Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cinemalaya 2009: Engkwentro

Engkwentro trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUqdDeXmdCQ

My classmate and I had the pleasure of watching the premiere of Pepe Diokno's movie, Engkwentro, in glorious hi definition. And we totally did need that hi def, given the visuals the film was going to deliver. So, was it good? Was it bad? Let's find out.

The movie centers on the topic of organized death squads - bands of vigilantes supposedly authorized by local governments to go and kill dissidents, petty criminals, gang members and even street children. Since the justice system is as impotent as a 90 year old man with syphillis, people tolerate it or even accept it as a viable solution. If the justice system makes you think vigilantism is ok, something is terribly wrong with the justice system.

Richard (Felix Roco) is one such gang member. Before the movie begins, he is targeted by the death squads for some unknown reason (other than... well... he's a gangster.) He plots to leave his house along with his prostitute girlfriend Jenny-Jane (Eda Nolan) for his mother who makes a living in Manila. At the same time, Raymond, (Daniel Medrana) Richard's younger brother, skips school and hangs out with tambays, eventually joining a gang named "Batang Dilim." Unfortunately, Batang Dilim is one of Richard's rival gangs, and as the night drags on, things get more complicated as the gang leader orders Raymond to kill his older brother.

The whole movie takes place in a seaside shanty community that could easily exist in either Visayas or Mindanao, where allegedly most of the death squads exist (the movie was actually shot in three locations near Manila, then cleverly edited together to make it convincing.) As someone who actually has gone to such seaside communities, the look is pretty authentic. The dialogue is also mostly in Bisaya, with a couple of lines in Tagalog. The film makes use of natural lighting, which is nice in the day scenes, but in the night scenes is very dark (hence the convenience of having whatever detail remains shown in hi def.) Now unlike the previous movies I reviewed that use darkness as either a motif or try to portray actions in this background. It didn't work that well in those movies. Here I am glad to say the use of darkness was strategic, it left many things to the imagination, and were not to long as to cause impatience or boredom. Flashes of light punctuate a nervous face or fists flying. Overall I'm impressed.

me with Eda Nolan, who plays Jenny-Jane in the movie.
I consider myself a lucky bastard. hehe.

The camera technique is pretty much handheld 'shaky cam,' which gives you the impression that you are actually there walking with the characters and joining in their scenes as silent observers. It's a love or hate thing, and it's been used in many films, most notable in the D-day sequence in Saving Private Ryan. The technique is most memorably panned in a review of Gaspar Noe's Irreversible, where the reviewer describes the technique, and I paraphrase because I forget the actual words, as someone furiously jacking off while holding the camera. It's understandable, since the shaky cam was deliberately used in that movie to make you nauseous. Personally I don't mind the camera handling, and even though in some scenes it does get me a bit queasy and make some action scenes hard to decipher, it's effective.

The director of Engkwentro, Pepe Diokno, and myself,
talking about the film and stuff. As he's explaining his
use of the single take effect, I'm pointing out the large zit on my chin.

Also, the movie flows very smoothly. To the unaided eye it seems to be one long continuous take in the style of films like Sokurov's Russian Ark or in one real time series of takes like Kim Ki-duk's Real Fiction. However, there are cuts, but the are seamlessly edited together and you probably won't notice them unless you were really actively looking for them... which my friend and I found pretty impressive.

Acting wise the cast does their job excellently. You really feel as if they are their characters. (The whole setting does help, of course.) One very awesome addition is Celso Ad Castillo, who plays Mayor Danilo Suarez. Although you do not see his character in the flesh, his voice is heard in the entire film, an all pervading 'Voice of God' who talks about peace in the same vein as killing. His schizophrenic speech brings about a feeling of dread throughout the whole film. Also, Jim Libiran (Director of Tribu, another similar movie that deals with gang violence, but in another way and in a different location) has a very important cameo at the end.

The most corrupible aspect of an impoverished, morally ambiguous society is its youth. Vulnerable and stripped of hope even at a young age, these guys are easy targets for violence and crime. Of course, poverty and a lack of education is what brings people do crime, and even now, no one seems to have learned their lessons from history.

The plot never drags or slows down, and it inexorably draws us toward the inevitable ending that punctuates the film with a sense of reservation about the future. Is the reality we face today truly acceptable? And even if we do not, can we really do anything about it?

All in all, a good film, and in my opinion one of the best of the festival entries so far. You owe yourself to see this film; you shouldn't miss it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cinemalaya 2009: ASTIG

Lego blocks are awesome. I had a lot of them as a kid, and extorted every OFW relative I had for a new set every time they came home. (For the record, I love those guys) So anyway, this stuff called Megablocks comes in. They were compatible with the Lego stuff, and had their own range of toy sets. They looked like Lego blocks, played similar to Lego blocks, and so on. But the thing is, they weren't Lego blocks. So, I didn't bother to buy em. The point of this story? I'll explain later.

Even before this year's festival began, there was one film that was being hyped as good. It was co-produced by Boy Abunda and has a number of respectable stars, including Glaiza de Castro, who if you remember from Still Life was amazing. The premise was okay: an interwoven story of four men living in the streets of Manila and their respective tales of survival. It was clear that the production value was going to be high, and the talent involved was going to be good. So on my only available day I set off to watch it.

I really, really wanted to like this film.

I'm a bit sorry to say I thought it really wasn't that good. It wasn't bad or anything, it was just mediocre.

So let's get to the film. The narrative moves back and forth in time over all four characters' stories, sometimes scenes overlap with each other, and some scenes reveal motivations of characters from other acts, which is kind of clever from a storytelling standpoint.

One person (Dennis Trillo) works as a male prostitute and as a counterfeiter, your all-purpose conman. He has no remorse for the victims he cons until he meets Elgine (Glaiza De Castro,) a student that he meets in a net cafe. Bada-boom, romance occurs (weirdly enough with little time to grow or develop,) but things are more complicated than they seem, and sooner or later shit hits the fan.

The second story focuses on a newly married man with a young pregnant wife. To keep things going and to earn more for his wife he sells shampoo and other kinds of goods, runs a little gambling thing on the side, and has a lot of other rackets going. However, the money is never enough (hospital stays cost a ton of cash) and he's soon grasping at straws. Soon, however he learns the big cash cow is this relatively rich gay man who gives money for blowjobs. He is then left with no viable alternative and does what he must for his wife.

The third story is about this guy who is of mixed Chinese and Filipino heritage (his mom's from Zamboanga city and there is some dialogue in Chavacano) who comes to the city to sell the one inheritance his father left him - a decrepit piece of shit building. It seems as if his father didn't give a damn about his son, but the son seems to genuinely love his father and wants to reconnect with his half siblings from the father's Chinese wife. He tries to sell the land, which is virtually unsellable, until this one guy (Gardo Versoza) offers him a deal he cannot resist.

The fourth and last story centers on Elgine's brother (Sid Lucero) who studies as a marine engineer to try to get a decent job to support his family. The doleouts from his OFW father have stopped coming and the family is in serious financial trouble. On top of that, he's not really that good in school and is in danger of failing his subjects again. His only consolation is his siblings, all of whom he protects fiercely from potential suitors, all to avoid the fate of his older sister who married a bum husband after getting pregnant.

Out of the four stories, the second was my favorite. It told the story in not many words, and made its point rather subtly. There was also a nice juxtaposition of sex scenes in a movie house in the second part. The scene being shown in the movie is a rape (was it from Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa?) While the scene going on in the movie house was technically consensual, but you know it was forced by something else. Very nice. The first story feels incomplete (until the last part), the third story was a bit weird, and the fourth story was merely okay.

Production value-wise, the film is a slick production, from the rap music in the opening scene, mostly crisp visual presentation and good editing.

Now on to the stuff I didn't like. Remember that paragraph I wrote at the beginning? This encapsulates everything I felt about the movie. The whole thing feels too manufactured, as they took all of the things that people liked about a movie and mashed it together, without putting any new spin on things. The slice of life scenario, the interconnecting story, the curse-laden natural sounding dialogue, the soundtrack, you've seen it all before in some other movie screened in this festival before. Now by itself it isn't bad (it's actually good,) but the way it's all put together makes the movie exactly the sum of its parts, which shouldn't be the case.

The movie has many sex scenes, and although some are needed, there are some scenes that are questionable. Especially in the third act, where Gardo Versoza is involved. Although it makes his character (I'll talk about the acting later) more creepy, it was totally unnecessary and made the consequent scenes a little contrived. It comes out like they had an ending in mind and fit scenes to match that ending. It feels extremely awkward to watch the plot develop in that manner.

Now to the acting. Given the limited material, the actors have not much to work on, but they all do the best they can. Honors go out to Gardo Versoza for portraying a truly creepy character in the landlord, and the lady who played Sid Lucero's mother (can't remember her name at the moment) who was very convincing given the material. Glaiza de Castro was underused as her character wasn't given much to do except to fawn over Dennis Trillo and get depressed. There's something about Dennis Trillo that makes him very likeable; even if he did all the things he did in the movie I found it hard not to shun the good boy image he projects. Anyhow, good on him to act against stereotype, even though the stereotype still held somewhat in my final assessment of him. The other actors played their parts rather well, as the production is full of excellent talent. It's just that not even the great Billy Mays can pitch us a cleaner that doesn't clean anything.

Speaking of actors, there was a ton of cameos from various personalities from ABS-CBN and even from Boy Abunda himself in one very short scene. (Watch Ai-ai delas Alas without makeup in one scene, some of the theater goers didn't recognize her until the last moment) If they had one cameo, it's amusing; two and it's still okay. Three, and you're saying, 'well, they worked for next to nothing, I appreciate the effort they made in appearing.' Ten times and it gets annoying. There were at least ten cameos. Even Kuya Kim Atienza joined in on the fun.

My friend found some faults in lighting in the last scene, that it was too dark, that he could not see anything. Somehow I think it could have worked, but ultimately it didn't. I thought that the last scene could work if there was some more emotion in it. Then, that last scene would have worked even in total darkness. I noticed the same thing in the last scene of "Three Days of Darkness," which had appropriate emotion, but dragged on too long and had too much dialogue. There must be a perfect mix of emotion in the scene for it to work.

In the end, Astig is to Megablocks as every winner in this competition is to Legos. It's a combination of the best of the latter, but it isn't the latter at all. A laudable yet disappointing offering for this year's festival.

Cinemalaya 2009: Ang Nerseri

If you were watching TV a few months ago you might have heard of that family all possessing some kind of mental illness. They were locked up in these cages and stuff due to poverty as they could not afford medical care, but thanks to some intervention, they were sent to a mental institution.

This concept of a family faced with mental illness, and the dysfunction that it causes, is used by the makers of the latest Cinemalaya offering Ang Nerseri (the Nursery.) Although the film is about a family whose members all suffer some sort of mental illness, it really is a nice little character piece that is surprisingly good.

The film centers around Cocoy, a 12 year old kid whose has siblings that are mentally unstable. Almost all have histories of repeated and prolonged confinement at mental hospitals or had all undergone some sort of treatment.

The family is entirely dysfunctional; the father has died, and has thus robbed the family of a father figure; the elder brothers have their own problems, as one has left the family to live by himself, and two are hopelessly addicted to drugs. One is sent to a rehab center at the beginning of the film, and the other is Dean. He is supposed to be the replacement father figure (numerous times in the film he asserts his age superiority over his younger brother and bosses around his mother and younger sister) but he ultimately does nothing but threaten and do drugs, surrounded by his paranoid delusions. The mother, played by Jacklyn Jose, asserts little to no authority over her children but protects them fiercely. She lies about her children's status to her friends so as to save face, but in the end, there is a sense of loss of control coming from her. The daugher Lyn tries to live a normal life, but she is ridiculed in college, has no friends, and has fifficulty in her studies despite constantly reading books and stuff in her spare time.

Based on my experiences with relatives of mentally ill patients I find that they exhibit a spectrum of either spoiling the children and giving them their every whim, tolerance or clear contempt, so it is understandable how Jacklyn Jose's character acts in the film, given her situation. It is, however, not a situation that can easily be dealt with.

And so we get to Cocoy, the center of the film. When the mother leaves (I have the nagging feeling that she actually goes insane before or after this time, never to return, but that is only speculation) he, seemingly the only sane member of the household left, is given the task to hold the house together, something that is way too much for a twelve year old to bear. Soon he begins to fight his own sanity as he faces his problems at home, at school, and all the other crap one goes through during the turbulent adolescent period.

During this time, he protects his older sister by fighting her bullies and bringing her to the mental hospital for ECT (the thing where you strap stuff on your head and deliver electric shocks) and fights with his older brother who wants to pawn his typewriter, the only thing left from his deceased father. The typewriter itself serves as a metaphor for the father figure itself in the film; once Cocoy does decide to sell it, he seems to have decided to assume the "father" role. Faced with this burden, he seeks comfort and emotional support from many people. He befriends his schoolmate, explores his sexuality through his neighbor, "calls" his mother over the telephone and even 'consults' his father by visiting him regularly in the cemetery.

Soon however, the promised two weeks become a month, and the burdens begin to overwhelm them. Money and food become problems as both run out, and without money, there is no medication. The battle for his sanity reaches a new level.

One thing noticeable about the film is that after the first scene which is saturated in colors, the rest of the film's visual palette is noticeably bland, with the picture mostly grayscale with only blue and green colored in. This loss of color is meant to signify depression or a loss of deriving pleasure from things, something you can see in depressed individuals.

The abandonment theme is similar to Kore-eda's Nobody Knows, but approaches it in a different aspect, and centers on one character's psyche and his psychic evolution more than anything else.

As far as acting goes, as someone who has experience in helping treat mentally ill patients in a hospital and non-hospital setting, the acting is okay. Mentally ill people more or less behave just as normally as we do, even if their thought processes are slightly off mark. Some exhibit a flat affect (lack of emotion in the face) or tend to ramble on having a flight of ideas (not really heard in the dialogue in this case) but on the whole it's mostly okay.

Cocoy's behavior is interesting. Most of the behavior he seeks can either be attributed to his adolescence, or due to an emerging psychosis. He lies constantly about his status in school, perhaps part of an effort to put emphasis away from his own problems. On the other hand, they could be delusions of grandeur. His methods of seeking pleasure and repeated instances of self gratification may be due to raging teen hormones. Or, he could be hypersexual, again a trait of people with mental illness. At this stage it's hard to tell. At the end, however, he does experience auditory hallucinations that is a feature of mental illness, but his previous behavior is either hit or miss.

In the end, the Orchid nursery in the film parallels the condition of the household, with the opening scene representative of the essence of the film and the basis of the plot. After taking care of the seedlings, Jacklyn Jose's character decides to leave and let them grow by themselves. It is interesting to note that orchids are one of the most hardy of plants; able to weather the greatest of stresses. Given the ambiguous ending, could that fact be a clue to Cocoy's ultimate fate, or an ironic, tragic note at the end? The ending may be interpreted in different ways and the director leaves that up to you. All in all, a very imaginative effort by all involved.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Trekstravaganza 2009: Season 1

In the wake of the latest Star Trek film, I wanted to revisit the original series, the 79 episode beast that started it all (80 if you include the pilot) and give a taste of what made the series so interesting to so many people. I’m going to use these three marks to denote what a particular episode has.

Of course I won’t be covering all of the episodes, just those where I have something to say.

Denotes a well-known Trek episode, the kind Tom Hanks blurts out during interviews at late night talk shows, or parodied in shows like Family Guy.


Denotes a favorite episode of mine. Doesn’t have to be the best in everyone’s eyes.


Denotes a weirdass episode. Full of the psychedelic shit of the 1960’s.


Season 1

Season 1 of Star Trek was Trek trying to find its groove. Characters shifted around, people’s jobs were shifting around like Sulu, and there were a number of inconsistencies from episode to episode. Despite that, a lot of classic episodes came out of the series, including the episode considered as the series’ best.

Episode #3: Where no Man has Gone Before

Kirk and company pass through the Great Barrier, which totally mindfucks one (and later two) of his crewmembers, turning them into really, really powerful beings. Unfortunately, their EQ isn’t up to par for being able to make mindbullets, so Kirk faces them down. What a badass.

Essentially the second episode created for the series, this episode has a smiling Spock (maybe he was just smug) old uniforms and mention of ESP among Starfleet personnel. They didn’t revisit that in later series IIRC, unless there was some kind of Section 31 shit that I didn’t know about.

Episode #4: The Naked Time



Kirk and company get a virus that makes them act like a bunch of drunk or high teenagers. Shit ensues. Oh, and Sulu is fencing. I originally saw that as kind of lame. Being asian, I wanted him to weirld at least an asian sword, going batshit around the Enterprise with a katana. They did manage to do that in the new movie, however, so it’s all good.

Episode #5: The Enemy Within

Kirk gets split into goody goody Kirk which is like Jean Luc Picard with slightly less spine, and 100% Bad Kirk. (note bad, not badass.) He totally makes out with the girl and shit. The moral lesson of this? We are the sum total of our good and bad selves and one cannot exist without the other. Not bad.

Oh, and what was up with that “alien?” It was a dog dressed in pink fur with a plastic horn. I mean what the fuck.

Episode #7: What are Little Girls Made of?

Kirk and company go to this planet where Nurse Chapel’s fiancee is stationed. They go in and realize that they are all ROBOTS. Most notable is Kirk’s babe of the week, Sherry Jackson, who shows up as pleasure robot Andrea. Lol Roger Korby is cheating on Nurse Chapel hahaha.

Anyway, Korby is actually batshit insane and kills himself, Kirk makes out with the babe of the week and all is right with the world.

Episode #8: Miri

Kirk comes across a near duplicate of earth where kids are the only surviving individuals. Star Trek will revisit this parallel earth scenario again and again throughout the series. IMO it’s infinitesimally rare to have a parallel earth but the episodes with parallel earths usually had a point to it, especially as a mirror to our own contemporary culture. Here it was about growing up and the divide between generations. In the 1960s the people who grew up with WW2 and this growing peaceful generation that would later have this peace revolution hippie shit was experiencing such a divide.

Oh, and Kirk’s babe of the week is either Janice “I always wanted you to look at my legs but not now, deadly pathogenic organism causing skin lesions kthxbye” Rand or Miri, who is like 13 years old. Granted, it’s not technically so but. DUDE. Kirk hitting on a 13 year old. Chris Hansen would be all over his ass now.

Episode #9: Dagger of the Mind



Kirk has a stowaway from a prison, returns said stowaway, shit hits fan. Anyway the only person I wanted to talk about in this episode was Kirk’s babe of the week, which IMO was one of the best babes of the week in the first season. She was Marianna Hill, who played Dr. Helen Noel. She was cool in that she was not only Kirk’s kissing target, she also hauled ass and kicked it just as well as the captain. Damn it, Kirk gets the best girls.

Episode #10: The Corbomite Maneuver.



Basically this is just a long drawn out game of bluff, which is what the “Corbomite Maneuver” was. Kirk was like totally shouting loud within the Fesarius’ ears, “Okay, destroy us, but we got this really powerful weapon that does over 9000 damage everytime we get hit. So yeah, go ahead. Not like we care.” What a badass. Of course now that would only be loled at, but this is the 23rd century we’re talking about.

Episode #13: The Conscience of the King

It’s Shakespeare in space! Surprisingly without Klingons! Also throw in some sort of good old murder mystery. Not much to say here, because it would spoil it. The lines at the end are pretty apropos considering the circumstances of the ending and the parallels to Shakespeare.

Episode #14: Balance of Terror



One of the best Trek Episodes, Kirk gets into a submarine type tussle with the Romulans, headed by Mark Lenard, who we all know as Spock’s father Sarek. Although the recent style of fast paced Star Wars fighting is being considered more positively, the slow Wrath of Khan type battle was always a favorite of mine. These ships I consider as capital ships, the Galaxy class of their day. What’s nice about the episode is that it portrays both parties not as stereotypes, but as opposite sides, both with good and bad, fighting a war.

Episode #15: Shore Leave



After one of the best, follows one of the trippiest Trek Episodes. Hopping people in bunny suits, assholes named Finnegan (lol at “Jimmy Boy “ being a total nerd before becoming the galaxy’s greatest badass) and Samurai. Fuckitty fuck shit, this was certainly high on the weirdo scale.

Episode #18: Arena



KIRK VS. THE FUCKING GORN, BABY. It eclipses the rest of the episode, literally. Who cares about the fucking “Metrons” and the other shit that was destroyed when the Gorn attacked? This was all about Kirk vs. the Gorn. He beat the Gorn with a makeshift rifle out of bamboo and some chemicals. Kirk was fucking channeling McGyver even before there was a McGyver. That’s how badass he was.

I guess there was something in the episode about how war was bad, and how conflicts can be borne out of misunderstanding, and how people should look at both sides of a confliWHAT THE FUCK, LOOK AT THAT, KIRK VS. THE FUCKING GORN

Episode #19: Tomorrow is Yesterday

Kirk and company accidentally go back in time and screw up the timeline. Eventually they make everything right again. Notable are the action scenes in this film, as we see the origins of the patented Kirk jump kick. Also we see the warping around the sun time travel thingy that we will see reused in a Season 2 episode and in Star Trek IV The Voyage Home.

Episode #20: Court Martial



I always find Star Trek court based episodes very interesting. This one implicates Captain Kirk in an administrative complaint that claims the life of his crew. He meets a lawyer who stays true to the method of reading law books instead of keeping those books all inside one computer. The lawyer is pretty badass too. While Kirk is getting pwned by the prosecution (who turns out to be the requisite Kirk babe of the week - damn, this guy is more prolific than Wilt Chamberlain) Spock, his bestest friend in the world is… playing… 3D chess. Don’t worry, there’s a reason.

The mystery is pretty nice and the payoff was pretty unexpected. All in all good shit.

Episode #21: Return of the Archons



At first I thought that this was one of the crappy episodes, but it turned out to be one of my favorites. So I have to give a rundown of everything I find awesome about this. Basically, Kirk and co. come across a planet whose history and/or architecture parallels (again with the parallel earths WTF) depression-era America or something like that. The people are unreasonably catatonic, but once the bell rings, people go totally apeshit into an uncontrolled orgy of violence, sex, fistfucking and probably gerbils. They learn that Landru, some computer thing, is controlling the civilization as logically and soullessly as possible, for peace. Kirk no likey, so Kirk decides to totally fuck Landru up and bust a cap in its ass.

Now, generally, under the Prime Directive, since this is a primitive, non-warp capable civilization, the Federation shouldn’t be fucking with this society. In later series, all the captains would probably go, “okay, let’s not interfere, let’s just go to Something IV, warp seven engage.” Or at least they should tiptoe around the planet, interfering with the civilization as little as possible, if there was prior interference. The TNG Episode ‘Who Watches the Watchers’ is an example. Picard and co. may not always like the Prime Directive, but it was a Directive they would not fuck with. That’s why it was Starfleet general order number one.

But Kirk? Fuck no. He’s too badass for the fucking Prime Directive. I paraphrase this exchange between Kirk and Spock.

Spock: Captain, I must remind you of the non interference directive…

Kirk: Fuck Prime Directive! Onward hooooooooooo!

This also starts one of the Kirk vs. Computer scenes seen everywhere in the series, where Kirk totally fucks up a computer and causes it to go into error just by arguing with it in a brilliant display of logic. The producers may have thought it meant that man has the passion and the drive over any computer, no matter the superior mental processing power. I just think it’s badass.

Kirk – 1 Computer – 0 bitches.

Episode #22: Space Seed



No, the title does not imply bukkake in space.

Here we see Khan (the late, great, buff Ricardo Montalban) for the first time. He begins to out-badass Kirk himself, by stealing what was supposed to be Kirk’s babe of the week and claiming it as his own, and taking the entire Enterprise and claiming it as his own. But Kirk manages to outwit him enough and end up offering him his own kingdom. Of course, we all know what happened after that.

I wonder if Kirk knew what would happen. Like if Spock told him Ceti Alpha VI would explode but he care to tell Khan because he stole his babe of the week and tried to kill him/take over his ship.

Episode #23: A Taste of Armageddon



Alien guy: We have this great simulated war! Real casualties though.

Kirk: *Destroys computers*

Alien guy: WTF did you do? Now there will be war for real!

Kirk: lol

That’s pretty much it.

Episode #24: This Side of Paradise



Kirk and co. comes to this planet that turns everyone into pussies except Kirk, who is too badass to be turned into a pussy. Disturbed that everyone in the Enterprise has deserted him, even the redshirts, he calls up Spock to the Enterprise and totally flames him.

Spock lashes out at the trolling Kirk and realizes that strong emotions break the pussyfying agent. So they all return to normal. Happy ending for all.

Episode #25: Devil in the Dark



One of my favorite episodes, without spoiling the plot, I think this episode stresses the importance of understanding between two individuals or groups of individuals. To understand something or someone, one must look at their motivations. You can argue that it doesn’t excuse the action itself, but that’s a debate we can talk about another day.

Also, brownie points to McCoy for curing anything, probably even a rainy day.

Episode #26: Errand of Mercy

Klingons: WAR!

Federation: WAR!

Organians: we’re a bunch of cockblockers. Therefore, NO WAR!

HAPPY END

It was nice to see old school Klingons in TOS. Interesting to note that in the series that chronologically follows this, I have not seen any planet under Klingon rule. There have been Klingon colonies or settlements populated by Klingons, but planets populated by another alien species, ruled by Klingons? None. Feel free to correct me though.

Episode #28: The City on the Edge of Forever



Best episode of the series, according to many critics and fans of the series. It defines high quality Space Opera in a time when Sci fi was generally treated with stereotypes of little green men and B-movies. You really have to watch the episode by itself. Kirk and co. happen upon the Guardian of Forever, and McCoy accidentally goes back in time and changes history. So Kirk and Spock go after him but find that it isn’t as easy as they think.

Episode #29: Operation: Annihilate!



It’s Kirk vs. Space Pancakes! When I was a kid I was awed at the sight of futuristic looking buildings. There weren’t a lot of people though (even though the episode points out millions of colonists inhabiting the planet… maybe they just stayed in the shadows.) Great drama ensues when Sam Kirk and his wife fall victim to the attack. I always wondered what happened to Kirk’s nephew afterwards. Oh well. One question though, where was Sam Kirk when Kodos the Executioner did his shit in Tarsus IV? I’ll have to look that up.

So it turns out UV light kills the Space pancakes, and so Kirk and co. go on an ecstasy fueled rave into the night. Just kidding.

That pretty much wraps up my thoughts on the season. All in all a good season. Don’t worry, the shit only gets better from here – the second season improves by beginning to focus on the ensemble cast as well.