Friday 29 January 2016

TREK REVIEW: New Voyages: The Holiest Thing

SPOILERS! If you haven't seen the episode, you can watch it here first.

Not so much a new voyage as a walk along well-trodden paths, this latest episode of the fan series is nonetheless one of the best they have produced. It's heavy on the continuity, but it doesn't feel forced or awkward, with the exception of the odd decision to frame the story with scenes of a 24th Century Scotty reminiscing about the adventure (he has little to do with the main adventure, making it doubly strange). This is primarily the story of Dr. Carol Marcus, the character remembered for her appearance as Kirk's lost love in The Wrath of Khan (and less well remembered for inclusion in its cover version, Star Trek Into Darkness). Here, Dr. Marcus is played by the beautiful Jacy King, who gives a fine performance as a scientist who believes passionately in the vital nature of her work and who will defend it to the hilt, even in the face of disaster. Less convincing is her romance with Kirk, although this has more to do with the limited screentime, and with Brian Goss's performance. As yet, I'm not convinced by Goss as Kirk, who seems a little freshfaced and ineffectual here. He lacks Kirk's display of bravado and confidence; he'd probably have worked well when younger as a less experience Jim Kirk, as lieutenant on the Yorktown, but he doesn't yet convince as the legendary captain, Still, give him time - he's very new to the role.

Anyway, "The Holiest Thing" is a prequel to the aforementioned Wrath of the Khan, dealing with Dr. Marcus's first attempts to create a new terraforming device that will bring "life from lifelessness." We know it's doomed to fail, which makes her passion for the project both wonderful to see and rather heartbreaking. Here, it's the actions of a fellow scientist on their base on Lappa Three that spells disaster, but we know that once day, she'll be cutting similar corners with the Genesis device, with catastrophic effects. This episode ties in nicely to the movie, although the timing is a little questionable. Still, I don't mind this too much - continuity is fun to play with, but being beholden to it is a poor idea. Yes, this adventure should have happened earlier if Kirk's son David was to be the result, but then it wouldn't have been made as part of Star Trek: New Voyages.

This attitude to continuity is best displayed in the identity of the mysterious aliens involved in the disaster. The series Enterprise drew flak for its inclusion of the Ferengi, clashing with established continuity. This goes even further, happily having the Ferengi identify themselves once they are revealed, in spite of apparently not making contact with the Federation until the time of Picard. Frankly, who cares? The Ferengi make a fun baddie for the episode, and Clay Sayre gives a great performance as the grotty Ferengi captain, beneath some truly excellent make-up. The series is looking better than ever; there's a sequence where the camera draws back from the Enterprise through the star system, revealing the alien ship, that is absolutely gorgeous. Pretty damned good stuff.

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