Unpopular fan opinons

But not in a meme way.

(1) I’ve been giving it some thought, and I have to say, I’m not especially upset that Sarah Connor Chronicles was cancelled. I mean, I’m upset in the sense that it was a show with some strong women characters and I always hate losing those, but I’m not upset to lose that particular show. It was a confusing muddle of unclear character motivation and confusing action scenes, and its cavalier tendency to send characters back in time just for teh drama! was making a splintered mess of the timeline, and though that’s a canonical move as far as the franchise goes, there were very few films, and therefore very little splintering of the timelines in the films. And one thing I can say for the movies, they bit the bullet and went ahead with the apocalypse the characters were working so hard to prevent. The apocalypse is a story-line necessity, because the past (John’s birth) is dependent on the future (sending Kyle Reese back in time).

Unless of course you want to keep splintering the timeline just to “change the past” and make things rosy. But what would be the point? All those horrific timelines where mankind is fighting the machines in an apocalyptic future would still exist alongside the rosy shiny one.

I haven’t seen the new movie yet. I’m kind of working up my nerve. So far, I have to say, the bad reviews I’ve read have actually been encouraging to me. “It doesn’t appeal to a wider audience than its original fans”, “It doesn’t take any risks,” these are exactly the kinds of complaints you’d expect of a movie that had its plot written twenty-five years ago. That’s the movie I want to see, not something that spins away from its own premise just to be “fresh and exciting.”

But the jury’s still out until I sit down in the theater. I know the movie is going to have its sucky points. But it’s also supposed to have a significant John+Kyle story line, and if I had ever written Terminator fan fiction, that’s what I would have written–the first time grownup John meets his father. And not in that lame way that SCC was going to do it in season 3, with John jumping into the future thereby creating a future in which no one had ever heard of him because he missed the whole apocalypse and its immediate aftermath. But the way it was meant to be, with John experiencing the apocalypse, bravely facing it head-on, doing what he was meant to do, and then one day running into a soldier named Kyle Reese*.

So, as of today, the films remain my canon.

(2) The more I think about it and read about it, the more uncomfortable I am with the new Star Trek film. And I’m not talking about nonsensical audience-pleasers like giving an undisciplined newly-minted officer command of a starship at the end of the film. I just don’t think the basic premise works. I have watched every episode of Star Trek (minus a chunk of Enterprise) innumerable times, and there just is no canon precedent for someone going back in time, changing the timeline, and creating two universes that both exist simultaneously. Like I said in a previous post, you have (a) lots of going back in time, and (b) two universes existing simultaneously, but not the first creating the second.

Someone pointed out “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and subsequent episodes with the Sela character as an example of this, but it doesn’t work. Every episode where our trusty starship or space station crew go back in time, it is to “fix” the timeline, and Yesterday’s Enterprise is no exception. Each time travel episode of the various series starts out with someone else going back in time and changing something, and that overwrites history as we know it. There’s no evidence it creates two histories, it overwrites history, otherwise our heroes have no reason to go back in time and “fix it.” Alt!Tasha Yar is a case in point. History gets overwritten when the Enterprise C accidentally stumbles into a time anomaly and misses their chance to save a Klingon ship. The Alt!Enterprise crew don’t shrug their shoulders and say, “Hey, it’s OK, the original timeline is still safe in the other universe that still exists, we just live in a new one that’s split off from the other, let’s get on with our war.” No, they realize history as been over-written and attempt to restore it.

In other words, they attempt to erase the timeline where things aren’t going so well and replace it with the history that originally happened and that got overwritten. There are no “two histories simultaneously”; it’s either one or the other.

And the fact that Alt!Tasha doesn’t disappear the minute history is restored in the past is actually evidence that Spock Prime can be walking around the new Trek movie universe even though his own timeline has been completely overwritten. So now, with this new movie, we can conclude that the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager–none of that is going to happen now, at least not the way we saw it on those series. On those series, there is a planet Vulcan. In this series, Vulcan was destroyed, and time is proceeding forward with a new set of events in which that’s the reality.

Now, I know the metaphysics of Star Trek was never precisely laid out, and if someone has a good example from any of the shows that gives a precedent for what the new movie tried to do, I’m eager to hear it because I don’t want to be a wet blanket on this. I want to enjoy the new movies. But I can’t escape the logic of my conclusion at the moment.

*Played by Anton Yelchin, who seems to be the summer action movie It-boy of the moment. I wasn’t overly impressed with his Chekov in ST, but he won my heart in Steven Spielberg’s Taken, so I’m willing to see how he does in this.

39 thoughts on “Unpopular fan opinons

  1. I suspect, as time goes by, the enthusiasm for the current ST movie is going to fade. Not because it’s not a rousing action film. It certainly is that. But it just doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny of almost any aspect of it. Different people are slowly coming out and stating they are having slightly different problems with it, and I think that will only grow with time. The movie pushed too many of my buttons while I was watching it, which was why I have been negative about it from the start. It’s kind of a throw-back to the old pre-TV Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials, fun while it’s on, but thinking about it will only ruin it.

  2. fun while it’s on, but thinking about it will only ruin it
    LOLOL. That’s a good summary. I did enjoy the movie, but in order to enjoy the continuing movie series, I will have to do mental summersaults which don’t require me to mourn the death of four other series I loved.

  3. I don’t know TOS enough to know if they explain the Mirror universe. How did it come into being? Did it always exist? Should we assume that at the dawn of time, two universes were created, the regular Trek-verse and the Mirror one? And that they somehow remained almost (cosmologically speaking) identical despite having no influence on each other until TOS? Because I find that much harder to buy than the idea of the universe splintering at pivotal moments when Masq1 goes left and Masq2 goes right, thus producing Trek-verse Masq and Mirror-verse Masq.
    Of course, there are huge problems with this model too. Stargate uses this one a lot, but then thinks it can actually go back in time to “fix” the past. And really, that just never happens because there will always be a timeline left over which is bearing the consequences of the screw-up. Timelines don’t cease to exist, they keep going, even after our Heroes think they’ve “fixed” it. Darn, I really need to find that diagram (it was awesome and complex) of all the different realities created in the Stargate universe with changing the timeline.

  4. Theoretically, there’s the “Voyager” ep, “Deadlock.” There’s two tangent universes in that, and characters cross over from one to the other. (Specifically, Harry Kim and the newly-born Naomi Wildman.) Now, the other Voyager blew up and killed everybody on it, but arguably, it’s possible that the rest of that universe continued to exist. It was never addressed.
    Also, there are some other mistakes in this universe that imply that it was actually already tangential before Nero did anything to it. (For instance, the fact that Sam Kirk and Sybock don’t seem to have been born in this universe. Or the fact that the Federation recognizes the existence of the Romulans- in the original series, the Romulans hadn’t made contact yet with the Federation by the time the Enterprise went on her five-year mission. And there’s also that the technology in this is generally much shinier and more sophisticated, with way fewer tactile controls- I know it’s just a “J.J Abrams likes shiny things” deal, but as long as we’re noticing things. ;-))

  5. Star Trek is full is mirror universes. In fact in one episode of Next-Gen space is full of Starship Enterprises from one’s we will otherwise never see.

  6. Star Trek very rarely used the alternate universe story line. Time travel they did quite a bit of, and it was always to “fix” things. But other than the Mirror universe where Spock has a beard, which is the same universe of the Bajoran-Cardassian alliance and the evil Intendant, they don’t do many alternate universe stories. So it doesn’t leave them having to scramble to explain how that alternate universe came to be. There is at least one classic Trek episode in which they just posit that there’s a universe of matter and a corresponding universe of anti-matter, and that’s how it’s always been.
    The new movie, however, is riding an awful lot on the idea that time travel can split off co-existing universes. And to be honest, it never really comes out and says that’s what happened; this is all fans reassuring themselves that the old Trek they loved is still out there somewhere. I don’t know if JJ Abrams actually cares.

  7. No, Deadlock specifically says that the two Voyagers were not in separate universes. They were just slightly “off-phase” with each other, and so couldn’t see each other, but the split happened inside a weird energy nebula that did funky things to matter. Specifically, it doubled matter, so it doubled everything on Voyager. Not the same concept as splitting universes.

  8. Okay, but what about the possibility that they were tangent universes before Nero got involved? Maybe what was posited as regular time travel was actually traveling into an alternate universe’s past.

  9. This whole conundrum clearly calls for a Star Trek marathon from start to finish. We start with The Cage, go through the OS series, the movies, Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager (I hear there’s a prequel to the OS out there, but I suspect that’s a myth, so we’ll skip it). That will answer the question and there will be volumous essays about it.

  10. Me, I’ve been pondering what to do with the dearth of decent TV in the summer to keep me company while I write. A Trek marathon ought to keep me off the streets and out of trouble until the new film comes out on DVD.

  11. Forgot to add: I think there are two types of time travel. Predestination paradox, though the Trek examples aren’t great, IMO. Good example is the first Terminator movie. Kyle Reese went back in time because he’d always gone back in time, because if he hadn’t, John wouldn’t have existed in the first place to order Kyle to go. Right?
    The other, messier type is when things get screwy due to someone messing with the timeline when they shouldn’t have, like DS9’s “Trials and Tribble-ations”, and you have to follow them back into the past to “fix” the timeline. Now, my point is that there’s no such thing as “fixing” the timeline. Sisko is *not* Gabriel Bell, Kirk never met Lt. Sisko in the original timeline, and the fact that Sisko preserved the timeline so well that nobody noticed a difference does NOT mean that the timeline is *exactly the same*. Obviously it isn’t. It’s close enough for government work, however, so we go along our merry way.
    But then think about the times when you *can’t* fix the timeline. If the tribble-bomb had killed Kirk, or the Bell riots ended differently. What happens then? You have a different timeline and history changes. You, who have gone back in time, see these changes happening, you experience them. But the universe that birthed you, that built the Defiant, still had to have existed (cannot have been overwritten) because otherwise *you* wouldn’t exist, and you wouldn’t have a ship to fly around in. That timeline still exists somewhere– but *you* don’t exist in *it*. (Really, I think the point at which you leave your original universe is the moment you go back in time, and not the point at which you fail to “fix” the timeline.)
    I see you’ve replied to me in the (many!) minutes it took me to write the above, so I’ll try to respond πŸ™‚

  12. (Added later: Ha! I realise I was talking about a completely different episode, but it doesn’t matter! Because the Worf episode explains everything!)
    That’s the Worf episode, right? Yes, exactly it! There are many parallel realities (the Mirror-verse being one) and the only theory I’m comfortable positing is that these realities are the result of splintering. As the universe expands and time progresses, so does the multitude of realities that flow from our decisions. There was a reality in which Worf chose to get married and have kids with Troi. There was a reality in which, maybe he lost his grip on his bat’leth at a pivotal moment, and therefore lost the tournament.
    “Parallels” has Data explaining the phenomenon: “I believe the quantum fissure is a fixed point across the space-time continuum. A ‘keyhole’ which intersects many other quantum realities.” The counterpart Troi wants to know what they are and Data continues: “For any event there is an infinite number of possible outcomes. Our choices determine which outcome will follow. According to a theory, everything that can happen does happen in some other quantum reality.” Worf ponders that somehow he has been shifting from one to another. Troi asks how it happened. Data goes to the viewer and opens a diagram. “When Worf’s shuttlecraft came into the fissure, its warp engines caused a small break between the quantum realities. Worf was thrown into quantum flux. He started shifting into other realities.”
    Ha!! So it is canon! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ Darn, I don’t have a Worf icon.

  13. But what would be the point? All those horrific timelines where mankind is fighting the machines in an apocalyptic future would still exist alongside the rosy shiny one.
    Humanity was winning over Skynet, when it began sending terminators back in time. And you might speculate that Skynet would not mess to much with humanity before judgment day, as it could potential make Skynet different to different than the original. So Skynet actions and infinite chain of parallels futures, where the main parts of them would be one that humanity survived. That would mean that Skynet actions have guarantied that humanity would survive in some universe. Whereas before Skynet action, could humanity destroy them self in for example a nuclear war.
    Personally I really liked the show. I liked that it did not try to spell everything out, the characters was interesting even when they sometimes did behave badly. And best of all evolving alien AI’s (and killer robots!!!)

  14. There’s no reason not to think that back in the original timeline humanity didn’t win and survive. In fact, we know they did, because otherwise Skynet would never have sent the first Terminator back after Sarah Connor in 1984.

  15. “According to a theory”–not the same thing as showing it. But now I have to go back and do a marathon to find out for sure just what canon has established. I’m not going to do every ep and every movie, just the ones that deal with this theme. Time to make a list.

  16. Fixing it so time more or less proceeds as it originally did is equivalent to mending a torn cloth, not having two different cloths. I’m still of the opinion that alternate universes and time-travel overwrites are two different phenomena on Trek, but as I mentioned above, there’s research to be done.
    ‘Cause I’m a big nerd.

  17. There’s no evidence it creates two histories, it overwrites history, otherwise our heroes have no reason to go back in time and “fix it.”
    Yeah, that was bugging me as well.
    Another issue I had with the new ST was that Spock seemed too emotional.

  18. He was acting a lot like Much Older Spock from the films, who had made peace with his human side and knew how to express emotion without losing his Vulcanness. Much Younger Spock hasn’t learned that yet. And no twisty, “well this is Alt!Spock, who had a different history than Spock Prime” is going to convince me. His personal history was probably not all that different up to the point the movie starts than Spock Prime’s.

  19. John and I had two problems with the new Star Trek movie:
    1. John: With all of the advanced technology that Nero had, why didn’t he go to the Romulans, and give the Romulans the technological advantage to take over in this universe?
    2. Sue: Why didn’t Nero start working on preventing the Supernova from happening again? He had the “Red Matter”.
    As for Sam Kirk and Sybock…..
    Sam Kirk was in the movie, sort of. When James is joy riding the car and passes the boy on the road, the boy is, or was, supposed to be Sam Kirk.
    Sybock could still be in existence, just “offscreen”.
    But the when did the Federation know about the Romulans is a very good point. I will tell John that.

  20. That was point I was trying to make (pardon my English). Before Skynet created a time machine, there was only one universe. Afterwards the first timetravel there would be two universe. So every someone in universe one makes a timetravel it creates a new universe, and it seems that that the new universe also uses timetravel. So we go from one universe to an infinite or perhaps only a very large number of parallels universes. A good thing seen my perspective.

  21. The torn cloth analogy makes sense, I guess. You could be right that alternate realities and time-travel are two different things. Stargate itself posits that too– it’s only fandom that’s looked at the science and said “no way!” But like you said, Star Trek has its own canon and I shouldn’t apply Stargate physics to a different franchise!
    Yes, much research is necessary! We can be nerds together πŸ˜€

  22. I think perhaps if they had said “quantum realities” as opposed to “alternate realities”, then die-hard TNG fans would’ve pinged on “Parallels”, spread the word, and at least cleared up some of the confusion. I’m starting to think you’re right in that Trek canon generally uses time-travel to “mend” history, which is different from what the movie did.
    I’m sticking with “Parallels” as proof that the “real” Trek verse still exists out there, though. It has not disappeared simply because Spock made an oopsie!

  23. What I gleaned from the reviews I read is that the major problem with Terminator isn’t that it isn’t surprising, but that it’s inconsistent with character portrayals in previous films and that, like with the Star Wars prequels, sometimes it feels like things are happening just because they have to happen, rather than the story being written in an organic, character-driven manner. I heard it basically fills in a few holes that didn’t really need to be filled in and not very well, at that. That’s what basically made me lose my interest in it. Personally, I think the end of T3 is enough for me. We know the apocalypse happened in that film, and we already know what is going to happen from that point forward. A fourth film just seems a little redundant to me, particularly since apparently nothing too surprising happens in it.

  24. But see…
    …for me, that’s one of the subtle layers put in that indicate it is an alternate universe. The one event at the start isn’t necessarily what butterflyed into every single difference we see. For all we know, there were already other minor differences in the universes. Maybe this was an alternate universe that already existed that the black hole brought the Romulans and Spock to. Maybe the very act of splitting off causes minor changes to happen elsewhere, like cracks slowly forming in a facade. Or it is the butterfly effect and one little thing on one end of the universe affects something else on an imperceptible level.

  25. Uhura was also drinking a “Cardassian Sunrise”, wasn’t she? Or someone was, anyway. I keep trying to remember if the Federation was already supposedly aware of Cardassians in Kirk’s time.
    It does seem to me that Nero and Spock foud their way into an alternate reality’s past, not their own reality’s past. Maybe that’s just what they *assumed* it was.

  26. If I could afford all those DVDs (and who wants to rent something really worth thnking about) I’d go to DC with you guys instead. I have “The Cage” on tape, all the original-cast movies, and the last few seasons of Next Gen on DVD. No, I promised myself I’d never buy this movie on DVD. Harry Potter VI on the other hand…

  27. If the reviews had been really, really bad in a way that was in line with my own issues, I’d skip it. But I actually liked the third movie for the most part, and critics are saying this is better than that one.
    It’s worth a morning matinee.

  28. Re: But see…
    I could accept that it’s an alternate universe that already existed. That would make me feel much better, in fact. But I’ll need to watch the film about twenty more times to find good evidence for that.

  29. That Cardassian Sunrise thing threw me out of the story because I wondered the same thing. We know Picard had dealings with the Cardassians pre-TNG, but since they border Bajoran space and Bajor is “Deep Space” as far as the 24th century is concerned, I think it’s safe to assume they were not yet explored in the pre-OS days.

  30. I bought all the DVDs slowly after the prices dropped, so I have them all. I’ve been waiting for a reason to crack the plastic on the Voyager DVDs, so this seems a good reason….

  31. I would have to revisit the episode to know for sure how it was meant. Which, as I indicated above, I am now very tempted to do.

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