Once upon a time there was a little boy who never spoke. After taking him to many doctors, who performed many tests, his parents resigned themselves to the fact that he would remain silent for life. One day, while seated around the dinner table, the boy said "The soup's cold."
His parents were stunned! His father exclaimed, "He can speak!"
His mother burst into tears and cried out, "All these years and you've never said a word! Why?"
The boy replied, "Up to now, everything's been OK."
I love fan film productions. Batman, Star Wars, you name it... but mostly, I love Star Trek fan films. If I know about it, I watch it, from the relatively high budget professional fan movies like Renegades and Of Gods and Men to low budget made-with-love series like Hidden Frontier, to the high quality amateur fan series like Star Trek Phase II and Star Trek Continues, to the genuine surprise gems like Aurora. I love them all.
I will overlook almost every wart and blemish you throw at me. Bad acting? Corny dialog? Visibly noticeable green-screen? Bad modeling and cheesy effects? Cardboard sets? Props made from taped-up flashlights? So what! The film-makers are amateurs, and are doing this because they love it, often at great expense to themselves, and without any hope of reward.
Mostly, I love them because these people "get" Trek, in a way that the professional television and movie producers often do not.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
But finally, after hundreds of episodes from more than two-dozen producers, there's one I just can't deal with. I dislike it so much I'm compelled to state why, just so I know that my reasons are valid. So if you don't like negative reviews and blunt criticism, read no further. Also, if you don't like spoilers, read no further, because I'm going to necessarily spoil the entire thing, right down to the ending.
|UPDATE: Before you read further I'd like you to know that George Kayaian has responded in the comments. My comments are very blunt, and he has taken it in a far more professional manner than many professionals would have. This is a credit to George as an artist. I have nothing but respect. So after reading my rant, please read the comments for the film maker's point of view.|
I'm speaking of the eighth episode of Star Trek Antyllus, by George Kayaian. Here it is (running time 31:50):
There are plenty of production glitches here that I'd normally ignore, a great many of which could have been fixed in editing, but I want to focus on the story. And pardon me if I don't mention who plays which supporting character, as Kayaian neglected to include that information in the credits (with the exceptions of Gavin Scotti as Northon and Vincenza Montes as Admiral Hill). I'm not even sure of the spelling of the character names themselves, so I'll just refer to them by job title where there's doubt.
The U.S.S. Antyllus, under the command of Captain Holt Allen (Kayaian) dispatched to deal with a hostage situation on a StarFleet base orbiting some obscure planet. When they arrive, they discover that the attack was masterminded by an old friend of Allen's, Northon (Scotti). Northon presents himself as the stereotypical evil genius with all the cards, and promises the release of all but four of the thirty-four hostages (the entire base complement) in exchange for a private meeting with Allen (no uniforms, no weapons). With no further discussion, Allen agrees and Northon departs, leaving behind what is quickly revealed to be thirty dead people. Allen nevertheless sticks to the letter of the agreement and rather than chasing down Northon's ship, he meets Northon at the appointed place sans weapons to negotiate for the remaining four hostages, who are, predictably, dead. Of course, Northon brought a weapon, but tosses it aside so they can go mano a mano. Allen and Northon tussle, Northon makes reference to past wrongs and laments that Allen's fiance didn't choose him instead, and confesses to murdering her. Allen retrieves Northon's
flashlightphaser, stuns him, monologues a bit about how he has been left with no choice, and injects Northon with an exotic drug that will leave him a vegetable for life, saying "I hope you live a very long time." Allen then returns to the ship to claim that this was a botched suicide attempt on Northon's part and goes on about his business despite some very mild skepticism on the part of his Vulcan first officer.
|The prototype strike cruiser Antyllus|
Holt Allen is a miserable negotiator. The first thing you do in a hostage crisis is determine whether there are hostages. Let's face it, if you're a villain, the purpose of taking hostages is to guarantee your own safety. So it's in your best interest to keep them safe; otherwise the authorities will rain Hell down upon you. Allen, as negotiator, needed to see whether he had to tread lightly or could simply march in and put the cuffs on a maniac. As it turns out, if he'd bothered to ask for proof he could have resolved this encounter in five minutes. Rather than holding all the cards, Northon didn't even have a pair of deuces. But Captain Allen never once even thought to ask. Nor did any of his crew suggest it.
Likewise, Northon is a miserable villain. He threw away his only advantage long before Captain Allen arrived, leaving him with only one very questionable asset: a smug expression. Any claims of Northon's vaunted intelligence fade away when you realize how incredibly stupid that was. The only thing that saved his skin was that Allen was even dumber. Of course, once away, Northon should have kept going. Nevertheless, we can excuse his irregularities because he's batshit crazy.
Allen brought a medical bag to their private encounter. Within that bag is a drug whose only purpose is to irrevocably leave a human being in a conscious state while shutting down all voluntary motor actions. This is a horrendous chemical weapon that has no purpose being in any standard medkit... the scientific equivalent of an unforgivable curse. And Holt Allen brought it with him, premeditatively. He intended to use it. Get that? He brought it before he learned of his wife's murder... before he learned of the remaining hostages' deaths. Certainly, he knew of the deaths of the station's crew, but that's all he knew, and all of those people were killed by a single act. Starfleet protocol would have him capture the obviously insane perpetrator and deliver him to a facility such as Elba II where he could have been treated. There are absolutely no exceptions for this. Garth of Izar attempted genocide, and yet was treated and cured on Elba II. Here, Northon was stunned... captured... helpless. He could have been effortlessly bound and returned to the ship. Instead, Allen chose to be psychiatrist, judge, jury, and executioner.
This is THE worst captain in Starfleet. His monologue about having no choice falls as flat as Northon's petty excuses for his own insanity. Which leads to...
There's no way that Allen should get away with this. The fact that Northon was incapacitated by a horrendous chemical weapon could not have been missed by the doctor as soon as the patient was beamed to the ship. Allen's story that it was a botched suicide attempt holds no water, and no Vulcan would be as credulous as Allen's first officer. The drug Allen used has no place in a medkit; which means he had to have taken it from the ship's medical stores. A simple inventory of the supplies would reveal that the same drug that was stolen was that which was racing around in Northon's bloodstream. Once the suspicion was sown, a mind meld with Northon's conscious, trapped mind could have revealed the true account. This would likely be attempted by a Vulcan or other telepathic doctor even if Northon were delivered to a Starfleet medical facility. They know the effects of this drug. They know that Northon is conscious. Starfleet requires their officers to undergo regular psychological evaluations, and Allen's irregularities would be caught there as well. THERE IS NO WAY that Allen would get away with this on any Starfleet vessel with even a moderately competent crew.
Again, this is THE worst captain in Starfleet. Garth's mind was damaged in a horrible accident; Ronald Tracey was a good man gone bad; but Holt Allen is a bad man. He's a premeditated, cold criminal who should be stripped of rank and locked away. And yet, he's "OK" with his actions. And his crew are either incompetent, blind, or complicit.
This episode is a clean break with the principles of the Star Trek franchise. It is so un-Star Trek that the production faults that I'd have normally overlooked come crashing down upon it. Long pauses in conversation as the actors search for their lines; conversations consisting of two people talking in opposite directions; dead air without ambient music; even the lack of proper credits. And as reluctant as I am to say this, ill-fitting costumes are re-interpreted in-canon as sloppy officers in sloppy dress with sloppy discipline.
I've struggled to interpret this in some way that's less negative than I've just portrayed, and it just doesn't wash. If episode nine of Antyllus isn't a court-martial with conviction, then there's something rotten in Kayaian's alternate universe.
I'd say sorry, George, but you wrote it. Don't blame me.
On reflection, I'm going to add this footnote. There is, perhaps, some value to recognizing that not everyone in the future is perfect. But that value is rooted in the recognition of those imperfections. Whatever this show is depicting, it's far from Starfleet's finest hour.