid in defeating the Klingons. Her suggestion is that they destroy the Klingon home-world of Quonos, a ploy that the last remnants of StarFleet have agreed to. In preventing the destruction of the Klingon homeworld,  Michael is finally putting to rest the trauma of her parents deaths, at the hands of the Klingons. Michael demonstrates the best ideals of StarFleet by  showing compassion to a race of people who affected her life course, through their actions. She has come full circle from wanting to kill them on sight, ,which set the entire Klingon war in motion, to helping to save their race, which ends it.


In Conclusion

Image result for star trek discovery michael gifs

This entire season is one where we have been watching Michael essentially play catch-up to the other humans around her. Having been raised on Vulcan as a Vulcan, has built her intellect, but stunted her emotional growth. Because of how she was raised she has no emotional experience to call on when dealing with a highly emotional situations, and I think her past trauma, coupled with her desperation, is what informed her decision to attack Philippa, as there are other ways she could have handled the situation, that did not include giving her captain a Vulcan nerve pinch.

Whether  or not Michael was right, in the decision to send a Vulcan Hello to the Klingons, is beside the point.  She thought she was right, above all and everything else. Her panicked decision to have her way, and impose her will on the situation by attacking her captain, set an entire series of actions in motion, that affected two universes,  cost countless lives in both of them, and that  Michael has no hope of fixing any, or reorganizing her life, until she clears away the detritus of her old one, and that’s what this first season was all about.

Image result for michael burnham gifs


Best Scifi Costumes on TV


Luke Cage

Luke Cage makes this list not just because the costumes are beautiful, but because this is some of the most politically relevant costuming in the MCU. All of the costumes speak to the specific backgrounds and identities of the wearer, and were designed by Stephanie Maslansky, whose priority was keeping things casual.

Cottonmouth’s dapper business suits represent his aspirations for legitmacy, as does Mariah’s middle-class chic. Cottonmouth’s suits are carefully crafted to inspire ambition to the young people of Harlem, while Mariah’s are carefully coded to inspire the folksy warmth and political legitimacy she seeks to project to the community.

Misty Knight’s no-nonsense practiciality is what’s on display in her costuming. She is a competent detective who is sexy while not being sexualized.

Luke’s hoodie is representative of the anonymity he attempts to cling to while protecting Harlem.That hoodie full of bullet holes is a direct callback to the shooting of Trayvon Martin, (one of the many young Black men who have died at the hands of police and  vigilante shhotings in the US.), and meant to invoke a feeling of hope and strength to the show’s audience.

Image result for luke cage fashionImage result for luke cage fashionImage result for luke cage series fashionRelated image

Related image


I think Farscape had some of the most imaginative costuming on television. There’s nothing on TV right now that’s come close to it. The creators managed to make the female characters both alien and sexy, while the men were alien and virile, and funny.

I think one of my favorite costumes was Crichton’s black coat, that he adopted at some point towards the end of season two, which created a very sexy outline for him, with broad shoulders, a cinched waist, and it flared nicely during his action sequences.

The creators seemed to figure out that black leather seemed to work really, really well in this universe, and so, just made an infinite variety of  these outfits for everyone on the show. There was definitely some bondage leather influence on the wardrobe.

Image result for farscape costumes


This is Scorpius, a half Scarran, half Peacekeeper hybrid, whose unique body chemistry requires a face mask, which gives him a sinister look..

Image result for farscape costumes


I especially liked this red and black number Crichton wore in season two. I think this is a Peacekeeper outfit.

Image result for farscape fashion/crichton

Image result for farscape characters/chiana


These are the Scarrans. They wear lots and lots of black or red leather.

Image result for women's farscape's costumes


It wasn’t until the second season that I figured out that Virginia Hey, who played Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan, was also the Warrior Woman from The Road Warrior.

Image result for women's farscape's costumes/zhaan

Space 1999 – Maya

Maya, played by Catherine Schell, was the only character worth watching this show for, and the episodes that centered around her, were always the most interesting. For some reason, there was a thing about bird aliens during this time period, because Buck Roger’s had a male character that was kind of like her, too.  The only difference was that Maya could take on the shapes of different aliens. Still, she was definitely this show’s version of a Spock character, and the creators tried to differentiate her from Spock by giving her superpowers.

What’s interesting is the idea of a woman with the suggestion of mutton chop sideburns, who is sexy in a mainstream television show. But you have to remember, back in the day, these types of shows remained very much under the radar, as most people wrote them off as being for children, even if Space 1999, strived to present more mature themes. I appreciate it now, in a way I didn’t, when I was a teenager.

There’s also more than a little bit of Barbarella in her outfits and posing. In how she was prominently featured on the show. Space 1999 also starred Martin Landau, from the  Mission Impossible TV show, and Barbara Bain, who was also from that show.  I liked them both okay, and they really were too good for this show, but Maya was real draw for most people

The show aired from 1975 through 1977, but there was a definite 60s vibe in the setup, designs, and fashions, the were heavily reminiscent of Star Trek, which first aired in 1963.

Image result for space 1999 fashion/maya

Related image

Image result for maya space 1999

Image result for maya space 1999

American God

I loved the costumes from this show. To go into the influences, and meaning, of the costumes, would require several posts devoted entirely to the subject, and guess what? I found one! My favorite is of course Media. Gillian Anderson is absolutely stunning throughout the entire season. A close second would be Anansi, and Easter, who had some wonderful outfits.


Suttirat Anne Larlarb is Series Costume Designer on American Gods first season, with Assistant Costume Designers Laura Montgomery, Brenda Broer, Sabrina Zain, Anita Bacic and Costume Supervisor Quita Alfred.


Notice the old world European embroidery on the lapels and cuffs of the Zorya’s   costume, which is appropriate, since she hails from Russia. The designs echo other  details in her home, which is old and shabby, but warm and comfortable, just like her attitude.

Image result for american gods fashion


This is Media as the late, great, David Bowie, one of several gay icons as she was dressed for the show. The others are Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland. Gillian Anderson proved to be  incredible chameleon, and this must have been great fun for her.

Related image

Image result for american gods media


Notice the similarity in costumes between Loki and Odin.

Image result for fashion of american gods/shadow

If you look closely at Shadow’s suit, it has tiny little dots all over it. There’s such great attention to details that the viewer will almost certainly never notice.

Related imageImage result for fashion of american gods/shadow


I think I already mentioned Easter’s slightly tattered finery. Notice the tiny frayed edges on her flower headpiece, and her matching eye-shadow.

Image result for fashion of american gods/easter


This is one of Bilquis’ outfits from her 70s scenes.

Image result for american gods bilquis costumes

The faceless men in white, with their jackboots, suspenders, and black hats were deliberately meant to resemble the Droogs from the movie, a Clockwork Orange.

Image result for american gods/ lynching

Related image


Claire’s dresses are designed by Terry Dresbach and are one of the highlights of this show. No matter what era she inhabits,  whether it’s the American 40s, or 18th century Scotland, Claire is always dressed to the nines. There are websites out there dedicated to examining the fashions of this show


Image result for outlander fashion

OutlanderRelated image

Image result for outlander fashion

Image result for outlander fashionImage result for outlander claireImage result for outlander claire


Downton Abbey

What I liked most about this show is that it told the story of this wealthy  English family as much through clothing, as what they did. And the characters themselves occasionally discussed fashion and how it was changing.

The time period moves from the turn of the 20th century, through the first world war, to the 1920s, and you can get a very good idea, not only of how women’s fashions changed over that time period, but more importantly, WHY they changed. Women’s fashions were often a response to outside events,   because, in the past centuries,  the vast majority of women’s fashions were designed by women, who were responding to the ebb and flow of historic events.

In an exclusive interview with MASTERPIECE, Downton Abbey’s costume designer, Anna Mary Scott Robbins, recently took a break from her exciting work on Downton Abbey Season 6 to talk about the signature styles of the women of Downton and designing their sumptuous, jazz-age costumes.


Image result for the fashions of Downton AbbeyImage result for downton abbey wardrobe/1910s

Image result for downton abbey wardrobe/1910s

Image result for downton abbey wardrobe/1910s


Contrast the above manner of dress (from 1900 through 1910s) with the looser, lighter style of dress below. In the 20s, the world was just coming out of the first World War, when everyone, rich and poor alike,  had experienced significant hardship. With so many men lost during the war, it marked a significant turn, for women, as they begin to movie into the workforce in greater numbers, especially the women of the middle, and upper, classes, the kind of women who had been pressured against working before the war. The new style of dress was more practical, and business-like.

Take note that with so many people dead from the war, the servant class all but dried up afterwards, as they also moved into the greater workforce. The servant class, that had made it really easy to dress in the many layers of clothing that women required during the Victorian era, were all but extinct. Upper class women needed to be able to more easily dress themselves, and take care of their own clothing and hair, since, after a while, there were no longer such things as Lady’s Maids. Dresses and hairstyles became simpler. There were fabric restrictions during the war, so women saved fabric by raising hemlines, (which never went back down, and got raised again during, and after, WW2.)

Image result for downton abbey wardrobe/world war

Image result for downton abbey wardrobe/business

In one episode, we can  hear the women’s opinions of the change in fashion, when the younger daughters of the house model the new 20s flapper dresses for their mother and grandmother, who express shock at the flimsiness and skin exposure of the designs. The silhouette of the flapper dresses are completely different from the more modest dresses that came before.

Image result for downton abbey wardrobe/20s

Image result for downton abbey wardrobe/20s

Image result for Downton Abbey/season five

Image result for Downton Abbey/season four




Star Trek :The Original Series

The fashion designer for the original Star Trek was William Thiel. You can see a lot of the 60s influence in his fashions, even though he tried really hard to make the outfits realistic. Still these are some of the loveliest women’s costumes in Scifi, all very feminine, with some beautiful colorwork.

The amount of skin being shown is entirely in keeping with the 60s era thinking, which was a reaction to the deep conservatism of the 50s. These fashions were considered very progressive for women, at the time. The biggest influence over fashion was the invention of the bikini, which was invented in the 40s, just after the war, but didn’t make its way to American shores until the 50s.


Image result for star trek fashion

Image result for star trek fashion


See the bikini influence:

Image result for star trek original series fashion


The miniskirt was a huge thing back in the 60s. There’s been a lot of discussion about how the miniskirt does not make Star Trek a sexist show.

Related image

Image result for star trek original series mini skirt


The third woman just appears to be wearing a one sleeved poncho.

Image result for star trek original series fashion

Into the Badlands

Being the only martial arts television series is a big burden, It’s important that everything be meticulous and that includes the wardrobe. i talked about this just a bit in my reviews of the second season.

The men’s outfits  feel influenced by the costumes from A Clockwork Orange.

Related imageImage result for into the badlands fashion


Even in the Badlands, people manage to find luxurious fabrics:

Image result for into the badlands fashion

Image result for into the badlands fashion

Image result for into the badlands fashionRelated image


You can see the Asian influence here, where there’s  a bit of Genghis Khan, Warlord, in Quinn’s outfit.

Image result for into the badlands wardrobe



Hannibal the Series

One of the best parts of this series is  looking at Hannibal’s suits. Hannibal comes from very old money, so I don’t think he’s making his wardrobe choices based on a therapist’s salary.

Related imageImage result for hannibal fashion



One of the few times we see Hannibal witohut a suit is in the season three premiere episode. The showrunner, Bryan Fuller, says he was specifically influenced by the movie The Hunger ,which starred Katherine Deneuve, and David Bowie.

Image result for hannibal series/ hannibal/leather


You can see The Hunger’s influence on Gillian Anderson’s look for the third season, too:

Related image


In Hannibal, Gillian Anderson got a chance to dress upscale. Here she’s wearing a very modern Parisian look.

Image result for hannibal series/ bedelia


Related imageRelated image

Image result for hannibal fashion


Best Scifi Costumes in Film

Barbarella (1968)

I watched this late one night, when I was a teenager, and the only things that really impressed me were, how badly the movie sucked, and how fun and funky the costumes were. I watched it because I was a huge fan of Duran Duran, at the time, and they said this movie was where they’d gotten their name from.

Barabrella, played by Jane Fonda, was an astronaut from the 41st century, who was sent through time to stop a mad scientist, named Durand Durand.

Now, you have to remember that outfits this skimpy were  liberating for women back then, and were a direct backlash against the severe conservatism of the fifties., where the agenda had been getting White women to go back into the home, after having been in the workspace, during the war.

Also, there was the breakdown of the movie studio system after the war which ushered in a new ways of approaching filmmaking, and new ways of depicting both men and women in film. You had the rise of new hotness, like Paul Newman, James Dean, and Sidney Poitier, and  a younger, more virile, casual male expression, to go along with the women’s skimpy attire.

Image result for barbarellaImage result for barbarella

Oh, yeah, if you think the costumes were only skimpy for her:

Related image

The Matrix (1999)

About every decade or so a movie is released that affects every other movie for the next decade, and The Matrix was it. This movie didn’t just affect other movies, like Inception, it affected politics, and inspired  real world events, and social movements, like the Columbine shooting, and the Men’s Rights Movement, which uses this movie’s dialogue of the red and blue pills, to fuel its agenda.


Oddly, what it did not affect was real world dress. Black people were already dressing this cool, so we didn’t need it, and whenever we saw White guys trying to dress like Neo, we laughed at them. But this shit looked great in the movie. Observe Neo’s, and the Twin’s monkish silhouettes, and Niobe’s bantu knots.

Related imageImage result for catholic priests garb

Related image

Image result for the matrix reloaded/niobe

Image result for bantu knots

Dune (1984)

I remember watching this about three years after its release, and loving the costumes. The stillsuits worn by the Fremen were very much exactly the way I imagined them, but I thought the movie excelled in its use of costumes for the female characters, especially the Bene Gesserit’s severe, nun-like, attire, which are reminiscent of the Middle Eastern Chador.

Related image

Image result for Chador

I remember trying to imitate Jessica’s hairstyle in the bathroom mirror, a style which heavily reminded me of Rachel’s from Bladerunner, which had been released a couple of years earlier. This style is sort of like those 30s  Hollywood glamour shots, with a touch of Elizabethan silhouette thrown in:

Dune - Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica Atreides wearing a white pleated dress with ruffled collar, open work embroidered details on the gathered sleeves and white and silver vest with corset belt. The costumes were designed by Bob Ringwood. / via Chimaerman

Image result for elizabethan style

Image result for dune

And who doesn’t remember this image?

Image result for dune/sting

Pacific Rim (2013)

Okay, I liked the “nauts outfits just fine, but what I really fell in love with was Ron Perlman’s shoes. He played a disreputable character named Hannibal Chau, who also happened to be a snazzy dresser.

Related image

Image result for pacific rim hannibal chau shoesRelated image

The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

I’m not a huge fan of this movie, because it’s just not very good, but I will watch it anyway, as  Thandie Newton’s Dame Vaako wears some of the baddest, slinky dresses ever seen in a Scifi movie. No Black woman has ever looked that damn good in outer space.

Image result for chronicles of riddick/ dame vaako

Related image

Image result for chronicles of riddick ladyRelated image

This reminds me of the slinky dress scene from Serenity:

Image result for firefly/slinky dress

Bladerunner (1982)

I don’t think I even need to go into how influential this movie has been, not just on American Cinema, but Japanese cinema too, as Akira, and Ghost in the Shell are both direct stylistic offshoots.



The costumes were inspired by 1930s/40s neo-noir films, most keenly seen in Rachel’s costumes. Roy Blatty and Pris’ costumes were inspired by the burgeoning punk scene of the 1980s. Bladerunner’s costumes still manage to look cutting edge even in 2017.

Rachel’s broad shouldered silhouette was entirely in keeping with the eighties aesthetic, too. Lots of women were moving into male dominated workspaces, at that time, and were trying to fit in, in some cases, by out-men-ing the men, trying to appear intimidating, using pantsuits and shoulder pads, while also trying to appear feminine by wearing pink, large bows, and high heels.

Related image

Image result for 70s punkRelated image

As for Rachel’s chinchilla coat. In the world of Bladerunner, it wouldnt be real, since the animals are probably extinct, and even the idea of  killing animals in that world is taboo.

“Chinchilla fur is amongst the most rare and expensive in the world. It takes 100-150 pelts for a waist length coat and at least 250 for a full-length coat.”

– — http://www.chinchillaguide.com/chinchilla-information/history-origin/

Related image

Related imageRelated image

Big shoulders, a cinched waist, and a short skirt was the female power suit of the 80s. Actually that silhouette has been the symbol of feminine power since the Renaissance:

Related image

And these are the women’s work clothes during and just after the war, which Rachel’s outfits are loosely based on, with the cinched waist and big shoulders. As the men went off to war, women moved into the workspaces they left vacant, a parallel to the many women moving into the workspaces in the 80s.

Image result for womens suits of the 40s

Rachel’s hair and makeup are straight out of 1930s Hollywood glamour shots:

Related image

Image result for rachel bladerunner /smoke

The Mad Max Franchise

The Mad Max franchise is also heavily influenced by the Punk scene of the 1980s, combined with the practicality of desert existence. In Thunderdome, and The Road Warrior, we can see the influence of American football in the giant padded shoulders on Auntie Entity’s guards, and most of the “warriors” in Road Warrior.

Image result for mad max warriors

Related image
The Valkyrie

Incidentally, the hairstyle shown, in the photo below, is called the Fish Spine, or the Mohawk.

Image result for punks 70s

Image result for punks 70s

Related image

One of Auntie Entity’s men wears a Noh mask as a headdress. Notice the football pads everyone is wearing, and the loose interpretation of Ancient Roman battle helmets. Auntie’s chain mail dress,and stockings are unique unto themselves. There hasn’t been anything like it in film since. Tina Turner states the dress weighed more than  120 pounds.

From Rolling Stone Magazine, August 1985: “The dress Moriceau concocted for Entity is an expressionist classic: a seventy-pound soldered amalgam of dog muzzles, coat hangers and chicken wire, the whole overlaid with gleaming chainmail butcher aprons and accessorized with pendulant auto-spring earrings.

Her earrings were inspired by springs from a car part.

Image result for thunderdome costumesRelated image

Image result for auntie entity earrings

Related image

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)

If you are seriously into costume, and want to know more about Queen Amidala’s fashions, then check out this book. It’s also one of the only ways you can get some idea of the  incredibly rich detail of the  fabric and decorations.

Related image

Most of the costumes were desinged by Trisha Biggar, and were heavily influenced by several Ancient Asian cultures. This first one was  influenced by Mongolian culture, specifically the Mongolian wedding dress.. Its my personal favorite.

Related image

Image result for queen amidala costumes influences

‘These two designs have asian cultural inspirations. The color red, popular in east asian culture (esp. in China), symbolize traditional bridal colour, good luck, celebration, joy, vitality, long life, money, recognition, propriety… etc.’

—- https://hayochifabricfilms.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/queen-amidala-and-her-dress-inspirations/

This article also discusses the origin of the two little red dots on Padme’s cheeks, and the  inspiration for her white makeup.

Related image

This outfit is clearly influenced by Japanese Culture. The headdress is influenced by a Roman battle helmet.

Image result for star wars amidala

Image result for queen amidala costumes

The Fifth Element (1997)

This was one of Luc Besson’s first sci-fi movies, and it’s a classic. The clothing was designed by the French Designer Jean Paul Gaultier. The movie is kinda meh, for me personally, but the two stand out characters, that everyone remembers, are the non-binary, Ruby Rhod, played by Chris Tucker, and the alien opera singer, Diva Plavalaguna.

Image result for fifth element/flight attendantImage result for fifth elementImage result for fifth element/diva gif

The Black Panther (2018)

A Black woman is the designer for this movies Costumes. I’m loving what I’ve seen already, but I’ll wait until I’ve seen the movie to comment on the Costumes because there’s going to be a lot to say, and a lot of research to determine the cultural influences. There is nothing that you see on a movie screen that isn’t carefully planned, from Costumes to colors, to makeup, and hairstyles, and every single design element. If you can see it, it’s there for a reason, and has a purpose. The creators of these movies put a lot of thought and effort into these things, and I’d like to think they appreciate our appreciation.

Image result for black panther movie/ costumesRelated imageRelated imageRelated image

Next up in the coming couple of months: The Design and Themes of Bladerunner 2049, Black Panther, and the Design work of Guillermo Del Toro.


It Came From The Depths Of Tumblr

I love these little gothic themes on Tumblr. I was looking for articles about knitting and stumbled across a bunch of them, and decided to put them all in one place. I even added a few myself:

Knitting Gothic

Image result for knitting memes

You tie on your next color and cut off the last one.  When your scissors snip shut, you think you hear a distant scream.  The next morning you think you hear sirens, but you’re too busy knitting to look outside.

You stop going to your knitting club because when your fellow knitters smile at you there’s too many teeth.  Too many.

The strand of yarn whispers between your fingers.  Sometimes you can almost understand what it’s saying.

You go to the yarn store to pick up more red yarn.  The dead-eyed employee that greets you says he’ll have to check if they have any left in the back.  The co-worker he grabs screams hysterically as he’s dragged away.

Your new yarn drips red all over your car seat.  By the time you get home it’s dry enough to work.

You don’t remember when you last felt the wind on your face, but sometimes you can feel it in the vibrations of the yarn that snakes across the windows throughout your house.

You only have a few more rows left to go.  The next day, you only have a few more rows left to go.  The next week, you only have a few more rows left to go.  Just a few more left to go.

You’re so eager to be done.  So desperate to be done.  When will you finally be done?

You open your mouth to scream, but no sound comes out, only yarn.  Always yarn.  You keep knitting.

  1. – K1 P1 K1 P1 K1 M1 P1 K1 P1 K1 P1 Sacrifice your first born K1 P1 K1 P1. Make sure to follow the pattern precisely.

  2. – You walk into the yarn store. Just one skein. You only need one skein to finish the sweater. You have the dye lot written down, marked on the original wrapper from the old skeins. You can’t find the dye lot. It never existed. It was never real. The arcane sigils mean nothing and pain your eyes to look upon.

  3. – The pattern takes a size 7 needle. Going through the roll, you have all but a 7. 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,10.5,11,12,13. There is no 7. You change patterns. The pattern takes a size 5 needle. Going through the roll, you have all but a 5. 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9,10,10.5,11,12,13. There is no 5.

  4. – Finally, after years, you have found your way to Webs. No more will you buy your yarn from the big box craft store, you swear. As you reach for the 100% alpaca, it melts away. The sock yarn. The cashmere. The bamboo silk. They all fade away to nothing, leaving behind only Red Heart.

  5. – As the stitch drops, you can hear the screaming rush of the universe. The hole in your project grows larger and larger, a gaping maw that calls to you from the abyss. There is no escaping what you have wrought.

  6. – As you approach the counter to pay for your single skein, you look down and realize that you are holding two. Three. Yarn just appears in your hands. Money streams out of your wallet. There will only be yarn. You will be yarn.

  7. – You click to open your email. Ravelry opens. You click on Google. Ravelry opens. You click on Facebook. Ravelry opens. Finally, you click on Ravelry. Webs opens. Your cart is full.

You’ve been waiting for that yarn to come in stock for six months. It has not  been discontinued, but its never in stock. No one else has it in stock either. Is it even a  real yarn?

You dropped your ball of yarn on the floor and now you can’t find it. You know its in this room, because you had it in your hand a moment ago,  but it has  disappeared. It does not want to be found.

You have frogged this scarf three times because the stitch count keeps coming out incorrect. Even though you’re counting every stitch, and using stitch markers, every row is a different size.

When you bought the yarn in the store it looked green. Now that you’ve gotten it to your home it looks blue. You take it outside to see how it looks and its a dark brown. Exactly what color is it?

You have been knitting this scarf for two years. Its still not finished. It just needs two more rows, or one more row, or three. You’ve lost count of how many rows you’ve knitted. You have no idea how many more you need now, but the scarf isn’t done.


I am much  offended, too.


—– The real attraction are the layers, fam. The silky agility with which the show navigates generational black trauma and how it is mined/capitalized upon, is only matched by the stellar way they climax the episode. Hallelujah. Black Museum comes through like the Pell Grant of starter reparations. Black Museum talmbout they can’t give us the 40 acres but they gone slide us this refund check for That Work. Can we talk about the protagonist, Nish? How she’s instantly getting her jersey retired next to Daisy Fitzroy and Nairobi in the Ororo Munroe Fictional Black Women Hall Of Fame? Quite literally not the hero we deserve, but definitely the one we need


I;m always here for accredited dinosaur historicity:

Historical footage of the last T-Rex serving his country in WWl.

*But isn’t that a Jeep? And the T-Rex is holding a…Browning M2? Which wasn’t used until 1933…

So I think this footage is actually of WW2.

Many people think it’s historically inaccurate because the Tyrannosaur doesn’t have feathers, but a buzz cut is pretty standard for military personnel.



we need an authority on this

Totally accurate except that that Rex is a bit bigger so it’s actually a female Rex so she may have been pretending to be a male so she could fight. What an icon she is.


And more in Hollywood’s ongoing war against Asian/Middle Eastern people, and people’s reactions to that. This isn’t remotely funny but I find myself laughing really hard about this. It seems White people are getting just as exasperated with this as Asian people. It is becoming creepily obviuous that Hollywood does not like Asian people.


Most of Hollywood seems determined to die on this hill because our clear and growing preference for diverse casts is making them face the fact that no, they aren’t pragmatists catering to the whims of racists audiences, they’re just fucking racists


This infuriate me so much. It’s not even gratuitous, it’s actually costing them more to disguise white people as asians, it’s inevitably gonna cause a backlash, but hey! It’s worth it if it means fewer PoCs in this movie about middle eastern people, right?


I’m baffled how ANYONE thought this was a good idea like…I’m not shocked that Hollywood is racist, at all but this is 2018…you’d think that the people making this film would know that this would piss people off (And rightly so) and wouldn’t do this just to avoid bad PR if for no other reason…


I should not have found this as funny as I did:



More writing instructions for conscientious people. Just because you’re creating worlds where  there is no racism, doesn’t mean you don’t need an understanding of how racism works, if for no other reason than not unconsciously reproducing racist narratives in your work, Ask yourself, and research questions about how racism works, how it manifests, and how it affects marginalized groups:

Writing without racism: its more than “what”, its also “how”.

Its great that people are asking, “how can we write fantasy worlds without racism?”  Escapism in fantasy is almost impossible for marginalized people, because we’re usually the only ones who have to accept the same bigotries in-text as we do in real life, because its tied to someone’s “escapism”.  For them, we either have a lower place in society that they can openly exploit, or we shouldn’t exist at all.  We need to deal with abuse in order for them to accept that fantasy world as a viable setting.  But I have an issue with just leaving it at “lets keep racist text out of the stories”.

See, the problem with making worlds where there is no racism is that so many people haven’t quite figured out how to do that right. Its like they take this idea of “colorblind racism’ here no one sees skin color, hence its just  “coincidence” that all the black people are subservient, or that all the Asian women are submissive and tiny.

Some examples (using my context as a mixed black person who identifies as black in most settings):

  • They’ll make a world where no one ever utters a single racial slur but still will use the same anti-blackness we see in real life (i.e. whenever they make us mammies or sacrificial lambs, using terms like “dirty” or “demonic” to describe our appearance a la Lord of the Rings, etc.)
  •   Or they’ll make sure that no one ever says “people color should be slaves” but lo and behold, that’s pretty much all you see.  (Like in Exodus, or the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones).  And we’re the only ones who HAVE to take THAT subservient role or else we’re “ruining the accuracy”. And when you call it out they say, “well that what you all were” but they won’t get why that’s just as bad as if they’d just admitted, “Hey, this is pretty racist” from the start.
  • Or (taking from what I said up there) they’ll make people who look black, and are from a culture obviously based on black people, but still claim they aren’t black, because they would rather divorce blackness from their world, instead of admitting we can be complex characters who can carry complex stories (because they still haven’t unpacked their own problematic ideas about black people)
  • Or worse still, they’ll make an entire world based off of a culture belonging to a group of people who they won’t even include.  I.e. the whole issue with Firefly and Serenity, and again Exodus.
  • Or we’ll be turned into white people with special powers or pointy ears.  Racism becomes, “hey this girl has red hair instead of blond hair lets exclude her”.  Meanwhile since there’s “no real racism” they claim there’s no need for “real” people of color (i.e. the problem with Dragon Age).
  • Or they’ll do some “colorblind” setting where everyone is mixed, but well all be reminded that only Aryan features are seen as “rare” and “special” an they’ll treat the rest of our features (i.e. brown skin, ark eyes, dark hair, etc. ) as “meh”.

Your worlds aren’t “racism free” just because make sure no one says the n-word.

Unless you really make an effort to think critically about these things (which includes trying to avoid: dehumanizing marginalized people, failing to include them as a part of the storyline unless the story “calls for it”, reducing them down to “inspiration porn” or metaphors, making them interchangeable, using fictional creatures in order to representation them, while making all humans white by default, etc.) then you run the risk of just being all talk.


And to bring us full circle, have some knitting memes featuring Ryan Gosling. For some reason people decided to create a whole bunch of memes with Ryan Gosling saying “Hey girl…” after they found out he liked to knit. I have to admit I didn’t find these especially funny until after I saw Bladerunner 2049. Then I couldn’t stop picturing replicants in a knitting circle. Well, I am fond of mixing knitting with violence, I guess.


And some more general memes I thought were just funny:


Adequate Representation & Fandom Racism


Image result for pushing through a crowd gif

I think Samuel R. Delaney really summed this up best when he outlined how the rise in racist behavior from White people in fandoms (and most other ventures and organizations) is often directly commensurate with a rise in the number of PoC who are participating in said event. Not to imply causality here, but certainly there is a correlation.


*(Warning for graphic descriptions of lynching.)

“Racism and Science Fiction”
by Samuel R. Delany

From NYRSF Issue 120, August 1998. “Racism in SF” first appeared in volume form
in Darkmatter, edited by Sheree R. Thomas, Warner Books: New York, 2000.
Posted by Permission of Samuel R. Delany. Copyright © 1998 by Samuel R. Delany.

Racism for me has always appeared to be first and foremost a system, largely supported by material and economic conditions at work in a field of social traditions. Thus, though racism is always made manifest through individuals’ decisions, actions, words, and feelings, when we have the luxury of looking at it with the longer view (and we don’t, always), usually I don’t see much point in blaming people personally, white or black, for their feelings or even for their specific actions—as long as they remain this side of the criminal. These are not what stabilize the system. These are not what promote and reproduce the system. These are not the points where the most lasting changes can be introduced to alter the system.




Image result for pushing through a crowd gif


Delaney was specifically discussing Genre literature in this essay, but this same reasoning could also be applied to television, film, fandoms, tech startups,  travel, medicine, and academia. The reason why so many people like to look back to the “Good ‘Ol Days” and say there wasn’t any racism back then, is because there weren’t enough PoC involved in that particular industry back then, to trigger the “Pushback” behavior we’re seeing now, at least not in enough numbers that White people thought it worrisome.

There isn’t more racism being expressed in fandom. It’s the same amount of whitewashing, erasure, and White prioritization that  has always existed. The only differences now is that with the rise, in number, of fans of color, White bigots have become more  vocal in their efforts to push back against those numbers, and there are more of us to call them out on their behavior.

Image result for pushing through a crowd gif

Whether they know what they’re doing or not, fans are participating in an effort to drive PoC away from spaces they have always considered safely theirs, and not just against PoC, but women as well. This happens in every industry, and it has always failed.  There has never been a time when White bigots (whether they knew they were bigots, or not) successfully managed to send THOSE people back where they came from, or halt their participation in some cultural pursuit. Nevertheless, each generation of newcomers must go through the same song and dance of defending our presence, wherever we happened to show up, or defending our interest, in something we found entertaining.

And I am a WoC, so I have had to work doubly hard at this.


Star Trek Discovery :The Mirror Universe

Image result for captain tilly nicknames


— The midseason premiere of Star Trek: Discovery – the Jonathan Frakes-directed “Despite Yourself” – confirmed one of the show’s longest brewing rumors, revealing that the titular Federation starship has unexpectedly found itself in the Mirror Universe following a malfunction of its experimental spore drive.

So, Star Trek Discovery came back for the second half of the first season, and it’s a doozy. The show has turned itself a full 90 degrees from the first half of the season. At the end of episode nine, the crew of the USS Discovery found itself stranded in some unknown place among the war relics of old Klingon ships, and their transportation system (LT. Stametz) was incapacitated.




Image result for star trek discovery despite yourself
Captain Michael Burnham

It turns out that they’re in the Mirror Universe first encountered in the original Star Trek series. If you remember, Scotty, Uhura, and Kirk, and McCoy got trapped in that universe after a transporter incident, and had to try to find a way to get back home. They also encountered a goateed Spock in that universe, and discovered that every human in that universe was evil. The Mirrorverse is an alternate reality that contains copies of most of humanity from the Prime universe ,except everyone is their worse possible self.

Out of the entire franchise, The Next Generation crew  is the only one that never visited that universe, and the episode “Through a Mirror Darkly”, from the show Enterprise, was the last time we visited. So getting to see Lorca, Tilly, and Michael navigate this universe is  especially fun and interesting, but still really intense, and I was totally captured.

I’ve been fascinated by the Mirrorverse since that very first episode. It was so well written ,and the backstory on that universe, and its characters was deeply intriguing. (For the record, the original universe episode occurs about a hundred years after Discovery.) Not only is there a great backstory, but it has a well chronicled future, as well.

In the Mirrorverse there is no Federation. There’s something called the Terran Empire, and humans are complete and utter despots. They are paranoid, xenophobic, vicious, and untrustworthy, and that’s just towards other human beings. Imagine if the Nazis had taken over Starfleet, only worse. Humans are so evil that they make the  Klingons look like good guys, and they, the Vulcans, and every  other non-human race with access to spaceship technology,  have formed an alliance to destroy them.

Image result for star trek mirrorverse
The original dynamic duo!

Imagine a universe in which the only way to get ahead, in any venture, is to kill one’s predecessor, any emotion outside of anger and rage is considered a weakness, everyone carries knives on them at all times because they are required to do so, people are tortured for the slightest mistake, or infraction, and there are special pain booths built just for the purpose.

All the human women of this ‘verse (and the men too) use sexual wiles to get ahead, as well,, and the men expect those favors, and hope they survive the encounter, because the women of this universe are not to be trifled with, or underestimated.  They are just as vicious and mean as rabid dogs themselves. From time to time, alliances and loyalties are formed, but only until one’s goals are reached, and if the other person’s goals happen to align with yours. The only reason humans have formed alliances among themselves, is so they can conquer everyone who isn’t them.

Image result for star trek mirrorverse
Uhura being a total badass! with abs!

There’s been a lot of Nazi allegories happening in the genre lately, most of it is horrible and badly written claptrap, written by men who do not understand any of the psychology behind such beings. But This! This is how you write a Nazi allegory, (in such a way that you don’t realize its an allegory, until you are well involved in the episode), and with the understanding that such a regime is scary as fuck. There’s is nothing about this universe that inspires a person to want to live in it, except the morbid curiosity of what kind of person you would become. (Probably dead.)

There is nothing about these humans that’s at all admirable, beyond their sheer ruthlessness. The ones who aren’t  mean and vicious, are fawning, bootlicking sycphants. There’s no way to woobify these characters, (although fans came pretty close with Spock, but he’s a special case.) These people are not meant to be liked. They are deeply unlikable.

Now pair all this information with images of the likable, sweet, bumbling Tilly, the logical practicality of Michael, and the brave timidity of Lt Saru, and you’ve got some seriously juicy drama about to happen. What’s going to happen to them and  How far will they have to go to fit into this universe?


The first test of the Discovery is to convince another ship, The Cooper, that it is indeed the Mirrorverse version of the Discovery. (The Discovery that was once in the Mirrorverse has switched places with them and is now in what I like to call the Prime universe.) To do that they need to speak to the Captain, and guess who that is…

Image result for captain tilly star trek
“I’d cut out your tongue and use it to lick my boots.”

Watching Tilly put on her gameface is one of the great joys of this episode, and hilarious (also, watching that actress play Captain Tilly is kinda scary.) It really is kinda like seeing a cute little bunny viciously bite someone. She also gets one of the best lines in the entire episode. Earlier in the season, Stamets, while caught in a mycelium fugue state, called her Captain, and their time in this universe may have been what he glimpsed. This episode, he spends most of his time yelling senselessly about a palace, and imminent danger. What that means for future episodes is anyone’s guess.

Captain Lorca gets to be unexpectedly funny when he has to coach Tilly through her first conversation as a Captain. Somewhere, somehow he has met Scotty, because when he is finally asked to speak, he puts on a flawless Scotty  accent. Lorca is totally hard core. His counterpart in the Mirrorverse is in the wind, so he pretends he’s been caught by Michael, who is presumed to have died in pursuit of him. To lend authenticity to Michael’s story, this guy head- butts himself against a bulkhead. So yeah, this universe is definitely gritty enough to make him happy.

Michael’s first act, as the Captain of The Shenzhou, is to kill the current acting Captain, a man she saw die in the Prime universe, and wonders if this is what all of this will be like for them, constantly running into dead people. To find their way back home, she and Tilly need to be their worse selves, and they both rightfully worry about how this will change them in the future. Lorca tells all of them that their focus needs to be on returning home, and to do, and say, whatever is required to get back there alive. For his part, he willingly walks into a situation that will require him to be tortured in a pain booth.

Michael’s relationship with Ash Tyler has progressed to love making, and I got a bad feeling about this drop, because  Ash has some problems, and may in fact be a brainwashed Klingon, named Voq, who has since disappeared since we saw him the first two episodes. I think Ash has been genetically, and surgically, altered to look human, which I really hope not. Lorca assigns him to be Michael’s personal guard, because that’s how this universe rolls, and Ash has totally dedicated himself to this job ,which was kind of nice to see, but this is tempered by the fact that he is slowly unraveling.

Image result for star trek discovery despite yourself

There has been some speculation, from fans, that Lorca himself is actually from this universe. If so, it would certainly answer a whole hell of a lot of questions about his character, including why he is so unperturbed to be in the Mirrorverse. In the Mirrorverse, he was presumed in flight, after killing that Universe’s version of Michael, who was sent to assassinate him.  If he had a previous relationship with the Mirrorverse Michael, that might explain his strong attachment to this Michael.


This theory would certainly explain Lorca’s  shifty behavior, if his ultimate goal, from the time we met him, was to try to get back to the Mirrorverse, so he can assassinate the Terran Emperor. (Yep, I got theories! And I’m not the only one, either.)) It would explain his behavior with Cornwell, like the fact that he keeps a phaser under his pillow, which is exactly the sort of shit captains have to do in the Mirrorverse, if they want to stay alive. Cornwell also tells him that after the event that damaged  his eyes, he changed, and became a different person, and he makes love differently than before, too. Now, watching that scene, without any of these suspicions, it is very obvious that he is trying to manipulate her into doing something he wants, which is keep his ship from being taken from him.

Image result for mirrorverse/ lorca

I strongly suspect that in the episode Lethe, when Sarek is injured, and unable to meet with the Klingons, and their mediators, to stop the war, that he is the one who gave the Klingons the secret location of the meeting. After all, he is the one that suggested she take Sarek’s place. It would certainly explain his not even trying to rescue her, after she’d been captured. It very conveniently gets her out of the way, and he can continue his mission, without her interference.

Cornwell came into that conversation to discuss how he is running his ship, and he turned it into a seduction, and sexual manipulation is, once again,  the kind of shit that captains in the Mirroverse do. She had chalked up these differences to PTSD, or some other psychological issue, but its possible Lorca just isn’t who she thinks he is. This is par for the course on this show. Everybody else has a horrible secret, so why not him. Stamets  spends a lot of time yelling to Culber about how the danger is  present, and I did not think he was talking about Ash Tyler.

One of the most shocking moments is the death of Doctor Culber, Lt Stamets Space -Boo, (as he is referred to by the fans), by Ash Tyler, when  Ash experiences a bout of PTSD, after visiting L’Rel in prison. A lot of fans were very wound up about this, but the writers and the actor have assured us that they understand the importance of Culber and Stamets relationship, this is not a “Kill Your Gays” moment, and that we WILL see more of Culber in the future. Wilson Cruz, who plays Culber, says that some of his best work is yet to be seen on the show. And keep in mind that Star Trek has a long tradition of finding ways to bring characters back from the dead. (Spock has died twice. Once on the show, and once in the movies.)

Image result for star trek discovery despite yourself

I did enjoy the scene between Culber and Lorca. Culber is bold enough to confront Lorca on his behavior. In fact, outside of Michael, he’s the only other person I’ve ever seen call Lorca out on his bullshit.

The writers also assured viewers that there will be no evil version of Culber in this show. (If he does exist in this universe, then he is probably on the Mirrorverse version of Discovery, now trapped in the Prime universe.) And that’s if these particular human beings aren’t homophobic as well. If they are, then Culber and Stamets may not even exist as a couple, in the Mirrorverse.

Now you see why I was mad about not being able to binge this show. On the other hand, I would have finished it in a day and then I would’ve been angry I’d finished it so fast.

Should I give a review of next week’s show? I don’t know. I got other stuff to write, but I’m pretty caught up in this thing now. leave me comment, and let me know if I should keep going. I know some of you don’t get this show, and don’t want to pay for it, so hopefully my reviews will be entertaining.

Til’ next week, here’s to reckless eyeballing:

Related image

Image result for caught gif


Black Mirror and Critical Diversity

Image result for black mirror/black museum

I want to talk, yet again, about the need for  diversity in film and television criticism. We need this  badly, especially with the increase in PoC in genre films and TV shows. We don’t just need diversity but we need people who can put the images we’re seeing into some historical context. We need critics who can detail WHY some of the media we’ve consumed is racist, homophobic or anti-Semitic, for example.

This was brought back to my attention after I scoured the internet for reviews of Black Mirror, a Netflix Scifi anthology show, which featured an episode about racial retribution, titled Black Museum, and starring Letitia Wright, from Black Panther. The vast majority of those critiques panned that particular episode. Many of those critiques were written by White men and women.

It is certainly within the realm of possibility that the episode sucked, but then I came across an article on The Root, written by a Black critic, that says everything I wanted to say about that episode, and which deeply affected me. Black Mirror critiques our addiction to, and fetishization of, modern technology, and as a result, a lot of it deals with the virtual monitoring of mental and emotional spaces. Of the six episodes in this 4th season of Black Mirror, Black Museum is the most difficult to watch. And it has also  been the most panned, and lowest ranked episode,  by White critics at The Verge, Vulture, and Collider specifically, and one has to wonder why that is. I want to give a comparison between two critiques:

Image result for black mirror/black museum

 Ashley Nkadi gives a devastating critique of America’s consumption of Black pain for entertainment, within the narrative of Black Museum. (This review contains spoilers.)


Notice how she links the narrative to a Socio-Historical context in which Black people’s pain has always been commodified, monetized, and available for White consumption, outlining why some White people are in no hurry to dismantle White supremacy, the source of so much of that pain. Her points are direct and her review is uncompromising.

One of my mantras  has always been “everything is connected to everything”, and Nkadi touches on  those connections in her article, how various social movements collapse through commodification, for example, and how White fans consume media that includes marginalized people, and their reactions to it. Black critics of fandom have been saying, over and over, that White people’s consumption of media does not occur in a vacuum, no matter how much some of them want to separate, and disconnect, these issues from each other, insist they are unrelated, or that they have no bearing on actual lived experiences. Part of my job on this blog is to delineate just how connected everything is, and draw parallels between popular media, and the real world.

Here’s another article written by a White critic at The Nerdist:


And by Sophie Gilbert (a White woman) at The Atlantic:


Notice how Nkadi is very blunt about the issue of race in that particular episode, and how the writer from The Nerdist, glides right up to the subject of race,  and then slips past it without much mention. He has nothing to say about that. He has no interest in it.

Image result for black mirror/black museum

Another comparison review from The Black Youth Project:


 —- I do not trust my enjoyment of this, but I trust that what white people see when they watch a story isn’t supposed to be what I see. And maybe for them this was simply a cautionary tale for what might happen when they do business with “supremacists.” Maybe that’s why they placed themselves in the “main character” Haynes’ shoes. But if you are Nish, not Haynes, you would know it is too late for cautions now. And if all of us Black folks are Nish, maybe burning down one man, one prison, one museum each is enough.

Now to be fair, The Root is a website for Black writers, about Black media, so it would seem especially precious for them to avoid the subject of race. The Nerdist is mostly White male writers writing about genre media. Their priority is to appeal to everyone, so approaching the topic of race in media is not going to be important to them, because they may not want to make their White readers uncomfortable, and that’s if they can see the racial implications in the media they critique, at all. Or, the retribution against the White male character, in the story,  made the writers uncomfortable, in a way they did not wish to examine too closely.

Image result for black mirror/black museum

And it seems I’m not the only person to notice or feel this way:


—– ‘But listen, I’m not trying to say that “Black Museum” was peak Black Mirror. I’m not even saying that all its concepts are put together well. What I’m saying is that we need more people like myself and more women of colour in general that can see these messages and interpret them for the masses—free of filter. Because diversity on the big screen without diversity among critics is like planting fruits without tending to the damn weeds. The message is liable to get lost.’

After I started writing this post, I came across this on The Mary Sue!


— ‘ Let’s not forget, as well, Clayton is accused of killing a white woman. None of this is accidental and yet, none of this is mentioned in any of the reviews I’ve seen. Maybe a word or two about the racism, but nothing digging deeper to show why this episode reflects a narrative about the black catharsis that we might need in 2018.’

This review, from Ira Madison III at The Daily Beast,  I posted last week:


—– ‘The problem with most science fiction that uses race as an allegory is how it reduces racism to hatred based on emotion and circumstance. Human beings hate aliens, orcs, vampires or whatever else because they’re different than them. It ignores the sinister ways that racism has entrenched our legal and political system. “Black Museum” tackles that and much more, using the American curiosity framework—a roadside museum—to tell its story.’

Image result for black mirror/black museum

I’m not arguing that these White writers are bigots. That’s not my point. What I’m arguing is that a White writer’s need, to make their audience comfortable, will hamstring their review, and that White writers have a huge blind spot when it comes to critiquing race in the media we consume, and especially media that’s of importance to PoC.

Although it could be said that some white writers probably just wish to stay in their lane, and not comment on racial topics, the problem with that approach, is that their silence allows their audience to be lazy, to simply go on not thinking about the deeper implications behind their entertainment. In any comment section there are always calls for the writer to ignore racial issues, “Why does it have to be about race?” And”Why can’t you just find it entertaining?” There are parts of fandom that simply don’t want to think very deeply about anything they consume, claiming entertainment as a safe space for themselves, but not affording the same to marginalized people.

And I don’t know what to think of those writers who claim to want to challenge their readers, and don’t, or write the same bigoted drivel that marginalized people are regularly subjected to, in an attempt to seem “edgy”, (but I know I feel about it, though.)

I’m not avoiding critiques from White writers because I dislike White people, or think they’re being racist. (FTR: Black Mirror is a British show created by a White writer named Charlie Brooker,) I mostly avoid these critiques because many of the writers don’t, won’t, or can’t see the details, and nuances, behind media created with PoC as the audience. Most of them are  unable to put the images they’ve seen into any Socio-Historical context, as Nkadi did, to devastating effect, in the above review.

Image result for black mirror/black museum

White writers will not see the broader ramifications in movies like Black Panther, and Get Out, or the meaning behind Luke Cage’s wearing of a bullet riddled hoodie, and Black Mariah’s respectability politics. Many of them are not educated enough on the subjects to be able to speak on them. It took Black reviewers to see and state these things. It took Asian American reviewers to outline the racist implications of whitewashing Ghost in the Shell, and to explain why Danny Rand needed to be Asian. Left to White reviewers these kinds of things are not mentioned.

Because all the media we consume is still primarily written by straight, white, cis-gender men who are only really capable, through a combination of ignorance, malice, and laziness, of writing from their own perspective, we learn what it is they care about, what subjects they think are important, and who they believe matter.

Not that White writers aren’t capable of thinking and writing beyond such boundaries (I’ve discovered a few who can, but most of them can’t write cis- gender, straight, White women very well , and these are, presumably, the people they most often come in contact with). How much less accurate are they going they be when writing about lifestyles even more divorced from their own, like a transgender woman of color,  or an Asian immigrant. Why is Hollywood still so reliant on White men to tell stories they can’t possibly know anything about, except through copious research, and most of them are too lazy to do that, relying instead on the same  old established shorthand of such groups written long ago by other white men, who not only didn’t do any research either, but didn’t care, because those people didn’t matter.

Most white critics are not familiar enough with the various topics of race, within any sociocultural and/or historical context, and then there are those who don’t think it matters at all. But it matters to PoC and other marginalized groups, not just that they are represented in popular culture, but how they are represented, what kind of story is being told.

Related image

Earlier in this country’s history, marginalized groups focused on entering the field of politics, and that was helpful in addressing some of our grievances, and furthering cultural progress. But our realization now is that we need to change the culture. And we can see that the way that a culture can be changed, is through  popular media. Until we control ,write, direct, and disseminate our own stories, in film, television, and books, we cannot change a culture that had long ago decided, with the aid of that same media, that we were less than.

Only we can  (will) declare our own worth. And there is always going to be a certain amount of push-back from those who don’t like it, because it benefits them, on a near spiritual level, to see “The Other” be emotionally downtrodden.

Not only do we need to be able to control our own image, but we need to be in a position to critique those images, because apparently, the reason why those images exist, will only be ignored by members of the dominant culture. The critiques of stories about us need to be done through a diverse lens, otherwise it will only result in reviews that say nothing, of any meaning, about our images.

White writers cannot talk about racial issues in media, and make their audience comfortable, at the same time. It’s not possible to do that and write about the Soci-Cultural issues being addressed in a show like Luke Cage, Beyoncé’s Lemonade, the movie Get Out, or the upcoming Black Lightning, and Black Panther, as that might come across to their White audiences as a indictment, and an attack, on Whiteness. And some of them won’t take  the step  of approaching their own discomfort.

PoC, who critique the media that is about us, don’t have that problem, because we’re not necessarily interested in being liked by our readers. (I mean, it’s important. But it’s not out top priority. ) We’re interested in delineating the hard truths, and hope people are willing to come on that journey with us.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Vs. … All The Rest

There have been three other iterations of the original 1956 movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Hollywood keeps rebooting this movie (in fact, there is yet another remake of this movie in the works), despite diminishing returns on its efforts. I blame this on a lack of understanding, by the last two directors, of the core themes.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Image result for invasion of the body snatchers

The first film is based on Jack Finney’s novel of the same name, which was written in 1955. I haven’t read the book since I was a very young child, (like 9 or ten),  so I can’t speak to the authenticity of the plot vs. the book, but Hollywood has been fascinated with it for over six decades now, remaking it every twenty or so years, to less audience enjoyment.

The 1956 version was directed by Don Siegel, and starred Kevin McCarthy, and Dana Wynter. This version is very much a product of its time, so to understand its themes, you need to understand something about the era during which it was made.

A simplified version: Just after WW2, America and Russia were not on good terms with each other. The Russians were still reeling from the devastating 1941 German invasion, and America had just used its first nuclear weapons on Japan. So both countries were paranoid from the war, and shit talking each other in the media.

Related image

During this time, the Red Scare, as it was called, was  ramped up to hysterical heights in the American media, by Senator Joseph MCCarthy. Called McCarthyism, there was increased paranoia that America was full of Russian spies, that they were everywhere,  and their goal was to destroy American democracy, and make America a communist nation.

American society was inundated by the media  ‘…with stories and themes of the infiltration, subversion, invasion, and destruction of American society by un–American thought and inhuman beings.’

… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Scare#Second_Red_Scare_(1947%E2%80%9357)

There were numerous congressional hearings, the federal government targeted Hollywood as the bastion of communist thought, popular actors were accused and blacklisted, careers were destroyed by even the smallest whispers of private disloyalty, people were encouraged to tell if any of their acquaintances were disloyal, and many of the movies from that time period reflected, not just the paranoia of the American government, but the fear that Hollywood actors  lived with, that at any time, they could be accused, and have to defend themselves against accusations of UnAmerican Activities. Just associating with the  accused, could put a person in the spotlight.

‘Some reviewers saw in the story a commentary on the dangers facing America for turning a blind eye to McCarthyism, “Leonard Maltin speaks of a McCarthy-era subtext.”[17] or of bland conformity in postwar Eisenhower-era America. Others viewed it as an allegory for the loss of personal autonomy in the Soviet Union or communist systems in general.[18]’The general consensus over the decades, is that the movie’s primary theme was anti-communism, even if the creators say there was no particular political allegory involved.

Image result for invasion of the body snatchers

In the movie, Dr,Miles Bennell is approached by patients who all claim their family members aren’t really them. Ironically, this is an actual mental illness known as Capgras Delusion, a psychiatric disorder in which a person believes that the people closest to them have been replaced by imposters. While investigating these delusions, he and his companions keep stumbling across pods, and duplicate bodies, and come to the terrifying realization that the delusion is all real, that humanity is being slowly duplicated and replaced by aliens spawned from seed pods.

The original story takes place in a small town in California called Santa Mira, and ends with the lead character, on his own, trying to warn the rest of the populace of the threat.The lead, Kevin MCcarthy, and the director, Don Siegel, both went on to make cameos in the 1978 remake.

The 1978 version manages not only to perfectly replicate the paranoia of the original, but build on it, by setting it in a large city, and  touching on themes of existential dread, mental illness, and urban isolation. It is, like the remake of The Thing, an exceptional example of a film remake.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

“Invasion of the Body Snatchers is regarded as one of the greatest film remakes ever made.[11] The New Yorker‘s Pauline Kael was a particular fan of the film, writing that it “may be the best film of its kind ever made”.[12] Variety wrote that it “validates the entire concept of remakes. This new version of Don Siegel’s 1956 cult classic not only matches the original in horrific tone and effect, but exceeds it in both conception and execution.”[13] The New York Times‘ Janet Maslin wrote “The creepiness [Kaufman] generates is so crazily ubiquitous it becomes funny.”[14]Related image

This version has an all-star cast of Veronica Cartwright, who had yet to star in the movie Alien, but had been the young star of Hitchcock’s The Birds, playing Nancy Bellicec. A very young, and handsome, Jeff Goldblum, as her husband Jack, whose career was just picking up speed.  Leonard Nimoy, who was still working against being typecast as Mr. Spock, plays Dr. David Kibner, Donald Sutherland is Matthew Bennell, a city health inspector, and Brooke Adams as his co-worker and best friend, Elizabeth Driscoll.

Yes, this is a remake, although McCarthy’s cameo, as a panicked pedestrian screaming about the alien invasion, in the same manner that the first film ended, has prompted some viewers to speculate that this is a sequel to the original film. (No.) All of the primary plot points of the original are replicated in this film, only writ large. Part of the success of this film is the skill, and charm, of the actors who are at the top of their game here, especially the relationship between Matthew and Elizabeth.

One of the more charming things in the movie is the genuine friendship between Matthew and Elizabeth, with more than a little unrequited love on Matthew’s part, although that’s never specifically stated. Elizabeth is already in a committed relationship with one of the first of the pod people, her dentist boyfriend. In any other movie, a romantic relationship between her and Matthew would be inevitable, but that’s not the focus of the film. It has other messages to convey.

Image result for invasion of the body snatchers 1978

This version improves and embellishes on the original in ways that feel entirely natural, while keeping all of  the basic elements of the plotpoints of the original. When humans fall asleep, duplicate versions of them are birthed from pods, and the original body is destroyed. (So, yes, even though the duplicate has all the memories and thoughts of the original person, it is not them because  all of their the emotions are lacking, and the original body is dead.) The movie  manages to keep the mood and messages of the first film intact, while tweaking and embellishing the relationships and characters.

From  the opening moments, there is the theme of urban isolation, which is the opposite of the original’s theme, which focused on the closeness of a small-town environment, where everyone seemingly knows everyone, an environment which makes it all the more horrifying to find that people have changed, and that what was once known, is no longer. In the remake people are already unknown to one another, no one is really close in the city. This urban isolation is juxtaposed against the intimacy of Matthew and Elizabeth’s friendship, and their relationships to their friends The Bellicecs.

In the remake, the aliens are able to finish what they couldn’t accomplish in the first film. No one knows anyone in the city, and everyone lives in such small personal bubbles, that’s it easy for the pods to make significant inroads into the population. By the time Bennell finds out about the invasion, it’s already far too late to do anything to stop it, and it’s a just a matter of time until he, or one of his companions, falls asleep, and are changed.

I’ll have to do a more detailed review of this movie at a later date, because “I got some thoughts.”

Body Snatchers (1993)

Image result for invasion of the body snatchers 1993

This version is set up as if it were a sequel to the second film, although none of the characters from the previous remake appear. Apparently, its a parallel story of the invasion, happening on some other front, and according to this movie, humanity is gonna lose, no matter how many pods get blown up at the ends of these films.

The 1993 version loses a lot of the atmosphere, and messages of the first two films, although it does make a game effort.  All of the basic rules of the first two movies, are kept in place. People fall asleep, duplicate versions of them come out of pods, and the original person is killed. This one takes place on a military base,  and there is a vague theme that the aliens are successful because of military conformity, or because people are unhappy, or something, but this isn’t clearly articulated.

Just as in the second film, the aliens get to speak for themselves, stating that pod-ification of humanity will solve all of its troubles, and the screaming and pointing stuff, from the previous remake is kept intact. The way a person is duplicated is every bit as disgusting, involving what appears to be large worms, but unlike in the first remake, it’s not entirely clear how the worms are draining a person’s life essence.

Image result for invasion of body snatchers 1993

You have to pay very close attention to infer the themes of this movie, and you are, more or less, left to guess what was the point. Unfortunately, paying close attention to the dialogue (which is actually not bad) brings the actors lack of skills to the forefront. Billy Wirth and Gabrielle Anwar are just bad, and many of the other characters already act like pod people before they get duplicated, so its hard to tell whether or not they’ve been replaced. These particular actors just  are  not in the same talent realm as those of the  previous remake. Theyre too young, for one thing, and simply don’t have the talent, or gravity, to carry this movie, although Christine Elise does turn in an engaging performance as the best friend of the lead character, Marti, played by Anwar.

The core plot is centered around the Malone family dysfunction, as Marti and her family, which consists of her, her father, her stepmother and her baby half-brother, have moved to a new military base. I think we’re meant to sympathize with Marti’s displacement and isolation, from her family, and her surroundings, where she has no connections or friends, and is angry for having to start all over again. I see the parallels the director was trying to make, but I  don’t think it was very successful, because Anwar’s performance is so bad, and she has an annoying, and unnecessary, voiceover, as well.

There’s some surprisingly sedate, and creepy, acting from R. Lee Ermey, from Full Metal Jacket fame, Meg Tilley, and even a cameo from Forest Whitaker, who gives one of the more compelling performances, as an officer who is terrified of being duplicated. Both Whitaker, and Ermey do a great job in their scene together, making you wish the movie had been entirely about them, and leaving out Marti’s family melodrama altogether. These three actors (Ermey, Whitaker, and Tilley) are the highlights in what is otherwise a mediocre film. It doesn’t begin to reach the heights of the previous one.

I get that the pod people are not meant to have strong personalities, but Tilley manages to imbue her pod-Mom with just enough personality to be really creepy, while the rest of the pod people don’t. There’s just all kinds of different acting across this movie, so the pod people don’t seem like so much as a unified group, as much as they seem like a bunch of people who have all been lobotomized.

This movie mostly stars a cut-rate cast, that is very obviously sub par to the 1978 version. Most of these actors, who were unknown at the time, continue to be unknown today, with the exception of the colonel played by Forest Whitaker, and Terry Kinney. who went on to star in the series “Oz”, for HBO, and Gabrielle Anwar later starred in Burn Notice, and Once Upon a Time. Billy Wirth (from The Lost Boys) stars as Tim, a young helicopter pilot, who becomes an unconvincing love interest for Marti. It seems that every body snatchers movie must include a, not-quite-romantic subplot.

Image result for invasion of the body snatchers 1993

This movie differentiates itself from the first two by depicting the alien invasion from Marti’s point of view. She, and her friend Jenn, are the only two people on the entire base whose personalities seem to be intact.

While the film has some occasionally creepy moments, (as when Marti’s little brother first attends school, and we realize his entire classroom has been duplicated), it is rather lackluster, and  kinda disappointing. The duplication special effects don’t evoke the same fear and sadness that the process did in the 1978 version, the soundtrack isn’t as memorable as the city/heartbeat sounds of the previous movie, and the sonic screaming of the aliens in distress, is mostly all that’s left from the ’78 version. This was directed by Abel Ferrara, who went on to make more violent indie movies in the 90s, like Bad Lieutenant, and The Addiction.

The Invasion (2007)

Image result for invasion 2007

In 2007, the film was remade, yet again, this time directed by James McTeigue, and starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. The atmosphere of this one is cool and emotionally detached, almost as if the viewer had been duplicated, rather than the actors. The messages and themes of this movies are even more vague and unstated, but a close reading suggests that the messages of urban isolation, and peace through conformity are still intact.

This time Dr. Bennell is a woman (Kidman) and there are some brief feminist themes mentioned because of this change. This time the film is from her point of view, but also viewed through the lens of a parental love, as she seeks to protect her son, who is immune to the effect of duplication.

Everything about the 1978 film is jettisoned from this movie except the occasional name, so this is a clear reboot. Even the aliens themselves get an upgrade. There are no pods in this movie, but rather a kind of sentient virus, brought to Earth from some space debris, like in the movie The Blob. Anyone who is infected with the virus gets possessed by a kind of alien collective, after they fall asleep, but their primary body is left intact.

Dr. Carol Bennell is a psychiatrist whose patients start to report that the people they love are not who they seem. Daniel Craig stars as her counterpart Dr. Ben Driscoll, and they too have a not-quite- romance type of friendship, which is about the only thing kept intact from the original films. Carol has a young son named Oliver who, because of a previous illness, is immune to the virus. The plot becomes a race against time for Carol to save Oliver from one of the pod people, her ex-husband, Tucker, who wishes to kill the handful of humans who are immune.

This is a better movie than the 1993 version, mostly because it has better actors, although I have never liked Nicole Kidman, considering her to be an actress who lacks enough warmth to be engaging. She is too formal and icy for me to care about her plight, or buy her relationship with Oliver, although she does give it some effort. She’s not a bad actress. She’s just too emotionally remote. This is something that worked well when she starred in The Others, but not here.

Related image

In an effort to approach some of the mood of the 1978 version, McTiegue only makes the viewer feel detached , although there are some deeply creepy moments, like various pod people trying  to get people to drink various infected fluids, and a scene where one of the pod people vomits in Carol’s face to infect her,  along with a couple of exciting chase scenes.

One of my favorite moments in this film is when Carol, pretending to be one of the pod people, is invited to dinner by the possessed child of one her friends. While they’re eating you can hear snippets of news shows, in the background, as someone talks about the Middle East Peace Treaties that were recently signed. I feel like that type of political idea should have played a larger part in the plot. Most certainly the political situations of the entire world would change after humanity is possessed by an alien species, and I found that intriguing.

Another scene I found intriguing, was a scene on a bus, with Carol and several other passengers pretending to be possessed, because they don’t know who is or isn’t possessed. I thought it was a very effective scene. This scene also contains some of the few Black people with speaking lines, in any of these movies, (there is Jeffrey Wright, and a Black cop who gives Carol advice in an earlier scene) and I was intrigued at the possibilities of some highly imaginative future director making a movie about how  an alien invasion would affect PoC, and their communities. Would they notice, and would they care if they did? I would love to see a movie where an ethnic community’s reaction to such an invasion is unexpected, positive, or even ignored. There are 7 billion people on this planet and not all of the reactions we would get to  such an invasion would be “fight it out” with guns, and explosions.

Related image

It’s unlikely I will ever see a film about people who have already experienced colonization by a foreign entity, experiencing a second colonization by another. Alien invasion movies are almost always from a  Middle class, White,  Western perspective, are almost always about White people’ s reactions to being colonized, it is always  coded as a negative, and it always involve fighting and explosions. One of the most intriguing lines from the 1978 version is Veronica Cartwright’s character asking why people always expect metal ships. What makes IotB unique is that it is one of the few alien invasions caused by space travelling spores.

Once again, there’s a cameo of an actor from a previous film, Veronica Cartwright, who probably should’ve been allowed to play Dr. Bennell in this one, because she’s the most emotionally accessible character in the movie. Daniel Craig is completely unmemorable in this movie, as a love interest, who is so removed, he barely affects the plot. He barely affects Dr. Bennell. Jeffrey Wright is  a scientist who comes up with a way to stop the aliens. He is never in any danger and is mostly wasted, as he’s only there to give exposition. (I suppose we should be grateful that he survives the movie.)

The themes of this movie are even murkier than the last remake, although I get the focus is on familial bonds. But again, the emphasis on rugged individualism, and its protection at all costs, is something very common in White Western filmmaking.

There is a new version of this movie in development, or so the rumor goes, and I’d like to see some of the above themes addressed in it, but I’m not holding my breath. Chances are, it will be written by, and from the perspective of a White middle-class urban professional, and just reiterate the same themes of paranoia, and the protection of individual identity that were addressed so well in the first two films.  These movies have become less effective over time, and one way of grabbing a new audience is by infusing it with different thinking. What I would like to see is this film, done by a PoC, and what messages they might have to convey.


Star Trek Discovery Review


Related image

Before we get started on the second half of the new season, let’s talk about what I liked and disliked about this new show, and do some quick character reviews. I know some of you had some doubts about this show and you can decide for yourself whether or not it’s worth your time, based on my observations. I’m gonna try to be as fair as I can considering I’m biased.

Let me lay out my credentials: I’m an OG Star Trek fan, since about ten or so. I’ve been around since the replays of the Original series back in the 80s, and have watched every episode, multiple times, over the last 35 years. I’ve seen every movie multiple times, can quote dialogue, know most characters backstories, from having read almost all the books , and vowed I would marry Mr. Spock when I was twelve years old. I was a Trek fan before I was a fan of Star Wars,and that’s where the bulk of my nerd-love went.

Related image

I have to admit, I’m kinda addicted to this show, which surprised me, after my initial reserve of those first two episodes. I got into it about six episodes in,when CBS All Access offered a special subscription. As I’ve said, there’s nothing else on the network worth looking at, but I’ve heard there are some promising shows for the future, and I think this is one of them. It’s tackled a couple of sensitive issues with Star Trek’s usual care, and lack of hysteria, and it has some intriguing characters.

The major plot consists of Captain Lorca’s efforts to create a weapon that will help Starfleet win in the war against the Klingons. To that end, he has Michael’s transport shuttle waylaid, so he can use her big brain to help him to do this. Over time, we learn that he has Carte Blanche to do whatever he pleases, as long as it accomplishes his goal. When they find another ship whose crew wiped out by a hostile alien, called a tardigrade, they capture the alien, and use it, (and it’s parasitic relationship with some sentient mushroom spores) to create a new form of trans warp drive, that allows their ship to movie itself anywhere instantly.

When Michael and Stamets find out that their use of the creature is killing it, Michael, in her compassion, sets it free, and prepares to use her own body in place of the alien, to communicate with the spores, but Stamets sacrifices himself instead, and by the end of the season, they have accomplished their goal of creating a new weapon in the war, to spectacular fashion, in an episode rivaling the TNG two parter, The Best of Both Worlds. But Stamets is so changed in personality by what he has done, as to be unrecognizable from when we first met him,and there will be repercussions from that, as biological experimental weapons are outlawed in Starfleet.


Related image

In the meantime, most of Michael’s actions, on the ship,revolve around her navigating  new, and old,  relationships, and occasionally saving the ship. She is usually the one person who thinks differently enough from any of the other characters (due to her dual heritage) that she is able to come up with solutions to their problems.


Up first:

I like the relationships and characters most of all. ST has never shied away from relationship stories. In fact, I’d argue those were some of the best episodes of any of the series. But Star Trek has always been very plot driven, too, and Discovery does not skimp on that end. I find everything except the  Klingons to be compelling. The special effects are good, and the writing is well done, often involving a primary plot, a B plot, and a couple of smaller subplots, all of them elegantly intertwined, such that what you think is a B or subplot could have an effect on the main one, at any moment, or come into play later in the season.

A word of warning:


This is a very dark show. If you liked DS9, then you’ll probably like this one. I was not a huge DS9 fan until after the series ended. But I like how dark this show is. The characters aren’t as blandly pleasant as they were in TNG, which I also liked a lot, or as polarizing as in the Original series. The show has dealt with war, ptsd, rape trauma, spiritual possession, revenge, and treason, and that’s just in the first half of the season.

If you’re used to thinking of Star Trek as light and fluffy, then just remember the Original series had some occasionally very dark episodes too, that addressed serious social issues, like Toxic Masculinity, in Charlie X, and The Enemy Within. It dealt with sexism in Turnabout Intruder, and frequently dealt with issues of population control, slavery, conflicted identity, and the nature of violence. One of my all time favorite episodes of Voyager was the introduction of a member of the immortal Q Continuum who wanted to commit suicide, but was prevented from doing so by the others, in Death Wish. I think that’s probably the only episode, of any of the series, to ever bring me to tears.

Related image

If you’re looking for fun and fluffy, this has very little of it to go around. There are occasionally beautiful moments, (you can see this show costs money), and some lighthearted banter, but that’s not the focus of the show.

Now let’s talk about the six primary characters:

Michael Burnham:

Image result for star trek discovery michael

Its hard to get a grasp on this character. She really is the main focus of the show. She has most of the onscreen time,and many of the episodes revolve around how she thinks and feels, but she is not an especially demonstrative character, due to her Vulcan upbringing, and it’s takes time, and lots of viewing, to get some idea of what she’s thinking and feeling. She is brave, idealistic, and earnest. And at least is not as stiffly formal as when we first met her. She is learning to act more human, I’m going to argue that she either suppressed or ignored her emotions as being irrelevant, because that’s how so many Vulcans operate.

We need to keep in mind that the third episode and the subsequent episodes take place immediately after her court martial, so I’m guessing all within the space of a year, or a few months. Her entrance to Lorca’s ship gets off to a rocky start, as she is rebuffed by Tilley, and tested by Stamets, and rebuked by Saru, who is terrified of her. But over time, these individuals start to understand her worth, as she regularly saves their lives, and they warm to her.

Everyone questions her purpose on the ship, but Lorca knows why he wants her. She’s smart as fuck, and has no qualms about kicking Klingon ass. And I think he just admires her, for her. She has been a great asset to his ship, but no matter how useful she is to him, she has to always keep in mind that she is under a life imprisonment sentence with Starfleet, and is, basically, a convict, whose sentence has been briefly commuted. When Lorca’s mission is over she believes she will go back to prison, so that’s the sword that is hanging over her head throughout all her missions,and informs some of her decision making.



Image result for star trek discovery tilly

Tilly is Michael’s roommate, and I immediately disliked Tilly, at first, because of the way she treated Michael when they first met. But, I’ve grown to really, really like her. Sometimes more than Michael, but Michael is a very heavy character, who is hard to cozy up to, because she’s so closed with her emotions. Tilly’s emotions are wide open, which makes her more easily accessible, and one of the most likable people on the show. If Michael is the intellect, then Tilly is the heart of the show, and in their friendship, we can see a reflection of the relationships of the Original series, (Kirk, Spock ,and McCoy, who often acted as Kirks intellect and conscience). The only word that can truly describe Tilly, is ” bubbly”.

She is often the comedy relief, for whom Michael plays the straight man, and has sort of appointed herself to be Michael’s emotional liaison, helping her navigate a human social system, without any rank to smooth the way, and I would argue that they are great friends, or getting there. Michael has none, so has to work out each individual relationship, as she encounters them. Tilley has also appointed Michael to be her mentor, and I can’t tell you how heartening it is to watch Michael develop the same relationship with Tilley that she had with Gheorgiu, and fulfilling Gheorgius wishes for her.

Another thing I have to applaud the show for is Tilly’s relationship with Michael is  treated as a priority for both of them, and the writers show that by not creating a trite love triangle between Tilly, Ash, and Michael. It is Tilly who shows initial interest in Ash, but when she can see that Ash and Michael have a connection, she steps aside, and encourages Michael to pursue a relationship with him. In the hands of lesser writers, Tilly and Michael would have competed for Ash’s attention, and I appreciate that these writers were more mature.

Bryan Fuller is known for having positive female relationships in his shows and I am here for it, and I love seeing it.


Ash Tyler:

Image result for star trek discovery ash

Ash is played by the exceptionally handsome Shazad Latif, he of the big round eyes! When Captain Lorca gets kidnapped by the Klingons, he gets trapped in a cell with Ash, who had been a prisoner for some time, and was only alive because L’Rel, a female Klingon, took a romantic fancy to him. He later talks about his time with her, to Michael, and we come to understand that he was in fact raped repeatedly by L’Rel, as he slept with her to keep from being tortured and killed, like all the other prisoners who were captured before him. When L’Rel surrenders to Lorca, she gets sent to brig and we see Ash have his first panic attack, as he suffers from ptsd. The writers handle the issues of rape, and post traumatic stress, delicately, and with respect.

After a successful mission with Michael, that saves the ship, Ash gets appointed to Head of Security, as he and Michael form a strong emotional bond. It’s not exactly a romance yet, but there is an implied intimacy of feeling between the two, and they do discuss having a future romantic relationship. Later, during a time travel episode, they share their first kiss. Star Trek has portrayed many different types of romances, but this is one of the few interracial relationships, on any of its shows, that do not involve a White partner, (most interracial relationships on TV involve a White partner), or an alien, and I think it’s handled very well, with care and sensitivity for both their issues, although I suspect it will turn out to be tragic, as the future doesn’t look good for an ex-con, whose only free on sufferance, and a Head of Security in Starfleet.


Lt. Saru:

Image result for star trek discovery saru

Saru is played by the inimitable Doug Jones, from Hellboy, and The Shape of Water. If you’re interested in some interesting tidbits and updates on his career (along with some great philosophical analysis of mythology in pop culture) then check out, and follow, his brothers website:

For smart, philisophocal reading on superheroes, follow my oldest brother Bobby and scroll down his WordPress entries!

Saru is another character that is hard to warm up to, but only because he’s so bluntly, and directly suspicious of Michael. I have to keep in mind that Saru is traumatized by the loss of his captain,which really wasn’t that long ago, and blames Michael, and in many ways, himself. Saru is an alien from a member of what he calls, “a prey species”, and so has developed a keen ability to detect danger. He often talks about being risk avoidant, but I’ve seen this character be brave and fearless in a couple of episodes, so I’m taking what he says about himself with a grain of salt.

Over time he does begin to warm up to and trust mIchael, but he never loses his initial suspicion of her. He’s still very wary, but the two of them reached a moment of ,if not friendship, then at least detente,when Michael is delivered Gheorgius last will and testament in the form of a giant telescope, that was her family heirloom. Gheorgius last words to Michael is the first really tearjerker moment in the series, which is only equaled by the scene in which Michael offers the telescope to Saru. In fact we learn about what Saru thinks and feels in that episode,so we reach a fuller understanding of him, even if he is difficult to warm to. He’s not a bad character. He’s not even especially dark. He’s just afraid, but I’m very protective when it comes to Michael’s character, and tend to give the side eye to anyone on the show, who doesn’t like her.

Saru is too traumatized to ever trust Michael. He is always going to be afraid of her, and what she might do, but he makes it clear that he has the utmost respect for her, and I’ll accept that.


Lt. Stamets:

Image result for star trek discovery stamets and culber

I think all of these characters start out as inherently unlikable, but over time you grow to like them,and none more so than Stamets. He is also a lot like Lorca, in that he is focused and needs to work on his social skills, as he is very blunt and direct, and I initially hated him. When he first meets Michael, he tests her scientific knowledge, but once she has proven she is capable, he simply doesn’t care about her past. She is a member of his crew and the only person he considers smarter than her, is himself. As a character, he is every bit as idealistic and brave as any of the other characters from previous series, and becomes much more likable after he forms an intimate relationship with some sentient mushroom spores. (Don’t ask!) Although, without the influence of the mushrooms, Stamets is the kind of person you’re either terrified of, or just want to slap the living shit out of.

Stamets is married to the ships doctor, Hugh Culber. I liked how their relationship was portrayed in the show, as just like any other. The audience is gradually introduced to them as a romantic couple, living together as partners, over time. Culber doesn’t have a huge role in the show as of this time, but we’ll see more of him as the series progresses. There’s also another one of the first (and few) gay kisses on a Star Trek show, (DS9 had a couple of them), and it is given the full romantic treatment, with swelling music, and swooping camera angles, that it should be given, as Stamets prepares to risk his life to save the ship. Earlier in the season Michael got her own romantic moment with Ash.

Culber is focused and dedicated in his work, and is an absolute cinnamon roll compared to Stamets. Nevertheless, you can see in their interactions with each other, why Culber loves him,and Culber is one of the few people who can call Stamets on his bullshit, and get away with it.

Anthony Rapp, and Wilson Cruz, are both openly gay actors who play openly gay characters, which is how it should be.


Captain Lorca:

Image result for star trek discovery lorca

Let’s get this out of the way. You will not like Lorca. He isn’t meant to be liked, and he isn’t likable. If you’re expecting someone like Picard or Kirk, then you need to go home, cuz he ain’t the one. Picard, Kirk, and the others were captains of exploratory, diplomatic ships. They were chosen specifically for their positions because of their charm, idealism, diplomacy, candor, and all those other fine qualities. Lorca is the captain of a ship of war. He is mysterious, shifty, shady, unreliable, ruthless, conniving, and morally gray, but he is not evil. At least not actively so. He was appointed to his position for the specific purpose of puttin’ a whoopin’ on some Klingon asses, and that’s his top priority. His job, and his ship are focused on creating new weapons for Starfleet. He is focused and blunt (I can identify with that to a degree), and will sacrifice anyone or anything to meet his ends.

He likes to collect things, and his dimly lit office, (he has some kind of eye disorder that makes him allergic to bright lights) is full of all manner of alien curios, including a live tribble, and some Gorn armor. He’s intriguing and I ljust know he’s getting shipped with somebody on this show even though he isn’t close to any of his crew. He’s generally respectful but he’s not a warm man. The only time we ever see him be warm is with his lover, and oldest friend, Admiral Cornwell.

He is the kind of man that makes no effort to be the bigger person. He saves Ash from the Klingons but when he finds out that Harry Mudd is a spy for them, he leaves him behind to be tortured by them, which is something that comes back to bite him in the ass later, When his lover, Admiral Cornwell , gets captured by the Klingons, he makes no effort to rescue, her because she called into question his ability to command,and planned to report him to Starfleet. And although there are no details, the loss of his light vision is directly attributable to some dust-up he had with Klingons.

It’s interesting that no mention of him is made in any of the other series, which take place long after his death. So I do wonder what happened to him and the technology he created in this show. I very much suspect that he and his ship are destroyed, or are lost somehow. Although we need to keep in mind which universe this show takes place in. Is it the 2009 Star Trek Verse, or the Original series/movie Verse?


Favorite episodes:

Image result for star trek discovery lethe

Episode 6: Lethe – This one is about Michael’s relationship with Sarek, her decision to join Starfleet, and a mystery she needs to resolve between the two of them to save Sareks life. Some great character work from Sonequa, and Frain.

Episode 7: Magic To Make the Sanest Man Go Mad – This was my all time favorite episode, which surprised me because I’m familiar with the old Harry Mudd episodes from the Original series,and those were not my favorites. So when I heard that the new series would re-introduce this character, I automatically dismissed him. But this episode proved extremely likable.  And Rainn Wilson makes a very compelling Harry Mudd.The events of this episode are directly brought about by Lorca’s previous actions in an earlier episode.

Image result for star trek discovery magic to make the sanest man

*There’s a scene where the crew is having a party and the music you hear playing in the background is definitely Al Green’s “Love and Happiness”, and Wycliffe Jean’s “We Tryin’ to Stay Alive” and  Tilley refers to this as Classical music. (All you gotta do is put some of my favorite music in your show to make me a fan for life, apparently. ) Michael dances with Stamets, and Ash and Michael share their first kiss. This episode sets up Michael as being qualifying romantic potential.

Episode 8: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum – I actually think this is one of the weakest episodes of this season, because the plot is rather typical, what sets it apart is Doug Jones awesome performance, as an exceptionally dangerous being, possessed by another alien species. This episode belongs entirely to Lt. Saru.

Episode 9: Into The Forest I Go – The last episode before the hiatus is just some great plotting,as far as I’m concerned. Outside of the Harry Mudd episode is the second best of the season, and a great setup for the major changes to come in the second half.


The show picks up the second half of its season on January 9th. And while I’m looking forward to new episodes, I’m kinda pissed that I have to wait a week between them as CBS has string the episodes out to keep people subscribing to their channel. They seem pretty aware that the only reason any of us signed up for it is to watch this show,and that as soon as it’s over, we’ll drop this channel. Hopefully, they’ll release some new shows before we all feel an urge to cancel it.