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Entertainment & Arts

Star Trek: Discovery Mid-Season Return – The Case for Captain Lorca

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As the Star Trek: Discovery mid-season return arrives this Sunday, fans anxiously wait to find out where exactly USS Discovery and her crew are following a seeming breakdown of their super-human navigator in the mid-season finale. Have they traveled in time? Are they trapped in an spatial anomaly? Or have they crossed into a parallel universe, specifically the Mirror Universe well known in Trek lore? While the “where” question will likely be answered in the first moments of Sunday’s episode, the more gnawing questions of the “how” or “why” they’re where they have arrived may not be so readily answered. However, that hasn’t stopped the speculation on “who” is responsible for this unexpected journey, and many feel certain there is only one answer: Captain Lorca. But this fan disagrees and here’s why.

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The Disturbing Reality of the Mirror Universe Captain Lorca

Star Trek: Discovery Mid-Season Return & The (Wrongly) Accused: Captain Gabriel Lorca

Gabriel Lorca is in every respect a Starfleet captain of his time. He is a Captain Archer-type without the naïveté, serving a Federation that is not established enough to give him (or anyone else, frankly) the smooth and easy diplomatic swagger of later captains in Starfleet. More importantly, Lorca is a studied warrior in the midst of a struggle against utter annihilation by an aggressive, nearly united Klingon Empire. This last fact has made fans look askance at Captain Lorca and is why the audience may hardly blink at the suggestion he would disobey orders to return to safe harbor and instead return to the battle. However, Lorca’s militarism is being judged through the lens of later eras when the Federation is more or less a galactic superpower at peace, where captains can more readily afford to be explorers first and soldiers second, or perhaps even third.

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"Are We Alone?" Your Guide To Humanity's Place In The Universe

Gabriel Lorca does not have that luxury as the Klingons continue to slaughter Federation ships and its citizens. What’s more, Lorca’s recent history demonstrates his dedication to his current and past crews, to the point that he chooses to endure daily pain and visual damage because he survived when the remainder of his prior crew did not. A man who punishes himself in this way does not immediately plunge his crew, who is only just out of harm’s way, and having just defeated the Klingon Ship of the Dead into uncharted space and untold danger. Lorca, for all intents and purposes, is not a sociopath.

Lorca eyedrops Star Trek: Discovery Mid-Season ReturnCBS/TGNR

Additionally, some fans have theorized Lorca has brought Discovery into this unfamiliar realm of space because he’s not from the Prime Universe to begin with, but is in fact from the Mirror Universe itself. This is nonsense. Most of the argument for him being a Mirror Universe character stems from his war-like mentality previously addressed as appropriate for the current political climate of the Federation.

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Finally, to have Lorca originate in the Mirror Universe would undermine the key relationships the show has spent nine episodes building between himself and the crew of the Discovery. Lorca’s sudden removal due to an incongruous Mirror Universe subplot would leave Discovery – both ship and show – completely rudderless.

The Evidence: A Smoking Phaser?

The smoking phaser, if you will, in the argument accusing Captain Lorca of deliberately bringing Discovery outside of known space is a brief sequence at the end of “Into the Forest I Go” in which the camera focuses on the right-hand control panel found in the captains chair. Lorca appears to enter an alpha-numeric sequence on the screen. Next, the display shows a log list of the recent spore jumps, numbered, and followed by standard spatial coordinates. At the lowest line where the next jump entry would site, blinks “OVERRIDE – LORCA, G.” beneath which is the word “UNKNOWN.” Moments later after a spore drive jump goes afoul, the crew are left drifting in space debris where Starbase 46 should be, and are otherwise unable to determine their position by use of conventional sensors.

Captain Lorca command console Star Trek: Discovery mid-season returnCBS

The smoking phaser?

At first glance, this sequence of events seems fairly damning to Lorca. The captain punches in his code to override the navigation’s coordinates and then the spore-drive jumps to the middle of proverbial nowhere; it’s simple cause and effect. A closer look, however, reveals that this quick scene communicates more than it seems.

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The Devil in the Details – The Spore Drive

Some of the workings of Discovery’s spore-drive – the latest and therefore top-secret, propulsion method being developed by Starfleet – are kept fairly vague on the show. The sequence that is known involves the captain calling for a “Black Alert” condition on the ship, spore material is loaded into the drive in engineering, the spores release into Lieutenant Stamets’ navigational apparatus, and then the probes of said apparatus engage the interfaces on Stamets’ forearms. Stamets’ then navigates the mycelial network to jump the ship from location to location in a fraction of the time and energy it takes using conventional warp-drive technology.

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While the portion of the spore-drive involving Stamets’ and the mycelial network has been explored in more detail, the steps regarding all of the other ship’s systems during a “Black Alert” are left to the viewers imagination. That being said, to initiate the spore-drive, Captain Lorca may have to activate a Captain’s override every time. This is not uncommon in the Trek cannon to require authorization codes to access proprietary information or technology of which the spore-drive most certainly qualifies.

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10 Things Star Trek: Discovery Must Do to Avoid Epic Failure

Lorca’s command-code also may be required to override the on-board navigation computer to allow the spore-drive to control Discovery. In short, Captain Lorca certainly entered an override command on his console in the final scene, but what he overrode is not clear.

(The Article Continues Below…)

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Spore-Drive Gone Awry: USS Discovery The Federation Ship of the Damned?

The “UNKNOWN” on the spore-drive log must be treated with equal skepticism. While many viewers believe this mysterious entry reflects coordinates entered by Captain Lorca on the alpha-numeric key pad, it perhaps points to something more foreboding.

If part of the key sequence Lorca entered immediately before the log-line screen was in part spatial coordinates, why wouldn’t they still display on the log-line as coordinates, even if they were in unexplored space? He entered them manually; he didn’t ask the computer to interpret a trajectory or to map the location he input. In other words, there is no reason for the computer to translate the coordinates into an output such as “UNKNOWN”.

The other more disturbing possibility remains that Lorca did input the appropriate coordinates for starbase 46, but the spore-drive generated coordinates of it’s own. Thus it returned to the computer which then registered as the “Unknown” log-line seen on Lorca’s right-hand console. This is actually showing the audience, in a quick flash, that something is going wrong – the coordinates he entered are not the coordinates the drive has taken them. A spore-drive behaving badly also fits with the surge from the spore-drive which triggers an exponential intensification of Stamets’ experience of the mycelial network, leaving him in a fugue state at episode’s end.

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As the Star Trek: Discovery mid-season return arrives, we must not forget the great dramatic irony of the entire series is the knowledge that this hitherto unmentioned propulsion technology has a dangerous unknown flaw. As the spore-drive no longer exists by the time Star Trek: TOS takes place, one assumes the technology must ultimately fail. As such, this may be the first instance of critical instability in the spore-drive.

Star Trek: Discovery Mid-Season Return: The Verdict

In this Star Trek: Discovery mid-season return, every fan must find the answers they seek in the details. As any excellent show, every portion on screen is of significance to the greater story. However, the belief that Captain Lorca has intentionally brought Discovery to an unknown time and space is extremely difficult to accept. For all intents and purposes, while Lorca hardly represents in whole any of the Captains in Star Trek lore preceding him, he does possess one very important common characteristic: the unquestioned devotion and implacable protection for those who serve under him. Lorca is not a monster, but he does fully understand and accept the dire circumstances for which all members of the Federation now face.

May the wind be at Discovery’s back…

The Star Trek: Discovery mid-season return can be streamed exclusively on CBS: All Access, debuting at 8:30PM on Sunday, 1/7/2018.

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Kristen E. Strubberg is the Editor-in-Chief for TGNR. Kristen founded TGNR in 2013 - seeking to create a high quality platform for original, eclectic and substantive positive news journalism by attracting expert contributors in many varying subjects. Kristen also works as a clinical medical researcher in Cardiology, with an original background in Neuroscience. Her passion for science has translated to her science-fiction specialization, with her highly adept published insights into the best of sci-fi’s popular culture. Kristen has served as TGNR’s Editor-in-Chief since 2013.

CadreCinematique

Mourning Filmstruck

The death of Filmstruck is the latest symptom of our rapidly devolving film culture: This is a look at what we’ve lost, and what lies ahead.

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Image Credit: Filmstruck

The demise of Filmstruck is a major loss to the world of cinema. If you were to log on to film Twittertm – that specialist ghetto of cinephiles (“or what you’d call film buffs” as Matthew remarks early in the late Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers) you would realize that many of us are in mourning for a rapidly depleting film culture.

Across the country, most Americans do not have access to an art house theater, and it’s even less likely that they would have access to a repertory theater. Those in New York City can pick their poison between the Metrograph and Film Forum and Village Quad Cinema. Heck they’ve even got the NiteHawk in Williamsburg. Those in LA have the New Beverly. Most of us, however, are just plain out of luck.

Two years ago Filmstruck seemed like the solution. A collaboration between Warner Brothers and the Criterion Collection, Filmstruck was a hand-curated outfit that seemed like film school on a Roku. From Rohmer to Ozu, Sembene to Akerman – world cinema was at your fingertips. You want to spend 83 minutes with Alma from Persona? Sure can. You could check in with Guido Anselmi or Sam Spade or Mabel Longhetti or any of several versions of Orpheus by just pressing a button…and now it’s gone.

A Half Remembered Dream Factory

Claudia Cardinale in Frederico Fellini's 8 1/2Francinex/Cineriz

Claudia Cardinale in Frederico Fellini’s 8 1/2

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Every day we seem to forget more of our history. Hollywood is no exception. Often they seem to be leading the way. Hollywood has always been America’s dream factory, and there are some real talented and nice people out there – people who care desperately about movies.

Yet, because of the vagaries of corporate America, and the rush to the all-mighty dollar that capitalism surely compels, Hollywood has become a system that is ruled by puffed-up Harvard MBA’s in slick two-button suits looking for ten percent profit on the next remake.

Now, I don’t really have anything against these people, it’s just that many of them don’t really know or give a lick about the classic days of the industry, the history of world cinema, or even current world cinema beyond their own distribution pacts. They only worry whether their new one hundred million dollar piece of content is going to be allowed to play in China, and whether it will allay some its substantial budget with international pre-sales.

In turn, we have the creation of these monster conglomerates through very big mergers such as Disney buying Fox, or in our case AT&T buying Time Warner, which has led directly to AT&T shutting down Filmstruck.

See, they want to invest only in core businesses that will generate substantial return. This makes complete sense from a business perspective. Except, in the olden days of Hollywood the guys that ran the place, like Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg, saw the picture business as more than just a profit machine. They understood they were creating a product that was intangible – a motion picture, not a widget.

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Ingmar Bergmans 'Persona' | Cadre Cinematique

Sure, they were interested in making money, they damn well weren’t commies, but at the same time they were making something near Art and they were passionate about it.

Cinema Homogenized

Lillian Gish in D.W. Griffith's Broken BlossomsD. W. Griffith

Lillian Gish in D.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms

There was a time when it felt like cinema could change the world. In his review of The Dreamers (to circle back), Roger Ebert reminisces that back in ’68, Chicagoans were lined up on the sidewalk in the rain to see Godard’s Weekend. Imagine that now? Wouldn’t happen.

AT&T closed Filmstruck because they believed it was niche. Great cinema like Casablanca and King Kong, The Seven Samurai and Weekend, which all those people lined up for all those years ago, is now just niche content.

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What’s the use of going to a movie theater if movies are just content no different from a YouTube video? Hollywood has forgotten its heroes. Cinema seems to have forgotten what cinema is all about – stories that move us or elucidate the world around us – or even sometimes elucidate feelings or emotions so deep-seated they would never stir without that silver-screen mirror.

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Agnes Varda's HappinessAgnès Varda

Agnes Varda’s Happiness

The last three movies I watched on Filmstruck were the creepy Japanese ghost story Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan (1959), the vibrantly alive magical realist bossa nova-driven romance Black Orpheus (1959), and Mikio Naruse’s masterful Floating Clouds (1955). Maybe my feeling towards Filmstruck and cinema itself is like Naruse’s lovers’ warmer brighter past in French Indochina – a deeply romantic paradise to which we can never return.

I certainly hope that’s not the case. I hope the future of cinema and the future of repertory streaming services spreads out before us like a mighty bounty.

To ensure this, we all have do our part. Watch movies. Buy movies.  All movies.  Become cine-literate in everything. Especially the classics.

(Article Continues Below...)

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Preservation in the Post-Filmstruck Era

Lourdes de Oliveira in Marcel Camus' Black OrpheusDispat Films/Gemma/Tupan Filmes

Lourdes de Oliveira in Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus

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What’s next? The terrific physical media company The Criterion Collection is starting their own streaming channel. Will it succeed? Only if enough of us are interested in preserving our globe’s sometimes shared, sometimes divergent cultural heritage.

Mikio Naruse's Autumn Has Already StartedMikio Naruse

Mikio Naruse’s Autumn Has Already Started

Films are doorways into past and future worlds. These stories have shaped us, and allowed a plethora of fascinating cultures to share their preoccupations, hopes, and fears with other, sometimes very different people, in every far-flung nook and cranny of this astonishing world.  These dreams, stories, and feelings are too important to be allowed to just fade away.

Please preserve them.

Write to David B. Sporn at dsporn@tgnreview.com

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Entertainment & Arts

The Man in the High Castle Universe: How the Axis Won WW2

Exactly what the hell went so wrong to create the High Castle dystopia? Second World War historian Paul K. DiCostanzo examines the possibilities.

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With the interminable wait for season three of Amazon Prime’s portrayal of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle concluding on October 5th, we pose the singular question underlying the series thus far: How could the Axis powers have defeated the United States and its Allies in The Man in the High Castle Universe? The following interpretation is one possible “universe” of Man in the High Castle. One in which we explore the biggest question for most viewers: How the Axis won WW2, or more specifically, “How did the US lose World War II?”

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As the show straddles the genres of Alternate History and Science Fiction, the world of High Castle is based on counter-factual history. That being said, the scenario below is projected from historical events that could explain the tragic collapse of the Allies and ultimate rise of the Axis powers.

The Man in the High Castle Universe: What went wrong?

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(A stark contrast in the two above maps that mark the conclusion of the historical and fictional WW2)

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For an American living in the 21st Century, the victory in the Second World War is even more fundamental to their worldview than even the American Revolution of 1776. It is, after all, the founding story of the modern United States and the rest of the world as we know it.


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The concept of the Allies losing to the satanic enemy of Nazi Germany and its Axis collaborators hits home in primordial fashion. It is a concept so deeply disturbing that the dystopia such a defeat would create is generally unthinkable. Yet in the High Castle universe, that is exactly what happened. So, what exactly went wrong in the High Castle timeline?

How the Axis won WW2: The Man in the High Castle Universe Historical Contradiction

In the High Castle universe, many well known events of the Second World War have outcomes clearly contrary to the viewer’s universe. In both the series and the classic novel, details are scarce as to exactly how the Axis managed victory over the Allies.


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The Complete Guide to The Man in the High Castle Season 3 - Premiering 10/5


Putting aside the little information divulged by the show so far – including Nazi Germany’s clear development of the first strategic nuclear weapon – what happened to the Allied nations that allowed this disaster to occur? While there are several distinct possibilities, one must start with the life of one Sir Winston Spencer Churchill.

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10 Things Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Must Do to Avoid Epic Failure

Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery is the swing season for the series. These are several directives to ensure this newest season gets it just right.

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Star Trek: Discovery season 2 Captain Pike
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Over the past two months new information about the greater Star Trek franchise have hit fans at warp speed. Between the announcement of a new series featuring Patrick Stewart and the contractual standstill leading perhaps to the fourth film in the Kelvin timeline’s demise – there has been no lack of blockbluster headlines. However, the project which will shortly eclipse all the rest is the upcoming sophomore season of Star Trek: Discovery with viewers paying particular attention to where the showrunners wish to take the series. Not to be left out, the following are ten guidelines – directives as it were – to ensure Star Trek: Discovery season 2 will not fall on its face. We begin with the introduction of a new-familiar face: Mr. Spock.

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1. A Tale of Two Spock’s: The Delicate Introduction of Ethan Peck in Discovery Season 2

Star Trek: Discovery season 2 Ethan Peck and Zachary QuintoWikicommons

The two Spock’s: Ethan Peck & Zachary Quinto

I fully concede the pragmatic reality of the entertainment industry, and that Zachery Quinto was very unlikely to assume the role of the prime universe Spock in Star Trek: Discovery season 2 – but I cannot help stopping and thinking, “What the crap?”

With the announcement that Ethan Peck will play Spock in Star Trek: Discovery season 2, there are now two actors, in the prime of their career, portraying effectively the same character at the same time: Quinto on the big screen and Peck on my iPhone. Lets all be honest with ourselves, that’s really friggin’ weird.

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Though Alex Kurtzman and the current Star Trek braintrust were nothing less than effusive in praise for the talented Peck, there are greater factors at play by having more than one Spock.


“We searched for months for an actor who would, like them, bring his own interpretation to the role. An actor who would, like them, effortlessly embody Spock’s greatest qualities, beyond obvious logic: empathy, intuition, compassion, confusion and yearning. Ethan Peck walked into the room inhabiting all of these qualities, aware of his daunting responsibility to Leonard, Zack and the fans, and ready to confront the challenge in the service of protecting and expanding on Spock’s legacy. In that spirit, we’re thrilled to welcome him to the family.” – Alex Kurtzman, Star Trek: Discovery Executive Producer


The Reality of Dueling Spock’s

To be fair there has been a Spock duo before, however those were very different circumstances. It was clear for those who have eyes to see that it was a passing of the torch. The beloved Leonard Nimoy, in the best of Star Trek tradition, played the role of a venerated character sanctifying the newest Trek foray with his saintly presence. What Trek fans are dealing with now, whether they yet realize it or not, is a competition that is at best irksome.

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10 Things Star Trek: Discovery Must Do to Avoid Epic Failure

Depending on their performance, as well as their dictated place in the narratives they inherit, one of them will ultimately be accepted as THE Spock while the other will be relegated to “Other Spock,” a second class citizen in Trek canon. Not only will this be unfair to the actors who portray him, it is a profound disservice to the character himself to assume this baggage.

The best one can hope for under these circumstances is that Peck will knock this role in Star Trek: Discovery season 2 out of the park. In the end that is always what will matter most and that each “Spock” can be appreciated in there respective spheres.

Speaking of troublesome duplicates…

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Amazon Releases “The Man in the High Castle” Season 3 Date; New Trailer at SDCC

Fans of Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle” see light at the end of their tunnel, as the two year wait for season 3 is coming to a confirmed end.

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Screen shot from The Man in the High Castle newest trailer from SDCC

San Diego, CA – This weekend at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), after a seemingly interminable wait, fans of Amazon’s hit series The Man in the High Castle finally have the answer to their biggest question: when is the show coming back? To the audience’s delight, Amazon confirmed that season three will premiere on October 5th, 2018.

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To further whet their fans’ appetites, the series’ showrunners also released a new trailer for the upcoming season during their panel at SDCC. 

SDCC 2018 & The Longer than Expected Road to High Castle Season 3

Season two of the show debuted in December 2016, after which there had very few indicators of when season three would see the light of day.

In February of 2017 Amazon Prime renewed High Castle for its third season, and filming began in late June of last year.

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Additionally first reported by Deadline, Amazon publicly released their order to renew the series for its fourth season as well. No date for its release has yet been revealed.

At this weekend’s San Diego Comic Con, The Man in the High Castle announced not only the answer to the most burning question – thats is, when season 3 will debut –  but also shared its first substantive trailer regarding season three since October 2017.

Though only a minute in length, the powerful sneak peak will further stoke the flames for the show’s ravenous fans.

(Article Continues Below...)

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New High Castle Trailer: Further Exploration into Science Fiction, and a Mobilizing Resistance

This newest trailer for High Castle season three covers an exceptional amount of ground and leaves the audience with little question as to what the newest installment will focus upon.

The clip depicts further collaboration between Juliana Crain and Hawthorne Abendsen – the so-called “Man in the High Castle.”

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Specifically, they are working to combat the Greater German Reich’s experimental weapon which allows them by means of technology to traverse the series’ multiverse; all courtesy of Nazi R&D. This marks the shows most forward foray into The Man in the High Castle‘s science-fiction origin up to this point.

Moreover, it depicts a revitalization of the American resistance against the respective occupying Axis powers Germany and Imperial Japan. 

The Man in the High Castle is one of Amazon Prime’s most watched series, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same title published in 1962.

The series is set in the United States, in a fictional 1962 in which the Axis won WWII – and occupying a defeated US.

To enjoy the sneak peek, click at the top to watch the newest trailer for High Castle season 3!

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The Man in the High Castle is exclusively available for streaming on Amazon Prime

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Solo: A Star Wars Story REVIEW

In this newest incarnation of Disney-era Star Wars films, Solo: A Star Wars Story adds to the questionable new legacy.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story
Image Credit: Disney/LucasFilm

Solo: A Star Wars Story is out, and since its release the film has proven to be as polarizing as other Disney-era LucasFilm installments for the franchise.

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For Star Wars fans of every generation, the back story of the series favorite smuggler and scoundrel has possessed a certain mystery. Within the scope of the live-action film adaptation of the iconic saga, the audience has only been given minor snippets of Han’s past.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – The Down Low

Solo: A Star Wars Story begins to shed light on his epic brotherhood with Chewbacca, the genesis of the Millennium Falcon, and his early exploits with one Lando Calrissian. With so much on the line presenting his personal history front and center, could it possibly live up to the hype?

Also by popular demand, some have inquired how I think about and analyze movies when I review them. For those interested, these are my insights into how my reviews are created.

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As with every adaptation of Star Wars, no one fan is ever lacking an opinion regarding every detail – major or minor alike. What did you think of Solo: A Star Wars Story? What did you love? What would you have changed? Would you have made the movie at all? Is Disney/Lucas Film saturating the market with four feature films in the last three years? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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