Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Part 1: Phantom Blood – A Hero’s Journey

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“JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” is a show I first heard about from cultural osmosis via the Dio memes. Now that we’re in October and I’ve been reviewing horror related content I think JoJo’s applies as it cover the vampire mythology. I have only watched the first 2 parts but Part 1 is easily the strongest and worth checking out as the first part captures both the major strengths and some of the cons of the series. For those the pacing can be off and the villain plans aren’t well thought out.

The series was created by Hirohika Araki and produced by David Production.

Part 1 follows the story of Joseph Joestar and his rivalry with his toxic adopted brother Dio Brando.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Animation – Hirohika Anaki has such a unique style that stands out in the animation. Like “Fist of the North Star,” we have large heroes but they are much more colorful than other animes of the same type. The show does a good job capturing that.

The World – The world is intriguing. We have a stone mask that creates vampires with the implication of a larger lore behind it. We have family dramas and honor codes that pull from our world and are taken from there. Like Castlevania you can see where history and fantasy meet.

The Characters – The characters are the strongest part of “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” and it is really their arcs that keep the story going. They drive the drama and create the basis for the show.

Erina Pendleton – Erina is the love interest of Jonathan and stands against the awful crap she faces. She resists being kissed by Dio and doesn’t let the era sexism define her. She fights it and defines her own life. In the end she chooses Jonathan out of organic falling in love. This is powerful and she doesn’t fall into the damsel role.

Will Zeppeli – Will is Jonathan’s mentor after he believes he has defeated Dio, who became a vampire from the family mask. Zeppeli teaches him how to use the power of Hamon and is there with Jonathan until the end, giving him his power to defeat Dio. They have a fun relationship as Will is flamboyant and fun versus the serious, honor driven Jonathan.

Robert E. O. Speedwagon – Speedwagon starts out as a villain and becomes an ally after Jonathan spares his life. He is so inspired by the good in Jonathan he changes. He is a fun character who doesn’t help during battles but is good emotional support. Also takes his name inspiration from a great band.

Dio Brando – Dio Brando is the villain who SPOILERS again (lives beyond Part 1). I knew this already from the memes but you should know this now. Part 1 is a great arc so I hope him coming back isn’t messed up. In this he is the father of a drunk and crook who becomes the beloved adopted child only to have that all turn against him when Jonathan reveals the truth of how he is poisoning his adoptive father for the inheritance. Before this though, he learned the secret of the stone mask and uses it to become a vampire. He is powerful too and kills his adopted father and sets out for conquest. Dio and Zeppeli defeat him but he doesn’t die as his head survives. This ends in a confrontation after Erina and Jonathan marry, that ends in Jonathan’s death when he hold’s Dio’s head as the ship explodes.

Jonathan Joestar – Jonathan reminds me of what I like about Castlevania. Castlevania you have a medieval society fighting Dracula over generations. I knew that was Dio going in so establishing the original relationship is important. Jonathan’s arc is going from no confidence to confidence as he loses people along the way. He is the honorable and good and in the end he gives his life in forgiveness believing he defeated Dio. It is tragic as he loved his brother who abused him even as he sought to stop and destroy. This is the strength that carries this Part. It is Jonathan’s goodness that inspires goodness in others like Speedwagon to good. This was a real good arc.

The Cons:

Pacing – One of the biggest problems, that also exists in Part 2 is pacing. This series is fast but after goes very slow. This is fine but it took me a while to finish both parts and that started in Part 1. Dio is defeated initially in Part 1 but isn’t dead and it slows down. This is after his first defeat. So we are left waiting for action to happen, and that hurts the story.

Era Sexism – When Dio molests Erena it is against her will and the guilt is put on her. This is sexism both of the era and sadly current and I wish it would go away. She advocates for herself and still stands strong but I hate the echo of needing to be saved that does inspire Jonathan, even if he doesn’t say anything. She is strong but she is never part of the party.

Dio’s Final Plan – So Dio wants to conquer the world but after he is just a head he wants Jonathan’s body to conquer the world in the final of this part. So, after? What does that even mean? I get he wants dominance and to be a “God” but it is never explored deeper than that. This is where the “Castlevania” show does a better job with it’s villain than this show.

I thought this show was real good and worth checking out for folks into vampires and anime. I will not be rating Part 2 as high, so know that now. This narrative still lags but it is focused. The lag gets worse. So know that going forward if you plan to watch on. I’m about to start Part 3 and do plan to finish it, but know that Part 2 is much more flawed than this good introduction to the world.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10 The overall arc between Jonathan and Dio is strong but Dio’s final plan was very poorly executed and felt rushed.

“Dracula” Season 1 Retrospect – Solid Stories That Fail at the End

Dracula: Critics applaud 'energetic and fun' revival of vampire classic - BBC News

     Moffat and Gatiss have a pretty mixed record when it comes to ending shows. “Sherlock” went from one of my favorite shows to having one of the worst endings of any show I have watched. Moffat also was this way in how he handled Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor’s run and the show “Jekyll.” Thankfully this time though the show doesn’t stick to landing it is overall a stronger story than the ones I have mentioned above. It never reaches the greatest episodes of “Sherlock” or “Doctor Who” but it doesn’t have to and I’ll get into what works and doesn’t work within each individual episode. Overall I’d say if you are a fan of “Dracula” the first 2 episodes are at the very least worth checking out.

As stated above, this was a Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat project.

The premise is a modern adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic Novel told over the course of 3 episodes.

SPOILERS ahead

1 – The Rules of the Beast

“The Rules of the Beast” is easily the most straightforward adaptation of the Novel, with the biggest change being Van Helsing being a Nun, Sister Agatha Van Helsing. Her role is still the same though as the story starts with a undead looking Jonathan Harker who she is trying to learn about Dracula from in order to find his weaknesses. Things escalate when Dracula shows up and threatens the Nunnery and after the reveal of Jonathan’s fiancé Mina we see he has been made Dracula’s creature and tries to kill himself. He doesn’t succeed and it is the weakpoint in Van Helsing’s defenses as Harker invites Dracula in, in order to die. It is only through Van Helsing’s bravery that Mina is saved and the story ends with Dracula taking Van Helsing hostage.

There was a lot that worked about this episode as we Dracula become bats and wolves and seek a victory through fear. We also see when he was dying and how he twisted Jonathan into the near dead form he is as Jonathan’s strength is now his. This story overall worked and was nearly great, here is what didn’t work. The cinematography at Dracula’s castle and the Nunnery are also fantastic.

Jonathan had no free will in the end. In the end he stopped fighting and was willing to forsake all the innocents just so he could die. This didn’t fit the man we had met who was willing to die to protect Mina. The role of the brides didn’t make much sense either. We get hints at who they were before, but it is never explored which wasted a way the story could have gone in a different direction and added depth to characters who are usually just minions of Dracula.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10 Little more than solidly good. Enough of the story works, even with the cons.

2 – Blood Vessel

“Blood Vessel” involves Dracula traveling to England with Sister Agatha Van Helsing in tow. The story is framed as him telling her the setup of everyone on the vessel and their relationships. The mystery is good as the situation is almost like “Alien” as the crew must battle against this unknown supernatural terror, with the only one that can help them, locked up by the very thing they are fighting.

We meet a lot of fascinating characters on the ship and seeing how they deal with the terror as people end up dead and how prejudices interplay among them makes for some great drama. This was all largely solid as was the fear factor in regards to Dracula and how the ship is shot.

What doesn’t work is that it starts out really slow. This was an episode I had to go back to because many of the characters Dracula frames in the narrative initially just aren’t interesting. It is the already established members of the crew who really make the drama work and I wanted more of that. The fact that Sister Agatha isn’t an active factor for a while either also hurt the narrative as her interplay off Dracula in episode 1 was one of the strongest parts.

Final Score: 8 / 10 This was a solidly good horror story.

3 – The Dark Compass

In “The Dark Compass” we jump into the future where Dracula is captured by Dr. Zoe Van Helsing and her organization that was founded by Mina and Van Helsing’s relatives in honor of Jonathan Harker. Dracula soon gains his freedom though when his lawyer Renfield arrives on the scene.

Dracula in the modern day world is such a cool idea. He is seeing all this technology that is beyond his imagination and he has all the wealth that has been growing since he’s been gone. Fighting Dracula with science rather than religion is also a really cool idea too. Sadly these are the only compliments I can give it.

It is in modern day we meet our Lucy who is a party girl who Dracula decides to make his bride. They have a cool conversation about immortality but that is the only compliment I can give. Her ex Dr. Seward is a creep and stalker and is made out to be a hero and in the end Dracula decides he will die because it is the one thing he can’t defeat and I guess he loves Van Helsing? It is a mess and hurts the strong first 2 episodes.

Final Score: 6.5 / 10 The setup was great but Van Helsing and Dracula are the only real characters this episode and the premise of Dracula in modern day is completely wasted.

“Dracula” was an extremely flawed show and like Moffat and Gatiss’s other projects, it does not stick to landing. Overall it is stronger though because it never gets as bad as those, and since we only have one season they aren’t given the chance to make things worse. If you are a fan of “Dracula” I’d at least recommend the first 2 episodes but you can skip the third. I’d only recommend the third episode if you are completionist.

Final Score for the Show: 7.6 / 10

The Dragon Prince – Book Three: Sun – When the Past Meets the Present

The_Dragon_Prince.jpg (273×364)

      “The Dragon Prince” finally got good this Book! We get a serious exploration of characters, war and peace and are also given nuance in the choices that many of the characters make. I really hope the next four Books can keep this up as there is a lot this season sets up, even though some major arcs are also brought to a close. This Book is good and I definitely recommend checking it out. If the writing continues as good as it was in this Book I think the show may have finally found it’s voice.

The story picks up with Ezran becoming King as 3 of the other nations want to retaliate against Xadia for attacks on their leaders. During this Callum and Rayla make their way into Xadia to find her home and to reach the Dragon Queen.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Broken Sun King – The Book kicks off with us meeting Sol Regem the ancient Sun King who once ruled the Dragons and Xadia. After he was blinded in battle by one of the first humans to wield dark magic he lost his state as King and was left on the border as a reminder as the cost that Xadia had gone through. His hatred is so deep that the Dragon Prince Azymondias existing means nothing as he plans to kill Callum or kill them all. This sets the tone of the Book as we see characters driven by the trauma over war keeping the chance of peace from ever happening.

The Elves of Xadia – We get to see a lot of the Elves this Book and it is awesome. We meet the Moonshadow Elves and learn more about their culture as well as the culture of the Sunfire Elves and how driven they are by their belief in the light and we see how powerful they are as the force defending the border to Xadia. In each faction we get glimpses of their power structures and beliefs and we even get to meet a Skywing Elf named Nyx who is a really fun trickster and of course Aavaros the Startouched Elf. We truly get to experience Xadia.

Viren’s Power Grab – Viren’s power grab at the end of the last Book is successful. His dark magic caused so much chaos that 3 Nations came to make war on Xadia and in the end his allies in the court force Ezran to trade places as he begins his march with Aavaros upon the Elves and Dragons. We see him win multiple times through the episode as through Aavaros he corrupts the source of power belonging to the Sunfire Elves and destroy their city. It is only at the very end that he is stopped by Rayla and Callum but his story isn’t over as though his magically empowered army was defeated his daughter resurrects him.

The Defeat of the Storm Dragon King – Part of the Book involves Viren telling Aavaros about how the Storm Dragon King was defeated. It was really well done as we see him empower King Harrow’s hatred and help King Harrow defeat the Dragon King, turning him to stone. At this point Viren goes to destroy the Egg but changes his mind when Rayla’s mother convinces him that he should keep it alive because of the magic that empowers it. These scenes are all wonderfully done and I love how they develop this fascinating world.

Rayla’s Exile – In this Book we learn that after the failed killing of Ezran that the Moonshadow Elves believed that Rayla had abandoned them. Because of this when she comes home, no one can see her as she has become a ghost as punishment for her failure. It is really well done as we meet the husband of the leader of the assassins and see why he is believed dead but Rayla still gets a moment of peace with her mentor before leaving to reach the Dragon Queen. It is a powerful and touching scene and we see her face the trauma of exile in her sorrow and how she lashes out at Callum initially. The show gives what happens justice and I like that it wasn’t ignored.

Soren’s Change – Another major arc this Book is that of Soren. We see him join Team Callum after Viren gaslights him and says he never told him to “kill the princes.” This clear lie changes Soren and begins working against his father to the point that he is fighting Claudia and his Father in the last episode and is ready to give down his life for Ezran. His arc reminds me of Jamie Lannister as he starts out arrogant and selfish but changes into one of the more nuanced characters in the show. I knew he was going to change sides but I felt they wrote it well.

Aavaros and his History – Aavaros is the powerful Mage who taught humans dark magic and because of it was imprisoned in the mirror. We see his hatred for Xadia and his history with it too as before he kills the Sunfire Queen he whispers what happened to her grandmother. To him all beings are just tools for power so I’m curious to see what his endgame is and what defines his philosophy as there is still so much more that can be told. I really enjoy him a villain.

The Final Battle – The final battle is amazing. We have the remnants of the Sunfire Elves teamed up with Team Callum and in the end Ezran brings back dragon allies from a dragon they saved last Book and Soren stands as their defense. During this the Sun Empowered Humans are near elementals and practically invulnerable to fire and only die to swords and arrows after a lot of hits. There is a huge cost in this battle and it doesn’t shy away from how strong Aavaros is and how powerful Viren has become. In the end Viren is defeated but he nearly steals the Dragon Prince’s power before it happens and in the Claudia brings him back from the dead as we are left with the possibility of Aavaros being born into our world.

Rayla and Callum – Rayla and Callum work so well together this Book. Their friendship evolves naturally into a relationship and you see how Callum’s belief in her helps give her confidence and her defense of him allows him to explore his relationship to magic and learning new spells. They compliment one another as she is much more guarded than Callum but they open up about their traumas and the trust that has already been earned pays off in a really beautiful love story.

The Cons:

The Jokes – The jokes are still cringe and the weakest part of the show. I’d be good with them doing away with them completely. Everytime there are jokes the show goes from flowing really well to tryin way too hard. At this point this is where the weakest writing is.

The Cost of the Final Battle not Addressed – Ezran steps down as King because he wants to save lives, but in the final episode he is killing people who were changed into monsters against their will as he flies on a dragon. This felt hollow and as amazing as the last battle is the cost of what Viren did to the armies of 4 nations is never addressed. So many elves and humans died but the show chose to ignore that as the Dragon Queen woke up. A recognition of this would have made this Book great.

I love how this Book faces how some wounds from war never go away and from it that conflict may always be a possibility. We have Sol Regem blind and full of hate, we have Viren and his obsession to save humanity leading to him losing his humanity and all those who follow him who he changes into monsters. This Book has a real cost to it and character choices have consequences. This is the show fully realized and if the writing continues to improve this could easily become a favorite show. This Book was good and I recommend it.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10 This was a good Book that had the potential for greatness. All it needed was less jokes and addressing the amount of people who died in that final battle, given how important it was at the beginning of the Book.

“Penny Dreadful” Season 3 – Great Character Beats With Incomplete Endings

Eva Green in Penny Dreadful (2014)

    “Penny Dreadful” is a show that doesn’t quite stick to landing. This season we are introduced to more characters (all of whom are interesting) and the cast is seperated after the end of Season 2, so it is at a disadvantage given the main cast having scenes and playing off one another is part of what made the first season as enjoyable as it was. There are a lot of things that I liked about the final season and a lot of things I found disappointing. I’ll get more into that below. John Logan said that this was his vision for how he wanted to end the show, but given all the things that do not work, I have trouble believing that was the case.

The story picks up after Season 2 with Malcolm traveling to Africa to bury Sembene, John Clare in the North, Ethan being transported back to the United States to face justice for his crimes, Victor seeking help from his past friend Jekyll to deal with Lily and Lily and Dorian beginning their path to power as Vanessa faces her depression and isolation. Dracula also begins making his moves to bring about the apocalypse.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

Vanessa’s Depression – Vanessa’s depression is what starts out the show and as someone who faces it himself it was powerful to see. The empty house is a mess and she is simply eating to exist. It takes a visit from Lyle telling her to see a therapist to pull her out of it and you see how it never goes away, it is simply faced.

Dr. Seward – Dr. Seward (played by Patti LuPone who played the Cut-Wife in Season 2) is such a great character. She is the one who helps Vanessa heal and his is a brutally honest character with a dark past. In the end she becomes friends with Vanessa and comes to believe she has multiple personalities with Vanessa’s core personality and that of Lucifer and Dracula. Her story ends with her on the new Team Vanessa when the apocalypse finally comes. She survives the show too.

John Clare’s Story – John Clare’s story starts out slow but has some amazing payoffs. He starts in the North and remembers some of his life prior (his wife and child). He seeks them out and after an amazing talk with Vanessa eventually reunites with them. It is his first brief moment of happiness as his wife accepts him but it comes at a cost. Their son is dying and she asks for John to go to Victor and resurrect him after his death. He refuses sighting that his life is a curse and that their son is finally at peace. This leads to him being alone once more and the last time we see him is mourning the death of his friend.

Vanessa’s Conversations – Vanessa’s conversations are some of the best parts of the show and have been since the first season. We get some wonderful conversations with John Clare, Dracula, Dr. Seward and Catriona to name a few. Eva Green carries this show and it is because of these conversations and relationships. If these relationships and scenes didn’t happen I would have hated this season as Eva Green’s Vanessa is the heart of the show.

Vanessa and John Clare – I’m giving Vanessa and John Clare their own section as we have two of the best conversations with them this season. We have when he is the orderly at the asylum and her only advocate for her who comes to be her friend and as “The Creature” where they discuss being outcasts and that it is worth taking a chance on happiness given that not taking a chance just means they’ll be the same alone they are. The scenes are amazing and Eva Green and Rory Kinnear deserved more scenes together.

Hecate – Hecate is the one character who carries over from last season and is the devil on Ethan’s shoulder. They end up falling in love as we learn about the family abuse they’ve been through and both of their murderous pasts. In the end she is killed but this season redeemed her character as she isn’t as stupid as she was in Season 2 and is Ethan’s protector throughout their time in the United States.

Catriona – Catriona is the newest member of Team Vanessa and is recommended by Lyle when he goes to Egypt for his work and to retire and be safer from persecution. She is such an awesome character. She is a fighter and her scenes with Vanessa feel like dates as their chemistry is amazing and you can see why they trust one another. This friendship is short and I wish we could have learned more about her time as a warrior. She studies death and is the one who helps Vanessa find out who Dracula is.

Ethan and his Fathers – Ethan and his relationship to his fathers are one of the storylines that work this season. We have biological racist Jared Talbot played by the always fantastic Brian Cox, who is a dark reflection of who Malcolm once was. You have his Apache father Kaetenay played by Wes Studi who is also a werewolf and Ethan’s vengeful side and you have Malcolm who is that balance and his connection to Vanessa. In the end Malcolm spares from patricide and kills Jared Talbot and in the end makes some form of peace with Kaetenay.

Dracula – Dracula was a character I thought I’d hate, given when I first saw a picture of him I was unimpressed. This season that was the point. He is so average and unassuming that it makes him so threatening given how he uses his thralls and his arc is fascinating too as he falls in love with Vanessa. This was an interpretation I didn’t expect and even though I hate that he isn’t defeated at the end, the leadup to the ending is really great. He takes the appearance of a zoologist Dr. Sweet and we learn that he’s a shapeshifter who takes different forms through time. In the show we sadly never get to see his true form though. He always stays in the form of a man even if he empowers some of his abilities. Christian Chamargo did a wonderful job.

Lily Frankenstein – Lily Frankenstein is my favorite role I’ve seen Billie Piper play and I’d love to see her play the Doctor the Master in “Doctor Who,” ideally opposite Eva Green in the opposing role. This season we see her revolution to destroy corrupt men as she recruits prostitutes to kill abusive and horrible men and pushes Dorian out of power in their relationship. This sadly blows up in her face when she is captured by Victor when Dorian betrays him to her but Victor does not change her and lets her go and we are left as she and Dorian are facing each other at the end. This season we learned about the daughter Brona lost and what inspires her pain and vengeance. She is easily the best character this season and her death cult really deserved an entire season for Team Vanessa to face.

The Cons:

Missing Scenes – This season feels unfinished. There are scenes missing in many core relationship arcs through the film. Lyle after recommending a therapist to Vanessa only shows up to leave. We never get a scene of her thanking him. We don’t even see Vanessa in the penultimate episode so we don’t know why she went full “Mother of Evil” or if she is still fighting within herself. Victor never meets up with Vanessa even though they are friends in the same city and he never takes up Lyle on offer to help. We also never see the see leading up to Dorian’s betrayal when he calls upon Victor’s aid.

The Ending and Fridging – Vanessa is killed by Ethan and Dracula escapes and Lucifer never shows up (even though his role was setup with Hecate and Ethan). There are far too many missing pieces and the fridging of Vanessa wasn’t needed. We basically just got a repeat of the Mina story from Season 1, just replace Malcolm with Ethan and it is the same beats. Vanessa deserved so much better.

Lily and Dorian – Lily wanted a revolution but Dorian just wanted to be entertained when at the end of Season 2 it seemed like they had bigger goals. Hell, Dorian even mentions wanting to rule the darkness but that doesn’t connect to Dracula or Lucifer. The whole role of immortals is never fully explored and we are left with nothing when Lily and Dorian reunite once more. Lily is my favorite character on the show and in the end they do nothing with her plot since Dorian neutralizes her and than the writers forgot how to end their story.

Victor Frankenstein and Jekyll’s Plot – Victor is the worst character this season and Shazad Latif’s acting is the only thing saving the underwritten character of Jekyll. Jekyll never transforms into Hyde by the way and Victor is a worthless antagonist to Lily for the entire season as he pines after her. Thankfully he doesn’t ruin her character too with Jekyll’s serum which would have stolen her memories…but that is the only thing I can say. Harry Treadaway was wasted this season.

This season started out really strong and the character moments for Vanessa, John Clare, Ethan and Malcolm are all fantastic. Sadly toxic Victor and the ending do bring down the season. Dracula and Ethan’s dad are at least better villains than the witches of Season 2 but in the end I’m giving it the same score as Season 2. It had the chance for greatness, especially with all the threads and characters and it did not payoff those arcs. I’d still recommend watching it for how the show ends though, if you’ve enjoyed the ride so far as I did. I still like the show but the flaws through all seasons are very obvious.

Final Score: 7 / 10 An incomplete show that was still a fun ride.

The Dragon Prince – Book Two: Sky – When the Past Defines

Dragon Prince Season 2

“The Dragon Prince” Book 2 is a huge improvement over Book 1. Book 1 was only worth it because of the premise and that premise remained unfulfilled by the end. This season changes everything as we get amazing backstory to the world, there are less awful jokes and we are introduced to a fascinating new character as well. That is all I’m saying for now as if you were questioning whether to watch onward from Book 1, I would say yes. Book 2 makes it worth it.

The story picks up where we left off with Claudia and Soren hunting Callum, Ezran, the Egg and Rayla as Callum seeks to learn about primal magic and Ezran teaches Ozymandius the young Dragon Prince how to fly. Viren plots to bring the other 4 kingdoms into war against the Elves as he explores the mysterious mirror.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

Battle at the Breach – The battle at the Breach is really cool as we get to see the Sunfire Elves and their general face off against the amazing deaf General and Callum’s maternal aunt Amaya. The humans are fighting a losing battle but she manages to survive each time, even when the Sunfire elves pull off a successful ambush. In the end Amaya decides to destroy the Breach and succeeds, though ends up captured by the Sunfire Elves in the process.

The Flashback about the Titan’s Heart – Viren goes against the Council and falsifies the King’s signature to call a meeting of the Kingdoms so that he can recruit the soldiers he needs to bring war the the Elves. During this episode he tells the story to the young Queen of Duren whose mothers’ died in the quest to get the Titan Heart as the human lands were set to lose 100,000 to famine without the magic of the Titan’s Heart. It is here where Callum and Ezran’s mother is killed too, by the King of the Dragons. It is a powerful episode and we see Viren’s courage and how his relationship with King Harrow developed. It was really well done and I wish he’d succeeded in convincing the Queen as it would advance the plot in an interesting way.

The Mysterious Mirror – The mirror is a cool plot as we meet a mysterious Startouch Elf named Aaravos. We have hints of his origin as the one who taught humans dark magic and he plays Viren and uses him to implement chaos among the human kingdoms to bring about the war. I’m curious to learn more about his motivation as he is so much smarter than Viren and is the most fascinating antagonist thus far.

Callum’s Arc – Callum has a great arc this season. His arc involves finding the primal magic but his journey to get there involves him using dark magic once and rejecting future use of it and accepting the death of King Harrow and the lessons learned as he and Ezran are the best chance for peace as they aren’t bound to the past. It is really well done and I really liked Callum this season. He and Rayla were both great.

Okay:

The Supporting Cast – Besides Callum and Rayla most of the supporting cast are just okay. Queen Sarai is a tough fighter but we don’t learn much about her before her death and we learn that Soren and Claudia are from divorced parents and how that shapes them and their motivation. All these are neat ideas but the characters still don’t feel as interesting as the big bads or the two mains. This was a problem last Book but at least it is better written this time.

The Cons:

The Jokes – The jokes are still awful and they need to get away from them. They are the weakest part of this series.

The Obvious Evil Plot – Viren is so obviously a bad guy and I hate how stupid evil he became. He really thought faking the King’s signature wouldn’t lead to him going to prison? It was a shame and I hated how inept he was this season.

Why Does Viren Trust Aaravos? – This is more on Viren’s idiocy. He is trusting someone and that trust hasn’t been earned (a point he brings up to Aavaros). I guess it is desperation that makes the deal happen but that desperation only happens because he suddenly got very stupid.

This Book has so much promise. It ends with us arriving in Xadia and facing the once great Sun King of the Dragons while Viren is prison and Ezran returns home  to take his place as King. So many big events happen and I can’t wait to see how the events payoff  in the next book. If the writing continues to improve this has potential to become a favorite show…which is amazing given how bad it started. Can’t wait to see what future stories are written.

Final Score: 7 / 10 This was a huge improvement over Book 1. The characters got more nuance and there were less jokes.

Top 5 Favorite Doctors in “Doctor Who”

New Doctor Brings New Doctor Who Logo, Insignia With Him | WIRED

     “Doctor Who” is a show whose strength lies in it’s ability to reinvent itself as the Doctor is an alien who can regenerate into a new form on each “death.” Each of these deaths brings with us an era and arc to the show. Making this list is one that I’ll probably have to re-do in the future as this is a show that hypothetically could go on forever, for as long as there are stories to tell with each new regeneration. This list is also incomplete as though I have watched many episodes from the Classic Era I have not seen everything and for the first two Doctors so much was lost over time so their stories remain incomplete. I’ve also not included books or audio-dramas and am only including my experience of the Doctors from the show. I don’t hate any version of the Doctor as each of them does bring something unique to their performance and explores an aspect of who this Time Lord is. I want you to know context of this list going in for that reason though you will find that I have favorite Doctors in both the Classic and Modern era and would not be surprised if the list changes in the future, especially since the 13th Doctor’s story does remain incomplete as well. This list is obviously my opinion but it is a glimpse in what appeals to me in the stories of this fascinating character of the Doctor. So without further ado, here are my Top 5 Favorite Doctors of “Doctor Who.” I’ll list episodes that highlight why I love them too.

Warning this does contain SPOILERS

5) The 9th Doctor / The Ninth Doctor

The 9th Doctor gives us the best complete Doctor story in the Davies era of “Doctor Who.” This is a Doctor reeling from all the lives he’s ended during the Time War and is haunted by survivors guilt and PTSD. His arc involves him learning to trust again through his relationship with Rose as well as facing his demons from the Time War when he confronts the Dalek Emperor and refuses to kill them again. He shows that he stands for life when at the beginning of the show he is far more willing to kill. We also get to see his pure joy when he is finally able to save lives during World War 2 and he is the Doctor who introduces us to the wonderful Jack Harkness. It is really his facing a single Dalek in “Dalek” that changes him the most and that is through Rose’s compassion that makes him the man who refuses to kill in his final episode. Christopher Eccleston gives us so much depth with this Doctor and I’m grateful we got this season with him. He truly was fantastic.

Episodes I’d recommend: “The End of the World,” “Dalek,” The Empty Child,” and “The Doctor Dances.”

4) The 4th Doctor / The Fourth Doctor

One thing I love about Doctors is how alien they are and the 4th Doctor is easily the most alien out of all my favorites. Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor is the only one to have a Time Lord companion in Romana and is comfortable being away from people. I think this is a reaction to the 3rd Doctor’s attachment to humans as often when the Doctor gets too attached his next incarnation will detach and could leave people abruptly and never show up again.  This is Tom Baker’s Doctor who could do an entire episode without a companion but also had many companions over his long run, with the most popular being Sarah Jane Smith. I enjoyed the Sherlock nature of this Doctor as he was crafty and often had to make the decisions alone as in the end he is the one who could have ended the Dalek threat before it began. His choice like the 9th Doctor illustrates his compassion though. At the end the day the Doctor is the one who saves lives and that is what drives the 4th Doctor the most beyond unraveling plots and the discovery of new things. It was tough to choose between him and the next Doctor on this list but in the end the next Doctor had more episodes I enjoyed and it was the limitations placed on the next Doctor that put him higher. The 4th Doctor had full reign from the Time Lords where the next one did not.

Episodes I’d recommend: “Terror of the Zygons,” “Genesis of the Daleks,” “Revenge of the Cybermen,” “The Deadly Assassin” and “The Brain of Morbius.”

3) The 3rd Doctor / The Third Doctor

Next we have one of our more human Doctors. Jon Pertwee’s 3rd Doctor is a Doctor exiled to Earth so the majority of his adventures are him without his TARDIS. This was as strength as limitations came to define just how excellent this Doctor is. This was a Doctor who had to count on UNIT and people and because of it revealed the flaws of humanity. This Doctor also traveled and dressed in style. When I think about the Doctor and his drive for peace 3rd is one of the first who comes to mind as he attempts to broker a peace between the Silurians and humans but UNIT destroys the Silurians anyway. He also felt strongly unlike the 4th Doctor as when his companion Jo leaves his sadness is what defines that leaving as he quietly exits the room. This is the Doctor who introduces us to Brigadier and Sarah Jane Smith who would be part of this show after his regeneration. This is also the Doctor who gave us the original Master and from that, there constant playing off each other and complicated relationship.

Episodes I’d recommend: “Spearhead from Space,” “Doctor Who and the Silurians,” and “The Dæmons.”

2) The 10th Doctor / The Tenth Doctor

One of the most common things you hear when you enter the “Doctor Who” fandom is who is your Doctor. Which Doctor introduced you to the show and is the reason you are a fan? For me that is David Tennant’s 10th Doctor. “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit” was the story that introduced me to “Doctor Who” and I was hooked after that. What defines this Doctor is his facing of the impossible and compassion for humanity but also his extreme arrogance. Like the 9th Doctor he was defined as “Last of the Time Lords” and that survivors guilt is really what is behind his arrogance and compassion. This is a Doctor who believes he is always right and can be almost villainous as “The Doctor Triumphant” when he is willing to change time because he can. David Tennant brought so much depth and nuance to this role and gives us not only an arrogant Doctor but when who full of loss and vulnerability. He loses his companion Rose who was his friend and love and hurts the companions who come after in his selfishness. He is also running from his mortality and death as when he is forced to regenerate for the first time he stays himself until he is finally forced to move on. This Doctor gave us one of my favorite companions Martha, who he was unfair too as she was his way to get over Rose and also introduced us to Torchwood, Harriet Jones, Donna Noble, Mickey Smith and one of my favorite character, River Song. The 10th Doctor also faced off against the Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Davros, Rasselon and the Master for classic enemies and further explored the complicated relationship with the Master. Tennant truly owned this role and I appreciated how defining he is of the Davies era of “Doctor Who.” He was many peoples’ first Doctor and I’m glad he was mine.

Episodes I’d recommend: “Blink,” “Army of Ghosts,” “Doomsday,” “Human Nature,” “Family of Blood,” “Utopia,” “The Sound of Drums,” “Last of the Time Lords,” “Midnight,” and “The Waters of Mars.”

1) The 12th Doctor / The Twelfth Doctor

First place was the most difficult for me to choose as really the top 4 Doctors listed (3, 4, 10 and 12) are extremely close together for me. Each of them has their pros and cons but I really consider the top 4 to really be the perfect examples of the Doctor for myself. So, why did I choose Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor as number 1 if David Tennant’s 10th Doctor was my first Doctor? The reason behind it is because the 12th Doctor has the better story and changes over the course of his time on Moffat’s run. Capaldi’s Doctor has much of the detachment of Baker’s 4th to the point that Clara is the one who he uses to care because initially he cares mostly for puzzles and the big picture of saving the world. He had Nardole and Bill as original companions. This Doctor was the professor and even taught at University and would open many episodes like lectures. For some famous enemies he faced off against there was the Master, Davros, Rasselon, Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors and Zygons. To this Doctor humans matter but all life in the galaxy matters so like the 3rd Doctor he is able to shine a light on the selfishness of humans and call it out where he sees it. He is also defined by his time during the Time War and because of this will always seek peace and the saving of others. He does with the Zygons and humans. His arc also goes from him not wanting to connect with his companions to having many and even having Missy (the current incarnation of the Master) as one. For how much he tries not to care he cares the deepest and unlike his past incarnations he isn’t running from what he did during the Time War. He instead uses the lessons from the Time War to save lives wherever he can and seek peace wherever possible. This is the Doctor who is the thinker, the one who can monologue can carry an entire episode on his own with his own inner monologue. No Doctor was able to do that before or has done it since. For these reasons, Capaldi is my favorite Doctor.

Episodes I’d recommend: “Listen,” “Into the Dalek,” “Mummy on the Orient Express,” “Dark Water,” “Death in Heaven,” “Last Christmas,” “The Zygon Invasion,” “The Zygon Inversion,” “Heaven Sent,” “The Husbands of River Song,” “The Empress of Mars,” “World Enough and Time,” and “The Doctor Falls.”

    I’m curious to hear who your favorite are. These were mine and I can’t wait to see what other stories are told in this amazing universe.

“Penny Dreadful” Season 2 – Some of the Best Character Moments and Worst Written Villains

   “Penny Dreadful” continues to be my trash and after this season I’m really curious to see how it all wraps up. This season is not as good as Season 1 and that is due largely to how the characters are written to get to the climax and the villains. God, I hate these villains. They are trash and do not work and I’ll get into the why below. I still think this show is worth your time though due to the strong character moments this season brings.

The show was created by John Logan.

The story picks up with Nightwalker Witches lead by Evelyn Poole targeting Vanessa and her team. At the same time Lily is finding her footing in undeath and John Clare seeks work once more as Inspector Rusk investigates the most recent spate of murders tied to Ethan.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Soundtrack – Abel Korzenioweski is an amazing composer. This season really illustrates it well too as some of the plot is real dumb but his soundtrack still elevates the emotion or threats of scenes. The opening theme song is also worthy of praise as it captures the melancholy tone of the show.

The Lore – This season has some great lore reveals. The greatest lore is reveal is Lucifer has a brother named Dracula who was also cast from heaven and thrown to Earth. I’ve never seen a gothic fantasy show do something like this. I’m very curious to see how this plays out later.

The Characters – The main characters and most of the supporting characters continue to be the strongest part of this show. John Logan is good at bringing nuance and depth to our protagonists and newcomers and this season that is fully on display.

Lyle – Lyle is wonderful. This flamboyant, gay and Jewish egyptologist is under Evelyn Poole’s thumb as a double agent at first but he uses every opportunity to fight back. He even kills one of the witches and is one of the few characters at the end giving Victor a listening ear. I thought he’d die this season but was very glad to be proven wrong.

Angelique – Angelique is one of the coolest minor characters this season. She is a transgender woman who works as an uptown prostitute who becomes the lover of Dorian Gray. She is wrestling against abuse and prejudice and for much of the series Dorian supports her, until he meets Lily Frankenstein and until Angelique finds his painting. Her death illustrates Dorian’s depravity in a way we haven’t seen in the show as it was only his inability to trust that lead him to do it. She deserved so much better.

Sembene – This is the season we get Sembene’s backstory. He is an outsider as he was once a former slave trader and we know he dealt with other beings like werewolves, as when Ethan is revealed to be one he accepts Ethan. Hs story ends in death when he is trapped when Ethan transforms in a very stupid witch’s plot. Like Angelique I wish we had gotten more of his story.

Ethan and Vanessa – One of the strongest relationships this season is that between Ethan and Vanessa. We learn Ethan is “The Wolf of God” and the one thing the forces of darkness fear. We also have Ethan’s inability to open up about being a werewolf to anyone outside of Sembene, but in Vanessa and Ethan’s protecting of each other we see a deep friendship become a complicated sort-of romantic relationship. I loved their scenes together and am curious if this arc is going to pay off next season.

Victor and Vanessa – Victor and Vanessa have a lovely platonic friendship that was needed on this show. Vanessa helps Victor in his courting of Lily (they even go dress shopping together) and she is one of the few he will listen to in facing his addiction. I hope we get more moments of this relationship next season.

Victor and his Creations – This season we see Victor’s guilt tied to his creations and the reasons why. He loves Brona who he turned into Lily Frankenstein but is so jealous that of course it will only end in tragedy. He also created Lily for John Clare (Caliban’s new name). John Clare is a constant shadow over his life as we see the guilt Victor feels in the pain in John’s creation and John’s killing of Proteus. His relationship to his creations is what defines him and when Lily becomes a powerhouse beyond his control he loses himself in addiction at the end of the season.

John Clare – John Clare has a healthy friendship this season, and it is with Vanessa Ives. She sees beauty in him and they talk philosophy and poetry and she even teaches him to dance. Sadly him being the monster leads to his job at a waxworks ending in him captured to be a freak on display. In the end he kills the owners and escapes, and after his understandable rejection by Lily and then her offer of power that he refuses, he asks Vanessa to run away with him. She is afraid to hurt him though and stays in London, leading to him heading north like in the novel “Frankenstein.”

Dorian Gray – Reeve Carney has really come into this role. The season starts out with a broken-hearted Dorian being greeted by Angelique. It is this forwardness that entrances Dorian and for much of the season he is building up her confidence in her as he claims to believe in her. Sadly this ends when he meets Lily Frankenstein and we see Dorian is only interested in what he sees as the newest person to entrance him who can give him new experiences. We also see the depths of sociopathy when he kills Angelique after she still loves him even after seeing the deformed, undead painting of his true self. It is this undead nature that brings Lily to him and at the end of the show they establish an alliance as undead faction with plans to rule all.

Lily Frankenstein – Billie Piper has some amazing range that is really on display this season. We see her rebirth from Brona into Lily and relearning herself and new identity in relationship to Victor. Her arc from here is transcending this as we see her murder a “john” and throw John Clare around when he attempts to force a relationship calling out the abuse of men before offering him power and a chance to rule. This offer ends up being accepted by Dorian, and when Victor tries to kill her we learn that for sometime she has remembered who she once was and has greater plans to rule as an immortal. It’s excellent and I can’t wait to see what she and Dorian do.

The Cons:

Contrived Main Character Idiocy – Most of the idiocy this season is tied to the witches and their plots. I really think the writers didn’t know what to do so they wrote the story to force character action, rather than characters making organic choices that made sense. This really comes to a head in the final episodes that I’ll get into below.

Characters Going Alone – Malcolm is under Evelyn Poole’s spell for much of this season and once he is freed he goes to face the witches alone, when he’s never done that before and last season the whole point was acting as a team and trusting each other. This happens again with Vanessa going alone to save Malcolm and finally Ethan goes during a full moon, knowing he’ll be a danger. He does this again when he turns himself in to Inspector Rusk. This only happened so we could isolate the protagonists to separate them at the end when nothing last season or this season would set this up. I hated it.

Sembene’s Death – Sembene dies from contrived character idiocy and characters going alone. We saw Ethan turn down going out twice before because of the danger of becoming a werewolf and him doing so is how Sembene dies as he is trapped when Ethan transforms. It is real dumb. He is also the only person of color on the cast so his death stands out even more as a toxic trope. Why couldn’t his story continue? He was in the main credits so the showrunners saw him as main cast.

The Witches – The dumbest part of this season is the witches. They are trying to have Vanessa become Lucifer’s wife but none of their tactics do anything to make that possible. When they aren’t failing in basic tasks, they are peacocking around like they’ve already won. They are never scary because they rarely succeed, and beyond staying young they can’t even really control others all that well. In the end nearly all of them are killed by Team Vanessa, with only Evelyn’s daughter Hecate escaping after she uses Ethan the werewolf to kill Evelyn. She clearly has plans for Ethan but I don’t care. She is just as idiotic as her sisters and she only lived due to most characters being hit with the “stupid stick” in the last few episodes.

This season isn’t as strong as season 1 but it has stronger character moments than season 1. In the end I’d still recommend watching on though as that is what I plan to do. I want to see how things end in season 3 as I care about Team Vanessa and see potential in the deep lore that was largely wasted this season.

Final Score: 7 / 10

The Dragon Prince – Book One: Moon – Fascinating World but Weak Characters

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      There are two things that lead me to wanting to check out “The Dragon Prince.” These two things were Aaron Ehasz (Head writer and co-producer behind “Avatar: The Last Airbender”) and the fact that it was a new fantasy show involving dragons, elves and humans. Fantasy political shows have always been a draw for me and with a writer with that caliber I wanted to give it a chance. I still plan to give it a chance but season 1 was only okay and I’ll go into the reasons why but for as promising as the premise of this show is most of the characters aren’t compelling currently and there is some real bad dialogue.

Aaron Ehasz created the show along with Justin Richmond.

The series follows a human discovering dark magic (magic that pulls it’s magic from sucking out life) and being forced to the other half of the continent of Xadia. Here the Dragon King enforced the peace at the border known as the Breach until humans killed him and his unborn child. The story picks up with Moonshadow Elves seeking retribution for these murders.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The World – The world of “The Dragon Prince” is really fascinating. You have multiple types of elves and human kingdoms as well as a neat magic system based in runes and of course the ongoing politics and war. Really the world was what kept the cons from this show being stronger as the world still remains compelling even after the writing and character missteps.

The Politics – The politics of humans wanting to live where they once did before combined with the nature of dark magic and the different elven factions and human factions (five kingdoms as of the time the show starts) is such an intriguing premise. The Moonshadow elves also partially succeed and do assassinate the King but the King is wholly to blame for that outcome, which I’ll get into later.

The Magic – The magic like Avatar is tied to elements but this time we have 6 elements which are (Sun, Moon, Earth, Sky, Ocean and Stars) with dark magic as the rogue element of these that pulls from life. How the magic is done in season 1 is by the drawing of runes or using artifacts which plays gives reality to the fantasy it is.

Viren – Viren is King Harrow’s adviser who is willing to switch bodies with him to save his life but after Harrow stupidly refuses decides he’ll takeover as he believes war and conquest are the only ways for humans to have security. He has moments of nuance but is mostly a snake who is evil for the sake of evil. The character is still fun though even if the writing makes him incompetent. He should have never sent his kids on the mission as they care about the princes and as long as they live he can’t takeover like he now wants to after Harrow’s death.

Callum – Jake DeSana (who voices Sokka in “Avatar: The Last Airbender”) is step-son to King Harrow and the main hero we follow as him learning the magics are a major plot point as well as him getting over his fear of elves. In the end he saves the egg of the Dragon Prince when he realizes the trapped storm he stole is what is needed to free him. He is one of the only two likable good guys thus far.

Rayla – The only other likable protagonist thus far Rayla. She is the Moonshadow assassin who fails to kills Prince Ezran and her arc is learning to trust humans (mirroring Callum’s learning to trust elves). It is handled well and I enjoy her clever dialogue and the little details like her fear of water and in season 1. Early in the season she makes a bond with bracelets with the rest of the assassin Moonshadow elves to kill King Harrow and Prince Ezran. After King Harrow is killed she keeps that secret but admits to the remaining bracelet existing because of her refusal to kill Prince Ezran. In the end the hatchling Dragon Prince releases the bond.

The Cons:

The Dialogue – Some of the dialogue and jokes are really cringey. You can see it trying to be “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and mostly failing. The best moments of dialogue are when characters aren’t joking. The dialogue really illustrates how amateur the writing feels. This is season 1, so I hope it improves. I’ve heard it does.

King Harrow’s Stupidity – The King has no sense of long term planning and just plans to die and let others die for him anyway in defending him. Given his part in the war and slaying the the Dragon King, him seeking peace would have had the strongest base. Instead he embraces his death leaving his step-son and son Ezran as orphans. Sadly he isn’t the only stupid character.

Most of the Supporting Cast – Most of the supporting cast is bland. Prince Ezran gets along with animals and nothing defines him beyond his pet Bait. This also applies to Viren’s kids who are awkward but not threatening so him using them as weapons to get the Dragon Prince Egg makes no sense. His son is an idiot and his daughter is more interested in the science of magic not power. This is a constant problem with many of the characters in the show. The show cares more about making them funny than making them threatening or having a bigger purpose beyond what we are told in the plot.

This show has promise. The world and Callum, Viren and Rayla are fun. I really want this show to succeed. A good, original fantasy universe is worth supporting. I really hope the next seasons get better though as this season only reached okay when it had the potential to be so much more. Here is to hoping it reaches the heights that exist in the premise.

Final Score: 6.4 / 10 Weak start but I plan to keep watching to see if it gets better. There is enough potential here for this show to eventually be good or even great.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 3, Episode 12 – “The High Ground” – An Exploration of the Means of Fighting and Sovereignty

Dr. Crusher deserved more episodes that didn’t involve her being a love interest. Thankfully the high ground does not do this but explores who she is as a person and doctor. This is exactly the kind of episodes I was looking for, for each of the doctors in my exploration of doctors of “Legacy Trek” (TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT). This an episode that tackles revolution, terrorism and the responsibilities of outside powers in conflict. Suffice to say this is the kind of episode of “Star Trek” that I love. Give me philosophy, politics and a good character story and a I am here for it. This one does hold up though it could have been better. Before I get into spoilers, I do recommend it.

The episode was directed by Melinda M. Snodgrass and written by Gabrielle Beaumont.

The story follows Dr. Crusher when she is kidnapped by Ansata Rebels who want to force the Federation’s hand in their planets conflict.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The idea of a faction forcing the Federation to get involved (given how powerful the Federation is) is really awesome. This is strengthened given this is an Independence movement and we see the people living under a fascist state. By all counts this should be easy for the Federation to make a stand but nuance is added to the characters and conflict which creates some good story drama.

The Ansata – The Ansata are the independence movement on Rutia IV being led by Kyril Finn. We get to meet the members of the populace who are a part of the movement too as well as some of the reasons why. The one thing that isn’t explored is that we don’t get the details of history. They exist as a powerful idea but we don’t get the details of the past that inspires the conflict, which hurts the episode.

Riker and Alexana Devos – Riker is the one who is pushing for resolution and freedom for the populace, though is way of doing so is very hands off. He’s helping Alexana who is a fascinating character who has been fighting for so long it is all she knows. She is a soldier who has lost people and it inspires the conflict and war. It is only Riker’s suggestion of another way that we see a possibility of her maybe taking another path.

Dr. Crusher and Kyril Finn – Dr. Crusher is helping the Ansata who use a transporter who infects them when used. She like Riker is pushing Finn to find another way and that never stops. Eventually Captain Picard is captured but she never stops rooting for the possibility of peace even as she protects Picard. This episode demonstrates how driven she is to help others as she is helping civilians after an attack by the Ansata which leads to her capture in first place. Gates McFadden does a wonderful job and I’m glad they didn’t give her a love interest in this episode.

The Cons:

The Details of The Lives of the People – The biggest thing against this episode is we don’t get many details of the lives of the people. Devos and Finn both give us vague allusions to things that have happened but nothing beyond that. This is a planet that has implied history but gives us no details of history. The characters have names, which is better than some episodes of “Star Trek” but it was so near great. It just needed to finish up those details.

The Federation’s Non-Involvement not Fully Tackled – Like the details of the conflict the details of the Federation’s non-involvement is not fully explored. It is discussed but we never get a real debate or in depth discussion of it. This is one of the core themes of the story and the story doesn’t go deeper.

This is a really good episode that I’d highly recommend. You get to see Dr. Crusher and what motivates her. There is a conflict that helps illustrate the Federation’s role in conflicts as well as the cycle of violence within conflicts and we are given nuanced characters who get to play off the crew. This episode could have been great and a favorite if it had just taken that extra step and filled into the details within the premise.

Final Score: 8.7 / 10

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 2, Episode 7 – “Unnatural Selection” – The Motivation Behind Dr. Pulaski

   Dr. Pulaski is probably the least loved doctor in all of “Star Trek.” She’s grumpy like Bones and is mean towards Data similar to how Bones sometimes is until Spock. I think part of it is she was not around long enough to really build a rapport with the audience or be given an arc. Like Tasha Yar she is around briefly and because of it the writers don’t really define her as fully as they could. This episode is a rare exception that explores her passions and beliefs in an interesting way. In my exploration of doctors of “Legacy Trek,” “The Next Generation” had both Dr. Pulaski and Dr. Crusher so I will be exploring an episode for both of them.

The episode was directed by Paul Lynch and written by John Mason and Mike Gray.

The Enterprise investigates the mysterious deaths on the starship Lantree, who have appeared to have died of old age.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The TOS Premise – The premise feels like it is out of “The Original Series.” The idea of age being the killer was something that TOS was fascinated with because of how it dealt with ego and mortality. That same premise is now being tackled by the new crew and they handle it in a very “Next Generation” way as everyone is under quarantine on the ship that was infected and the ship is put under quarantine so no one will get infected if they go aboard.

Dr. Pulaski – This episode is about Dr. Pulaski and we see her butting heads from the get go. Troi is the only one who gets along with her and we soon see how driven she is as Picard talks to her former Captain and learns that she admired the work of the Enterprise so much she asked to be transferred. She’s also willing to put herself at risk to see if the psychic genetically engineered kids are the cause and is infected in the process. Her desire for knowledge and love of science is on display and it makes her fascinating. Some of other actions, not so much.

The Mystery – The mystery is good as it leads to our crew investigating a research station where we find scientists have designed genetically engineered psychic kids. In the end we learn they are the reason behind it and must stay in quarantine the rest of their lives.

Captain Picard – Captain Picard handles himself well this episode. He is patient with others and is willing to hear out any idea. He is supportive of his crew to the point that he is willing to let Dr. Pulaski take the risk and meet one of the psychic kids to see if they are behind the aging on adults. He’s got a lot to tackle this episode and he never comes off as arrogant or mean, unlike Pulaski.

The Cons:

Pulaski’s Treatment of Others – Pulaski talks down to Data this episode and doesn’t seem to be aware of anything outside of her desire to science and solve the problem of the aging deaths. Her drive is fine but she has the early TNG arrogance that Picard and Riker usually had but instead they are good this time and instead she is the one taking people for granted who are helping her. She does seem to learn by the end though and is grateful for her rescue from dying.

The Transporter Fix – She is saved via beaming out the bad DNA. This is an early example of the transporter fix, which honestly I was kind of annoyed with given it felt like a fluke in how they found the answer. I wish there could have been more science versus the magic transporter.

This was a good episode and a great exploration of who Dr. Pulaski is. I don’t hate the character, but I understand why people do. She seems to have learned a bit of empathy during this episode though so I hope we get to see that growth in other episodes before Dr. Crusher comes back. It is a shame she never made any guest appearances after she left as her clashing with crewmembers could have opened up more story ideas.

Final Score: 8 / 10 Solidly good.