Sunday, 19 November 2017

TREK REVIEW: Star Trek Continues 10/11 - "To Boldly Go" Parts 1 & 2

The premier Trek fanfilm series comes to an end with this exciting two-parter. While I have said that I sometimes would have preferred a few more stand-alone episodes that hung less off established canon, it only seems right that this grand finale should seek to tie-up the series in every way it can. When Vic Mignona set out to make Continues, it was with the intention of completing the Enterprise's five-year mission with a final season of Star Trek. Now that CBS have come down on fan projects like this, it seems that “To Boldly Go” will act as a finale for a whole era of fan Trek.

What makes this story work so very well is that it combines a riveting storyline with actors who have come to grips with these classic roles, and a genuine desire to round off this period of Star Trek. It follows up on the mysterious effects of the Galactic Barrier from the pilot episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” with a group of rebel ESPers (plus one villainous Vulcan) attempt to take the Enterprise as part of a bid to usurp humanity's place in the Galaxy. It is these miscreants who are responsible for the destruction and vanishing of various Constitution-class starships throughout the Continues series. During the transgalactic game of cat-and-mouse, Spock seeks out his one-time paramour, the Romulan commander from “The Enterprise Incident,” now repatriated and once again commanding a Bird-of-Prey, the Hawk's Talon, beautifully rendered here.

Making this story a sequel to the pilot is a brilliant decision, but it also bookends the series by seguing directly into the set-up for The Motion Picture. Not only do the creators of the story make this work in spite of the huge tonal differences between the original series and the film, but it works perfectly as a character piece, giving solid, believable reasons for Kirk, Spock and McCoy going their separate ways once the mission is completed. Indeed, we find Kirk in much the same place here as we found Pike in “The Cage,” weighed under by years of responsibility and the guilt of so many deaths under his command. Spock is torn between his burgeoning emotions and the logic he believes in and the responsibility of impending command, while McCoy is simple sick of watching people die.

We know, of course, that most of the crew are going to make it through to the end of the episode, what with them carrying on through The Motion Picture and subsequent movies. However, that doesn't mean there aren't major losses throughout the adventure, not least of which is a good chunk of the Enterprise itself. The ship really earns its refit on this mission. We also get to see the long-imagined saucer separation of the original Enterprise, one of many exceptionally well-produced visual effects sequences.

The regular cast all get moments to shine, with particular praise due to Todd Haberkorn as Spock, who I think has really nailed the part over the last few episodes. I was pleased to see Kim Stinger's Uhura get a meatier role than in most previous episodes. The multi-talented Kipleigh Brown, as the recurring character Lt. Smith, gets a very strong episode in part two, becoming an essential member of the cast for this finale, and there is some strong material for Michele Specht as ship's councillor Dr. McKennah. The guest cast is also very good throughout, with special praise needed for the wonderful Nicola Bryant. As a Doctor Who aficionado (in case you hadn't noticed), it's a treat to see her here, with her natural accent rather than an affected American one, and she's clearly having a great time playing the villain of the piece. Another star turn is Amy Rydell as Romulan Commander Charvanek, who is not only very impressive in the role, but is the daughter of the original holder of the role, Joanne Linville.

While the two-parter was full of excitement and adventure, it's actually the final few scenes that really made an impact for me. Moving into the slower, more thoughtful territory of The Motion Picture, it sees Kirk accept his deskjob promotion from Admiral Nogura. (As a little visual treat, we see the now-traditional selection of model starships, including the Phoenix, Enterprise NX-01, USS Kelvin and USS Discovery, further tying different eras of Star Trek together.) Vic Mignona gives a speech to his erstwhile crew and one final log entry, and it's as much him speaking to the viewers as it is Kirk addressing Starfleet. As the prime mover and star of Star Trek Continues, it's only right that he gets to make this send-off, and as far as I'm concerned, he and his crew are very much a part of the Star Trek family. Mission accomplished.

Watch all the episodes of Star Trek Continues here.

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