Tuesday, 4 April 2017

TREK REVIEW: Star Trek Continues 8 - Still Treads the Shadow

Star Trek Continues continues continuing, which is a pleasant surprise to some of fandom considering how unfriendly Paramount have become to fanfilms since the Axanar lawsuit. However, all of Continues' fundraising for the next four episodes was completed prior to the legal announcement, and the production team are pushing ahead with finishing their series, albeit a few episodes shorter than originally planned. I shall try to be as spoiler-free as I can without being totally vague, but if you want, you can watch the episode first here and then come back.

"Still Treads the Shadow" (classic pretentious Trek title there) is a solid episode that revolves almost entirely around Vic Mignola's Captain Kirk. In fact, Mignola gets to portray three characters in the story, although the exact nature of those characters is quite surprising. Mignola does a great job making his three roles distinct. The rest of the regular cast are a little overlooked in this episode, with a good deal of the material going to the big guest star Rekha Sharma, best known to SF fans as Tori on Battlestar Galactica. If anything, though, Sharma could have done with more screentime, to make the most of a promising character and by far the best actor on the production. Sharma's a huge Trek fan by all accounts, so maybe we'll see more of her in another episode.

"Still Treads the Shadow" is written by Judy Burns, who has racked up a lot of professional screen credits over the years, but whose first such credit was that of co-writer on the third season Star Trek episode "The Tholian Web." If anyone was expecting a sequel to that episode, then they'd be absolutely right. Don't expect a rematch with the Tholians, though, as this episode takes a very different take. At first glance, it appears to conflict with Enterprise's fourth season story "In a Mirror, Darkly," which provided its own sequel to "Web," however, a clever line of dialogue allows both sequels to co-exist.

The episode's script is science-heavy without ever becoming too laden with technobabble. I enjoy TOS pastiches that take into account recent discoveries and theories. "Shadow" includes dialogue regarding gravity waves and dark matter, and while both of these had been theorised in the early part of the 20th century, they hadn't become generally accepted or well known concepts until more recently. The dialogue is backed up by some spectacular effects work, which comes across as more showy and modern than previous episodes but works beautifully for the episode. Fans might see some similarity with episodes such as "Second Chances" and "Deadlock," but Trek has never shied away from re-exploring familiar tropes. Well worth a watch.

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