Thursday 15 October 2015

TREK REVIEW: Star Trek Continues: Divided We Stand

I rather enjoyed this one, in spite of its being squarely aimed at the core American audience of Trek fans. It's not, to be fair, terribly original in its content: Kirk and McCoy are seemingly sent back in time to the American Civil War, although it's very quickly revealed to the audience that they have been infected by a virus that has caught them in a shared dreamscape. There's no mystery to it, nor much interest in the Enterprise-based subplot of curing the two friends. No, this is all about how Jim and Bones cope in this environment, believing it to be viscerally real and apparently without hope of rescue.

The original Star Trek played with Earth's history on numerous occasions, so much so that it seems odd that it wasn't repurposed as a time travel show. Whether it was actual trips into the past, bizarre alien recreations or planets that seem to have developed along Earthlike lines due to interference or sheer coincidence. So this excursion to 19th century America feels very in keeping with the series that it's seeking to emulate, without taking the path of previous episodes and indulging in heavy continuity. Not that there's anything wrong with heavy continuity in a fan series, but it's a pleasure to have something a little fresher after a run of sequels and callbacks. In fact, I can only think of one nod to the series' history, that being the name of the probe that delivers the virus: Friendship Three, presumably a successor to the eponymous probe from the Voyager episode Friendship One.

The strength of the episode lies in the recreation of the American battlefields. I presume the production team called on the services of some historical reenactment enthusiasts, since the battle scenes are populous and convincing (not that I'm any expert on the period, never having had a particular interest in the American Civil War). The decision to use Kirk and McCoy was a wise one. The strength of their friendship keeps them going through the bloody horrors of a very real war, far from the usually sanitised conflicts seen in Trek (although the original series was bloodier than people remember). Their respective backgrounds put Kirk and Bones on opposing sides in the war, with Kirk cast as a Union soldier and McCoy as his prisoner. It unfolds predictably, but nonetheless effectively, with both Vic Mignola and Chuck Huber working extremely well together here. A particularly effective installment from an always impressive fan production.

Watch the episode here.

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