Thursday 17 July 2014

TREK REVIEW: Star Trek Continues: Fairest of Them All

The third episode of Star Trek Continues, the fanfilm series made with an emphasis on authenticity, is a sequel to a fan favourite, “Mirror, Mirror.” While I still think there's room for more original storyline ideas in these types of productions, we fans do love a bit of sequelism, and they couldn't have picked a better story to follow up. “Mirror, Mirror” end with Kirk convincing the Spock of the Mirror Universe to try to turn the despotic Terran Empire into something better. What followed was never seen. There have, of course, been attempts to follow up the story, notably in the “Shatnerverse” novels, and it's a fanfic favourite. From Deep Space Nine we know the long-term fallout of Spock's actions, and the Enterprise episode “In a Mirror, Darkly,” gave us the origins of the Empire.

However, it's been almost fifty years since that episode aired and it's only now that we get to see, on the small screen, exactly what happened after Kirk and his malevolent counterpart were returned to their respective universes. The Continues creators are making a bold move with this episode, not only portraying their vision of a major sequence of events in Trek's future history, but beginning it with a recreation of the seminal original scene between Kirk and Mirror Spock. Thankfully, both Vic Mignona and Todd Haberkorn nail it, in this scene and throughout. I haven't had much chance to rate Haberkorn yet, seeing that Spock has had relatively little to do in the previous two episodes of the series. This, however, is all about the Kirk-Spock dynamic, albeit a twisted reflection of it, in which Spock's logical philosophy is faced with sheer emotional aggression from his captain. In fact, I'd say Mignona is better here as Mirror Kirk than he is as the regular Kirk. That's not to say he hasn't been great in the previous episodes, because he has. However, the Mirror Kirk is an almost entirely unexplored character, which gives the Mignona more room to play his own version. He paints a picture of a terrifying individual, of power gone unchecked.

However, like the Empire itself, Kirk is destined to be usurped by the very people who serve him. One of the best moments in the episode comes as Uhura (Kim Stinger) finally stands up to an increasingly desperate and vicious Kirk and tells him he's gone too far. While Mignona and Haberkorn lead the episode, all members of the cast do well here. Of particular note is Asia DeMarcos as Marlena, the Captain's Woman, with just as vital a role in this episode as in the original. Kipleigh Brown, as Navigator Smith, is also very good, and there's no reason their regular universe counterparts couldn't become major characters in future episodes. The only character that didn't feel quite right was Chekov (Wyatt Lenhart), simply because he's too reasonable. Chekov was a really nasty little shit in “Mirror, Mirror.” There are other notable cast members too, including Chris Huber making his debut as Dr. McCoy, and Michael Dorn, better known as Commander Worf, providing a deeply scary computer voice.

The story is fast paced but intelligent, with Spock showing that there is a better way by managing, against all odds, a bloodless mutiny on the Enterprise. A link to the 22nd century Mirror Universe storyline is provided when Andorian rebels show up to take on the imperial ship (no blue skin I'm afraid, this is space warfare only), which adds another layer to the proceedings. It's not strictly necessary though, as Spock's rebellion is the core of the episode and is enough to carry it. Aside from Star Trek's perennial obsession with chess – authentic, again, but clichéd – pretty much every aspect of this episode works. Plus, we get a homage to the classic “Khaaaan!” line much better than the one in Star Trek Into Darkness. Overall, this is really good stuff. A superior fanfilm.

Watch "Fairest of Them All" here.

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