Thursday, October 8, 2015
Season 3b—Top Episodes
Trek winds down without ever reaching the strengths of the second half of season one, but for the most part without being a bad as reputation has it… well almost.
Episode 17: “That Which Survives”
Struggle: The story is a bit silly, but the final line is particularly silly.
The episode is focused on minor aspects of the premise, such as the beauty of the woman and the way the men react to the danger, rather than exploring the xenophobia of the people who created the security system.
Episode 18: “Lights of Zetar”
Struggle: The story is resolved so easily, it almost fails to constitute a plot.
The show seems interested in giving someone other than Kirk a love interest, but McCoy is so taken it is hard to believe that he will have forgotten her by the next episode. Such is the weakness of these episodic shows.
Episode 19: “Requiem for Methuselah”
Struggle: At this point it strains believability to think of all the godlike people in this secular humanist fantasy world.
It is a curious thought that love could make a robot truly human. However, the show reaches its run-time just as the change is achieved. The crisis that the robot faces—reconciling romantic love with love for a father figure—feels like it is forced. And, indeed it is.
Episode 20: “The Way to Eden”
Struggle: That this show is so of its time.
This episode feels like so many other entries into 1960s television. It could have just as well been “Gilligan’s Island” or “The Beverly Hillbillies.” It touches on imagery of Genesis and paradise, but doesn’t really explore them in any meaningful way.
Episode 21: “The Cloud Minders”
Struggle: The issues raised in this episode are passed over without much struggle. This show is supposed to comment on societal ills, not gloss over them.
In the neat little world of this story, the societal divides and oppression of the well-off over the impoverished is blamed on a gas. If only our problems were so clear-cut. Then again, as complex as they are, they are similar. If only it were as easy as locking the most powerful world leaders into a situation where they could not get enough clean water, food, and education to rise above the poverty-line.
Episode 22: “The Savage Curtain”
Struggle: The rock alien is pretty good for its day, but the selection of “historical figures” feels dated.
Good and evil can hardly be measured when they are forced to engage in a violent contest. Then again, many conflicts in our history are felt to be good forced to meet evil on its own terms.
Episode 23: “All Our Yesterdays”
Struggle: There is no reason to believe that Spock would act so out of character.
Why didn’t anybody use the time-travel option to change/save their current time/situation?
Episode 24: “Turnabout Intruder”
Struggle: The silliness of the whole situation, and the acting towards the end.
A fairly simplistic take on things, but it is still a fun study on the know-ability of truth.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
King is still doing horror in “Mr. Mercedes.” In addition to the tension of watching a man trying to kill on a massive scale, we get the typical King discomfort. Looking in on the life of the twisted, psychopathic killer in this book is more disturbing than it needed to be. Especially as King lets us in the mind of this monster. To quote a section at length:
“He’s not worried about God, or about spending eternity being slow-roasted for his crimes. There’s no heaven and no hell. Anyone with half a brain knows those things don’t exist. How cruel would a supreme being have to be to make a world as [f-d up] as this one?
…every religion lies. Every moral perception is a delusion. Even the stars are a mirage. The truth is darkness, and the only thing that matters is making a statement before one enters it. Cutting the skin of the world and leaving a scar. That’s all history is, after all: scar tissue.”
Never mind that these are the ravings of someone who King clearly shows as deranged. Never mind that the story goes on to see moral perception triumph, and that it does so in a way that lends credence to meaning and a “guiding hand” at work. The mind of the evil man is the only one we hear regarding these metaphysical concepts. His is the one that people seem to want to hear these days. People still root for the good guy these days (hopefully) but they are fascinated with the evil.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
That said, it is a very entertaining episode. What it lacks in concepts and message, it makes up for in action and suspense. So, let’s just concern ourselves with the questions raised, that may or may not be answered next week:
Ghosts? The problem isn’t so much that this work of fiction introduces the concept, but it handles it strangely. First, the Doctor is adamant that they can’t exist. But last season’s finale showed conclusively that the soul of a person lives on after the body. The Doctor saw what we saw then, so why is he so certain that a ghost can’t be? However, before we even have time to really consider this contradiction, the Doctor does a 180 and trades in his incredulity for excitement. He is chomping at the bit to find out about the after-life. (This after he saw an aspect of it last season, see above.)
The mechanics of this episode are presented so matter-of-factly that it seems reasonable. But if you think about them it is silly and so unlikely to succeed, one wonders why anyone would develop such a communication. Basically, the stranded ship imprints its SOS in the mind of people and then seeks to kill them, using their soul memory to add to the message being sent out. (To where, and how?) The system relies on a large population stumbling upon the ship and dying.
All that said, here’s hoping we get a better story next week leading up to the revelation we saw at the end of this episode.
Monday, October 5, 2015
It could be verse 12, depending on how you look at things. Both should be considered. In verse 12, we have the central idea of a giant chiastic structure. I love chiasms, even though I think there is a huge danger of seeing them where they don’t exist, or in reading too much into them.
Here, we have a pretty clear case. (A) has verses 1, 2 and 18 talking about the Son’s relationship with the Father. Trinitarian imagery. (B) sees verses 3 and 17 deal with creation and revelation, two of the main works of God. With (C) John talks about the Word bringing light, illumination, and life to men in verse 4, while 16 parallels that discussing how the Word has brought us grace.
In (D) we get the two parenthetical sections (6-8 and 15) about John the Baptist’s witness.
Verses 9, 10, and 14 (E) deal with the Word coming into the world. (F) sees verses 11 and 13 talking about relationships and nations, our fleshly connections.
Then you get the simple Gospel of verse 12. (G) talks about receiving, believing in Christ. The central idea (H) shows what God has given all who trust in Him, the right to be His children. So, verse 12 is a huge verse. It is the central idea, in both structure and meaning, of this Gospel prologue.
However, to me verse 14 still has more weight. It takes this whole prologue from being a theoretical, philosophical, wide open idea, to something concrete and narrow.
What makes the Gospel so specific is the fact of the incarnation. God didn’t just deal in theory. He didn’t symbolically come to us and “show us the way.” He became flesh. He entered into creation, and into this world that is in rebellion against Him. Jesus went from being a person of the Godhead to becoming a person like you and me, a man.
When we embrace the Gospel message, we are placing our trust in the Man who is also God, we follow a real person named Jesus Christ in obedience.
Saturday, October 3, 2015
9. City of Death
8. The Horror of Fang Rock
7. The Ribos Operation
6. Pyramids of Mars
5. The Deadly Assassin
4. Genesis of the Daleks
3. The Robots of Death
2. Ark in Space
1. The Talons of Weng Chiang