Tuesday 27 February 2018

REVIEW: The Shape of Water

The trailers for this, the latest film by Guillermo del Toro, got a lot of his fans excited. For some, it looked like a return to the universe of Hellboy, featuring as it does an amphibious being with more than a passing resemblance to Abe Sapien. For others, it was a return to the aesthetically and emotionally strange worlds he had previously explored in El laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth) and El espinazo del Diablo (The Devil's Backbone), only this time in an English language film. For del Toro, however, it was a chance to finally make his own follow-up to The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Del Toro was involved with Universal in early talks to direct a remake of Creature, but he insisted on a version of the film told largely from the Gill-man's perspective and wanted to see the heroine succeed in her romance with the monster. Universal weren't keen, and, well, you've seen the state of the Universal monster-verse. Perhaps they should have listened. This is the latest of many films that del Toro has made inspired by wonders and horrors from his childhood. However, unlike El laberinto and El espinazo, this is not an exploration of childhood fears but of adult concerns such as love, sex, allegiance and ambition. It's also one of his best and most beautiful films yet.

As with previous del Toro's films, The Shape of Water stars Doug Jones as its primary monster, following his roles as Abe in Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, plus the Chamberlain and the Angel of Death in the latter; the faun and the Pale Man in El laberinto del fauno. Although the physical similarity to Abe is obvious, Hellboy's right hand fish is an especially verbose character. The Creature of The Shape of Water, shackled, wounded and mute, is more similar to the generally villainous characters for which Jones has portrayed through movement only (including the Pale Man, and the leader of the Gentlemen in Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Both visually and conceptually, the Creature here might be best described as the missing link between the bestial but passionate Gill-man and the cultured and magical Abe.

The true star of the film, though, is of course Sally Hawkins, who has rightfully been showered with praise for her performance as Elisa Esposito, the similarly mute cleaning woman who lives a life of subdued drudgery at the military facility in which the Creature is contained. While she communicates through sign language – a mix of ASL and BSL I am informed, and helpfully subtitled and/or interpreted for those of us who do not sign – some of the most illustrative moments in the film are without language whatsoever. Delicately directed moments explore a life that is unique yet ordinary: furtive masturbation during her morning bath, excitable moments of dance in front of the television, calmly eating her packed lunch between shifts. It's an achingly beautiful performance, with which Hawkins portrays a character trapped by her difference from those around her but surrounded by love, from her friends, neighbours and the mysterious Creature in the tank.

Which is not to say the rest of the cast are not given the chance to shine. The brilliant and under-appreciated Richard Jenkins plays Giles, Elisa's next-door neighbour and best friend, an ageing advertising artist who struggles to live a closeted life during the crushingly conservative America of 1962. Octavia Spencer is Zelda, Elisa's workmate and her closest confidante in the daylight hours, who serves as her voice in the workplace. While very different characters, they are linked in their clear love for Elisa, and by the marginal place they have in the society of the time. Indeed, it's a powerful statement to have the two main voices in the film – save the antagonist – be those of a gay man and a black woman.

That antagonist is Michael Shannon's Colonel Strickland, a loathsome creation and a pitch-perfect, pitch black portrayal of impotent white-man ambition. Strickland's desperate need to prove himself worthy to his superiors drives the film's plot, as he tortures the Creature and plans to tear him apart in a desperate attempt to learn something – anything – that he can present to his commanding officer to use in the fight against those damn dirty commies. He's thrown into sharp relief by his chief scientist Bob Hoffstetler – aka Dimitri Mosenkov – played with anguished heart by Michael Stuhlbarg. Again, making a Soviet spy one of the most heroic and sympathetic characters marks the film as a deliberate attack on the conservative right – a direct counter-narrative to the usual heroic square-jawed American point of view.

Indeed, this is the core of the film. As much as the story is about the plight of the outsider, the need to find someone to be alike and with, it's clear that del Toro really desperately wanted to follow up The Creature from the Black Lagoon (actually veering off partway through the sequel, Revenge of the Creature) by making it plainly clear once-and-for-all that the Western interlopers are the villains. Still, for all del Toro's sympathy for the original Gill-man, he was an aggressive being who tried to abduct the object of his desires. The Creature of Shape of the Water is an idealised version, capable of violence and clearly a wild animal, but far more intelligent, sensitive and compassionate.

Beautiful, strange, lyrical and sensual, The Shape of the Water is a remarkable film. Although the final twist is signposted clearly from the beginning, it nonetheless makes for a just and satisfying climax to a moving adventure.

Saturday 24 February 2018

The World Can Wait

Last night saw the release of The World Can Wait, exclusively by Diva magazine. The World Can Wait was written, produced and directed by Deborah Espect (creator of the award-winning web series As We Are, which you can watch on her site along with her short film Dog Day featuring the late, great Bella Emberg).

The World Can Wait is a comedic short starring Veronica Jean Trickett (As We Are, Hard Tide, 8ish, Jedi's Code) as Vic, a lesbian superhero who finds her greatest foe in the TV execs who can't stand to see a happy lesbian couple on their show. A protest against the common trope in TV and film of killing off LGTB+ characters, particularly lesbians, it's also a funny take on genre films.

You can watch the film here or via the Diva link above. It also features Charlotte East, comedian Sarah Charsley, and my own lady Suzanne Mead.

Sunday 18 February 2018

REVIEW: The Greatest Showman

I finally caught the new musical movie The Greatest Showman, a film I've been eager to see since the trailers came out a few months ago. I'm a big fan of P.T Barnum's story - truly one of the greats of fringe culture and a historical legend. Already the subject of a musical (the 80s Barnum, which experienced a recent revival), Phineas Taylor B. was a philanthropist, a conman, an entrepreneur, and a showman. To be honest, there's not much of the real Barnum in Hugh Jackman's character here. He certainly wasn't that good-looking, for a start; his moral code, particularly when he was young, was far dodgier. Although we got a glimpse of the notorious conman who used to trick people into leaving his museum so he could charge them entry again, when he steals worthless deeds to act as collateral at the bank, the focus is squarely on the circus king aspect of his career. He didn't found the Barnum and Bailey Travelling Circus until he was in his sixties, although his Travelling Menagerie (read: freakshow) for which he is most famous, came much earlier. Again, though, this is barely part of the story - most of the story of the freaks is contained within his museum.

I doubt even half of the events shown in The Greatest Showman are true, but, really, isn't that in the spirit of the humbug that Barnum peddled? This isn't a historical drama, although a strict exploration of Barnum's life would make for a fine film. This is a big budget, extravagant, feel-good musical, and on those terms, it succeeds brilliantly. The songs are powerful and have been rattling round my head for days, from the opening "The Greatest Show" to the mighty freaks' anthem "This is Me." The costumes are gorgeous, the dance numbers are spectacular. Critics have called it "faux-inspiring" and "shallow," but hell, I left the cinema feeling amazing.

Hugh Jackman teams up with Zac Efron, who plays Carlyle, a character very loosely based on Barnum's partner, James Bailey, who acts as something of a grounding influence on him. Their boisterous duet is one of the sexiest things I've seen in a long time, and they have some good chemistry with each other. Probably more chemistry than Jackman has with Michelle Williams, who plays Barnum's wife Charity, who, incidentally, was far more adventurous and interesting a character than she's made out to be here. Again, though, this is not a film that's aiming for historical accuracy, as we see Barnum, a strict teetotaller and supporter of the temperance movement, knocking back drink after drink while chatting up Carlyle to become his theatrical partner.

The greatest show itself is made up of a huge gang of photogenic human oddities. Some of whom, like Caoife Coleman and Mishay Petronelli, who play the albino twins, have been cast for their dancing skills (and my god can they move - Mishay in particular I couldn't take my eyes off any time she was onscreen). Others, like Keala Settle, who plays Lettie Lutz the Bearded Lady, for their singing voices. Then there are a small few who actually have bodies that deviate from the human norm, such as young Australian actor Sam Humphrey, who plays the diminutive Tom Thumb. They all make up the most attractive bunch of "freaks" cinema has ever seen, so the message of tolerance against the different and deformed is kind of lost. Equally, there's an anti-racist message in there, with Carlyle striking up a taboo relationship with the mixed-race trapeze artist Anne Wheeler, in defiance of polite society's expectations of him, but it's fudged pretty badly. Huge respect to Zendaya, though, who learnt impressive acrobatic skills to play Wheeler. A big chunk of the film is given over to Barnum's tour with the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, who in this version of events has an unlikely romantic infatuation with Barnum. Rebecca Ferguson plays the singer, who genuinely was as remarkable and philanthropic as she is portrayed here, but it's Loren Allred who provides her incredible voice.

The Greatest Showman is nonsense, then, but beautiful, exciting, heartfelt nonsense, that I enjoyed hugely, even if it wasn't the deepest or most believable film. 

Red Dwarf: Thirty Years of Inconsistencies

Red Dwarf is thirty years old. Twelve series, seventy-three episodes, four novels and one Can't Cook, Won't Cook special. I've a proper article coming up on Television Heaven in the near future, but for now I'll be popping a couple of silly pieces on here.

One thing that Red Dwarf has become notorious for is the complete lack of internal consistency. They can't even decide if Lister and Rimmer are from the 21st, 22nd or 23rd century. The internal history of the series has been rewritten both deliberately and accidentally, then changed back again, plus there have been multiple alternative universes and more time travel than you can shake a stick at. So here, after discussions with fellow Dwarfers Suz and Ruth, are my attempts to tackle some peculiar questions and inconsistencies, with various unsubstantiated theories and headcanon.

When is Red Dwarf set?

I once tried to piece together a consistent timeline for the series, before giving up because it's completely impossible. One thing we can do, oddly enough, is fairly reliably date the most recent series: AD 2,978,341. The only genuinely consistent date we have in the whole series is 2340 for Kryten's creation, and that this is definitely after the death of the Red Dwarf crew. In 11.4, "Krysis," we learn it's Kryten's 2,976,000th birthday. Series XII is set one year later. This presumably includes the two centuries Kryten spent running Starbug in between Series V and VI, while the others were in deep sleep. There are other elements that might put this out of whack - time dilation etc. - but this is still the most accurate date we have. It also means that Holly was rounding up when he said he kept Lister in stasis for three million years, although even then we have to ignore relativistic effects when the ship accelerated towards the speed of light.

The Kochanski conundrum

One big anomaly is raised in Series IV. Grant and Naylor decided that Lister's unrequited pining over Kochanski, a woman he barely knew, was a bit puerile, so rewrote the backstory to say that they'd had a brief, intense relationship - something that followed their reworked backstory from the novels. This is a better storyline but it causes a big contradiction that has no explanation.

I have a theory, though, that ties in with another oddity, something that once upon a time I planned to write up into a bit of fanfic. In 3.5, "Timeslides," time is rewritten so that Rimmer is alive, until he very quickly blows himself up. Next episode, he's a hologram again. It's a quick gag, but again, it's a huge rewrite of the series' past.

In my head, Rimmer's conversation with his younger self - trying to persuade him to get up early and go patent the Tension Sheet - isn't completely wasted. Seeing "Thicky" Holden get there first inspires him to be a little more daring, take a few more risks. It doesn't make a huge difference to his life, although it might explain some of the inconsistencies with which exams he takes and how often. However, it eventually leads him to do something a little stupid, something illegal or against Space Corps rules. Maybe he helps Lister hide Frankenstein. I don't know, but the important thing is that he ends up in stasis and therefore survives the accident.

Being roommates with the slightly-more-daring Rimmer makes Lister bolder too. He has the guts to go ask Kochanski out. It doesn't last long, he still ends up alone and gets Frankenstein to keep himself company and gets put into stasis, but it's enough to rearrange his entire romantic backstory.

What's Red Dwarf's crew compliment?

Another change to the backstory in Series IV saw the crew of the ship increase tenfold. In the early dasy, Lister was crewman no. 169, bottom of the entire crew, but in 4.3, "Justice," Rimmer is found guilty of the deaths of 1167 people - with him and Lister added on, this puts it at 1169. It's not as big an increase as in the novels (which had the crew at 11,169) but makes more sense considering the sheer size of the vessel. So, a weird mystery? Not to hard to resolve. While Rimmer and Lister work for the Space Corps, Red Dwarf itself is owned and operated by the Jupiter Mining Corporation. Presumably, the JMC engages the Space Corps to run their ships, but also employs numerous civilian crewmen as well. So the extra thousand people is comprised of miners, shop assistants, the barman at Parrot's... although not the chefs, because seemingly you have to take a Space Corps exam to be a chef. The count also doesn't include the prisoners and wardens on Floor 13, because Rimmer wasn't aware of them.

Check the Appendix

In 2.3, "Thanks for the Memory," a big joke is made of Rimmer having his appendix out twice. This is due to him remembering Lister having his appendix out as well. However, in 6.2, "Legion," Lister has his appendix removed again. How is this possible? Well, one fan theory is that in 4.2, "DNA," when Lister is returned to his original human form after becoming "Man Plus," he's rebuilt with his appendix intact. A funnier explanation was put forward by Doug Naylor in the novel Last Human, after he was questioned on it at a convention: Lister had a mutation and was born with two of the world's most useless organ. This raises the intriguing notion that when Lister is rebuilt again by the nanbots in Series VII, he gets both his appendixes (appendices?) back, meaning he might have a total of four appendectomies.

On a side note, it was revealed in the 1996 Logbook tie-in release that the purpose of the appendix was discovered to be mdeium-wave reception.

Ageing mechanicals

It's a bit illogical that both Kryten and Rimmer change physically over the course of the series. Mostly, we should overlook this: it's a consequence of the fact that we're seeing human actors and not actual robots and holograms. Still, Rimmer has clearly aged across the series, but that's not really inconsistent with what we've seen. He does need to exercise in the early series after all, so clearly his holographic form needs maintenance. Behind the scenes info states that Rimmer hasn't undergone the necessary work to maintain his holography, explaining his ageing in the current series. The same would be true of his fat older self in 6.6, "Out of Time." On the other hand, 6.5, "Rimmerworld," has him sitting in a dungeon for 557 years and and not looking a day older. Possibly his light bee was able to conserve energy and maintain his form during this time.

As for Kryten, my theory for why he's so much larger in the later series is that he's neglected to change his hoover bag for several years.

The other Kochanski conundrum

In 7.3, "Oroboros," a new Kochanski arrives from a reality in which she went into stasis for hiding Franekenstein. Lister is a hologram , Kryten is still there and the Cat still evolved. Kochanski never wanted to go into stasis but presumably she couldn't bring herself to let the pet cat be disintegrated and allowed herself to be put into stasis as punishment (something which would probably have severely curtailed her career as well, had the accident not happened). What, though, did this version of Felis sapiens use as the basis of their culture? What did they fight religious wars over before abandoning the ship, if not Lister's shopping list and general slobbiness of outlook? With Kochanski as a role model, I can imagine the great war of the cottage cheese - Pineapple Chunks vs. Plain.

Which Rimmer is Rimmer?

There's a big mystery as to which version of Rimmer appears in the series from Back to Earth onwards. He's a hologram again, but seems to have memories of both the original Rimmer from Series I to VII, and the resurrected version from Series VIII. This ties in to the confusion around the end of Series VIII. There were various endings considered for this, including one where they got back to Earth for good, and another where Ace Rimmer returned and saved the day. One ending was actually filmed, which saw the Kryten develop the antivirus to stop Red Dwarf's corrosion, while the rest of the crew were abandoned in their fleet of Blue Midgets and Starbugs.

In 10.6, "The Beginning," Rimmer almost gets round to explaining what happened at the end of "Only the Good..." but is continually interrupted, leaving it all a mystery. He does claim to have been the one who saved the ship, but the others say it was a fluke. There's a few possible explanations, including Ace coming back and saving them before trading places with live Rimmer, but I don't like that idea because it undoes all the original Rimmer's character development.

The best solution is that Rimmer dies in whatever happens to save Red Dwarf (although he could have died at anytime in the nine years between "Only the Good" and Back to Earth, which might also account for Rimmer's ageing) and the hologram was created with both Rimmers' memory discs incorporated. He does say he always keeps his hologram discs up-to-date, after all. So from Back to Earth onwards, we're watching a composite version of Rimmer. A super Rimmer.

How does Lister get his memories back?

In 12.5, "M-Corp," there's a pretty daft ending where Lister is reset to his original self back at the very beginning of the series, but Kryten plans to recreate his memories from CCTV footage. This sort of nonsense might fly on Star Trek, but you can't restore years of memories and personality development in a few weeks. The next episode, and the last one so far, "Skipper," makes no rerefence to his memories at all, and also has some other strange inconsistencies. The episode revolves around skipping between realities, but the characters make no reference to the various other dimension jumps they've made in the past, and act as if the idea is completely new to them. Still, this potentially provides the solution to the problemas well: "Skipper" is set in an alternative reality to the preceding 72 episodes. In fact, if we don't assume that each episode takes place in the same reality, it would solve a lot of continuity problems...

Saturday 10 February 2018

A Target for Tommy

In 2016 Obverse Books released A Target for Tommy, a charity Doctor Who anthology to raise money for Tommy Donbavand, the children's author (DW: Shroud of Sorrow, The Beano, the Scream Street series). Tommy has sadly been struggling with cancer, and due to his illness and treatment has had to cease the school visits and classes which formed his main source of income. Obverse has now announced A Second Target for Tommy, a new volume of short stories to further this fine cause now that Tommy's cancer has returned.

A Second Target for Tommy includes stories by Stuart Douglas (Obverse head honcho), Kate Orman (many Doctor Who novels including The Left-Handed Hummingbird, Return of the Living Dad, The YEar of Intelligent Tigers; editor of Liberating Earth) , Paul Magrs (Strange Boy, Marked for Life, Iris Wildthyme, Brenda and Effie, DW: Hornet's Nest), Simon Bucher-Jones (DW: The Death of Art, The Taking of Planet 5, Grimm Reality; The Brakespeare Voyage), Eddie Robson (Welcome to Our Village, Please Invade Carefully; numerous Doctor Who audios) and many more, but the really big draw is an extract from the original script for The Day of the Doctor, provided by Steven Moffat and featuring the ninth Doctor.

You can order the book here, and the ebook edition of the first volume is also still available.

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Falcon Heavy testflight

Just look at this. The successful test launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocketship, carrying a dummy payload of Elon Musk's 2008 Tesla roadster, followed by a perfect precision landing of both reusable side booster rockets. The central stage booster rocket core was intended to be landed on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic, but its touchdown failed and it did not survive. The car was sent initially into terrestrial orbit, and then into an elliptical solar orbit which will cross the orbit of Mars and approach that of Ceres. So, while the objective of returning the core failed, two of the three objectives - to return the reusable side rockets and to prove the Falcon Heavy could send a payload as far as Mars - were successful.

There is, however, a car stuffed with bric-a-brac now lost in space for the next few million years.

Sunday 4 February 2018

Time Shadows: Second Nature - eBook downloads

Unfortunately, we can't legally sell any copies of the new unofficial Doctor Who anthology Time Shadows: Second Nature, featuring dozens of stories from brilliant authors, and my own story "Time-Crossed," featuring the First and Eleventh Doctors.

What we can do, though, is make it available for free. If you wish to make a donation to CODE NGO or any charity of your choice, then please feel free, but do not feel obliged. Please enjoy the stories though and share these links if you do so.

Link to ePub version

Link to mobi (Kindle) version

Thursday 1 February 2018

TREK REVIEW: Discovery 1-12/1-13 - "Vaulting Ambition," "What's Past is Prologue"

The grand two-part finale arrives... except that there are two more episodes to go. Initially the series was set for thirteen installments, and this certainly plays like a finale, ending on a stonking cliffhanger that will, in fact, be resolved next week.

Nonetheless, this is a lot of fun and a satisfying bit of pulp drama. That's how you have to watch it. These episodes are wild nonsense. This is Star Trek at the fighting-and-explosions end of the spectrum, not the philosophy-and-debates end. The best episodes combine the rough-and-tumble with the clever stuff. There's not much of the latter here. This is rayguns-and-fisticuffs through and through.

Essentially every fan theory/rumour about Discovery has turned out to be true, with the exception of the idea that this is another divergent timeline rather than the "true" Trek universe, which might actually come to pass, what with the history-nobbling Klingon victory revealed at the end. So, Lorca is in fact the evil Mirror Lorca! This isn't a massive surprise - there were clues along the way, after all - but still, it's less satisfying than just having him be a hardass bastard of a captain who does well during wartime. Given that this is Mirror Lorca, and that he has been grooming Burnham to be his right-hand woman (and possible replacement ladyfriend) and also grooming Stamets to develop the spore drive that allows interdimensional travel, you have to wonder what his actual plan was. After being zapped to the Prime Universe when an ion storm hit while he was transporting (just like Kirk and co. back in "Mirror, Mirror"), he then sets out to get himself back... and then, what? Get himself locked in a torture chamber for days? Being bloody lucky the Emperor doesn't just blow his head off as soon as she looks at him?

Still, it worked out well for him, for a while at least. The reveal was just grand: Lorca's apparent inability to recall a lost lover's name because he has never met her, turning out to be nothing more than epic trolling on his part, to get him to the point when he can murder his jailer and escape. And let's be fair, Jason Isaacs playing a full-on evil villain is always worth the entry fee. He's clearly having fun here (Lorca and Isaacs). It's a shame he dies, really, falling through that very Star Wars-like chasm into a broiling hyperspace engine. Unless, of course, he's been zapped into another dimension... (no, he's dead.)

Wonderful to have Michelle Yeoh back, playing a slightly more three-dimensional (although not much) evil villain. I can't imagine that Burnham's saving her will end well. They do have some good chemistry, as much as two stoic and grim-faced women can. I love that the Emperor carries a sword and that it's not just for display purposes. Burnham's awesomeness reaches peak absurdity in the second part, as she uses her Vulcan martial arts to take down whole platoons of Imperial Starfleet troops and escapes time and again. True, neither the Emperor or Lorca actually wants her dead, but still, she's basically at superhero level here.

The Terran Empire is less a dark reflection of the Federation here, and more the equivalent of the Klingon Empire. There are parallels throughout in the ways the two empires are represented. Their fascistic, xenophobic, convinced of their own superiority as a race, needlessly cruel and they even eat their opponents (although the Terrans come of worse here: the Klingons eat Georgiou's body because they're adrift and starving; Mirror Georgiou reverses it by eating Kelpien slaves just for pleasure). There are no decent people in the Imperial Starfleet, it seems, and we don't see any non-Starfleet humans in that universe. There's no Smiley O'Brien to remind us that even the worst cultures can have some decent individuals. No, they're all bastards. Weirdly, after all the continuity points between TOS and Enterprise and Discovery, the Terrans are revealed to be a genetically different race, with a physical weakness to bright light. There's no way this could have been taken as a clue to Lorca's origins, because there was no hint of it before in any Mirror Universe episode, and it makes the existence of parallel versions of the same people even more unlikely. The best way to take it is a poke at how the Mirror Universe is literally a darker version of Star Trek, but it's still silly.

But then, Star Trek has never had the most stringent or believable approach to science. The mycelial spore drive, for example, isn't much more ridiculous than teleporters or quantum fissures. I had expected it to be destroyed by the end of this season, and while it looks like its been depleted, it is apparently still there. I can imagine Starfleet putting a ban on spore drive travel due to its environmental impact, but it's hard to believe that no one else in the Galaxy will ever discover the possibilities. Especially as its impact stretches across universes and through time. It's a bit vague whether the Empire understands what spore drive is: The Emperor doesn't seem to know about it until Burnham tells her, but there's some kind of spore system driving her gigantic flagship, the Charon.

The mycelial network is pretty much a magic plot contrivance, doing whatever any given episode needs at the time, but that's no different to any of the other magic space phenomena seen throughout the series (in particular, it brings to mind the Nexus from Star Trek Generations). It does allow us to have some of the best Stamets scenes in the series so far, putting him with both his less moral Mirror self, and his lost love Hugh Culber. Does this mean that there might be a way for Culber to come back? Given that Stamets might not even survive the end of the series (each spore drive jump taking its toll, after all), maybe we'll see the couple reunited in fungal afterlife. I hope he does survive, though. He and Tilly - who have some lovely interplay in the second half - have quickly become my favourite characters on the series.

Our alien friends don't get as much attention in these episodes, although Saru does get some strong material when he takes command of the Discovery and revitalises the crew's spirit with his "no-win scenario" speech. It's a nice nod back to the old Kobayashi Maru test from The Wrath of Khan and later the 2009 movie, and a strong sentiment, although the characters do go on to labour the point a bit. On the same note, it's good to see more of the other crewmembers, who have mostly been in the background till now, such as Owesukun (Oyin Oladejo), the cybernetic Airiam (Sara Mitich) and Detmer (Emily Coutts), perhaps unique as a character who's sexier in the Prime Universe than she is in the Mirror. Voq and L'Rell get some material in the first part that seems to be leading up to a major make-or-break moment for their characters... and then disappear completely for the second half. I imagine the Discovery's brig is getting pretty busy now.

This was an exciting climax to the Mirror Universe storyline which was threatening to run out of steam. There are still plenty of unanswered questions: what happened to the Mirror Discovery? Is the Prime Lorca alive in the Mirror Universe, or was killed on the Buran? How come Kirk doesn't know anything about the Mirror Universe when he's zapped there in ten years time? Just what will happen to the Mirror Georgiou in the Prime Universe? How many people on the Discovery are actually who they say they are? Maybe Saru's secretly the dictatorial overlord of another universe's Keplien Empire.