By Dan Ortiz
Throughout the Final Frontier, actors and actresses of stage and screen brought something special to the beloved franchise. Out of hundreds of episodes and dozens of films, Star Trek’s acting bench has turned in several unforgettable performances. So, today we look at some of the Final Frontier’s most striking and emotional performances.
Selection criteria: Instead of a “best of” list, I focused on a collection of my favorite moments and those that might not make more traditional “best of” lists. My only criteria were moments that stood the test of time, served their ultimate stories and featured great performances by those involved. I’m sure there are great choices out there! Please post yours in the comments!
First Contact: Picard’s Final Line
Setting the scene: As the Enterprise E faces ultimate defeat at the hands of the Borg, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and 21st-century denizen Lily (Alfre Woodard) go head-to-head over the course of action: stay and fight or self-destruct and run to safety?
Why this scene: Woodard and Stewart’s face-off provides one of the best and most emotionally-charged monologue moments of the Final Frontier. Stewart’s Moby Dick monologue in particular is a franchise feat that’s yet to be beat.
Generations: Time Is A Predator
Setting the scene: Faced with the possibility of entering parallel universe “The Nexus,” mad Scientist Dr. Soran (Malcolm McDowell) is attempting to justify to Captain Picard his planet-killing super weapon, which serves as the entry into he Nexus’ heaven-like bliss.
Why this scene: McDowell’s piercing performance underscores the film’s undercurrents of destiny, fate and family.
Wrath of Khan : The Game’s Not Over
Setting the scene: As the crippled USS Reliant faces certain defeat, Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montablan) takes his last breaths and attempts to cement his obsessive ambition to see Kirk and crew dead.
Why this scene: Khan’s death rattle is forever seared into my memory for its passion and high drama. Montablan’s inspired and powerful (but never overblown) performance set an impossibly high bar for Star Trek villains. You can practically feel his searing hatred through the screen.
The Original Series : Edith Keeler Must Die
Episode: The City on the Edge of Forever
Season 1, Episode 28
Setting the scene: After the crew of the Enterprise finds itself stuck in the early 20th century (don’t ask), Kirk, Spock and McCoy encounter pacifist social worker Edith Keeler (portrayed masterfully by guest star Joan Collins).
However, upon learning that Keeler’s pacifist actions will irreparably damage the flow of history by affecting the outcome of World War II, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are faced with Star Trek’s primary time traveling maxim - that no action taken in the past can affect the future. So, Spock, McCoy and Kirk inevitably arrive at the conclusion that Edith Keeler must die.
Why this scene: After realizing their grave discovery, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are forced to watch as Keeler is struck by an oncoming car. The scene particularly resonates because most of the acting is a prime example of “Show Don’t Tell” as the action (and more importantly, the acting) plays out on our heroes’ faces.
Another well-known Star Trek law is - the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Yet, this scene remains a heartbreaking reminder of the cost of sacrifice for the greater good.
Deep Space Nine : Sisko Goes Beyond The Stars
Episode: Far Beyond The Stars
Season 6, Episode 13
Setting the scene: As the brutal, bloody Dominion war wages on, Captain Sisko suffers the loss of a friend aboard the USS Cortez, ostensibly lost with all hands in a firefight with the Dominion.
In the wake of his loss, Sisko contemplates resigning his post, but not before suffering hallucinations and falling into a fever-like trance as the result of abnormal brain activity. He envisions himself and his crewmates as writers in 1950s New York City, with Sisko appearing as aspiring science fiction writer Benny Russell, who is told that no one will read “stories written by Negros.”
While working on the story of a far-flung space station set amongst the stars, Sisko is persistently harassed, marginalized and ignored while writing the story of his lifetime (almost literally), one in which men and women of all colors will find their place in the stars. However, after ultimately refusing to rewrite the captain character as white, he's told to put the manuscript away for 50 years or “however long it takes for the human race to catch up.”
Why this scene: Benny’s ultimate meltdown upon finding his story has been shelved was a tour de force moment for Avery Brooks, who gives a performance that was equal parts prescient and passionate. It still resonates today, almost 22 years later.
Deep Space Nine : Sisko In The Pale Moonlight
Episode: In The Pale Moonlight
Season 6, Episode 19
Setting the scene: As the Dominion War continues to exert its toll on Captain Sisko and the Federation-Klingon alliance, casualty lists continue to grow, and morale begins to sink. Sisko engages in subterfuge to lure the Romulans into the fight that ultimately blows up in his face - most literally when the Romulan target of the scheme is found dead in an exploded shuttlecraft. Ultimately, the ploy works in the favor of the Alliance but not without a great emotional toll on Sisko.
Why this scene: Avery Brooks delivers a powerful final monologue that lays bare a haunted Sisko’s ambition to win at any cost.
Voyager : Assimilation: Complete
Episode: Dark Frontier, Pt 1
Season 5, Episode 15
Setting the scene: Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) has returned to the Borg Collective - seemingly of her own will. Now back under the heel of the Borg Queen (Susanna Thompson taking over Queen duties from First Contact’s Alice Krige), Seven is forced to resume assimilation of a helpless species. Upon seeing the horrors of assimilation again up close, Seven sets some of the captives free, leading to a showdown with the Borg Queen herself.
Why this scene: Jeri Ryan plays off of Thompson’s Queen incredibly well. Their war of words waged in a novel mix of ideology and wry humor.
Voyager : Seven Learns to Trust Again
Episode: The Voyager Conspiracy
Season 6, Episode 9
Setting the scene: Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) suffers a critical error with her regeneration alcove, which accidentally feeds her cybernetic brain a high volume of Voyager’s computer data. Unable to process the sudden influx of information, Seven begins making wild connections and theories, which lead to her lash out against Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and crew.
Why this scene: In the midst of the wild conspiracy theories and accusations, the two women share a tender moment in which Captain Janeway lovingly reminds Seven of her journey. Jeri Ryan applies just the right amount of nuance and vulnerability to this scene to make it truly heartwarming.
Deep Space Nine : Around Every Corner
Season 4, Episode 11
Setting the scene: As Shapeshifters begin encroaching on Earth as a prelude to the Dominion War, Sisko and Starfleet Command become increasingly paranoid of changelings infiltrating the Federation, which leads to this explosive confrontation between father and son.
Why this scene: Brock Peters’ steely performance as Joseph Sisko was always a series highlight, but this one scene really allowed him to plumb into a deep well of emotion while playing off of the always great Avery Brooks. It makes this scene a chilling and thrilling knockout.
By Tom Farr
Since Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, it seems like an endless stream of new Star Wars stories continues to be released ever since. This includes films, such as the sequel trilogy, Solo and Rogue One, as well as television shows, books, and comics. While the steady stream has had a few missteps, depending on who you ask, one area that seems to consistently satisfy fan curiosity is the various Star Wars comics published by Marvel.
Combining top-notch comic book writers such as Charles Soule, Greg Pak, and Kierron Gillen with phenomenal artists such as Will Sliney, John Cassaday, and Salvador Larroca, Star Wars comics explore the mysteries between film episodes. They also give us a more in-depth look into many of the most well-known and loved film characters’ motivations. Plus, they’re telling great stories that resonate with Star Wars fans.
Here are five Star Wars comics that are worth diving into first.
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith (2017)
Written by Charles Soule, this 25-issue exploration of Anakin Skywalker’s early experiences as Darth Vader begins from the moment Vader steps off the operating room table at the end of Revenge of the Sith. We learn why dark side users have red lightsabers, and we see the beginnings of the Inquisitorius under Vader’s leadership.
There’s the return of Jedi Temple librarian Jocasta Nu and the addition of an ancient Sith Lord and artist named Momin, who is tasked with designing Vader’s infamous castle. Most fascinating, however, is the reason why Vader had his castle built on Mustafar as we see him desperately trying to get Padme back even years after her death.
The Rise of Kylo Ren (2019)
Also penned by Charles Soule, this 4-issue comic reveals the deep conflict that helps turn Ben Solo into Kylo Ren after Luke’s near attempt to kill him. We learn that the Knights of Ren have faced Luke Skywalker before, and we see Luke as a badass Jedi Knight. In the sequel trilogy, we sometimes see the good that still exists in Kylo Ren, but his comic origin reveals that his descent into evil resulted more from coercion and deception than a fully-informed choice. We also find out about the origin of the word “Ren” in Kylo’s name.
Darth Vader (2020)
Taking place after The Empire Strikes Back, Greg Pak’s comic explores uncharted territory with Vader as he goes on a galaxy-wide quest for revenge after Luke rejects his invitation to join him. Determined to find anyone who helped keep Luke’s identity hidden from him, Vader looks into the past and discovers someone who was very close to Padme Amidala. That someone wants her own revenge against Darth Vader for the deaths of Padme and Anakin Skywalker.
Star Wars (2020)
Also taking place at the same time as Greg Pak’s Darth Vader, Charles Soule is exploring Luke Skywalker’s mission to complete his training as a Jedi after discovering the truth about his father. Luke learns the truth about why the Jedi are no longer around and finds the motivation to continue his goal of becoming a Jedi like his father. He even faces off with the Grand Inquisitor. This series is shaping up to be one of the best pieces of Star Wars storytelling to date.
Darth Vader (2015)
Kierron Gillen had the task of filling in the gaps between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back from Vader’s perspective. Vader’s dual goals of re-earning the favor of Palpatine after allowing the Death Star to be destroyed and learning the identity of the pilot who destroyed the Death Star drive the plot of this story. We see the moment Vader learns he has a son, and a fascinating new character named Doctor Aphra is introduced.
Although the comic feels like an exploration of Darth Vader’s character as an outside observer, meaning we never get inside his head, there’s still much revealed in the struggle to find redemption in Palpatine’s eyes. It also doesn’t hurt that we also see Vader often questioning the wisdom of his master. It turns out that the seeds of his betrayal against Palpatine were sown many years before.
ics. There are plenty of fun reveals and compelling character development moments. After reading these, there are many more worth checking out, such as:
Kanan: The Last Padawan
Doctor Aphra, Star Wars (2015)
Obi-Wan and Anakin
And there are plenty more to come.
By Scott Murray
In the last nine years, I've consistently included podcast episodes about Jim Henson. I cannot imagine my childhood without his genius, entertaining and educational work. The attachments and memories of The Muppets and Sesame Street are still with me to this day.
One of the many genius things about Jim's imagination and creativity was the ability to combine entertainment with education. Granted, many people can effectively do that today, but in Jim's day - he broke the code for simultaneously achieving it with children AND adults. After Jim tragically passed away, the process of continuing his traditions was going to be challenging.
However, one of the powerful ways Sesame Street continued his mission to educate children and adults was the creation of Julia - a Muppet with autism. The importance of her presence is obvious when it comes to children. Julia helps them better understand someone like Julia while showing how people can treat her with compassion, understanding and inclusion. Yet, adults or other parents can benefit from watching Julia as well.
Before getting the opportunity to bring Julia to life, performer Stacey Gordon worked as a habilitator (not rehabilitator) for families with special needs children, including those with autism. One particular job required her to work 46 hours a week. So, when her son was diagnosed with autism, she was prepared, but that didn't mean certain challenges would be any easier.
Part of her experience as a parent has included watching kids and adults respond to her son in disappointing and hurtful ways. On the other hand, she has a lot of pride in the brilliance and "superpowers" that he possesses.
When you combine this experience with her history in puppetry, you have someone who was born to bring Julia to life.
Autism is also an important part of our lives. My wife's brother Zac is autistic, and I've watched him accomplish so many amazing things in the past 20 years.
September 24th is Jim Henson's birthday. So, that week's episode will be dedicated to him, his work and his legacy. I'm honored to announce that Stacey Gordon will be our special guest on the show. Joe Hennes (Tough Pigs) will also be on to discuss memories of Jim Henson.
By Michael Austin
Upon its 2015 release, Ant-Man became the sleeper hit movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. No one assumed the film would be as entertaining as it turned out. It’s sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, built upon that success by delving deeper into the characters and ramping up the action.
During a recent interview on The Jess Cagle Show, director, Petyon Reed revealed some fascinating insights on what to expect from the third installment of the Ant-Man franchise.
In terms of concrete details, Reed wasn’t allowed to share much. This should come at no surprise given how Marvel is notorious for having the stars and filmmakers sign stringent non-disclosure agreements. What he did reveal, however, is enough to get fans eagerly excited for this new installment to the franchise.
“There’s some really really really exciting things in store, none of which of course I could speak to you about right now, as is the Marvel way… I think the third Ant-Man movie is going to be a much bigger, more sprawling movie than the first two. It’s going to have a very different visual template,” Reed said.
“Much bigger,” “more sprawling” and a “very different visual template” are all important clues that suggest where Ant-Man, Wasp and the rest of the gang are headed for the third movie – in the Quantum Realm.
While audiences were given a chance to see a little bit of the mysterious dimension during both Ant-Man and the Wasp and Avengers: Endgame, a whole movie set within the otherworldly plane of existence would finally reveal the Quantum Realm’s many mysteries.
The previous two Ant-Man films were relatively grounded. Both movies centered around close family relationships and reconciliation with loved ones. Taking those characters out of their comfort zone and placing them in the Quantum Realm for the majority of a film would be a considerable departure from previous installments that would really shake up the franchise.
This tracks with what we know about Marvel -- the third installments in their franchises often change things up in a drastic way:
Captain America: Civil War saw Cap face off against Iron Man and lose his shield before becoming an outlaw.
Thor: Ragnarok had the titular Nordic hero roaming around the galaxy in a spaceship before forever losing his beloved hammer Mjolnir.
Even Iron Man 3 saw Tony Stark finally removing the shrapnel from his chest and becoming something new.
The Ant-Man and the Wasp sequel will likely follow this pattern of threequels by placing its characters in new situations to change them forever.
Following the prolonged shutdown of theaters in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Disney recently released their new movie release schedule for all of the MCU Phase 4 films. The Ant-Man film was not among those listed, so fans will likely have to wait until at least late 2022.
That all being said, if the movie pays off the promises made by Reed, it will surely be worth the wait.
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