The season finale for The Wheel of Time was last week. As I’ve mentioned before, I read two or three of the early books decades ago, but remember very little: Rand, Moraine, portals to alternate realms, and a few other things. So the show mostly feels like fresh material. In the early episodes, it was hard to get a sense of scale, although the later episodes made up for it. I know a lot of the book fans were upset by the finale, but I enjoyed it, particularly the reveal in the prologue and the anticipation set by the epilogue.
Blade Runner: Black Lotus is still running on Adult Swim, now eight episodes in. I’m continuing to enjoy it. The animation and music are top notch. One complaint is that the characters could be more developed. The villains in particular seem one dimensional. They’re all sadistic, arrogant, and nasty. It’s clear the show doesn’t want us to have the least degree of sympathy for them, a bit unusual for anime. My other complaint is that the latest episode is a recap, something that might have made sense in the age of broadcast TV, but a bit unusual in the streaming age, and with only ten episodes overall, annoying. Still, Elle’s story remains compelling and I’m interested to see where it goes.
I’ve always been puzzled by the fascination Star Wars fans have for Boba Fett. I remember when he was introduced in promotional material, and his first appearance in the cartoon segment of the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. The sense was that he was going to be a major new villain for the movie series, but his part in the movies ended up being pretty limited. When The Mandalorian was first announced, I actually thought it was going to be about him. He does eventually appear, but as a supporting character. It was the first time I started to find him interesting.
It turns out that his limited role in the movies, even though they do give us a sketch of his origin as Jango Fett’s clone, leaves him a mostly blank slate. The new show, The Book of Boba Fett, simultaneously starts off immediately after his takeover of Jabba’s old crime syndicate as shown at the end of season two of The Mandalorian, and through flashbacks, his life starting from the point of being trapped inside the Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi.
The Fett of these shows is a more nuanced character than the movie version. The Mandalorian leaves open the possibility this could have been post-movie character growth. But in the first episode of The Book, the Fett immediately after Return of the Jedi is altruistically willing to help a fellow prisoner escape, implying he always had some sense of honor, even if just the type of honor among thieves.
But like The Mandalorian, this series is continuing to show us that some of the antagonists in the Star Wars movies have their own point of view, one developed through their own culture and life circumstances. That, plus the fact that these shows lean into the space western aspect of the franchise, makes them pretty cool. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.
The Silent Sea is a Korean series on Netflix. The premise is a future where water has become scarce. It is in fact disappearing and the human race is in serious trouble. The exact reasons for this are never explained (or if it was, I missed it), but it forms the background of most of the character motivations. For example, most of the members of the mission participate because they need the promised higher water rations for their families.
The Koreans had a base on the moon that, due to a mysterious radiation accident, had to be abandoned. However, the base contains samples that need to be retrieved. The government won’t reveal to the retrieval crew members exactly what these samples are or why they’re needed, only that their mission is vital. The two team leaders, Doctor Song and Captain Han, are the chief protagonists and often end up clashing with each other. Each is on the team for their own reasons.
Trouble starts when the ship crashes on the moon and the team is forced to hike across the moon surface to the base. The base itself appears functional, although filled with dead bodies. Mysteriously, the bodies appear to show death from drowning rather than any kind of radiation sickness. And it soon becomes apparent that the team is not alone in the base.
I was a little worried this one might turn out to be horror of a Resident Evil sort. But while it’s definitely a thriller, one with its share of gore and scary moments, not to mention a pretty dark and disturbing story, it never crosses into horror. I enjoyed it, but found it a bit slow in the beginning. And much of the science doesn’t bear close scrutiny. But the production values are excellent and the show is well done visually. Worth checking out if you can take its dark grim mood.
Finally, there’s the Doctor Who New Year’s Day special: Eve of the Daleks. After the incoherent mess of the main season, I was prepared for the worst. But I actually found myself enjoying this one. Chris Chibnall, the showrunner, seems able to tell an engaging story when he doesn’t make the stakes ridiculous or throw too many balls in the air. We’ve only got a couple of specials left in his and Jodie Whittaker’s tenure, which ends after 2022. Hopefully they’ll be more like this and less like the Flux mess.
Have you seen any of these? If so, what did you think?